AUSTRALIAN Yves Watt has conquered a 32km solo swim across the English Channel to raise funds and awareness of stroke.
Mr Watt completed his swim in memory of this grandfather William Phillips, who was one of thousands impacted by Australia’s second biggest killer.
It was timed to raise awareness of the issue during last week’s National Stroke Week.
“Stroke is a health issue that has always been close to my heart," he said.
There to witness this amazing swim and be part of his support crew was his sister Monique Watt of Candelo.
Ms Watt, who is a teacher at Bega’s Mumbulla School, is incredibly proud of her brother for completing the swim.
“I was honoured to play a supporting role in my brother's brave accomplishment,” she said.
“He was ready for all the punishment the English Channel had to serve - the strongest tidal pulls in the world, wake from passing 10-storey tankers, shipping lane debris, stinging jellyfish, high winds and waves and the constant risk of hypothermia from cold northern water conditions.
“As the hours wore on I was astounded not only at the resoluteness of his will, but also by his body working like an unfaltering machine.
“Now and again I would hold up Yves' daughter's favourite teddy bear and could make out a smile in response.
“The last 400 metres took two hours as the tide had turned once more and this notorious stretch has seen many Channel swimmers spend a further eight hours attempting to inch their way along the coast to a landing site, or have to give up trying.
“But for Yves, after a total of 12 hours and 16 minutes of free-style in 16 degree water, the boat sounded a three horn salute to signify his success!
“With lips and face bloated, he stood on the shore thinking for a moment about our grandfather William Phillips for whom he had dedicated the swim, then smiling from ear to ear.
“All funds raised by the swim are being donated to the Australian Stroke Foundation in his memory.
“I couldn't be more proud of my brother who unfailingly carried himself with dignity, humility and thankfulness every step of the way.
“I thank him for sharing such a significant event in his life with me and hope that I can use his example to help foster such qualities in myself, my family and my students.”
Mr Watt began training for the mammoth Channel swim back in January of this year.
“I have never tried anything like this before and thought why not go for one of the world’s toughest swims," he said.
He hopes to raise over $5000 for the National Stroke Foundation though his Channel swim.
In addition Mr Watt has joined the National Stroke Foundation’s Dream Team pledging the distance of his swim to its virtual relay around Australia.
National Stroke Foundation chief executive officer Erin Lalor said Mr Watt’s amazing effort would provide vital funds.
“Yves’ brave personal challenge is inspirational,” Dr Lalor said.
Throughout September the National Stroke Foundation Dream Team will unite in the relay to raise awareness of stroke and encourage all Australians to take action to reduce their risk of stroke.
Dr Lalor said whether super-fit athletes of newly recovering stroke survivors taking their first steps - all the members of the Dream Team are doing something amazing to be celebrated.
To join the Dream Team and or learn more visit www.strokefoundation.com.au or phone 1300 194 196.