Anna has pulled together a team of 6 (including herself) – dubbed the Pancrequatics – to take on the gruelling 21 mile swim from Dover to Calais in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, negotiating such potential hazards as diesel slicks, raw sewage and jellyfish."I got into swimming while pregnant with second baby and I loved it, and would regularly swim around 3 miles a week. Then when my oldest son was having swimming lessons, I found out that his coach had swum the Channel, and this sparked the idea. Then one day when I was swimming, I just decided that I was going to do it. I’d been looking for a big challenge and this was it. It felt right." Although the team are officially scheduled to swim on 18 September, they will be on standby from 01 August and could be called at short notice to travel to Dover and start their swim. Anna’s mum, Gudrun Llewellyn, died in 2006, only 16 weeks after her diagnosis, aged just 66. Gudrun taught German at Christ College, University of Cambridge before she retired and many of her former students came to her funeral. "I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer until mum was diagnosed," says Anna, "and I was shocked and upset to discover the terrible statistics of this disease. We all miss her so much and I’ll be thinking of her to keep me focused as I swim. Anna’s team mates include mother and daughter Su and Heather Tysoe from Hertfordshire. At 17, Heather is not only the youngest member of the team, she’s is also the most experienced, having swum the Channel as part of a relay team aged 14. Other team-mates include: Tom Mellor (33) and Kevan Heydan (44), both from Cambridge and Cormac McCarthaigh (29) from Dublin.
Despite being the 5th biggest cause of cancer death, pancreatic cancer receives less than 2 per cent of overall research funding, something which has helped spur Anna on to undertake so many fundraising events over the past few months, juggling these with her responsibilities as a full-time mother of two young children."Pancreatic cancer is in the top 5 cancer killers, yet there’s just not enough research being done and survival is so low. This is why I’ve been working to do something really positive, in memory of my mum and Susan. I’m aiming high. I want to make a difference." For their attempt to be officially recognised by the Channel Swimming Association, the team will swim in 1 hour sessions in strict rotation, wearing only their normal swimsuits, goggles and hat. The temperature of the sea will likely be a chilly 15 degrees. "We’re not allowed under the rules to wear wetsuits. I don’t like the cold, so this will be one of my biggest challenges!" says Anna. "It’s also such a big unknown, which is quite terrifying, but I’m a firm believer in mind over matter. I’m also a bit scared of jellyfish, but I’m hoping that I won’t bump into too many along the way!" "I’m under no illusions about how hard it will be and I have no doubt that it’s going to be the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally. But it’s really nothing compared with what my mum went through and I know this thought will keep me going." The UK arm of the Australian swimwear company, Zoggs, has kindly offered swim hats and goggles to the Pancrequatics, and Anna has been supported by her local leisure club, Greens Health and Fitness, which has given her a free membership so she can ramp up her training over the past year. Bria Organics is donating organic vaseline and Pulsin' is supplying organic energy bars for the team. If you would like to donate to her appeal, please either go to Anna’s Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/Anna-Gomori-Woodcock , or text the message SWIM06 £10 to 70070.