The daughter of a local charity boss is to swim the English Channel in aid of her father’s good cause.

Laura Tonge, whose father Simon Tonge is the Executive Director of Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, is part of a team swimming the Channel for charity.

Dover to Calais is 34 kilometres, or 21 miles – but she expects to swim much further than that during her training. “I train every week in the pool, doing 50 lengths at a time which take about an hour. I will also be swimming once a week in the sea, increasing the distance every week. If I swim 50 lengths of 33 metres, 3 times a week for 19 weeks, then I think I will have done about 94,000 metres - or 58 miles!”

Laura is part of a relay team of six, all linked to top zoos and wildlife charities. The swimmers – known as Team Tiger - are raising money for different conservation causes – Laura is swimming on behalf of Paignton Zoo. Each member will do 1 hour before handing over to the next person. It’s thought the crossing will take around 18 hours in total. Each swimmer will spend 3 or 4 hours in the water altogether.

All the swimmers must meet rigorous standards to make sure they are up to the challenge: “We must all complete a two hour open water swim in 60 degrees F or under and will have to be signed off by an official.

“We hope to start early on 28th August. If the weather or currents prevent us going, we can try again in September. If we have not gone by the end of October we will have missed our chance for this year - so fingers crossed!”

There will be a support boat with a crew of four including the pilot and observer.

Laura has set herself the target of raising £1,000 for Paignton Zoo. She has set up a Virgin Money online giving page at

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