“I swam the channel, and I can’t thank Dave enough for getting me there”

Gemma Hodgson achieved something amazing this year, and wrote in to thank Dave Williams for his help achieving it!

Thanks for sharing your story Gemma!


“2020 was the year I had been training the last 12 months for… to swim across the English Channel as part of a 4 person relay. I’d spent all Winter training 5 times a week, and even went abroad to train in the sea for the ultra-experience. Then COVID hit. Locked in for months with no access to a pool and all open water swimming cancelled for safety reasons. No travel and certainly no swimming across the Channel.

I was extremely positive through the dark times that it would still happen. I’d check in weekly with my coaches to see if they had been updated on anything but still nothing. It was looking like we might have to consider a 2021 swim, which I was gutted about.

Then after 3 months of no swimming, restrictions got lifted and swimming outside was allowed again. But that also meant 3 months of training to catch up on. Long sessions in the open water, cold water training and some prep events in the Lakes – in case we got the call that the swim was a goer.

And then, just like that, I was injured. Pushing my body so quickly meant everything started to hurt. Neck injury and shoulder pain that was excruciating, to the point where I would swim with one arm. I dreaded going training.

Luckily Dave from Harris and Ross saw me immediately. After explaining the tight deadline to him, he was brutally honest with me about my pain management and what we both had to do to get me ready. He told me I would have to endure a number of sessions weekly to get my body pain free, but that I would also still have to train with an element of pain.

Dave was so good. Above and beyond the acupuncture and exercises I was given, it was the honesty I appreciated. I also felt that Dave had invested himself in to my challenge and understood from a swimmer’s perspective what I had to do – even if it wasn’t going to be easy.

On the 16th August we set sail on a little fishing boat to swim from England to France. Less that 900 teams have ever completed that! The stakes were high, not only had French restrictions come in that day, but we were all tired and injured to some degree from the amount of last minute training. But, the reason why I choose the team I did was because it’s not always about physical strength, it’s 80% mental strength and we all had it that day.

Thanks to Dave, my pain was 100% manageable and I suffered no further injuries on the day or after. I honestly can’t thank him enough in helping me get to the start line.

In a time that needs positivity more than ever, my swim helped raise money for two very deserving causes in Manchester who have lost significant funding due to the pandemic. So for that, Dave I am thankful”