A WOMAN with diabetes has completed a Channel-crossing challenge in aid of a national charity – in half the recommended time.

Dawn Wrench, 49, took on the Diabetes UK challenge to swim 22 miles – the distance from Dover to Calais – in 12 weeks, completing it in just six and raising more than £300 in the process.

Having seen a complete lifestyle change since deciding to go for it around Christmas, Dawn says she will carry on swimming after a short recovery and is hoping she can ‘get back’ to the UK before the May 22 deadline.

She said: “I had started going swimming a bit already before Christmas and had been doing aqua aerobics at Brio [Leisure at Memorial Court].

“I thought ‘I need to get myself healthy’, and what better way to do it than by – at the same time – giving back to those people are trying to help people like me?

“My family thought I was absolutely bonkers. My eldest daughter thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but they have all been so supportive.

“I had 12 weeks to do it and I told them I would try to do it in six – they said ‘oh my god, yeah right’.”

But Danefield Road resident Dawn, who works at Leighton Hospital in Crewe, got in the pool up to five times a week to rack up the miles, completing the challenge on Friday, April 5.

“I did a little bit of training beforehand, getting used to being back in the water,” she said. “I went with my daughter to see how I would manage. I managed 20 lengths and I was absolutely shattered.

“She said ‘you will have to do better than this if you want to get the challenge done in six weeks!’

“My family was great like that – they wanted to push me to succeed but not so much that I made myself ill. Once I had decided to do it, I knew I had to finish – I didn’t want to let anyone down.

“The first day of the challenge, I knew I wanted to get a mile out of the way and it took my an hour and 45 minutes to do the 65 lengths. But I kept going and getting a bit quicker.

“A couple of times I only just managed half a mile and it was like swimming in treacle, but the most I did was 102 lengths.”

As well as the support of her family and friends, Dawn developed a following at Brio itself where poolside staff cheered her on and welcomed her ‘into Calais’ when she finished.

She said: “To be honest I probably wouldn’t have done it so quickly if it weren’t for the support of the pool staff at Brio.

“They were brilliant at supporting me and always had a nice word to say.

“It has really helped me. I haven’t lost a lot of weight but I have lost inches – I have toned up and feel really good about that.

“Because of the swimming I am eating better and making better choices, and I’m thankful for having such brilliant support.”