FEATURES

Are you ready for a marvellous adventure?

Achieve something truly awe-inspiring in 2023: an English Channel relay swim with the Mencap Marvels.

“I never thought Channel swimming was something that I would be able to do,” says Nikki Pope, head coach of the Mencap Marvels, “but after injury stopped me running I wanted a new challenge. I started open water swimming as an alternative hobby and immediately fell in love with it. Despite being an inexperienced open water swimmer, I somehow ended up on an English Channel relay team and swam to France in my very first year of swimming outdoors!”

Nikki now organises English Channel relays with the Mencap Marvels to raise money for learning disability charity Mencap and give other swimmers the same amazing experience that she was so lucky to have. “There is an expectation that if you are a Channel relay swimmer them you have to be some elite-level swimmer. That just isn’t the case,” says Nikki. “An English Channel relay is an achievable goal for any swimmer willing to commit to the training.”

If you want to take on the challenge of a lifetime, you will be in safe hands with the Mencap Marvels, who not only have a 100% success rate in getting their swimmers across the Channel since their first relay in 2020 but also provide a nurturing community environment in which they support their Marvels through their training plans.


“It’s not just about the swim on the day,” says Nikki. “Swimming the Channel requires a lot of strength and dedication before you even get on the boat. With Mencap Marvels we are there for every step of the swimmer’s journey, from sorting the paperwork, organising the boat, and offering cold water acclimatisation and night swims so our swimmers are ready for success.”

As well as preparing training plans for the swimmers, Nikki also offers monthly Zoom training calls and organises WhatsApp groups so Marvels can enjoy peer to peer support, learning and fun.

Cross the Channel this summer

Nikki is excited about taking her next teams of Mencap Marvels across the Channel this summer. If you want to join them, you will take your place alongside the diverse group of Marvels who have already succeeded at the challenge. “Among our ranks we have deservedly proud school children, swimmers with autism/ADHD, blind swimmers, single mums, corporate giants, entrepreneurs and a headmaster!” says Nikki. “We are a diverse and dedicated group.”


Swimming the Channel is an achievement of a lifetime. “It’s about more than just swimming,” says Nikki. “It’s breaking down self-limiting beliefs and pushing yourself beyond your own expectations.” In addition, you will also be raising essential money for Mencap to support their work with children and adults with learning disabilities. 

If you are ready to be proud of what you can achieve, check out the Mencap Marvels English Channel Relay website.  

Written by Jonathan Cowie in association with Mencap Marvels. This article is a paid advertorial from the January edition of Outdoor Swimmer.