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Oxshott woman will swim English Channel to end child sex trafficking

An Oxshott woman is planning to swim the English Channel this summer to help stop child sex trafficking in Mumbai.

Leah Chowdhry, 25, will swim 26 miles in water that is just 13 degrees, which means there’s a very real danger of exhaustion or hypothermia.

If successful, she will be one of the first women of Asian descent to complete the challenge.

“Everyone calls me mad,” said Leah, "A lot of people do struggle to finish and there have been a few who passed away.”

However, Leah has been training hard for the challenge, which she takes very seriously.

She said: “I will have been training for about year; I started last July, the training program is a combination of pool and outdoor swimming.

“The route is 26 miles, at the moment I’m doing about 25 kilometres every week.”

Leah said the attempt will be “very dependent on the weather” but she hopes to do it at the start of July, ideal for daylight.

Family and friends will be in the boat but, under Channel Swimming Association rules, Leah is not allowed any human contact while undertaking the challenge.

Leah said: “They can cheer me on, but you can’t hear anything when you’re in the water, so my coach will send me signs.”

There’s also the danger of cargo ships and cruise liners; the Channel is the busiest shipping area in the world.

Leah, managing director of Leah C Childcare, has already completed a marathon to raise £11,000 for UNICEF, and, aged just nine, she gave up sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks for an entire year to raise £500.

The project Leah is fundraising for is run by The British Asian Trust.

Leah said: "Child trafficking and child prostitution is a billion-dollar business in India; it's estimated 1.2 million children in India are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation."

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