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Racing the Tide

Spinal neurosurgeon attempts 32 hour non-stop swim

More people have set foot on the moon than have completed a non-stop swim around the Isle of Wight (IOW)1. This is the size of the challenge facing military neurosurgeon Lt. Col. David Baxter and his fellow army officer Major Jessica French as they seek to become only the sixth and seventh people to successfully complete the 62-mile open water swim.

Depending on weather and tide conditions, the two friends will be setting off from Bembridge on the IOW between the 28th and 31st of August. The team will be "Racing the Tide” as they battle against the largest tide of the year which can measure up to 4.5 knots per hour.

David and Jessica will be each swimming up to 32 hours in order to raise money for two separate charities: Spinal Research who fund research into paralysis and Reorg, a charity focused on supporting service personnel and veterans from across all arms of the armed forces and emergency services.

Supporting life changing research

The idea for the challenge came during lockdown when Jessica and David started open water swimming to help with their mental well-being. Taking on a new challenge gave them an added focus to help raise valuable funds as Lt. Col. David Baxter explains:

“Every four hours someone in the UK is paralysed due to an injury to their spinal cord. This can happen to anyone, at any age and is life changing for the individual and their family. Recent research has made major breakthroughs in our understanding of spinal cord biology over the last 30 years, and I’ve seen first-hand the potential for new treatments which could help restore movement and sensation for those living with paralysis today.”

In particular Lt. Col. Baxter will be supported by Ian Witney who was paralysed in 2016 and has benefited from a new life changing spinal stimulation technology:

"I met Lt. Col. Baxter whilst in military rehabilitation he performed the operation to implant an electrical spinal simulator into my body. The changes I have seen have improved my quality of life hugely and this is only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s vital that funds are raised for spinal research to help all SCI patients,” he added.

Support David and the team

You can find out more about the challenge and follow the team’s training regime through::

Donations can be made via their Justgiving page: