By Morissa Lindsay
Mark Farmer wrote his name on history’s page as he successfully swam across the English Channel to France in 12 hours and 19 minutes and became only the second Barbadian to do so behind Chris Gibbs.
The 37-year-old started the swim from Sapphire Hoe, Folkestone/Dover in England and concluded at the French coastline, after contending with cold, choppy, challenging conditions. Farmer, who represented Barbados in various sporting disciplines such as swimming, water polo, surfing, crossfit and triathlon, had an uphill battle with the currents that made the last quarter of the swim extremely difficult.
However, Farmer persevered despite the obstacles as he was accompanied by Barbadian master swimmers on board who all took turns swimming with him along with mentor Cameron Bellamy. It was particularly a great birthday gift for Farmer’s father Geoffrey who was also on board and watched his son accomplish his goal.
Bellamy, especially, accompanied Farmer in the water for part of the final leg before swimming back to the boat and watched the Barbadian complete the more than 12-hour swim in what was an incredible moment for those who witnessed it.
A past student of St. Winifred’s and The Lodge School, Farmer after the race extended tremendous gratitude to his support crew that included his father, Alison Pile, John Mike Peterkin, John Howard, Chris Sikkens and Bellamy. Captaining the boat Masterpiece was Harry Mardle.
The support crew watched from afar because it was dark and they couldn’t see but when Farmer reached his destination, they were alerted by the horn of the boat captain. Throughout the swim Farmer was allowed to eat and drink at intervals (treading water and not allowed to hold on to anything). He drank warm coconut water and ate macaroni pie, banana bread and the energy gel GU.
Similar to Bellamy, funds raised in support of the Channel swim will go to the Ubunye Challenge Charity – Going for the extreme for Africa. Farmer drew his inspiration for the Channel swim from Bellamy. The entire Farmer family was also part of Bellamy’s support team in Barbados in 2018 and 2019. [email protected]