Jack Blyzinskyj, an MBA student at Imperial College Business School has swum the English Channel to raise money for people fleeing from Ukraine.
Mr Blyzinskyj, who is of Ukrainian heritage, completed the 33 kilometre challenge, known as the “Everest of Swimming” in 10 hours and 36 minutes in a bid to raise money to support the Ukrainian refugee crisis. The Meter by Meter challenge, which aimed to raise £10 for every meter completed by Jack and his team during the Channel crossing, has so far raised over £100,000.
Mr Blyzinskyj, who is a former Olympic Trials swimming finalist for Team GB and an 11-time NCAA All-American, highlighted his inspiration for the Channel swim. “As a family with deep Ukrainian roots, the invasion was difficult to comprehend and impacted me personally. My grandfather was born in Western Ukraine when the country was under Soviet occupation in the 1930’s. At 15, just after WW2, he had to flee his country of birth, was in a refugee camp in Italy for a while, before settling in England. I hope our small act of human courage continues to shine a light on the resilience of Ukraine, her people, and all those who continue to help rebuild our communities.”
The funds raised by the challenge will go towards supporting the Imperial Sanctuary Support Fund which is designed to support scholarships for people displaced by war, conflict or environmental crisis who desire to study at Imperial but lack the financial means to take up an offered place.
"I hope our small act of human courage continues to shine a light on the resilience of Ukraine, her people, and all those who continue to help rebuild our communities.” Jack Blyzinskyj MBA student, Business School
Money will also be donated to Solidarité Ukraine, a non-profit organisation that aims to support displaced Ukrainians rebuild their lives across Europe. Solidarité Ukraine was founded by Dr Mary Meaney, a member of the Business School’s Advisory Board and the College Council. The charity works with businesses, non-profits and the government employment agency to place refugees in jobs. Further funding will also go to Remember US, a non-profit organisation that provides humanitarian aid to vulnerable people from Ukraine living in war zones.
Dr Meaney said: "It is incredibly inspiring to witness the courage and commitment of Jack and the entire team. Despite gruelling conditions, freezing water and terrible currents, they managed to conquer the “Everest of swimming.” Their amazing effort has not only raised desperately needed funds for Ukrainian refugees and cancer research, it has also been a real source of inspiration to our entire community.”
Mr Blyzinskyj completed the challenge alongside a team comprising Dan Wallace, Team GB Olympic Silver Medallist, and Commonwealth Champion, Ross McWhirter, a Scottish and GB Triathlete, Jordan Dunn, Scottish National Team member and Harrison Haines, an Australian and a former University of Florida athlete.
After completing the swim, Mr Blyzinskyj said: “Conditions were quite grim, but after 10+ hours our team found the French coast. Our boat is one of the few successful crossings so far this year. Most of the other recent attempts have turned around due to the strong tides, high winds, and low visibility.
He added: "Even after a lifetime of swimming, this one took everything from our team. Over the past few days we’ve realized how much it gave back to us. The money we raised will make a prominent change in the causes we swam for, and that was the reason that turning around was never an option. The only thing longer than our swim, was the ocean of people supporting us, and it wouldn’t have been possible without them."
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