26 May Harlow Lady Swims the Width of the Channel in a Paddling Pool for Charity
Harlow resident and local Salvation Army Major, Karen Sandford, has taken on the challenge of swimming the width of the English Channel (21 miles) in a rather unusual way – a paddling pool set up in her back garden. She hopes the swim will help to raise essential funds to ensure the Salvation Army can continue its essential work during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Before lockdown, Karen was a regular cold-water swimmer at Redricks Lake. As well as being a good source of regular exercise, Karen used this outlet as a way to help manage her mental health. However, like many during the early days of lockdown Karen was forced to give up swimming in public places. When her husband was diagnosed with Coronavirus in early March 2020, coupled with the sad passing away of members of her congregation from the virus, Karen set her sights on a new challenge and outlet to help relieve stress and focus her mind on the key work she and other members of the local Salvation Army Corp provide in the area.
In a remarkable moment of creativity, Karen set up a small blow-up swimming pool in the garden with a water temperature of just 11 degrees and started swimming while attached to the washing line by a tether. Starting with an initial target of 10km, Karen has since increased this and pledged to swim 21 miles, the width of the Strait of Dover, with the aim of raising £500 for charity. Along the way, Karen has also been completing ‘mini challenges’, such as swimming for 52 minutes on her 52nd birthday, and 32 minutes on her and husband Chris’ wedding anniversary.
The Salvation Amy, which receives the majority of its funding from local charity shops and the hire of the hall spaces for local events – all of course which has had to stop during COVID-19 – works with some of the most vulnerable people in society who need support now more than ever. From running food banks and checking up on people who live alone, to offering counselling and supporting NHS isolation units, Salvation Army churches all over the country are responding to the crisis in dozens of different ways but need support from people who are able to donate urgently.
Karen will continue to swim in her freezing cold paddling pool until she has completed her 21-mile challenge – the distance is being monitored by her Fitbit fitness tracker as she goes.
To help Karen reach or even exceed her funding goal, please visit her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harlow-corps-the-salvation-army1?.