A KINGSWINFORD woman is preparing to take on an epic challenge this Bank Holiday weekend.

Yvonne Sidaway will be swimming the English Channel on Sunday August 29 as part of a relay team of five to six people – swimming in aid of Aspire which supports people with spinal cord injuries.

On average it takes around 12 hours to swim the channel, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but it could take up to 16 hours depending on conditions and the capability of the team.

Yvonne said: "The channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, the average water temperature is around 18 degrees. The total distance depending on tides is around 21 miles and depending on conditions could increase to 40-miles plus.

"There will be times when we will be swimming in the dark, with jellyfish and whatever the sea throws at us as well as dodging ferries and other shipping as well as diesel pollution."

Stourbridge News: Yvonne Sidaway and her swimming team matesYvonne Sidaway and her swimming team mates

Sport-loving Yvonne decided to take on the challenge for Aspire after breaking her ankle in 2016 which made her reflect on how life would have been if she hadn't fully recovered. She wanted to support the charity as she said: "Without Aspire people with a spinal cord injury wouldn’t have access to rehabilitation or gain the independence and confidence to face the challenges they find themselves up against.

"I don’t personally know anyone with a spinal cord injury, but it's an honour to be able to contribute towards the immense work that Aspire does so that they continue to help people with spinal cord injury."

Yvonne took up open water swimming around three years ago and swims regularly at local reservoirs and she said: "I enjoy the challenge open water swimming brings, with the cold and the different climates and each swim is never the same. I signed up to do a relay channel swim because, although I enjoy open water swimming, I wanted to challenge myself and have something to aim for. I have always been inspired by seeing others swim the channel and so I began researching how I could do this too."

She's been in training for the big challenge for the last 12 months and during the lockdowns had to improvise by using equipment at home and having a regular running routine.

She has since been doing cardio, indoor and outdoor swimming and taking fitness classes to get into tip top condition. She's also worked with a personal trainer and swim coach and she said: "I have had to incorporate a training plan to my working week and weekends and be strict in ensuring I follow the plan. I have had to increase my confidence, grow with the challenge and believe that I can succeed. I am super excited about it and motivated by the other teams that have completed their swims already."

Family-run business Precision Plumbing, Heating and Bathrooms in Brierley Hill are among those sponsoring Yvonne to complete her challenge and she said: "I’d like to say a massive thank you to all those that have sponsored me and thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped with my achievements in training and staying focussed during lockdown and the months leading up to the challenge."

To date she has raised more than £3,000 but people can still donate online at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/yvonne-sidaway