Army Captain To Swim Channel To Raise Mental Health Awareness

Captain Harry Grantham is raising money for the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund.

A British Army captain is attempting to swim the English Channel to highlight the importance of early intervention in mental health.

Due to take on the challenge on 7 September, Captain Harry Grantham, who serves as part of the Royal Horse Artillery, will be one of few military personnel to ever attempt the swim.

Having spent 18 months preparing for the challenge, Capt Grantham said he is taking on the challenge to "raise awareness for mental health in the Armed Forces" and "break down the stigma".

"People will go through a challenge in their life at some point… and it's how we deal with it," he told Forces News.

"[What] I want to get across is that early intervention, finding that help straight away, and believing in people."

Capt Grantham experienced his own issues after going through a difficult divorce and said he wants to do the swim because of the mental strength needed to complete it.

"A good friend of mine saw a change in character, he asked me a question, I opened up and I used the Army welfare system and some counsellors and they supported me throughout," he said.

"Male soldiers predominantly try and keep their problems to themselves, so it’s trying to get away from that [and say], 'actually, it is good to talk, it is healthy to talk'."

The swim itself brings its own challenges, with the threat of jellyfish stings and chaffing due to salt crystals.

Captain Harry Grantham prepares for English Channel swim in Dover 270820 CREDIT BFBS
Capt Grantham has been preparing for the swim in Dover.

But Capt Grantham said the biggest danger is from ships. 

"It’s the busiest shipping channel in the world so my pilot of the boat will be navigating me through that throughout the day," he said.

The swim is 33km and is estimated to take seven hours to complete.

However, Capt Grantham's swimming coach, Tim Denyer, said the distance can be made further because of the tide.

He said: "The tide's always hitting you from the side, so you're never going to be in a position where you're completely stationary.

"If you’re running a marathon, you know what the finite distance is, if you’re climbing Mount Everest, you know where the pinnacle is, but with this swim, the longer you’re in the water, the further you will swim."

Money raised from the challenge will go towards the Royal Artillery Charitable Fund.