Sponsors & Supporters
“Losing one of your best friends while a teenager is not something you would ever imagine happening, and learning to get past it has been the biggest challenge of my life so far. A few weeks after Luke had died, Rich suggested that we swim the English Channel in his memory – it was a perfect tribute for our friend. It had been an idea all three of us had for years, that one day we would cross together. We looked into it, and with the help of the Trust booked a crossing for the following September, which at the time seemed such a long way away.
But the time flew, and before we knew it we were training in Dover, every weekend, swimming for six hours on both days. We then realised the enormity of the challenge we had taken on - we had expected it to be tough, but I don’t think either of us expected it to be as hard as it was. Swimming in 8o water for the first time in a pair of Speedo’s really did knock us back! But with the help of Freda, the Channel Swimming Coach, we made it through training with many ups and (even more) downs and we were ready for the big swim.
All of a sudden, it seemed that the event I had been training for the whole of my life, was tomorrow. I just hoped everything went well. Luke’s family and friends came to Dover to see us off, which in a way made my nerves a lot worse - all I could think was if I failed, they would all be here to see, and I wouldn’t be able to fail quietly!!
During the first three hours I wanted to get out, I just ‘knew’ I wasn’t going to make it. Looking at the horizon, I knew I had to swim past this ‘wall’ to achieve my goal - the feeling was indescribable. I decided that I couldn’t get out too early though as I would look like a joke. After three hours things changed, I realised I was around a quarter of the way there, and it suddenly seemed possible that I might make it.
Swimming for prolonged periods of time (not just the swim, but in training as well) is really quite tough. You’re on your own, and it’s a long time to be by yourself without anything else, just swimming. I had a lot of time to think about things, and how things might have been different. Occasionally I felt like Luke was swimming next to me.
They say that every swimmer has a bad hour, and after eight hours, I had mine. The tides had changed and I realised that I had only made 0.5mile in an hour – a snail’s pace for me. I wanted to get out, but at the same time knew I wouldn’t ever get out, I couldn’t let Luke down. I felt he was there with me, and I had to finish the challenge for him.
Touching rock was the biggest sense of relief in the world, being able to sit down is such an undervalued thing! I could see Rich swimming in, and for the first time I realised the size of the achievement we had made – it really was the perfect way to say goodbye to Luke.
Since then, my motivation has been to raise funds for the Trust, hoping to prevent what happened to Luke happening again. I definitely have caught the open water swimming ‘bug’ and have since swam the Gibraltar Straits, and Rich, James, Rob and I are hoping to become the first British people to do a two-way crossing of Gibraltar in 2010”.
“The Luke Jeffrey Memorial Trust is close to my heart, as Luke was a very good friend of mine. When Chris and I decided to swim across the English Channel, the Trust financially supported the project and the sponsorship we raised was donated back in return. Chris and I are very proud that our donation paid for the production of the Shallow Water Blackout film which highlights associated dangers and risks. I am also delighted that the Trust promotes advanced training through the Competitive Swimming Day in Coventry”.
James Salter joined the Sponsors and Supporter’s team in 2008 by swimming across the Straits of Gibraltar with Chris Smith and Richard Ing. James took up open water swimming after "some years off exercise" and completed a solo crossing of the English Channel in August 2009.
"The journey for Luke's family has been one which most of us have no comprehension. Turning defeat into victory is easier said than done. However, this is exactly what the Trust has achieved. Through Luke's death other young athletes are being reminded about the hazards of Shallow Water Blackout and if we save one life then we have really made a difference. I did not know Luke personally but I feel that he has been very much part of my family's life in the last two years. Swimming meant the world to him and it is through open water swimming that I have begun to learn a lot about myself and put into context the really important things in life. Without Luke, none of this would have happened and for that I am very privileged”.
James will continue his fundraising for the Trust in 2010.
Supporters of The Luke Jeffrey Memorial Trust:-
Pupils of Chipping Campden School -/- Spirit of Christmas in Chipping Campden 2007 and 2008 -/- The Fire Service College, Moreton in Marsh -/- 4Shires Swimming Club -/- Sam Smith, sponsored head shave -/- Great Western Arms, Blockley -/- Oxon & North Bucks ASA -/- Abingdon Swimming Club -/- Gloucester City Swimming Club -/- Belhus Cricket Club and Richard Waters -/- North Cotwolds Ladies Circle -/- Chipping Campden Rotary Club -/- Tree of Indulgence 2008 -/- Sharron Davies & Ready Steady Cook -/- Boardcrete Ltd -/- Sita -/- Caledonia Group Services -/- Ian and Deborah Gray -/- Alex Rose, Beards -/- Steve Smith, Newent -/-