A MEDICAL student who swam 21 miles across the Channel has told how jelly babies and a determination to raise money for charity got her through the gruelling challenge.

Marisa Schubert spent 14 hours and 40 minutes making her way through the busy shipping lane between England and France.

The 21-year-old, of Headington, managed to raise almost £1,100 for the Stroke Association through her efforts.

She said: “The water can be so unpredictable people told me not to have a target time, but I was just pleased I completed the journey.

“I enjoyed most of it, at some points it was pretty hard going, between hours seven and eight I got very tired; if the boat had not been in front of me to follow I might have fallen asleep.”

She added: “I originally aimed for £500 because I thought that was quite a lot of money, but I have been blown away by how generous people have been.

“And not just with their money, with the crew and the pilot on the boat and my friends who sat on a cold rainy boat for 14 hours feeding me squash and jelly babies.

Oxford Mail:

Marisa during her challenge

“It still hasn’t properly sunk in that I have done it yet.

“I just feel that I have really fulfilled a dream I have had for a long time.”

Miss Schubert did not eat a special diet before swam, her preparation was mostly exercise.

But she did have to rub Vaseline on to her neck beforehand to stop the water chaffing.

She said: “It was very weird swimming up to the beach when I was about to get out.

“There was a family walking along and I was praying they wouldn’t try and help me, because it would have invalidated the swim.

“But thankful they didn’t.”

Miss Schubert trained at the Rosenblatt pool at Iffley Road Sports Centre, as well as swimming in the Thames and Queensford Lake.

She said: “I would get up at about 5.10am for a 6am start in the lake and have to cycle there and back.

“A couple of times I would see beer cans floating past me and think ‘I don’t even want to know what is underneath me’.

“I did it for necessity really.”

The swim started in Folkestone and ended in the French seaside town of Wissant in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region on Sunday.

Open water swimming enthusiast Miss Schubert had dreamed of completing the Channel crossing since she was 12.

She was inspired after reading Swimming to Antarctica by long-distance American swimmer Lynne Cox. Cox swam the channel at the age of 16 and twice held the world record for a man or woman crossing it in the fastest time.

Last year Miss Schubert took part in the Oxford University v Cambridge University Channel relay race, in which each member of the team swims for an hour and then comes out of the water.

The trainee doctor, who rotates between all the Oxford hospitals, said: “I got out of the water last year and just thought, ‘I could do more of that’. So I signed up for the Channel swim. I am used to swimming in the open and have done a lot in Devon and wanted to take on a bigger challenge.”

Chanelling in

Who else has swum the Channel? 

  • Comedian David Walliams, pictured, swam to France in 2006 for Sport Relief. It took him 10 hours and 34 minutes.
  • Captain Matthew Webb was the first man to swim the channel in 1875. His time was 21 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Thomas Gregory completed the swim at the age of 11 years and 11 months, on September 6, 1988. He is the youngest person ever to swim the Channel. 
  • Gertrude Ederle, an American, was the first woman to swim the
  • 21-mile distance on August 6, 1926.
  • Alison Streeter, nicknamed ‘Queen of the Channel’ has completed the open water challenge 46 times.
  • Trent Grimsey, from Australia, notched up the quickest time of six hours and 55 minutes for a one-way crossing