The Voice (Francistown)

Botswana: English Channel

Next Monday, August 6th 2007, 29 year-old Botswana-born Michael Ventre will attempt to swim the English Channel from Dover in southern England to Calais on the French coast, a distance of 22 miles or 35 kilometres.

Ventre is raising funds for Save The Children feeding and oral re-hydration programmes in Africa and hopes his swim will raise in excess of P25, 000.

Captain Matthew Webb first swam the English Channel in 1877, though it was a full 35 years before anyone else attempted the feat. Such is the difficulty of the swim that only 1 in 10 attempts actually succeeds. Even in August, the water temperature in the Channel will only be around 14C but Ventre will not be wearing any protective clothing, only a swimsuit. In addition, he estimates that with prevailing tides and strong currents the distance will eventually be closer to 40 kilometres in total.

He is presently training hard in the Albert Dock area of Liverpool and is confident that he will be able to successfully complete the distance.

Ventre was born in the Princess Marina Hospital on the 2nd November 1977. He attended Braodhurst Primary School from 1985 to 1992 where he developed his swimming skills, setting and breaking several school records, some of which still stand today. On graduation he was awarded his school colours for academic and sporting prowess.

He went on to complete Matric at St. Stithians in Johannesburg in 1996, in Psychology and Business Administration. During his time at St. Stithians he gained a place on the Transvaal swimming team and played rugby and water polo for his school. His then proceeded to Wits Technikon where he studied for a Diploma in Sports Administration and Marketing.

He has also successfully completed the grueling South African Comrades Marathon.

He currently lives in Liverpool in the United Kingdom where he is involved in sports coaching and charitable fund-raising projects.

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