Team ‘Mind Your Head’ are now officially ‘Channel Crossers’!
On Tuesday 3rd September Oxford students Eli Ball, Anna Bennett, Tatiana Cutts, James Hillis, Eleanor Jaskowska, and Nat Ware donned their fluro swim suits and Vaseline to swim the English Channel as a relay team.
The purpose of the swim was to raise money for the OUSU charity and mental health awareness campaign, “Mind Your Head”. The campaign works hard to raise awareness of and tackle the stigma surrounding mental health in Oxford.
The team were preparing for many months, completing quite a few miles in our pool but mainly outdoor as the rigours of long distance open water swimming need to be replicated. Training in water as cold as 12 degrees, and completing their two hour qualifying test swim at Bournemouth more than a month ago. No amount of training, however, could truly prepare for the challenge of swimming one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world with one of the highest tidal ranges!
Each of the team was required to swim for over an hour at a time for as long as it took to reach the French coast, in water no warmer than 16 degrees Celsius. There were several bouts of seasickness, lost hats, cramps and jellyfish, but the team completed the 21 miles between Dover and Calais in just under fourteen and a half hours.
Tatiana Cutts, who is also the Oxford University Women’s Rugby Captain, said:
“Seb Baird and I founded Mind Your Head almost two years ago to try to bring conversations about mental illness from the clinical to the social sphere. I couldn’t be more grateful to the rest of the team for helping us to carry on that work, and to raise the profile of the campaign in a way that I know stretched each of us to our limits. There were tears (my own), jellyfish (that Jimmy thought were seals), seals (that Jimmy thought were rocks) and enough Haribo to bring on type 2 diabetes. To the team and to everyone who supported us from dry land, thank you, so much.”
The campaign has three aims: to raise awareness of mental illness, help beat the stigma associated with it and improve students’ mental well-being.