Mission Impossible

A businessman, who could not swim a couple of months ago, is in training to conquer the Channel.

Rob Starr, 41, from Hove, plans to complete the 21 miles between Dover and Calais next summer and raise £100,000 for The Edward Starr Charitable Trust which he set up in memory of his father.

He said: "I needed a challenge which would be really tough for me but one where I would survive. And as a non-swimmer I thought it ought to be a swimming one and if you're going to swim it's got to be the Channel."

Rob says his training regime takes up "pretty much every waking moment". He is in the sea every morning before work; once a week he does a five or six hour swim in the pool; he goes to the gym twice a week; and fits in a weekly run as well.

Making sure he sticks to his tough training regime are coach, Fiona Southwell, and swim buddy, Bob Bicknell.

Fiona knows everything about preparing to take on the Channel as two years ago she became the oldest woman ever to do it. She said: "It's the Everest of all the swims."

"There is no harder swim on the planet because of the tides, the quickness in the weather change, the shipping lanes are the busiest in the world, hypothermia - you do get really cold after several hours of being in there."

And just in case one morning Rob cannot face getting out of bed and plunging into the body-numbing sea near the Brighton Pier, swim buddy, Bob, is on hand with words of encouragement. "If it's a cold morning and the wind is blowing Rob knows he's got to get down here otherwise he'll get an e-mail or text from me saying 'where are you, you wimp?'"

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