To the delight of the English Channel swimming community, Freda Streeter has been awarded an MBE for services to open water swimming in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list.
Affectionately known as the Channel General, Freda spent more than 30 years coaching aspiring Channel swimmers from her beach chair in Dover Harbour. Starting in 1982, every weekend between May and September, whatever the weather, Freda reigned over ‘Swimmers’ Beach’. Respected, feared and loved in about equal measure, hundreds of swimmers will testify that Freda’s demanding but no-nonsense coaching helped them achieve their dream of swimming from England to France. Not only did she coach from the beach, up until the age of 70 she frequently joined her swimmers as crew on their cross-Channel boat.
And she did all this voluntarily!
The impetus to start coaching came when Freda’s daughter, Alison, was training for the English Channel. Alison eventually went on and swam the English Channel 43 times, more than any other swimmer in history, while raising more than £250,000 for leukaemia research. Alison received an MBE in 1991. Arguably, Freda’s contribution to good causes is even greater as not only did she support Alison, she has also guided hundreds of other swimmers to success, many of which were also fundraising for good causes.
In our April/May 2014 issue, we published an article headlined “Dream Weaver” about Freda. You can read that here.
Further recognition of achievements by swimmers in the New Year’s Honours list was a BEM for services to swimming and the community of Grimsby for Brenda Fisher. Brenda set a world record for swimming the English Channel in 1951 and featured as our Open Water Hero in our October 2014 issue.