Insp Richard Kemsley, who is based in the CNC Strategic Escort Group (SEG), successfully completed his epic swim on Monday (18/7) in 16 hours 41 minutes, fulfilling a childhood dream and raising over £4,500 for the Yellow Submarine charity.
Richard, who joined the CNC in 2002 after a 10 year career in both the Royal and Merchant Navies, has always had a love of the sea and open water and first decided three years ago to achieve his lifelong ambition.
He was keen to raise money for Yellow Submarine, a charity which is close to his heart as his 14-year-old daughter Sophia is a member. Yellow Submarine gives people with learning difficulties and autism the chance to build their social skills, independence and their employability as they get older by arranging days out in the community as well as holidays and work experience, which is not just invaluable for them but also provides respite for their families. Visit their website to find out more and visit Richard’s giving page to donate.
Training began in open water swims with the Durley Sea Swimmers in Bournemouth, which his wife Clare helps to run, and at Queenford Lake near Culham, Abingdon, where Richard is based at CNC HQ. PC Barry Parker also encouraged him by kayaking alongside as he swam the length of Lake Coniston as part of his training. After three years of hard graft, Richard was planning on making his attempt in August, however due to weather and tidal conditions this was brought forward to Monday 18 July.
Setting off from Shakespeare Beach in Kent at 6am, he was accompanied by the aptly named Optimist support boat, piloted by Paul Foreman and crewed by three of his colleagues from SEG, who had the important job of greasing him up before they set off!
On board the Optimist was also an independent observer from the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation, who was there to make sure Richard didn’t, at any time, touch the boat or another person and also wasn’t using anything to insulate himself from the cold water.
Not being able to touch anyone meant the high energy protein drinks that Richard consumed to keep him going through the swim had to be dangled over the side of the boat on a fishing line by one of his support crew, made up of Geoff Norris, Lou Mean and Steve Hutchinson.
During his epic swim, his support team posted regular updates on a dedicated Facebook page, which they shouted out to him as he swam. The English Channel is 21 miles across, however Richard estimates he covered double that distance due to tides pushing him up and down the channel.
Richard said: “I am so proud to have swum the channel, although I’m looking forward to being able to raise my arms more than a couple of inches again as they’re too sore to move at the moment – not surprising as my wife has calculated I took more than 50,000 strokes!
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without my pilot and support crew, but also without my wife Clare, who has been massively supportive from day one. I am enormously grateful to them all. I would also like to thank those who followed me on Facebook and sent through so many messages of support and encouragement.
“Coming up to hour 15, the pilot told me the tide had changed against me and I was going to have to really push to make it to the beach. That last hour and a bit was far and away the worst of the whole swim and the messages shouted to me from the boat really pushed me through it so thanks to those who offered such support.
“Not only have I achieved something I have always wanted to do, I have raised money for a fantastic charity and have received sponsorship from friends, family and colleagues throughout CNC, including some of our stakeholders at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, International Nuclear Services and what was the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
“I hope that now people know I have completed the challenge, they will continue to dig deep and make donations via my giving page.”