Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Teacher swims Thames for Leukaemia Research

A TEACHER will test his stamina by swimming 135 miles along the Thames next month to raise money for leukaemia research.

The challenge - the equivalent of six and a half trips across the English Channel - will see Kirkby Stephen Grammar School’s Mark Walsh spend five days submerged in the southern waterway, in memory of former colleague Dave Hicks.
The epic swim will start at Cricklade Bridge, Wiltshire in the early hours of August 24 and Mr Walsh, 34, and his brother Richard, 32, aim to arrive at Teddington Lock in the western suburbs of London in time for dinner four days later.
“We’re hoping to raise in excess of £2,500 and all the money will go to Leukaemia Research in memory of Dave Hicks, who was an IT technician at the grammar school,” explained the geography teacher.
“I worked with him for three years until he died in December and he was an all round good guy who is missed by all at the school. The students think I’m a bit mad doing this because it’s a long distance, but as I said to them: this is a test of my endurance just like teaching them is,” he joked.
As well as swimming the Caledonian Canal in Scotland, Mr Walsh and his brother swam 50 miles across each of the lakes in the Lake District in 2007 - a challenge the duo completed in less than 48 hours to raise thousands for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
For their latest test the teacher, from Hunters Croft in Kendal, is training at Kendal Leisure Centre and heading to Windermere at weekends where he is in the water for up to five hours.
“Only about six people have swum the Thames before and this is the biggest challenge we’ve set ourselves,” he continued. “It’s going to be tough because we are going to be swimming for ten to 12 hours a day for five days - doing around 28 miles a day which is more than the Channel. The only breaks will be when we have to get out at the locks too, of which there are about 42.
“It’s a challenge though and we’re up for it.”

To sponsor the siblings, log on to www.justgiving.com/riverthameschallenge2009/

Story courtesy of the westmorland gazette.Webpage is HERE.

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