A MAN who couldn’t swim two lengths of a swimming pool just a few years ago has swam 21 miles across the channel in aid of two charities.

Gary Fortune, 48 from from Trowbridge braved the cold and deep waters on August 26 after training for months.

He completed the swim in just 13 hrs and 9 minutes with just just a pair of trunks, swim hat and goggles.

So far Mr Fortune has raised over £1100 for the RNLI and £1400 for Wiltshire Mind.

Mr Fortune said: “The swim went amazingly well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The weather was great for it.

“It was an experience which I could never repeat in my lifetime, it was just something else.

“Ten years ago, I ran a couple of marathons and loved the feeling I got from it, unfortunately I damaged my Achilles and haven’t been able to run long distances since.

“But it got me thinking about what next. I wanted to do something that isn’t so common, so thought about swimming the channel.

“The main reason I did this was so that I can raise money for two charities that mean something to me.

“The RNLI do so much good work and most forget they are a charity.

“We take the beach support and lifesaving missions for granted, putting their own lives at risk to save others.

“The second is MIND, many people go through life living with mental health issues, some triggered by life events or perhaps stress plus many more, I’m not a doctor.

“Open water swimming gives you a great adrenalin high and therefore has been linked to helping people’s mental health.

“Whilst I do not suffer from this illness many do and have said that open water swimming is a great healer. I think I can see why.

“So this is about raising awareness and hopefully helping people through their recovery.”

After completing the swim on the Monday, Mr Fortune went back to work on Wednesday after recovering well.

He added: “I did recover surprisingly quickly.

“I was very tired on Tuesday and Wednesday with a few aches and pains and jelly fish stings, but nothing too serious.

“I am planning on having a relaxing weekend though.”

Mr Fortune hopes that his fundraising challenge will inspire others to raise money for charity.

He said: “I am really pleased with the amount I have raised, although I always want to raise more. I feel this has touched the hearts of so many people and I hope others will take on their own fundraising which suits their interests.”