Rees Becomes First Deaf Athlete to Swim the English Channel

Andrew Rees of Wales won three medals at the 1989 Deaflympics in Christchurch, New Zealand and completed a swim on the weekend that has raised funds so that others may have the chance to do the same. The 48 year old became the first deaf person to complete a solo English Channel swim, achieving the feat in 15 hours.

Rees had trained for the last 18 months with the goal of raising £6000 for the Great Britain Deaf Swimming Team.  He stated on his JustGiving page, “I have been working hard with my coach, Fiona Southwell, to complete this challenge because I want to give something back to deaf swimming.”

“I aim to swim the English Channel with just my support boat, the Louise Jane, near by.”

The money will be a huge support for the deaf athletes who receive little if any financial support.

“I would like to congratulate Andrew on the fantastic achievement of completing the Channel Swim solo, the first British Deaf swimmer to do so,” said GB Deaf Swimming’s Chair, Brian Baxter.

“This is a monumental coup, both on a personal level and especially for Deaf and hard of hearing swimmers.  We are very grateful that he nominated GB Deaf Swimming Club as the chosen organisation for fund-raising purposes.  The money he has raised will help our Deaflympic swimmers immensely, and his swim will also serve as an inspiration to them all.”

Rees, who won gold in both the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 freestyle relay as well as a bronze in the 4 x 100 medley relay in 1989, has exceeded his goal raising £6,235, a number which is still growing. 


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Worth noting is that Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to cross the Channel, was deaf later in life, and taught deaf children how to swim. Congratulations to Andrew Rees!


I didn’t note that Ederle began losing her hearing in her childhood, due to a measles infection.

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Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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