Channel challenge for the dogs

This is a tale of mad Australians and dogs and the famous feat Englishmen have been enduring for nearly 139 years.

By day, Connor McDonald and Genevieve Warriner are desk workers in the Osborne Park offices of Racing and Wagering WA. But within the next week, the pair will put their mental and physical capacities to the test when they attempt to swim the English Channel to raise funds to help find homes for WA greyhounds.

The plan has been two years in the making for the novice swimmers, who have trained for up to 25km a week during that period in swimming pools, Lake Leschenaultia and Hillarys marina.

Mr McDonald described his swimming partner as an "animal freak" who worked on an Upper Swan farm most weekends, which led to the fundraising idea to help the RWWA-backed Greyhounds as Pets program, which seeks to find domestic homes for retired racing greyhounds.

"We love animals and it just makes sense because of where we work and the association with the GAP program," Ms Warriner, a former 160km time trial cyclist, said.

Steamship captain Matthew Webb is credited with the first solo and unassisted swim crossing of the 560km channel in August 1875.

It is a challenge Ms Warriner is not taking for granted, particularly because the event demands that only a bathing costume, cap and goggles be worn.

"I'm not a swimmer," she said yesterday with a hint of lament. "I've got this fear of my feet hanging in water, but I like a challenge. I want to go and I want to go now."

Mr McDonald said his father had been a keen swimmer and he recalled often watching vision of legendary Australian long-distance swimmer Des Renford, who completed the English Channel swim 19 times.

The pair's team of six swimmers leave Perth tomorrow and must complete their mission between the next two Saturdays.

Anyone wanting to donate to their greyhound cause can do so online at www.mycause.com.au/page/benicetothedoggies .

The West Australian

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