On course for epic swimming challenge

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Karen Ennis just after she finished the Catalina Channel, California. Pic © Karen Ennis

A bold bid is underway to become the first British woman to complete a swimming challenge in all the oceans of the world.

Merseyside Police ICT boss, Karen Ennis, is aiming to take on the ‘Oceans Seven’, in a bid to raise £100,00 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

The 47-year-old from Burscough has already ticked off two of the seven oceans and is set to complete ‘Cook Strait’ next in New Zealand.

Karen has raised a substantial amount for the hospital and has just under £65,000 left before reaching her intended goal in 2021.

She told JMU Journalism: “The support I get locally and internationally is humbling. The work of Alder Hey touches the lives of and inspires so many. Each donation feels like a hug of support.”

After the loss of her husband, Gary, last year, Karen is determined to finish the journey that they began together.

She told JMU Journalism: “It’s a big drive. He would be cross with me if I didn’t carry on with it. I hear him in my head sometimes, telling me not to give up.”

The desire to do the Oceans Seven first began when Karen swam an ‘ice mile’, a strenuous swim in five degree Celsius water, for Alder Hey a few years back. The joke was that she would be swimming the Channel next, and soon the joke became reality.

YouTube: Karen Ennis

With the help of coach Adam Walker, the first British man to ever swim the Oceans Seven, Ms Ennis began intensive training in preparation for swimming the English Channel. She completed that gruelling feat in 2017, and felt determined to complete another.

She described the feeling of completing a swim as “surreal”, telling JMU Journalism: “I am always a bit shellshocked when I first climb out. It’s surreal and then realisation kicks in and I can’t stop smiling.”

Her most recent challenge, The Molokai Strait in Hawaii, didn’t go quite to plan.

Known for its strong currents and jellyfish-infested waters, the swim proved its reputation. Due to uncountable jellyfish stings, Karen couldn’t finish the swim in Hawaii, but is determined to go back and do it again as the last of her goals.

She told JMU Journalism: “I won’t let a few jellyfish defeat me. I have swapped the order round and I will complete Hawaii in 2021.”

As if swimming the Ocean Sevens wasn’t enough, Karen as just agreed to swim another ice mile in January in an attempt to set a world record.

About Lydia Baggs, JMU Journalism