Cycle campaigner who lost her leg in crash to swim the Channel
Victoria Lebrec is raising money for the London Ambulance Service who saved her life
13 September, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
Cycle crash survivor Victoria Lebrec who will swim the Channel to raise money for the London air ambulance
VICTORIA Lebrec longed to be in the water as she spent three months unable to sit up after suffering a crushed pelvis and having a leg amputated following a near-fatal cycling collision in Clerkenwell.
She wanted to feel weightless in a pool, relieving her of excruciating pain.
Five years on, the 28-year-old is going to swim the Channel to raise money for the air ambulance crew who saved her life.
“When you’re swimming it feels like you’re free,” she told the Tribune. “The gravity issue is taken away.
“When I was in the trauma ward I really wanted to be in the water. I wanted the feeling of weightlessness.
“I just wanted to be able to move properly and not be stuck in bed. I couldn’t even sit in a wheelchair.”
She underwent 13 operations, then months of rehabilitation and now walks with a prosthetic leg.
Ms Lebrec has become a champion for London’s Air Ambulance charity after two of its paramedics, Samy Sadek and Simon Walsh, performed life-saving roadside surgery blocking one of her main arteries.
Ms Lebrec campaigning outside of Islington Town Hall two years ago
Ms Lebrec is due to swim the Channel this week in a relay with crew members from the air ambulance, but adverse weather has held them back so far. She has been training for about a year.
The Channel Swim Federation will monitor the group. If a swimmer touches the boat before their hour is up, or touches another swimmer, the group’s effort will not be recognised.
Ms Lebrec said: “I’m quite nervous, to be honest. I keep having dreams where I have got the team disqualified by accident.
“Last night, I dreamed I turned up late. A couple of nights ago I dreamed I kept touching the boat. I am worried I am going to let the side down.”
Ms Lebrec has campaigned for years to improve safety on Islington roads, in particularly the Clerkenwell Road and St John Street stretch where she had her collision with a lorry.
She is now campaign coordinator for RoadPeace, a charity that supports people injured in collisions.
When Paul-Ioan Mihacea, driver of the lorry that crushed her, pleaded guilty to careless driving she hugged him at court as a sign of forgiveness.
She said: “My life was changed after the crash, but there is so much I can still do thanks to the amazing work of the ambulance crew. I can’t thank them enough.”
The Channel is roughly 21 miles across, but the distance alters as the tide moves.
So far Ms Lebrec has raised about £6,000 of her £7,500 fundraising target.
To donate, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/victoria-lebrec