Barnoldswick woman swims English Channel

Jo Norton-Barker (left)
Jo Norton-Barker (left)
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A BARNOLDSWICK woman has taken an unusual route to get to France by swimming the English Channel.

Jo Norton-Barker (42), of Ambleside Avenue, completed her long-time ambition on July 25th in 16 hours and 54 minutes after 18 months of solid training for the event.

Jo Norton-Barker

Jo Norton-Barker

The systems accountant and mother-of-two was swimming for charity too and has topped her target of £1,000 for research into Fibromyalgia after one of her closest friends was struck down with the debilitating disease a few years ago.

Jo, who started outdoor water swimming about six years ago, is a member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association and Warrington Dolphins and has swam the length of Windermere before.

In just a regular swimming costume, goggles and swim cap, but with family in friends in a pilot vessel beside her, Jo battled the French tide to achieve her goal and described the feeling of arriving on the beach of Wissant, a small town about 12 miles from Calais, as “the best in the world”.

She said: “When I felt the sand under my feet, it was just the best feeling in the world. I jumped up and down screaming and scared an old French lady walking her dog. It still feels like a bit of a dream.

“I had to swim for over four hours just to keep my position because I caught the outgoing tide on the French side of the channel.

“I started to doubt myself at one point and then my support swimmer Michaela Richard jumped in to help. I had some advice as well not to look forward, not to look back, just swim.

“I’ve had a fantastic support crew, there are so many people I need to thank. I couldn’t have done it without them. Michaela Richard, my support swimmer, Martin Coates, my fiancé Mick Blackburn and two teenage daughters Jennifer and Hannah.

“Also, my friends at Warrington Dolphins, Craven Energy, the British Long Distance Swimmers Association and staff at West Craven Sports Centre who put a lane out in the swimming pool for me so I could keep my mileage up during the winter months.”

You can sponsor Jo by visiting her Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/swim4fibro