Slippery Alister swims the Channel

Alister Stocks is swimming the English channel for Martin House. (d13041170)
Alister Stocks is swimming the English channel for Martin House. (d13041170)

A RECOVERY driver is swapping terra firma for the depths of the sea when he swims across the English Channel for charity.

Alister Stocks is to swim from Dover to Calais in August to raise money for Martin House children’s hospice.

Alister, 48, has to raise up to £4,000 just to take part — as he has to pay for a boat and crew and other necessities — but wants to raise plenty of money for the charity itself so is hoping readers will sponsor him.

He said: “Martin House is a fantastic charity. I don’t know how people cope losing children. I have my healthy, beautiful six-year-old daughter Alexandra and I couldn’t imagine anything happening to her.

“I went to an open day and I was really touched. Parents were speaking about how the charity had helped them. A man was talking about losing his eight-year-old daughter to cancer. I thought he was so strong to get up and tell people about his experiences. I thought, ‘I am going to try my best to raise as much money as I can for this charity’.”

Alister, of Greenfields, Heckmondwike, has been long distance swimming since 1998 and is swimming the Channel both as a personal challenge and to raise cash for the hospice.

He has already swum 10.5m across Lake Windermere in the Lake District - followed by the ‘two way Windermere’, across the lake and back!

He said: “After the two-way Windermere there’s nowhere to go in terms of long distance except Loch Ness or Loch Lomond - but they are really cold.”

He said he had now become accustomed to cold water but despite his tolerance he would still find swimming the Channel difficult in just trunks.

He said: “The only thing you can wear as part of the regulations are trunks. I think it goes back to the history books when Captain Matthew Webb did it - he was the first one. You can wear as much channel grease as you want, which doesn’t keep you warm - it’s mainly to prevent chafing.”

Alister trains in Kirklees swimming pools and the council has given him free use of all its pools to get ready for his epic swim. As well as the challenge of fighting the tides he may come across some fearsome sea-creatures.

He added: “You’re going into the unknown in the English Channel. There could be Man O’War jellyfish, basking sharks and a few dolphins.

“Working on the motorway I’m a firm believer that if your number’s up, your number’s up. There’s nothing sinister in the British waters - unless you believe in the Loch Ness Monster!”

l Alister’s swim is set to take place between August 18 and 28. To sponsor him, visit www.justgiving.com/alister-stocks.