Three Taunton School pupils supported the United Nations Ocean Advocate and swimmer Lewis Pugh in his quest to rid the oceans of plastics as he swam his longest leg of the English Channel offshore across Lyme Bay, last Friday.
15-year-olds Emma Hounslow, from Kingston St Mary, Emily Lawton, from Taunton, and Skyla Coate, from Nether Stowey, all aged 15, accompanied by Chris Coleman, Deputy Head of Taunton Prep School, Hamish McCarthy, Head of Geography and Jonathon Lawton, Old Tauntonian and parent, travelled 25 miles offshore to support Lewis’ cause and were joined themselves by a pod of dolphins. The brave group swam in calm sea conditions but with no land in sight, many jellyfish to avoid and extremely cold water, the swim was challenging.
Lewis is undertaking The Long Swim, the first time that someone has swum the entire length of the English Channel from Land’s End to Dover, to raise awareness of plastic pollution and ocean protection. It is his toughest challenge yet with the aim of getting Governments across the world to strengthen ocean protection.
The girls are members of Taunton Schools Long Distance Swim club, having swum across the English Channel from Dover to Calais in 2016, and felt compelled to support Lewis. Taunton School has a strong Green Agenda and global outlook.
Emma Hounslow said: “Lewis is swimming the equivalent of 16 Channel crossings from Dover to Calais, we did it once as a team and it was really tough. There are lots of jellyfish out there, we got stung once or twice but Lewis has been getting stung over and over on a daily basis. This is because of climate change and the animals that eat the jellies have become increasingly endangered because of the plastic in the sea. I don’t know how he is able to do that, it was great to go out and help him through our local area.”
Emily Lawton said: “We relished the opportunity to support Lewis in his quest to highlight plastic pollution in our oceans. We were joined by a large pod of dolphins that swam around us. It was scary for a time but highlighted what could be lost if it is not stopped.”
Lewis tweeted and wrote in his blog on Sky News that day: “Thank you so much for swimming with me today…. I was impressed by their strength and endurance… Several of them were clearly stronger swimmers than I am.”
Jonathon Lawton, Old Tauntonian and parent said: “What an adventure Lewis is having and what a noble cause he is championing. It was an honour and a pleasure to support him through Lyme Bay, albeit it was an awful long way out! He was very grateful for our support after an exceptionally tough few days.”
Hamish McCarthy, Head of Geography at Taunton Prep School, said: “Taunton School has a reputation for pursuing ecological policies and this is very much driven by the pupils. Lewis came down to school and inspired these three girls before their 2016 Channel Swim. Offshore in Lyme Bay, with no land in sight is a lonely place. We owed Lewis our support in his campaign to protect our oceans and it was a pleasure to swim with him. He’s one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.”
Next up, Taunton School swimmers are taking on circumnavigating the island of Jersey for charity, later this month.