Special needs students attempt to cross English Channel

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Students from a special San Diego swim team who battle autism, substance abuse and learning disabilities are getting ready to cross the English Channel.

The students are from the Arch Academy and call themselves the “Zombies” because of how early they wake up to practice.

“It’s the crown of swimming. Less people have swum the English channel than have climbed Mount Everest,” said 15-year-old swimmer Matthew Geoergy.

Many people consider the English Channel to be the ultimate long distance swim.

“We started doing these coast swims once a month and then we figured we can swim in the ocean full time,” said Georgy.

They’ve swum from Alcatraz to San Francisco but nothing will compare to the cold and choppy waters of the English Channel.

They will start near Dover, England and finish at Calais, France -- about a 22-mile relay swim.

The students say the challenge doesn’t scare them because each of them is currently battling a challenge of their own.

“When we have a lot on our brain, or ADD and sometimes we feel like were going crazy, but when we start swimming…our breath and our rhythm takes over,” said student swimmer Maddy Israel.

The Arch Academy is one of few schools in the world to engage in marathon swimming.

Next week, the famous long distance swimmer, Chloe McCardel will get in the water with the students to help spread the word regarding the benefits of marathon swimming.

“I am extremely thankful to this group. They gave me a life…I would have been washed up in the system or whatever, dead or in jail and this school gave me more than any other school could,” said 17-year-old Kaylee Kussman.