Researcher swims distance of the English Channel in pool

October 15th, 2021

Maddy Ellis, a 27-year-old researcher at the university (and ex-student), recently swam the distance of the English channel in a local pool, raising £10,300 for children’s charity, Over The Wall.

Maddy, a 27-year-old Mathematician based in Little Paxton, had been scheduled to swim the channel in early September, but missed her allocated window due to high winds and dangerous sea swells.

After enduring a difficult two-year training schedule of regular, long open water swims and daily ice baths, Maddy did not give up and instead, she opted to swim the 21 miles at Mountbatten Swimming pool in Portsmouth, over the space of 15 hours.

From 7am to 10pm on Sunday, Maddy swam a total of around 1,200 lengths of the pool in one long session, eating as she swam and getting out of the pool only to use the lavatory.

Maddy became a volunteer for Over The Wall several years ago, where she attended the charity’s camps that are designed to help children with serious illness to reach beyond the boundaries of their health challenge.

“I really wanted to continue to raise money for Over The Wall, and to honour everyone who had already donated to my JustGiving page. People had been so kind and so generous, so I wanted to do something as similar to the channel crossing as possible.”

Other volunteers and staff members from Over The Wall were present for the whole 15 hours as were Maddy’s family members, many of which occasionally swam beside her in support.

“Getting used to the heat and chlorine was most difficult.” said Maddy. “The pool was 29 degrees and I had been taking ice baths and swimming in cold open waters in preparation, so that was something I wasn’t ready for, and had to adjust to.”

As a Vegan, Maddy was able to cool down with the occasional handful of frozen peas provided by her fellow volunteers who were cheering her on from the poolside.

“Every time I popped my head up, throughout the whole 15 hours, my supporters were there and that really helped me to keep going. I also kept my mind busy by thinking about work, people and Over The Wall- and by playing maths games in my mind- to break up the monotony of the swim! It felt great to complete it and to have raised well over my target £10k for the charity.”

Kevin Mathieson, the CEO of the charity said, “We feel very lucky and proud to have Maddy on board as a volunteer and fundraiser for our charity. These funds raised through her strength, determination and dedication, will certainly help our charity to provide more opportunities for children with serious illness -and for that we are very grateful.”

If you would like to take on a challenge for Over The Wall, please email Danniella Manton at

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