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Harrogate woman swims English Channel in touching tribute to late grandmother

Hannah was the final swimmer in the relay, having the honour of completing the challenge by touching France.
Hannah was the final swimmer in the relay, having the honour of completing the challenge by touching France.
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A Harrogate woman battled jellyfish, sea sickness, disorientation and cold water in the ‘pitch black’ during a swimming relay across the English Channel.

Former Harrogate Ladies College student, Hannah Lowther, 26, was one of seven swimmers in the cross Channel charity relay and had the honour of touching Northern France in her final stint.

Hannah battled cold water in the dark, sickness and disorientation - all without a wet suit!

Hannah battled cold water in the dark, sickness and disorientation - all without a wet suit!

For a week Hannah waited on-call to be told when the tide was safe for the swimmers to set off, but despite months of cold water training, nothing had prepared her for the darkness.

Hannah said: “The first six hours were the hardest because it was through the night.

“We set off at 10pm, you’re swimming in pitch black, you’re disorientated and you’re just trying not to think about what is beneath you because you can’t see anything.

“I was sick in the water while I was swimming because it was like a washing machine - a lot of people were ill when they were in the water and after they’d just come out.

“Everyone was being sick off the side of the boat at one point. We hadn’t had any preparation for swimming in the dark before.”

Growing up, Hannah trained with Harrogate District swimming club but it was her late grandmother that inspired Hannah to take on the Channel.

Hannah said: “We celebrated her 90th birthday and you get sent a card where they tell you about all the interesting things that happened the year you were born.

“One of the things for my gran was that Gertrude Ederle was the first person to successfully swim the Channel.

Hannah added: “It was something I thought about doing for a while and then a friend got in touch to say that she was putting a team together and they were looking for one last swimmer.

“Three weeks later grandmother passed away. It was fate really.”

The touching tribute to her grandmother saw Hannah raise £2,300 for Place2be. a charity that provides mental health support to students.

Hannah said: “I feel a huge sense of achievement I think ultimately because it was so much harder than I thought, getting over the fear of the dark and being that person to touch France was just a huge honour, representing the team and everything we have been through.”