A student from Bournemouth’s Park School recently saw the results of hard work, commitment and dedication to fulfilling a personal ambition, when his Mum completed her long-awaited swim across the English Channel.
Alex – a year five pupil at the outstanding independent school situated just a mile from the coast – played a crucial role in supporting Laura Goodwin’s gruelling training regime over the past three-years, which culminated in her final goal of swimming from Dover to Calais.
As her ultimate cheerleader, Alex has taken part in some unique extracurricular activities during that time, helping to keep his mum motivated. In and around his school commitments, he spent time with her completing gym workouts and doing lengths at the local pool.
Hailing from West Virginia, USA, Laura has always been into her swimming which has become a part of her life. When she was younger, she swam in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division Three and continued that dedication to the sport throughout college and beyond.
When she started a family, swimming took second place for a while as she juggled her new life as a mum, but Laura was determined to keep it going as a hobby and find time to train. Eventually, this made her more determined to find a goal to work towards, so she decided to push herself and aim for the immensely tough challenge of swimming the Channel.
On the 11th of July 2022, at around 7:30am her swim began, with the family cheering on from afar, back on the sandy beaches of Bournemouth. Although Alex was keen to be watching his Mum from the white cliffs of Dover, he also did not want to miss any of his last few days of term.
Instead, the family kept in close contact throughout with the swim team, tracking Laura’s progress as she set sail on her goal of reaching destination Calais. Just under 11 hours on from starting – at around 6:15pm – Laura had reached Calais, exhausted but exhilarated that it was mission accomplished.
Laura said of her achievement: “It’s always been a goal of mine to swim the Channel, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To have finally completed it after all this time is so incredibly rewarding.”
“Throughout, I have wanted to show Alex, and his other Park School friends, that if you really put your mind to a task and if you genuinely want to achieve it, you will find a way to do so.
“It takes incredible perseverance and resilience, but everyone’s support has really got me through some tough times, especially when training wasn’t going so well during the Covid lockdowns.
“Alex has been a great sport and a source of encouragement for me. I know he has many fantastic teachers at Park School who he looks up to for inspiration, but I also wanted to show him that hard work really does pay off.
“He’s been there with me every step of the way, and this has been such a great bonding experience for us, as we planned the whole challenge together.”
Swimming the channel involves a huge amount of preparation, not just from the physical fitness point of view. Participants must book with one of just a dozen pilots whose boats are registered to take swimmers across the Channel, and good slots start getting booked up to three years in advance.
Individuals must also pass a medical exam, as well as completing a 6-hour qualifying swim in water that is 16 degrees or below, in order to be given the green light. Organisations certifying a Channel swim make it clear these are the very basic requirements, and that a swimmer’s preparation should be far more rigorous to ensure this feat of endurance can be completed in the safest possible way.
Alex added: “I’m really proud of my Mom for completing the swim, I know it’s been a goal of hers for a while and I was happy to see her finally accomplish it. This makes me feel like I can accomplish great things when I grow up.”
Park School is part of the Forfar Group which prides itself on offering its children a whole range of extra-curricular activities alongside the delivery of academic excellence, enabling them to become well-rounded young adults that are equipped for anything life throws at them. To find out more about Park School, or to book a tour, visit www.parkschool.co.uk .