Veterans

'I'll Be Back': Paralysed Ex-Army Paramedic Determined To Complete Channel Swim

After having to abandon her first swim due to hypothermia, the British Army veteran is preparing for another attempt next year.

A former British Army combat paramedic says she is more determined than ever to become the first person paralysed from the chest down to swim the English Channel.

Nerys Pearce attempted the challenge earlier this month but had to stop halfway after her body temperature dropped to a dangerously low level.

The veteran said she will do further training before another attempt next year.

"I didn't cry about not finishing because sometimes the biggest goals aren't the easiest things to achieve," Ms Pearce said.

"If it was easy it probably wouldn't have been my biggest goal, and I always knew there was a chance I wasn't going to get across.

"Straight away I spoke to the pilot yesterday and we've rebooked and I'll be back."

She said that, with "some edits and just small things and hopefully a warmer day, maybe slightly less of a big tide", she hoped things would be different next time.

"But you know you're never going to get the perfect conditions out on the Channel and that's half the fun."

Nerys had to abandon her first attempt due to hypothermia (Picture: Nerys Pearce).

Recalling her failed attempt, she said: "Everything just started going black from the outside in, as if I was ending up in a tunnel and my brain couldn't quite make sense of what was happening. 

"So I did three more strokes and turned to look at the boat and it was just black it was very evident that I was extremely cold. 

"My legs had actually gone kind of black purple and white and when they took my temperature it was below 32 degrees."

The Army veteran completed nine out of the 14 hours she was predicted to be in the water, and insisted it had been a positive experience.

"On these long endurance events I look for smaller goals within the overall goal - get to daylight, see sunrise.

"It was a beautiful kind of marker point for me - I knew it was going to be about six hours in that the sun would come up.

"Just a stunning experience watching the night sky go from this pitch black, you know so black, to this just indescribable midnight purple.

"And then up from swimming into the day because I was swimming east at the time, and the sun just kind of appears and you’re actually just swimming almost into the circular curve of the world."

As an athlete Nerys has excelled in numerous events, winning 10 medals in powerlifting, rowing, and track and field at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando.

She also competed for Team Wales in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, beat the Race Across America in 2019 and recently became a driver for motorsport's Team BRIT.