During early September, Arnie Bellini went on his second attempt to swim the English Channel. This time he was successful and based on the official Channel swim database, he became the first person from Tampa to accomplish such a crossing. He route revolve around the traditional one, from Dover, England, to Cap Gris Nez, France. In all, the time it took him to complete the 21.6 miles was 16 hours, 6 minutes, 26 seconds.

“It doesn’t matter how bad it seems, success is out there. Never give up,” stated Arnie. According to the same database, Arnie was the 1,397th person to swim the Channel. However, he was only the 50th aged above fifty years old to make it. Aside from being an open water swimmer, Arnie is also the CEO of ConnectWise, a Tampa Bay high-tech company. Along with his brother, he co-founded the company back in 1982. “The Channel, that’s actually been on my bucket list since I was 9 years old, since my mom had me join the swim team when I was a kid. I read an article about a woman who had swum the English Channel. It just captured my imagination,” he explained.

After he had turned fifty, Arnie went on to complete three Ironman triathlons. Despite that, the Channel was still the one lurking in his head. “There are just so few times in life when you force yourself to face yourself — I mean really face yourself,” he said. Eventually, he proceeded to find Bart Cobb, a 59-year-old local coach who also became his training partner. Together, they made up their minds to go for it. Their training involved swimming around Harbour Island, where Cobb lives, and Davis Islands. For safety measures and purposes, Bart’s wife will always follow them in a kayak.

In July, they were ready and attempted the Channel swim on successive days. Unfortunately, due to the water temperatures, both of them did not succeed. Thankfully both of them pulled out unlike a 45-year-old swimmer from Ireland, who passed away after going into cardiac arrest when he was just a mile away from France. “It took a week or two before I decided to try again,” added Arnie. This time the water temperature was more favourable as compared to his previous attempt. With much perseverance, he was able to complete the crossing of the Channel. For the full story, you can read it here.

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