It may not be the cleanest river in the world to swim, but it’s all for a good cause – to raise money for Sport Relief, a charity providing education, food, shelter and healthcare to some of the poorest people in the world.
This morning Little Britain’s David Walliams set off on the 140 mile journey over eight days from Gloucestershire to London. Of course, Walliams is no stranger to swimming for a good cause, having swum The English Channel in 2006, but this is his biggest challenge yet. Talking about what will motivate him to carry on during the swim Walliams said that when the swim got really tough, he would think about how the money he raised would help some of the poorest people in the world.
He said: “I think about happy things, I think about what I’m going to eat when I get out. I think about songs and I have been on some trips with Comic Relief and Sport Relief and I think about the people the money raised will help.
“I met this boy in Kenya on the street. His name is Philip and he’s 12 years old and he’s been homeless for four years. His mum and dad are dead and he lives in desperate circumstances. Sport Relief funds a centre that gives him education, food, shelter and healthcare.
“I think about him because he is such a sweet boy, with so much hope. I said ‘what do you want to be when you’re older?’ and he said he wanted to be a pilot. He’s living in the most desperate circumstances yet he still has great aspirations. I think about him and not wanting to let him down.”
He described himself as a “masochist” for wanting to do another swimming challenge, adding: “I wanted to do something else and I’d just turned 40 and I thought I haven’t got much time left because my body is falling apart.”
The BT Sport Relief Challenge: Walliams vs The Thames will be filmed for a documentary to be broadcast in the build-up to the Sport Relief weekend in March next year. Walliams is asking for people to sponsor him at www.sportrelief.com/walliams