THERE’S nothing like a night-time dip in the briny, as Dervla Ireland discovered after getting permission to swim the English Channel.

The junior doctor from Ealing Hospital was part of a six-person relay team whose crossing had been deferred by adverse weather.

“We finally got the nod at 10.30pm on Sunday,” she said. “I can’t say I recommend night-time swimming in the Channel. It’s cold, wet and you can’t see where you are going.

“You bump into all sorts in the water, and I’m pretty sure I swam into a jellyfish, but luckily it hit my swimming cap and slid off without stinging me.”

She began training a year ago but faced serious disruption when the second lockdown caused swimming pools to close and group activities to be suspended.

She stayed in shape by cycling and running, despite the punishing workload on a COVID ward.

Dervla found a novel way to acclimatise to the bracing water by taking increasingly long, cold showers and baths to toughen her up.

The Aspire Bulldogs needed all their tenacity to complete the 21-mile crossing which stretched to 31 miles with the drift of the current.

Dervla was raising money for Aspire, a charity that helps people with life-changing spinal injuries regain their independence.