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‘Pancrequatics’ take on the Channel

25 July 2011

For someone who only learned to swim front crawl four years ago, swimming the English Channel might seem a little over ambitious. But 41 year old mother of two, Anna Gomori, has set herself this very challenge.

For someone who only learned to swim front crawl four years ago, swimming the English Channel might seem a little over ambitious.

But 41 year old mother of two, Anna Gomori, has set herself this very challenge, to raise money for research into the disease that claimed the life of her mother and in memory of her close friend, Susan Hobbs, who also died of cancer.

Anna, from Coton in Cambridge, has fundraised tirelessly for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund since January this year, raising more than £8,500 to date.  Ultimately, she aims to raise £30,000 to help support vital research projects around the UK to find new treatments for this cancer, which has shockingly low survival rates.  Just three people out of every 100 diagnosed with pancreatic cancer will be alive after 5 years – and this figure hasn’t improved for forty years.

Anna has pulled together a team of 6 (including herself) – dubbed the Pancrequatics – to take on the gruelling 21 mile swim from Dover to Calais in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, negotiating such potential hazards as diesel slicks, raw sewage and jellyfish.

Although the team are officially scheduled to swim on 18 September, they will be on standby from 01 August and could be called at short notice to travel to Dover and start their swim. 

Anna’s mum, Gudrun Llewellyn, died of pancreatic cancer in 2006, only 16 weeks after her diagnosis, aged just 66. Gudrun taught German at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge before she retired and many of her former students came to her funeral.

“I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer until mum was diagnosed,” says Anna, “and I was shocked and upset to discover the terrible statistics of this disease. We all miss her so much and I’ll be thinking of her to keep me focused as I swim.

Anna’s team mates include Tom Mellor (33) and Kevan Heydon (44), also from Cambridge, Cormac McCarthaigh (29) from Dublin and mother and daughter Su and Heather Tysoe from Hertfordshire. At 17, Heather is not only the youngest member of the team, she’s is also the most experienced, having swum the Channel as part of a relay team aged 14.

For their attempt to be officially recognised by the Channel Swimming Association, the team will swim in 1 hour sessions in strict rotation, wearing only their normal swimsuits, goggles and hat. The temperature of the sea will likely be a chilly 15 degrees.

“We’re not allowed under the rules to wear wetsuits. I don’t like the cold, so this will be one of my biggest challenges!” says Anna. “It’s also such a big unknown, which is quite terrifying, but I’m a firm believer in mind over matter.  I’m also a bit scared of jellyfish, but I’m hoping that I won’t bump into too many along the way!

 “I’m under no illusions about how hard it will be and I have no doubt that it’s going to be the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.   But it’s really nothing compared with what my mum went through and I know this thought will keep me going.”  

The UK arm of the Australian swimwear company, Zoggs, has kindly offered swim hats and goggles to the Pancrequatics, and Mailsports and Simply Swim have also donated swimming gear. Anna has been supported by her local leisure club, Greens Health and Fitness, which has given her a free membership so she can ramp up her training over the past year. Bria Organics is donating organic vaseline and Pulsin' is supplying organic energy bars for the team. The Hidden Rooms in Cambridge has also provided Anna with a free venue for her many fundraising evening evenings.

If you would like to donate to her appeal, please either go to Anna’s Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/Anna-Gomori-Woodcock , or text the message SWIM06 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 (or text SWIM06 £10 to 70070 to donate £10!). If your company would like to sponsor the Pancrequatics, please contact Anna on Mob: 07780 654762 or annanigel@hotmail.com

Anna would also like to thank the following companies for their generous donation of raffle prizes for her fundraising evenings this year:
Wombat, Junior 2 Senior, Lakeland, Trumpington Food and Wine, Fudge Kitchen, Derby Stores, Fat Face, Chivers, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Daily Bread, Waitrose, Talking T's, Neals Yard, Sawston Riding School, Ian Mccarney, Daisy Chain, Limoncello, Cambridge University Press, Newmarket Races, Coton Farm Shop, The Plough Pub in Coton. 
Monetary donations from: Jeffrey Archer, Devonshire House Dental Practice, Cambridge Building Society, Revital Health Foods, Simply Health (£200 on completion of swim), Darwin College, Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.

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