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What a weekend of Sarnian success

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ON LAND and in the sea it was a weekend of triumph for Guernsey’s sportsmen and women.

Top billing goes to long-distance sea swimmer Adrian Sarchet, who completed the Ocean’s Seven, only the 21st person and third Briton to do so, when he crossed the 14 miles of the Cook Strait between the two islands of New Zealand, and tennis player Heather Watson, who won her first WTA title since 2016 in the Mexican Open.

Add in the Guernsey Rugby Association team retaining the Investec Trophy in Jersey and Guernsey Raiders continuing their sequence of bonus point wins as they push for the London and South East Premier title and it was a weekend to make all Sarnians proud.

As Mr Sarchet was taking a well-earned rest on the other side of the world, his friend, Paul Mason, who swam the English Channel in 2009, said completing the Ocean’s Seven was an out-of-this-world achievement.

‘These are truly inspirational swimmers,’ he said.

‘All of them are marathon swims of a minimum 10 miles and each has its own challenges.

‘The Ireland to Scotland [the North Channel] swim is a particularly nasty one with jellyfish and sometimes 10ft swells to contend with even in the height of summer.

‘Adrian’s had to wait 18 months to do this swim. I’m in complete awe of the man. He’ll come back to Guernsey a legend and he thoroughly deserves it.’

Another friend and Guernsey Masters Sea Swimmers co-ordinator Vanessa Marsh shared the sentiment.

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‘It’s fantastic and I think he’s an amazing man,’ she said. ‘He was one of two swimmers who were trying to complete the same swim and the other one had to be pulled from the water with hypothermia.’

Nicknamed Sea Donkey, the title of a film about his exploits made by James Harrison, Mr Sarchet was using his latest swim to raise funds to improve accessibility at the Beau Sejour swimming.

Mr Sarchet is a senior lawyer with Carey Olsen. His colleague, Advocate Mark Dunster said more people had been into space than had completed the Ocean’s Seven.

‘I remember being staggered when he told us of what it was like to swim the English Channel and doubly staggered when he said it was not even the pinnacle of sea swimming,’ he said.

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‘He ended up in hospital after the Ireland to Scotland swim so to get back in the water again is incredible. To show that degree of grit and determination to battle against the pain and boredom it must involve is just astounding. What goes through your mind when you spend 19 hours just staring into the blackness of the sea?’

He said everybody at the law firm would be delighted for their colleague.

Hats off to Heather. The tennis star removes her sombrero after receiving her trophy for winning the Mexican Open against Canada’s Leylah Fernandez in Acapulco. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

In Mexico, Miss Watson’s delight at the fourth WTA title win of her career was shared by mother Michelle, whose lively court side celebration was filmed, and later posted on Instagram by the tournament organisers.

It was her second title in Mexico, having won the Monterrey Open four years ago to add to other titles in Osaka and Hobart.

In 2016 the current British No. 2 won the mixed-doubles title at the Wimbledon Championships with Henri Kontinen.

Her victory in Acapulco came after a marathon third set decider which is expected to catapult her back into the world top 50 rankings when they are announced later today.

Wearing a sombrero and with fireworks going off behind her, Heather Watson holds up the trophy after winning the women’s title at the Mexican Open in Acapulco, Mexico. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The 27-year-old was was born in Guernsey to Michelle and Ian. Her mother is from Papua New Guinea while her father is British. Ian Watson was managing director of Guernsey Electricity from 1995 until retirement in 2010.

A former pupil at Melrose, Miss Watson began playing tennis aged seven and she went to the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida when she was 12..

The Ocean’s Seven swims and Adrian Sarchet's completion dates

. English Channel - 33.8 km (21 miles) between England and France, 10 August 2012

. Catalina Channel - 32.3 km (20 miles) between Catalina Island and the California mainland, 1 August 2013

. Strait of Gibraltar - 14.4 km (9 miles) between Spain and Morocco, 24 September 2014

. North Channel - 34.5 km (21.4 miles) between Ireland and Scotland, 7 August 2015

. Kaiwi Channel - 42 km (26 miles) between Molokai and Oahu, 11 July 2016

. Cook Strait - 22.5 km (14 miles) between the North and South Island of New Zealand, 29 February 2020

. Tsugaru Strait - 19.5 km (12.1 miles) between Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan, 30 August 2017

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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