"…fewer people swim the Channel than climb Everest!"

On 9 July 2023, SCHWIM, an amazing team of Access Sport fundraisers, took on the daunting challenge of swimming across the English Channel. The SCHWIM team were raising money to support us in our continued mission to make inclusion the norm by tackling the access barriers faced by disadvantaged and disabled young people.

Article by SCHWIM team leader, Elia Montanari.

It was an incredible 36km long SCHWIM in over 15 hours filled with determination and teamwork from the SCHWIMMERS: Francesca Bormioli, Lucy Kennedy, Giovanni Leoncini and Elia Montanari.

Julian Critchlow, an English Channel expert, tells us that "…fewer people swim the Channel than climb Everest!", we all believe him since we have no idea how solo Channel Swimmers do it...

What have we learnt from the SCHWIM of the English Channel? There appear to be not many fish in the English Channel, but there are zillions of jellyfish, Elia found their encounter a welcome change to the dullness of the unchangeable colour of the water "Hey look, there is a red one that must be one meter long!".

We all agreed that during our four, one-hour swimming slots we experienced many emotions but fear was never on the plate.

Our crew Aunt K and Uncle Ru, pilot Michael Oram and his team Mike and Dan kept a close eye on us at all times. Francesca's smiles out of the water were as refreshing as the cool waters of the Channel. 

When you think there is nothing left to squeeze from your muscles, you can find more. Lucy powered through the most critical moment and in her last hour of SCHWIMMING.

As we reflect on this achievement, we can't help but feel a deep sense of accomplishment. "Welcome to the club," our captain Mike told us, and those seemingly simple words resonated with us long after we finally woke up from a well-deserved rest. This accomplishment will be etched in our memories for many years to come.

Humbled by the achievement, we won't forget who supported us every step of the way. For this, we express our heartfelt gratitude to all 53 donors who helped us raise over 3,000 GBP! Your generous contributions have made a significant impact on the lives of the disadvantaged and disabled young that Access Sport supports. 

Your belief in our mission and unwavering support have meant the world to us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

If not yet done so, you can still like to support our cause, because every contribution counts, no matter how big or small, please consider making a donation.

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Together, we can continue to inspire others and make a lasting difference.

To the many more adventures that lie ahead!


Francesca was the latest addition yet, as the old saying goes, last and definitely not least. The SCHWIM team would have not made it without Francesca thanks to her dedication and her picture-perfect arrival at Cap-Griz-Nez. In her working life, Francesca lends extensive research and policy experience from her work across the EU.

Giovanni is arguably the strongest swimmer from the SCHWIM although by the end of the four hours he was also faltering. His experience in meteorology was as useful as his strong pace in the swim since the proposed 9th of July date was mired in thunderstorms.

Lucy is an accomplished entrepreneur, leading Spottitt's growth providing satellite analytics. Her CEO perseverance was definitely put to the test during the SCHWIM. True to her word, Lucy arranged for Airbus Defence and Space to take a lovely 30cm resolution Pleiades Neo image of our SCHWIM. Sadly the weather wasn't playing ball and we had 100% cloud cover.

Elia could be said to have kick-started the SCHWIM and enticed the team during one of his "fearless" moments one and a half years ago. He is not a seasoned SCHWIMMER, unlike the rest of the team, so he had some catch-up training to do in between managing budgets for complex space programs for the Space Agency.