English Channel swim shows how close UK and Europe are and should be despite Brexit – Scotsman comment

Swimming from the somewhat patriotically named Shakespeare Beach near Dover to ‘Cape Grey Nose’ – more correctly Cap Gris-Nez – on the French coast, Andrew Donaldson took just eight hours, exactly, to cross the English Channel, aka La Manche.

Andrew Donaldson swam the English Channel in eight hours exactly (Picture: Andy Donaldson)
Andrew Donaldson swam the English Channel in eight hours exactly (Picture: Andy Donaldson)

The 31-year-old’s time to complete what is known as “the Everest of swimming” is thought to be the fastest of the past decade.

Originally from West Kilbride, Donaldson was inspired to take on the feat by the beneficial effects of swimming on his mental health and he plans to complete the Oceans Seven challenge – taking in the Irish Sea’s North Strait and the Cook Strait in New Zealand, among others – to raise money for research.

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The ability of a swimmer to cross the Channel under their own steam is a reminder of just how close this country really is to Europe, however far apart we may seem at times.

And, for all the barriers of language and new borders following Brexit, there are so many more reasons to be firm friends with our neighbours.

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Like the UK, most European countries are peaceful, liberal democracies who adhere to the rule of law, members of Nato – all the more vital as Vladimir Putin wages his war on Ukraine – and crucial trading partners.

Any divorce can cause lasting rancour and bitterness. But, following Britain’s departure from the European Union, such sentiments should be discarded by our political leaders and any remaining disputes, particularly over the Northern Ireland Protocol, settled as amicably as possible.

For all our sakes, we should try to bridge, or swim, the metaphorical divide in any way we can.



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