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Cross-channel swimmers Ali Budynkiewicz and Lisa North

PUBLISHED: 16:41 01 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:42 01 February 2017

Lisa North and Ali Budynkiewicz

Lisa North and Ali Budynkiewicz

Hattie Miles 07907 645897

The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. Or a combination.

Ali Budynkiewicz and Lisa North – two Southbourne grandmothers – certainly know the power of all three, having just become the first duo ever to swim the Channel, and back.

The game friends – dubbed the Gangsta Grannies, a nod to the best-selling book by celebrity swimmer David Walliams – aced the gruelling, 42-mile challenge in 31 hours, fuelled by pork pies and bananas, and stung by jellyfish.

“It had never been done before, let alone by two grandmothers,” says Ali, 58. “It was all a bit Victoria Wood. But we trained hard for three years and swam our hearts out. I lost half-a-stone en route.

“I will never forget arriving on the shore at Dover in the dark. All I could think was: ‘Thank goodness that’s over’.” My grandchildren told me: ‘Grandma’s done good’.”

Lisa, 48, adds: “Swimming through the night was tough but we’re chuffed to have done it, and for such a good cause.”

The pair – who have four grandchildren between them and another two on the way – raised £3,000 for a women’s refuge supported by Bournemouth-based charity, Bournemouth Churches Housing Association.

They are already planning next year’s adventure, a 40-mile swim across Lake Geneva. But as Ali says: “It’s better than bingo.”


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