‘Dad has never given up ... neither will I’

Caroline Connor with her dad Raymond Currie.
Caroline Connor with her dad Raymond Currie.

When Caroline Connor battles the tides as she attempts to swim the English Channel next week, one man will be on her mind ... her dad.

Caroline, 46, an admin assistant and first aider at Peebles High School, has been inspired by her dad Raymond Currie to take on the gruelling 22-mile challenge, rasing funds for Parkinson’s UK and Diabetes UK.

Caroline Connor will attempt to swim the English Channel next week.

Caroline Connor will attempt to swim the English Channel next week.

Raymond has been living with Parkinson’s for 12 years, and it’s his refusal to give in to the condition that will keep Caroline going.

She said: “My dad is such an inspiration to me.

“He isn’t one of life’s quitters. He continues life with a positive mental attitude and attacks the hurdles and barriers created by Parkinson’s as and when they come along.

“If he had given up I would have been really angry with him, but he hasn’t and he still hopes that a cure will be found during his lifetime.

“My English Channel swim will be one of the hardest things that I will ever do in my life.

“It will take the largest amount of physical and mental agility to complete the swim, but if my dad can continue with his positive outlook then I can swim from Dover to Calais – easy peasy.

“My mum, dad and husband Grahame will be waving me off at some unearthly hour on the morning of my swim and will be waiting for me on my return to Dover, what else could I ask for? I can’t wait!”

Caroline was awarded a diabetes care in schools award for the work she does with the pupils who have type 1 diabetes at the school, hence half the money she raises is going to that charity also.

Swimming the English Channel remains one of the toughest challenges going and is certainly not to be undertaken without serious training.

While Caroline has only been open-water swimming for four years, she has steadily built up her range over the time.

She told us: “In 2017 I swam the length of Loch Lomond (22 miles) in 12 hours and 21 minutes, and last year I swam Loch Awe (26 miles) in 12:45 – these swims were tough, mentally and physically, but even then I knew I needed to attempt the English Channel.

“Sea swimming is much harder than loch swimming due to the tidal changes, salt water and jellyfish, as well as having to avoid the large ships, but these factors won’t put me off and in fact will drive me further to succeed with my attempt to swim from Dover to Calais.

“I don’t have a ‘time’ in mind, but somewhere around 14 hrs would be pretty good!

She said: “I currently swim around 70km per week at the Peebles Hydro Leisure Club where the staff are so supportive of my training and at the weekends I train at St Mary’s Loch or Loch Lubnaig near Callander.

“I swim all throughout the year, even during the winter.

“The lowest water temperature I have been in was 1.8o C last year at St Mary’s Loch, breaking the ice as I swam and lasting 30 minutes before my feet started to feel like blocks of ice.

“As the weather warms up my weekend training outdoors reaches 25-30km each weekend with sessions lasting up to seven hours.

“As you can imagine it’s hard work, but in order to complete these challenges the training must be put in and I won’t take anything for granted.

“I obviously need the support of my husband Grahame who deserves a medal for all he does for me, giving up his golf and football to take me training every weekend.

“Support also comes from my swim coach Robert Hamilton from Vigour Events, Glasgow and my family and friends too.”

However, another Borderer can lay claim to setting her on her lifelong love of swimming.

She said: “My swimming teacher and inspiration for enjoying swimming from the age of four came from Selkirk swimming teacher Billy Laidlaw – he was the best!”

Caroline has beenbeen given a window of five days from next Thursday to begin her swim.

She added: “Going by the weather forecast, it does look like Thursday is going to be the day, probably starting at around 3am.”

From a £1,000 target, Caroline has already raised more than £3,400.

People can support Caroline’s fundraising at https://bit.ly/2XFo7GZ