Thursday, 21 October 2021

Swimmers raise £8,000 for children’s centre

FIVE swimmers completed a 50-mile swim in aid of the Chiltern Centre for disabled children.

FIVE swimmers completed a 50-mile swim in aid of the Chiltern Centre for disabled children.

The team swam downstream from Oxford to Henley over three days last week and have raised £8,000 for the charity, based off Greys Road.

Swimmers Jeremy Laming, Katia Vastiau, Malcolm Burfitt, Mark Plested and Phillip Cater finished at the Angel on the Bridge pub on Saturday afternoon.

They were greeted by family and friends who cheered them as they left the water.

The swim started at Osney Lock in Oxford as the team, who swam together as a pod, went on to pass through 15 locks along the 80km route.

Mr Laming, the co-founder of the Henley Swim series, said: “I don’t think any of us knew what we were taking on when we decided to swim 50 miles. We swam for 10 hours on the first day, 11 hours on the second day and then eight hours on the final day.

“There was a lot of emotional and physical fatigue after that, which you can’t prepare for. The longest you can train for is about a five-or six-hour stretch, so the 11-hour swim was tough.”

Mr Cater, from Stoke Row, said the most challenging part of the swim was the 10km stretch between Benson lock and Cleeve lock. He said: “The 10km stretch between the locks seemed to go on forever.

“There was another long stretch from Mapledurham to Caversham but once we got past Caversham bridge everyone realised where we were and that we did not have much further to go.”

Mr Cater praised the team’s support crew who went with them along the route. “We were lucky to have them,” he said. “There was also canoe support which is essential. A lot of people took time out of their day jobs to help us because it was a massive distance and it was for charity. We could not have done it without those people.” 

He added: “We are delighted to align ourselves with the Chiltern Centre. It’s a fantastic local charity that does amazing work for children and their families.”

The centre helps disabled children and young people, and their families, by offering care services, recreation opportunity, outreach support and skills training. It supports 85 families across the Thames Valley and South Oxfordshire. 

Harriet Barcella, fund-raiser for the charity, said: “I can’t really imagine how gruelling that swim must have been physically and mentally. It was an immense challenge and I am completely in awe of them for achieving it.”

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