Swim to Live 10,000m Challenge Raises Nearly £4000 for The Chiltern Centre

Swim to Live, a Henley group of pool and outdoor swimmers presented a cheque for £3,900 to the Chiltern Centre yesterday from their annual December fundraising challenge when each swimmer was challenged to swim 10,000 metres (400 lengths) at Henley Leisure Centre.

The event saw a record 22 swimmers start with 17 completing the full distance.  It required super endurance and focus with only the black line on the bottom of the pool and the swimmer in front as company for over 3 hours. Luckily, there was a band of experienced poolside supporters on hand to count the lengths and provide swimmers with energy drinks and sports gels plus each swimmer was rewarded with a Krispy Kreme doughnut at the end.

The 17 swimmers that completed the 10k were:  Mike Whitworth, Matt McQuillan, Nigel Downing, Cath and John Drummond, Andy Irving, Tom Kean, Natasha Harris-White, Paul Millward, Gill Cooper, Paul Johnson, Ryan O’Sullivan, Pete Lowe, Eric Butcher, Vicky Mynott, Tom Scholefield and Frances Sadler.

The age range of swimmers was incredible, with a 60-year gap between the eldest Nigel Downing (72) and the youngest, Frances Sadler (12).

The Chiltern Centre, based off of Greys Road is a short break centre providing overnight and weekend care for young people with physical disability and or learning difficulties. They rely on local donations and fundraising events to support around 30 families in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.

Mike Whitworth, of St Andrews Road, who set the training sessions for the group and helped to organise the event said: “Our swim group started specifically training for this event 12 weeks beforehand, but you never quite know whether all of us are going to complete it!   My wife Sophie Whitworth is also a swim coach based at Henley Practice & Athlete Service in Henley and she has helped many of the group improve their swimming to be in shape for endurance events like this. It was amazing to see Frances finish, she got to 50 which was her initial target and she just kept going!”

We had a record number of finishers and were delighted to make a significant contribution for the Chiltern Centre. We know that no matter the size of donation a small charity relies on every pound raised to continue to offer their quality of care.

Like many events it’s the preparation and getting everyone motivated that’s the fun part and hopefully the swim will take care of itself. If anyone reading this wants to get involved for the next charity swim, please get in contact with the Standard and they will pass your details onto me.

A big thank you once again to the Henley Leisure Centre team that allow us to take over the pool for 3 hrs. For the last 8 years they have been kind enough to give us exclusive use of the pool, an invaluable asset in making sure this is an ongoing event in our calendar.”

Nigel Downing from Peppard Common commented, “I’m the senior citizen of the group (72 yrs). I swam from Henley to Windsor one year, so no stranger to the longer distance swims. But I do not take the 100 x 100 challenge lightly. There is always the thought: ‘Can I get through it again this year?” It is a tough one, especially mentally. But the inspiration comes from Mike and the other swimmers; the charity’s cause drives you on. Thanks team! Without you it would not be possible, and…roll on 2024?”

Frances Sadler the youngest swimmer aged 12 added, “After watching and supporting the event last year and loving the environment I really wanted try and swim it myself this year. It was hard at the start but I really wanted to finish so I kept going and found I got stronger as it went on. Everyone did such a great job, were lovely and so supportive of me. I think the training I do at Maidenhead Marlins had a huge impact on my ability to complete it and I am grateful we raised lots of money for a worthwhile charity.  I will do it again next year and hopefully I will be able to get some of my friends to join to. The doughnut at the end was worth it.”

Jane Ainslie, Fundraising Manager at the Chiltern Centre said, “The Chiltern Centre are very grateful to the Swim to Live group for continuing to support us with their sponsored swim. It really makes a difference to families we can offer respite to and the young adults we work with.”


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