Jack joined by his Mum for cross channel swim hat-trick

16 Nov 2017

Cadet Sergeant Jack Fitzpatrick, of 1063 (Herne Bay) Squadron, has swum the channel for a third time as part of a relay team which included his mum Sandra, with dad, Squadron Leader Brian Fitzpatrick, in the support boat.

Jack has previously swum the Channel as part of the RAF Air Cadet 75th Cross Channel Swim team providing the inspiration for him Mum Sandra to join a team together.

Jack's mum, Sandra said: "I've always been a keen swimmer from an early age. 

“I lived in Folkestone and my parents used to take me up to the cliffs and we looked out across the channel at the coast of France and I thought it would be a good idea even then.

“I was watching the ATC Team at the training weekend in May 2016 and decided to take on the same challenge as I'd always wanted to swim the channel."

A team of like-minded people, calling themselves The Herne Baythers, was formed and commenced their training in a local indoor pool through winter and then started sea swimming in Dover in March.

This continued right up to the time Jack completed his second team swim with the Air Cadets. Jack said: "We held regular meetings and I was able to provide a lot of information from my previous swim.  

“Once we were on the boat my experience as an SNCO really helped when I was giving reassurance and guidance to the rest of the team, who at times were overwhelmed by the whole event. 

“I didn't let on that I felt under a bit of pressure! I found out afterwards that they named me 'The Reluctant Captain'".

Jack led the team of six setting off at 8.55am from Shakespeare Beach on board Sea Satin skippered by Lance Oram. As on previous swims, Jack took the team through the Separation Zone towards France but for the first time had to get in for a third swim, this time at night.   While they progressed across the Channel Brian Fitzpatrick had his work cut out, not only supporting the team with refreshments and encouragement but also keeping his balance throughout the journey!

Sandra commenced the last swim of the crossing at 11.00pm and said: "I was a bit unnerved by swimming in the dark and the pilot saying you really need to go for it. 

“The pilot escorted me in the last 500m in an inflatable dinghy until finally I found a rock to steady myself and stood up with my arms held high to signify the end of our challenge."  

The time recorded for The Herne Baythers was 14 hours 43 minutes.

The whole team has subsequently returned to France via the ferry to see in daylight the area where Sandra had landed and so that they could complete the story.  

Of the whole experience Sandra said: "I was absolutely elated after our swim.  This has been a life changing experience for me because of the people I have met along the way, the soloists and those who have swum the crossing before.  

“Over 100 of the swimmers who were doing their training alongside us in Dover have already met up again for a wonderful end of season barbecue."

The last word has to come from Brian who said: "I am very proud of Sandra and could not have imagined from our first meeting as respective members of the Herne Bay Girls Venture Corps and Air Training Corps that we would be sharing this family adventure with our son Jack."