Karen Eyles, Senior Ward Manager at Spire Roding Hospital, Essex, is a 45-year old married mother of two boys. She is probably not what you'd describe as a typical mum, as she seems to have this indescribable need to attempt the impossible, "Well, impossible for me, anyway!" says Karen.
Karen describes her decision to undertake a solo Channel swim for charity, to help raise funds for Haven Hospices and the RSCPA:
"At 30 I decided I wanted to do something. Not being a sporty person, I thought I would be sensible and start gently, so I entered and ran the London marathon!. This led me into competing in triathlons and in the year 2000 I took part in the tough guy race. The last event I entered and completed was a half iron man in 2003. Since then I have done nothing except slob around and put on weight! Last year was a bit of a nightmare for me and as I came out of it, I began to feel the pull of needing a challenge to get me focused. Of course I decided it should be something simple and easily achievable!
Open water swimming had always been a fear of mine but I competed in a couple of open water triathlons, but I am still petrified of open water. The furthest I had swum in open water was 1.2 miles and that was in a lake. So I set my brain to work and thought what would be the next step from that 1.2 mile swim. Of course, it came to me in a flash “how about the Channel” (sensible next step!). With the decision made and my place organised, I set about reading the rules of how to achieve the ultimate swim challenge and started my training in the local pool. I have given myself one year to get fit, get confident and achieve this goal. I also phoned a friend (or 'Face Booked' should I say).
My ‘phone a friend’ happened to be Lorraine Rate. She was once an international swimmer and British & European masters long distance record holder. So who better to coach me. She thankfully agreed (which I regret every time she puts me through my paces in the pool), but... and here comes her challenge... she has not done any swimming for five years, has put on 2 stone in weight and needs to get fit herself if she is gonna stand a chance of getting me to France.
All kidding aside, this is going to be a huge challenge for me. It is going to take a year of hard work and dedication by Lorraine, myself and both our families in order for me to achieve my challenge and swim the 21 miles from Dover’s Shakespeare Beach to Cap Gris Nez, France. Although this challenge will mean a great deal to me I want to be able to raise money for my channel charities. I would very much like the added incentive to keep me going by knowing that I am raising money for both Havens Hopsices and the RSPCA."