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Police officer smashes record for swimming across the Wash

PUBLISHED: 15:25 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:34 30 July 2019

Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, with her daughters Dakota and Enya, who greeted their mum after she became the fastest woman to swim across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis Flannagan

Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, with her daughters Dakota and Enya, who greeted their mum after she became the fastest woman to swim across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis Flannagan

Archant

A police officer battled choppy water and sea sickness, and had to contend with jellyfish and even a bull seal to become the fastest woman to ever swim across the Wash.

Greg Brown, left, and Stuart Munday with Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, who became the fastest woman to swim across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis FlannaganGreg Brown, left, and Stuart Munday with Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, who became the fastest woman to swim across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis Flannagan

Donna Flannagan, 39, completed the 14-mile swim from Skegness to Old Hunstanton in six hours 28 minutes, beating the previous record of nine hours 35 minutes set by Claire Draper in August last year.

Mrs Flannagan, a police constable from Dereham, made the swim on Sunday, accompanied by a support boat crewed by fellow long-distance swimmers.

After finishing the swim, which was done as a fundraiser for East Anglia's Children's Hospices, she said: "This was an exceptionally challenging swim made even more so by the sickness and challenging weather. Luckily the sickness past after an hour or so of returning to firm ground."

Husband Travis Flannagan said the swim, which stated at around 9am, was more difficult than had been expected, and there were concerns about his wife's sea sickness. He said: "Despite their concerns Donna pushed on and settled into a steady rhythm.

Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, swimming across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis FlannaganDonna Flannagan, of Dereham, swimming across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis Flannagan

"As they reached the halfway point the weather took a turn for the worse. The waves started growing in size and visibility drew in due to the rain and fog.

"The ever growing waves made it more difficult for Donna to swim in.

"Sadly this weather continued for the rest of the day."

Mr Flannagan added: "During the swim Donna was joined by a large mass of jelly fish and a large inquisitive bull seal. Luckily the seal decided not to join Donna on her swim."

Donna Flannagan, of Dereham, swimming across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis FlannaganDonna Flannagan, of Dereham, swimming across the Wash from Lincolnshire to Norfolk. Picture: Supplied by Travis Flannagan

Mrs Flannagan is also now the second fastest person, male or female, to swim the Wash having narrowly missing out on the male record which sits at five hours 58 minutes.

She will be awarded the 'Butlin Challenge Trophy' which goes to those who have swum the Wash.

The first woman to swim across was Mercedes Gleitze, who managed it in just 13 hours 17 minutes in 1929.

Mrs Flannagan said she wanted to thank the support boat captain Rob Howlett and its crew Stuart Munday, Steven Riches, Greg Brown, Alex Gaunt and Iris Ashman.

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