Wahl siblings attempt to make history, raise awareness with English Channel crossing
In the summer of 2013, Centre College’s Danielle Wahl ’15 accomplished a feat few people have achieved when she successfully swam across the English Channel (pictured below). A year later, she and her brothers Dustin Wahl ’17 and Devin Wahl are looking to make history by becoming the first group of three siblings to complete the journey simultaneously.
The siblings from Colorado Springs, Colo. are all accomplished swimmers, with Danielle and Dustin swimming on the team at Centre, and Devin having competed at Colorado College, where he graduated in 2012. When Danielle completed the crossing in 2013, she did so in nine hours and 49 minutes, the fourth fastest time of the 104 successful crossings that year.
Despite the impressive swimming backgrounds of the Wahl siblings, the channel crossing will still pose quite a challenge when the three hit the water on the morning of July 22. The channel is 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, and they will have to negotiate strong ocean currents and water temperatures in the 50s in addition to boat traffic in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. During Danielle’s swim last year, she also suffered several jellyfish stings, a common occurrence for channel swimmers. Danielle is one of just over 1,400 swimmers to complete the swim since the first crossing in 1875, and less than half of those who make the attempt are successful.
“We are talking about the open water,” Danielle Wahl said. “My experience is going to be different from last time, and their experience is going to be different from mine. There are no guarantees with the ocean.”
Though the Wahls do receive some motivation by becoming the first team of three siblings to make the crossing, their primary goal is to raise money and awareness for the fight against Alzheimer’s. The Wahl siblings have had two grandparents and an uncle affected by the disease, and they have set a goal of raising $20,000 for the swim to benefit Alzheimer’s research. With nearly a week left before the swim, they have raised around $13,000.
“We believe that scientists will develop better treatments for this horrible disease in the near future,” said Devin Wahl, who is studying the disease in his job at the National Institute for Aging. “We have experienced first-hand the horrors of the disease, and we want to do whatever we can to help find a cure.”
The Wahls will leave for England on Friday, and are planning on making the swim on Tuesday, July 22, weather permitting. For more information on the swim or to donate, visit the Wahl Channel Crossing website or like the Facebook page.
For the latest national headline, view the recent Washington Post article previewing the Wahl sibling swim.
by Matt Montavon, Sports Information Director