Channel swimming septuagenarians who believed they had won a world record with their relay have seen their fundraising top £10,000 after telling their story on national TV.
The six-strong One Foot in the Wave team, average age 75.6, four of whom are from Dorset, swam the Channel in September – battling terrible conditions.
But they made it after nearly 18 hours, overseen by an observer and pilot from the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF).
At the end they were handed a certificate congratulating them on their epic swim and believed they had done it.
But nearly two months later the federation told the swimmers – including Weymouth’s Linda Ashmore, 75, and Bob Roberts, 74 – their swim had not been ratified. Their ratification committee had reached a majority verdict that one of the changeovers had not been carried out according to their rules.
An appeal followed, but the committee were unmoved.
To make matters even more awkward, one of the OFITW team, Kevin Murphy, is actually the secretary of the CS&PF.
The team certainly seem to have abided by the rules, which state each swimmer has to swim for 60 minutes in rotation, which they did. The rules allow for up to five minutes after those 60 minutes to change over swimmers. The changeover in dispute, involving Robert Lloyd Evans of Broadstone, who turned 80 just after the swim, took four minutes.
So the team do not understand what rule they are alleged to have broken, and the CS&PF has not been forthcoming with any further explanation of their decision, despite being approached by The Times, Good Morning Britain and this magazine, among others.
The issue has scandalised people UK-wide. After their story appeared in The Times, donations soared from £3,000 to £8,000 in 48 hours. Then just before the new year they appeared on ITV’s GMB, and donations again flooded in, taking the money for Alzheimer’s Research UK to over £10,000.
Team captain Bob Holman, 78, from Affpuddle, told the GMB presenters: “The public are saying we know you’ve done it.”
Now the team are considering whether to pursue a judicial review. Murphy, 73, told the show it was not something they wanted to do, but they were considering it as an option.
n To contribute to the team’s fundraising go to justgiving.com/ofitw2 or send a cheque made out to Alzheimer’s Research UK to Bob Holman, Camelot, Affpuddle, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7HH.