• Watch a video report from ITV Anglia's Charlie Frost

A woman from Essex will swim the length of the English Channel in a paddling pool to raise money for the Salvation Army after her husband contracted Covid-19.

Karen Sandford, who lives in Harlow, has set up the pool in her back garden.

She says that before lockdown, she was a regular cold-water swimmer - something she attributes with helping her mental health.

Karen Sandford has set up an inflatable pool in her back garden Credit: Karen Sandford

As well as Karen's husband becoming sick, she says she also lost members of her church family to the coronavirus.

In the garden with a water temperature of just 11 degrees, Karen began to swim while attached to the washing line by a tether.

Starting with an initial target of 10km, Karen has since increased this and pledged to swim 21 miles, the width of the Strait of Dover, with the aim of raising £500 for charity.

As of Sunday, 31 May, she had raised £535 and set a new target of £1,000 on her online fundraising page.

Karen is tethered to her washing line Credit: ITV Anglia

"I'm not able to stretch quite as much with my stroke as I'm swimming and I focus on the fence which isn't as interesting. "Sometimes I have to close my eyes and imagine I'm in Cornwall somewhere or up at the local lake."

Karen Sandford

Along the way, Karen has also been completing ‘mini challenges’, such as swimming for 52 minutes on her 52nd birthday, and 32 minutes on her and husband Chris’ wedding anniversary.

The Salvation Army receives the majority of it's funding from local charity shops - all which have been closed due to pandemic restrictions.

Karen will continue to swim in her paddling pool until she has completed her 21 mile challenge to help the charity provide food and shelter for those in need.

Karen in the pool Credit: Karen Sandford