They Did It! Dylan, 15, and Maia, 13, Kayak The Channel

Posted on 24 January 2013

On Tuesday 19th February young Leaside members Maia Wallace-Loizou and Dylan Barber-May succeeded in paddling across the channel in just 4 hours 15 minutes.

Maia is now the youngest girl ever to kayak across the English Channel.

Setting off in crisp but sunny and still conditions from Folkestone at 9am, they were joined on the water by 2 of our adult volunteers Alan Goode and Luke O’Bryan. Bryan Fennell was in the safety boat keeping everyone’s spirits up and Stephen O’Flaherty provided transport on the other side in France.

After coming ashore in France Dylan said: “I’m feeling good, fine. It was sort of challenging but more mentally than physically but I enjoyed it and we did it which was the main thing.”

Maia was just as understated and modest: “It was alright but after a bit I did want to get off but we kept going and it was really warm at the start and the sea was nice and still”

Dylan and Maia came up with the idea themselves, to raise money to buy more sports equipment for their club, Leaside.

They both trained hard for the challenge with our adult coaches throughout the winter. As Dylan explains “waking up at 6am to kayak in the cold and going again after school but it was worth it because this is for Leaside. It’s a great charity helping young, sometimes deprived Londoners to get out of the house, off the streets and do something fun which they can get good at.”

So far Dylan and Maia have raised nearly £4,000 in sponsorship. Donations can still be made online at

All money raised will be used to buy more sports equipment for the young people who go to Leaside.

Our huge thanks to all of Leaside’s coaches and volunteers, Ultimate Kayaks who provided a double kayak and Berkeley First Ltd.