By Vicki Carter
Freda Streeter MBE known in Dover as The Channel General sat on the beach in Dover from 1982 issuing orders to swimmers and helping them achieve their goal of swimming the Channel only passing on the baton to Emma France in 2016 – 34 years in total. She was described by Cliff Golding as “Omnipresent” in an article for Outdoor Swimmer in 2018 and indeed this is how I remember her. She seemed to know exactly how you were doing and what you were doing. She was fierce and would yell if you took your swimming hat off too soon which is a sin – you lose heat through your head…. but she was also the first to give you a massive cuddle and pep talk when the going got tough. It was Freda who spoke to me when I didn’t get to do my swim in 2008 since the weather changed and she ordered me off to the pub, I was happy to follow that order. 11 years later she was one of the first to congratulate me when I made it!
Freda was a swimming teacher with a passion for teaching children with disabilities, then in 1982 her daughter Alison completed her first solo Channel swim, aged 18 and followed that the next year with her first two-way. Alison’s coach then emigrated to Australia. Finding that no one else really knew how to train Channel swimmers at the time, Streeter senior picked up from what she had observed and took on the mantle as trainer not just for Alison but for anyone wanting to swim the Channel.
Article about Freda by Cliff Golding in Outdoor Swimmer
Wikipedia link to Alison Streeter