Channeling her strength

Rachelle Silver will swim the English Channel in August to raise money for PANDA.

NOT all heroes wear capes, but some wear swimming caps. Like Australian Jewish woman Rachelle Silver, who will be swimming solo across the English Channel to raise money for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA).

“I was a swimmer in my youth and then had a big break when I had my children, and after my third child in 2014 I was very quickly diagnosed with post-natal depression,” Silver explained. “It was a really tough time.”

Part of Silver’s recovery was a long weekend in Byron Bay, where she did her first ocean swim in years. It reminded her of her love of swimming, and on her returns to Sydney she found a squad with which to train.

“They specialise in marathon open-water swimming,” Silver said. “People in the squad were swimming the channel, and I felt I needed a goal and an identity apart from being a mother, so I decided three years ago that I would swim the channel.”

For three years, she has been training four days a week for three hours in the pool, and one day a week she spends up to eight hours swimming in the ocean.

At its shortest point, the route between Dover and Calais is 33.3km, but due to large tidal shifts and currents it’s more likely to be between approximately 50km, which takes between 14 and 16 hours to swim.

The channel has a water temperature of approximately 16 degrees, so Silver has cold showers and ice baths in preparation for swimming without a wetsuit.

“It’s all a mental game,” she said. “I’m very excited. I feel like I’ve had good preparation, I’ve learnt so much about myself and my body and the power of the mind to get your through difficult times.”

Silver has so far raised more than $8000 of her $20,000 target, all of which will be donated to PANDA. The organisation provides a vital service in Australia by offering the only specialist national perinatal mental health telephone counselling service, as well as reducing stigma around perinatal anxiety and depression, and providing education services to health professionals and the wider community.

To donate to PANDA, visit