Green Light for Channel Swimmers
The Beast cover stars and aspiring channel swimmers Quinn Darragh and Luke Stewart have received an exemption to travel to the United Kingdom in September amid COVID-19 restrictions.
The pair have been training to swim across the English Channel to raise $74,000 to fund a new ventilator for premature babies at the Royal Hospital for Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. However, international border closures due to COVID-19 threatened to prevent them from attempting the swim.
“We submitted identical applications thirty minutes apart, but I got the go-ahead and then we had an anxious wait for Luke’s, which came in four days later,” Mr Darragh told The Beast.
“We’ve been hearing so many horror stories of flights being cancelled and people not being able to get home, but we’re so committed to the cause and the process so it’s such a relief to have the green light to go.”
The pair are hoping to fly out on August 31 and attempt the swim a little over a week after they arrive in Dover.
“We’re watching what’s happening in Australia very carefully because at the moment there’s an agreement with the United Kingdom that Australians coming in don’t have to isolate, so we’ll be able to go straight to Dover and have 8-9 days to acclimatise before attempting the swim.”
After being interviewed for the cover of the April edition of The Beast, the pair’s training routine had to change significantly due to lockdown restrictions.
“We planned to swim five days a week, doing a 5km pool swim and then cold swimming in the ocean, but we had to flip that on its head and just do laps and laps and laps at Clovelly before the sun came up,” Mr Darragh said.
They will also be travelling to the United Kingdom alone when they originally had hoped to bring their families along.
“Originally we had planned to have a dream holiday with our families, sort of like a thank you to our wives for supporting us through this, and now it’s just the two of us going for the swim and coming back,” Mr Darragh explained.
But the duo hasn’t let the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic slow them down.
“In every challenge there’s an opportunity, and we wanted to be providing hope and light in these tough times,” Mr Stewart said.
The swimmers held a final fundraising event at Bondi Beach on August 16 (while this edition was being printed).
Both swimmers have been motivated by the community support so far, both in preparing for the swim and in trying to reach their fundraising target.
“There’s been a great wave of support and we’re just so humbled and grateful to be a part of an awesome community,” Mr Stewart told The Beast.
“We’re confident we can reach our target. Those little babies up at the Royal Hospital for Women don’t know COVID is happening, and we made a commitment to them, so we want to keep that,” Mr Darragh added.
The team also asked The Beast to publicly thank Quinn’s wife, Sheree, and Luke’s wife, Jade, for their unwavering support.
“There’s nothing truer than the fact that we simply could not have done this without them,” Mr Darragh said.
You can contribute to Quinn and Luke’s awesome fundraiser at runningforprematurebabies.com/channelswim.