By Morissa Lindsay
Barbadian Mark Farmer is a couple hours away from writing his name on history’s page as the second man from this country to swim the English Channel since Chris Gibbs in 2003 when he swam for close to 12 hours.
At age 37, Farmer is attempting to swim from Sapphire Hoe, Folkestone/Dover in England which is the starting point and conclude at the France coastline – exact location not yet known due to current conditions – but he will have one target in mind as he enters the water and that is to clock under 11 hours and 30 minutes which was the standard set back then by the legendary Gibbs.
A former student of the St. Winifred’s School and The Lodge School, Farmer will be surrounded by a boat crew of experts for this significant attempt. It commences at 6:30 a.m. England time, or 1:30 a.m. Barbados time for those who want to follow the event.
It is expected that all members of the support crew will swim part of the way with Farmer in accordance with the swim rules. All the members of Farmer’s support crew were also part of the historic swims achieved by Cameron Bellamy when he swam around Barbados as well as his Barbados to St. Lucia swim in 2018. In accordance with the rules, Farmer will only be permitted to swim in regular swim trunks and a pair of goggles and a swim cap.
The weather conditions from all reports are favourable, though a chilly 13 to 17 degrees Celsius and water temperature should be around 18 degrees.
Similar to Bellamy, funds raised in support of the Channel swim will go to the Ubunye Challenge Charity – Going for the extreme for Africa. Farmer drew his inspiration for the Channel swim from Bellamy. The entire Farmer family was also part of Bellamy’s support team in Barbados in 2018 and 2019.
Farmer who represented Barbados in various sporting disciplines such as swimming, water polo, surfing, crossfit and triathlon, was originally planning the swim for 2020, however that was not possible due to the pandemic. The next available date was September 2022 and since then Farmer along with his support team trained hard for the swim on the south and west coast of Barbados.
The support crew joining Farmer tomorrow are Geoff Farmer (father), Cameron Bellamy – Chris Sikkens, Alison Pile, John Howard and John Mike Peterkin.