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Channel next for first Guernsey woman to swim around Jersey

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JUSTINE RILEY has become the first Guernsey woman to swim around Jersey as she prepares for more long distance adventures.

Not content with becoming the first islander to successfully swim solo from Jersey to France last year, Mrs Riley took on her new challenge to swim the 41 miles around the sister isle and did it in 11 hours and 13 minutes, in preparation for her upcoming Channel swim.

She set off from Elizabeth Castle breakwater at 6am for the gruelling task, with assistance from an 11m spring tide.

Mrs Riley said she moved at almost six knots in sections of the swim.

‘A north-easterly wind against tide made the first section of the swim, all the way up the east coast, challenging,’ she said. ‘I didn’t enjoy that section.

‘My pilot warned me that St Catherine’s Bay would be a washing machine but to just stick with it as the north coast would calm down. He wasn’t wrong.’

Justine at the start of her swim. (28537864)

However, she said there were parts of the swim that she really got into.

‘I really enjoyed the north coast, that was my favourite part of the swim, and then rounding Grosnez on the north-western tip the chop built up again, with an interesting time rounding Corbiere lighthouse,’ she said.

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‘My pilot, Matt Clarke on Lionheart, was fantastic at setting the best course.’

The only major hurdle to overcome had been getting to Jersey itself.

‘Logistical challenges currently meant that getting to Jersey was only possible with the help of Iris Freight,’ said Mrs Riley, who added that the company, the prime role of which is bringing national newspapers to Guernsey, was incredibly helpful and professional.

‘I was met by Customs on arrival in Jersey and escorted for my test, and met again by Customs on my return home to Guernsey, reconfirming the rules on self-isolation.

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‘I was very lucky that a team of good Jersey friends of mine crewed for me and looked after me over my 48 hours in Jersey.’

This swim was Mrs Riley’s final training swim before her Channel swim this summer, for which she has been training for the past three years.

‘I’ve had a great season of training,’ she said.

‘Although Covid has presented challenges initially, with closure of pools early on and restrictions on hours of daily exercise, I adapted my training with many hours spent at La Vallette bathing pools.

‘Usually my husband would kayak for me on longer swims, but with the children studying at home and lockdown restrictions, sadly this couldn’t happen.

Justine Riley rounds Corbiere, a part of the swim she called interesting.

‘Ant Ford-Parker and Paul Wickham came to the rescue to kayak, spending many hours of boredom supporting me to complete training swims to cover Guernsey’s coastline. My lockdown swimming buddies have also been great at keeping me sane – there’s a lot of people I will need to thank when this season’s done.’

She has built up her stamina with swims such as with a 10.5-mile length of Windermere swim in 2018, 14 miles Jersey to France in 2019 and finally her round-Jersey swim.

Mrs Riley also completed an early-season swim from Guernsey to Sark as part of her training.

‘I haven’t done any fundraising through my swims so far, but this is now the final hurdle and I would very much like to support two special causes through my Channel swim,’ she said.

‘Firstly, Hope for Guernsey, a charity supporting research with a direct benefit to the people of Guernsey. The charity has been able to support ground-breaking research at Southampton University into Alzheimer’s and cancers by identifying protein markers to facilitate accurate and early diagnosis. Secondly, Guernsey Alzheimer’s Association, a charity close to my heart after losing my mum to the disease in 2009.’

. To support Mrs Riley’s English Channel solo swim, go to giving. gg, https://bit.ly/2XrYsmT.

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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