Local students swim relay across English Channel

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SAN DIEGO - One swimmer at a time, a group of San Diego students battling things like autism, eating disorders and ADHD crossed the English Channel.

“Whenever people tell us we can’t do something, we love to prove them wrong,” said Arch Academy student, Kaylee Kussman.

The 13-member team crossed the 21-mile journey after they got started last Thursday morning.

“We waited for our captain to wake up, we got on the boat, he took us to the white cliffs, and then the first swimmer went out,” said Kussman.

Each swimmer swam an hour in the chilly water temperature. For approximately the first half of the swim they swam through windy conditions and some significant swells and white caps.

The water temp ranged from 55°F - 57F during most of the swim, with a welcomed rise to 59-60F as they drew closer to the French coast.

“People who aren’t used to being cold were freezing,” said Kussman. “I kept trying to tell myself that it wasn’t cold and that it its only temporary.”

The teams were swimming without wetsuits and without fins; it took them 13-hours to finish.

Arch Academy school founder, Cheryl Zak, also swam as part of one of the relay teams. "These students exemplify our school motto ‘If I can't find a way, I will make a way’”, said Cheryl.

Because of the tides, the swim goes across the channel in an "S" like path--it is not a direct route from Dover to France. That increases the difficulty of the swim.