An Ealing junior doctor was part of a team that swam the English Channel for charity earlier this month.

Dervla Ireland, who worked on Covid wards during the pandemic, was part of a team of six that raised almost £25,000 for Aspire, a charity supporting people facing spinal cord injury.

Adverse weather conditions meant that the team did not get the green light to start swimming until 10:30pm on Sunday 12 September.

This left them facing the challenge in the dark.

Whilst they had known that this could be a possibility, their training had not focussed on night swimming.

Ireland said: “It doesn’t really prepare you for the reality, it was really discombobulating.”

She described being able to see only the boat ahead of her using a headlight, and periods of the swim where she could not see anything at all and was bumping into things in the water.

Describing the night-time swimming, she said: “It was definitely the most difficult part of the swim - it was cold and you couldn’t see.

“I don’t think we could have really prepared for that.”

Ealing Times: Night swimming was part of the challenge for Ireland and teamNight swimming was part of the challenge for Ireland and team

Each member of the team swam for an hour at a time, with each swimmer doing 2-3 shifts. 

The team had been brought together by the charity as part of their Relay Challenge Swim.

Aspire works with people who have spinal cord injuries, helping them to regain their personal and financial independence.

The team exceeded their fundraising target with their brilliant effort, allowing Aspire to continue their important work.

When pools were closed in the second lockdown, Ireland stayed fit by running and cycling, and started taking cold showers and baths to get used to the temperature. 

The channel crossing is 21 miles, although the strong currents meant the team had to cover 31 miles to make it across.