DUBAI: A 12-year-old Dubai girl has completed a “record-breaking swim of her own version of the English Channel” to create awareness about coronavirus and raise funds for frontline health workers in the region.
A resident of Dubai Sports City, Chloe Andrews used the 6m pool in her villa to finish an equivalent distance of the Channel, setting what her family claims is her very own record.
But why the “English Channel” and not some other benchmark?
As Chloe explained, she and her 10-year old brother Callum wanted to challenge themselves to do something constructive during the stay-at-home period, and the most iconic challenge they could think of was the English Channel.
“Moreover, I was inspired by what Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old veteran in the UK, who walked in his own backyard with a target of 100 laps to raise money for the NHS,” she said.
Swimming to raise money for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and their COVID-19 Crisis Fund Campaign in the region, Chloe started her swim at 5.30 am last Friday. She swam for seven hours over two days to complete 7,700 laps of the small pool.
“By the end of the next day, she had actually covered 50km in total, slightly more than the shortest distance between England and France. Channel swimmers battle hypothermia and exhaustion – but Chloe’s challenges were rather different. The boiling temperatures and burning sun during April in the Gulf were more than a match for even the best sun screen. So we constructed a patchwork of umbrellas and sheets stretched out over and around the pool,” said Chloe’s father Greg Andrews, a physical training instructor.
While Chloe didn’t have to battle large waves and sea sickness, 7,700 tumble turns in a small back garden pool took their toll. “At times I was feeling rather dizzy, but I just kept going. The worst part was when I got up on Saturday morning and knew what lay haead oif me after completing 25km on Friday.” said Chloe.
But complete she did, much to the pride of the family.
As Andrews said, “Like most families, we’ve been isolated for weeks – but Chloe was inspired by the various sports feats around the world from marathons on a balcony to 99-year-old Captain Tom in the UK raising so much money in the fight against the virus. Chloe is a very determined girl and when she decided to attempt this feat, there was no stopping her.”
MSF UAE is all praise for the little girl.
Mario Stephan, Executive Director of MSF UAE, said, “We were delighted to hear of Chloe’s fundraiser, and are absolutely staggered by her persistence, dedication and resilience. On behalf of MSF UAE, we are very grateful for to our donors and fundraisers, for their continuous support of the work we do.”
Chloe’s mum Emma said, “WE are extremely proud of what Chloe has done and can’t believe that she has raised around Dh15,0000 for a such a noble cause.”
The fundraiser was registered in the UAE by the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department.