One of the most experienced relay teams to ever attempt swimming the English Channel hopes to raise £10 for every meter they swim. The relay team of Ross McWhirter, Jordan J. Dunn, Harrison Haines, Jack Blyzinskyj and Dan Wallace will embark on the famed swimming journey from England to France sometime between June 9-15.
The team’s mission, coined “Meter-by-Meter,” is raising money in support of Ukrainian refugees and cancer research. They have already raised a whopping £80k, nearly a quarter of the way to their goal. At a 33km distance between the two countries, the team’s hope is to raise at least £330k, though the trek may end up being longer as tides typically send swimmers off course.
This effort is a labor of love for Blyzinskyj, who says he has been planning for this race since the invasion of Ukraine in February last year. “As a family with deep Ukrainian roots, the invasion was difficult to comprehend and impacted me personally,” Blyzinskyj shares, “My grandfather was born in Western Ukraine when the country was under Soviet occupation in the 1930’s. At 15, just after WW2, he had to flee his country of birth, was in a refugee camp in Italy for a while, before settling in England. I’m here to support those refugees fleeing Ukraine, once again, so that one day, their grandchildren know the resilience of Ukraine and its people.”
Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, over 8 million Ukrainian citizens have fled the country. Currently, an estimated 5.9 million Ukranians remain displaced within the country, and an estimated 17.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to this crisis.
Blyzinskyj swam for the University of Florida from 2014-2018 where he was an 11x All-American and a team captain his senior year. Two other MbM relay mates are also former Gators: Haines who swam for UF from 2015-2018 and Wallace who swam for the Gators from 2012-2016.
Wallace is no stranger to high stakes relay swimming, having earned silver at the 2016 Olympics and gold at the 2015 World Championships on GB’s 800 free relay. He also swam on Florida’s gold 800 free relay at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
The last two members to round out the pentad are Scottish national team member Dunn and Scottish and GB Triathlete McWhirter.
McWhirter is motivated to contribute to this effort in the hopes of raising as much as possible for the fight against cancer. “Cancer shows mercy to no one, and cannot be ignored. Whether directly or indirectly, cancer will affect everyone, and can have a lasting presence on those it touches,” McWhirter says, “being able to make one small gesture in the fight against this alement, is something I take a huge amount of pride in.”
Though many wouldn’t see it as just one small gesture. Remarked as the “Everest of Swimming,” crossing the English Channel is one of the most grueling open water swims of all time. The distance from the southern coast of England to the northern coast of France is about 33km, though their trek will likely be longer due to tides.
Not only do the swimmers have to cross one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but they also have to swim in hypothermic water temperatures sans wetsuits, with some of the strongest underwater tides in Europe.
Having grown up on the Scottish coast, Wallace says he is well acquainted with cold, choppy water but admits the channel crossing will be one of the hardest challenges he’s faced. “We are aware of the pressure there is to perform and we understand the challenge we’ve set ourselves,” Wallace shares, “every one of us has a point to prove and we are not taking any shortcuts…we are full steam ahead, training in the pool, in the open water and in the cold.”
With the relay team set-up, each member will swim for 1 hour, trading off with another member stationed on their accompaning pilot boat. The MbM team will be setting off from the Dover coast at 3am, and their first three relay legs will swim in darkness.
They are projected to be close to the Channel Record for a five-person relay team. At 8 hours and 32 minutes, a time set by Team Software Australia in 2001, Wallace says it will be “tough to beat, but [it’s] in striking distance.”
You can contribute to their cause directly HERE.
Below is more information about the charities supported:
Solidarité Ukraine: https://solidariteukraine.ch/
Solidarité Ukraine works with with businesses, nonprofits and the government employment agency to place refugees into jobs. Ukrainians are allowed to live and work in France for up to three years.
Cancer Research UK: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/
Cancer Research UK is a charity dedicated to finding cures and treatments for all types of cancer. They fund cancer research, provide information and support to those affected by cancer, and campaign for policies to help prevent the disease.
Remember Us: https://rememberus.org/
RememberUs.org has operated in Ukraine and in the United States since December, 2013. RememberUs.org is a public 501c3 nonprofit focused on providing nonstop humanitarian aid to vulnerable Ukrainians in war zones. RememberUs.org has provided critical relief to over 65,000 people in the last 12 months, providing direct $100 cash payments, food, adult and children’s clothes, medicine, hygienic supplies, winter heating units to homes, orphanages and hospitals, portable generators, and more.
Imperial College London Sanctuary Scholarship Fund: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/giving/donate/sanctuary-scholarship-fund/
Imperial College London, one of the world’s leading universities, has students from all over the globe come to study science, business, engineering and medicine. A Sanctuary Scholarship fund is offered by the Imperial College, providing undergraduate and master’s degree scholarships for individuals who have forced from their home countries due to war and civil conflict, including students from Ukraine. Imperial College has pledged to match each donation to the Imperial College Sanctuary Scholarship Fund pound for pound, allowing each donation to go twice as far.
Need a headline picture of them NOT in wetsuits! English Channel swims never allow wetsuits – if you want an official crossing registered, that is.
There have been a few individuals who have swam the Channel faster than the 5 person relay record.
That record is doable with this talent.
What a great way to raise funds.
What boat are these guys going with? I would like to watch them on the CSPF a website which tracks boats.
Gotta love being anchor. Get to swim in light. And only go once. 60 min swim isn’t too bad
Huge respect for the money raised
I may have wayyyy over simplified this, but my calculations come out at about 1:30/100m for the record, which these 5 should be able to do no problem. I do understand currents and cold temp will make this extremely challenging, but I’d be surprised if they don’t break it
Yes, you’re doing it as the crow flies, not as the relay (undoubtably) will swim. Way more than 33km.