Veterans

Former Army Medic Aims To Be First Person Paralysed From The Chest Down To Swim Channel Solo

The swim is one of three gruelling challenges Nerys Pearce has set herself to raise money for a charity that she said saved her life.

A former British Army combat paramedic is aiming to become the first person paralysed from the chest down to swim solo across the English Channel.

Nerys Pearce was paralysed from the chest down after her motorbike was hit by a car in 2008.

The swim is part of three endurance challenges she is doing to raise money for Armed Forces charity Blesma that helps veterans who have lost limbs.

Ms Pearce, who said she thought about taking her own life after the collision, said the charity saved her. 

"When Blesma found me, I'd put into place plans to end my life and I couldn't even do that because I couldn't get to the drugs to finish it," she said.

Ms Pearce said Blesma's support has helped her become "more confident, more able, more independent". 

She has already completed a 105-mile continual wheelchair push around Ascot and a 100-mile cycle around London's Royal Parks.

All that remains of her triple endurance challenge is the 21-mile swim across the English Channel.

Ms Pearce has competed at the Invictus Games in 2016 and for Team Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (Picture: Nerys Pearce).

In order for it to qualify as a solo crossing, she must enter and leave the water at both ends without any help.

Ms Pearce said after being "pushed in off the boat" and swimming to the beach, she will have to drag herself out of the sea in order to start the challenge.

"I have to turn around, drag my legs out of the sea… and then essentially I need to roll back into the sea like a seal or a killer whale - it's really attractive - to start the Channel swim," she said. 

"I look like a cross between a beaching seal... and a turtle... I've actually made beach tracks that look like a turtle."

One attempt has already been cancelled due to bad weather but Ms Pearce is hoping to get another chance in the coming weeks.

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