Toronto teen swims the English Channel for Africa
Toronto teen Mona Sharari swam the English Channel, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, in 13 hours and eight minutes on Saturday, Sept. 8th. Her amazing ‘Swim4Africa’ of more than 40 kilometres is dedicated to raising funds for children through her wishlist on Oxfam Canada’s Unwrapped gift program. She has already raised over $2,250.
My English Channel Swim—By Mona Sharari
On the day of the swim I arrived at the Dover Marina with my mother and my coach around 1:45 a.m. and that marked the beginning of my journey. On the dock, I met an Australian Swimmer, who is the most cheerful person ever. She was so excited about her swim and encouraging that got me really excited as well. The guide boat, the Path Finder, arrived around 2:00 a.m. and we left to start off the Dover Beach. We have to start from English land and reach French land.
Well the first 10 minutes weren’t encouraging; my mum got really sea sick and start vomiting which got me sick as well. But I thought to myself, that shouldn’t stop me. I put Vaseline on to ease up the cold water, attached the light sticks to my cap and my swim suit. It was pitch dark; the water was freezing. I had two light sticks attached to me for the pilot to keep track of me in the dark water. I started to swim around 3:30 a.m.
The sea was pretty rough at the beginning. The first few kilometres took forever. Fighting those waves seemed endless. The first hour was the hardest of all. The water was freezing, 15 degrees. I felt I was a piece of ice and was ready to give up. I told my mother and coach that I was freezing and my mum said: “Give her hot chocolate.” She wasn’t ready to give up on me so early on. Then I convinced myself that I will get used to it in the next hour or so and just kept on swimming. It never got warmer and I did not get used to the cold water but I survived it. I was cold all the way to France.
Five hours into the swim my coach told me that I was half way there. At that point I knew that I was going to make it to the French shore. Giving up was no longer an option. All I can think about for the next 8 hours was getting to there. That was the only thought that was going through my mind.
So I just kept swimming and I got really close to shore and I could see the land at last. I was less than a kilometer away, and that was the happiest I have ever been throughout the whole journey. But then the high tides came and pushed me off course. Surprisingly that didn’t discourage me from continuing on; I was expecting it.
As I got really close to shore the jellyfish started appearing. At the beginning I was terrified of them, but after I saw and touched so many of them I got used their company and it was kind of fun to swim around them. After about 10 minutes I started seeing people who were walking on the beach, I knew that I was really close, so I started sprinting to shore.
The happiest moment of my life was when I saw the bottom of the sea. And as I walked on the beach I looked back to see England but I couldn’t even see it. I couldn’t believe that I swam this far. I was really proud of myself. I stood on the beach for a couple of minutes and then a French man asked me if I swam the channel and I nodded. Then he started clapping for me. I am never going to forget his face or my feelings at that moment of time.
To date, Mona has already raised over $2,250.
Support Mona by donating to her wishlist on Oxfam Canada's Unwrapped gift program.
Read our blog post on tracking Mona's swim across the English Channel.