By Morissa Lindsay
Barbadian Mark Farmer is hours away from writing his name on the page of history as the second man from this country to swim the English Channel since Chris Gibbs in 2003, when he swam for almost 12 hours.
At 37, Farmer is trying to swim from Sapphire Hoe, Folkestone/Dover in England, which is the starting point and ends on the French coast – exact location not yet known due to current conditions – but he will have one goal in mind as it enters the water and it is to time less than 11 hours and 30 minutes, which was the standard set at the time by the legendary Gibbs.
An alumnus of St. Winifred’s School and The Lodge School, Farmer will be surrounded by an expert boat crew for this significant attempt. It starts at 6.30am UK time, or 1.30am Barbados time for those who want to follow the event.
It is expected that all members of the support team will swim part of the course with Farmer in accordance with swimming rules. All members of Farmer’s support team were also part of the historic swims that Cameron Bellamy took when he swam around Barbados as well as his swim from Barbados to St. Lucia in 2018. As per the rules, Farmer will only be allowed to swim in a regular bathing suit, a pair of goggles and a swimming cap.
Weather conditions by all reports are favourable, although a chilly 13-17 degrees Celsius and water temperature should be around 18 degrees.
Similar to Bellamy, funds raised to support the Channel swim will go to the Ubunye Challenge Charity – Going for the extreme for Africa. Farmer drew his inspiration for swimming in the English Channel at Bellamy. The entire Farmer family were also part of Bellamy’s support team in Barbados in 2018 and 2019.
A farmer who has represented Barbados in various sporting disciplines such as swimming, water polo, surfing, crossfit and triathlon, originally planned swimming for 2020 but it was not possible due to the pandemic . The next available date was September 2022 and since then Farmer and his support team have been training hard for swimming on the south and west coast of Barbados.
The support team joining Farmer tomorrow consists of Geoff Farmer (Sr), Cameron Bellamy – Chris Sikkens, Alison Pile, John Howard and John Mike Peterkin.