Heather dives into channel challenge

READY, SET, GO: Heather Urie kick started the English Channel relay swim from the shores of England.

Grace Griffith 


A GRANDMOTHER of two, formerly of Carrajung, recently swam the English Channel – the body of water separating England from France.

At 63, Heather Urie completed one of the most gruelling swims of her life as part of an Australian relay team dubbed the Tenacious Turtles.

“I was swimming at the Traralgon outdoor pool when I got talking with this woman – Andrea Buckland – next to me and she told me about swimming the English Channel,” Heather said.

She initially said “No” to the attempt but soon changed her mind.

“I was swimming next to Andrea and found I was as fast as her,” she said.

“I thought it would be a good challenge for me.”

While Heather has always had a love for the water, swimming the English Channel was her first challenge of its kind.

In the eight months leading up to the channel crossing, she increased her usual routine of swimming two kilometres, four times a week to completing three and a half kilometre swims four times a week, along with an open water swim to acclimatise to cooler water.

Out of her five person relay team, Heather was the first in the channel and completed three gruelling hours during three legs of the relay.

Heather left the shore of England at Dover and the team accomplished its feat when Andrea landed in France, 13 hours and 43 minutes later.

While the distance between the two coasts is officially around 32 kilometres, the actual swim distance varies according to tides and the French coastline, and the Tenacious Turtles covered approximately 50 kilometres.

“We had been training for 10 degree waters here in Australia, but when we got in the channel, it was between 16 and 18 degrees, so it was fine,” Heather said.

But while temperatures weren’t a shock to the system, the choppiness of the water was.

“The water was a bit like a washing machine,” Heather said.

Nevertheless, nothing could dampen the team’s achievement.  

“It was such an amazing experience. It’s just so good for your mental health,” Heather said.

“Afterwards my mental health really picked up and now I feel a lot more confident within myself as well.

“Sometimes I’d feel myself getting a little bit low and having this challenge really helped.”

In support of mental health, Heather and the Tenacious Turtles raised more than $11,000 towards Lifeline in the lead-up to the swim.

“Growing up my dad was one of the first telephone counsellors in Melbourne for Lifeline, so I was very aware about mental health and it’s very dear to my heart,” Heather said.

The swimming enthusiast is now gearing up for a 10km open water swim in Williamstown this December.

Her advice: “Find something you really love doing and to look forward to when you get out of bed in the morning. Find your little tribe and set little goals and go for it!”

Heather now lives in Traralgon.



Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=30329

Posted by on Nov 6 2019. Filed under Community, Featured, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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