125 miles of swimming in under 4 days
No stranger to endurance challenges, Professor Greg Whyte was the coach who helped David Walliams complete an epic swim of the River Thames for Sport Relief in 2011. Now he’s back, aiming to take on the swim again himself – but in an official World Record time.
Taking to the water on Tuesday 12th July, the swim will see the UK’s leading sports scientist and Olympian covering approximately 30 miles per day over four days. He will be in the water for about 20 hours at a time, with only 4 hours set aside for sleep, sports therapy and rest. This is the first time anyone has attempted to swim this iconic stretch of British water as quickly as possible, and it is the culmination of many hours of gruelling training. While many epic swims have focussed on distance, this one combines endurance with fast-paced swimming.
“125 miles in 4 days is a gargantuan challenge which I’m weirdly excited about,” says Greg. “For me, combining endurance with speed will be interesting – this is, without doubt, the toughest challenge I have ever attempted. The key message for me is this: one person drowns every 20 hours in the UK, and water safety is central to reducing this figure. Unfortunately, only one in five children have received any formal water safety education. By tackling this enormous challenge, I am aiming to raise funds to support the RLSS and RNLI to improve water safety education and reduce the tragedy of drowning.”
Greg has set a goal of £50,000 on his crowdfunding page (link below), and these vital funds will go directly to the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society) as well as the RNLI. “We have worked with Greg for many years and his work to spread the message around water safety is invaluable,” Lee Heard, Charity Director at the Royal Life Saving Society UK says. “We are very proud to be sponsoring Greg’s world record attempt and are extremely grateful to be chosen as one of the charities that the challenge will be raising money for. We, at RLSS UK are all looking forward to following Greg’s challenge closely and cheering him on. We know he will secure the World Record!”
The swim will begin at 9am on Tuesday 12th July in Lechlade, the start of the ‘swimmable’ Thames and is hoped to finish at 7pm on Friday 14th July at Teddington Lock, the final point of the Thames where swimming is permitted. Greg is encouraging other swimmers to join him for a mile of swimming and to donate to the appeal along the way.
David Walliams, who completed the swim in eight days and raised over £1 million for charity with coaching and guidance from Greg, said: “I wish Greg success in his challenge to set a World Record for the Upper Thames, a swim I know only too well. Let’s hope he navigates the poo without incident!”
To follow the challenge, see Greg’s social media and follow the #WhyteWater hashtag. You can donate here https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/whyte-water.