In eight days time my 9 year old son Archie will hopefully have finished the longest swim of his life. 200 lengths of the pool at Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre (that’s exactly 200 times further than Frank Skinner managed when he was filmed there for Sport Relief).
Of course the difference between Frank and Archie is that Archie has had plenty of preparation over the last year or so, being part of one of the most elite swimming clubs in the UK – Barnet Copthall Swimmming Club – former home of five times Olympian, and six times World Champion, Mark Foster.
Archie currently swims with them four times a week and is about to move to Junior Age Group (JAGs) where he will be expected to swim at least five times a week – that’s nearly 10 hours of swimming each week. Enough for anyone.
Even so 200 lengths (5Km) is a long way. Probably the equivalent of running at least half a marathon, at least in terms of time. Nearly two hours in the water not only requires physical stamina (I’m not too worried about his because his freestyle technique is excellent and he is strong) but mental stamina too. But there are only so many maths puzzles and Olly Murs songs you can work out/sing in your head so he is going to require a lot of encouragement!
Still it’s all for a good cause – Marie Curie Cancer Care which provides care for the terminally ill. So far he has raised over £400 and we’re hoping that figure will reach £1000 with all the great publicity that the challenge is raising.
Nor is he the only member of the family taking part in this year’s Swimathon. His Mum and Dad are too. Although we’re both regular swimmers it’s a long way for us too. In training I’ve only managed 130 lengths of freestyle before boredom and an increasingly stiff neck start to take their toll and I have to get out.
I have an aversion to overly chlorinated indoors pools which is why I swim mostly in an outdoor pool (David Lloyd in Finchley). But for the Swimathon I’m having to swim indoors because of the limited number of outdoor pools/Lidos in London which are getting involved (London Fields Lido, where I keep meaning to swim, is taking part but the times clash with Barnet Copthall where Archie will be swimming).
So we’ve compromised on Marshall Street Baths in Soho which is indoors but is stunningly beautiful and also a little longer than the standard 25m pool – around 30 metres I think. So at least I’ll have stunning architecture to admire as I plough up and down the pool alongside my wife Wendy. Wish us luck! And if you are feeling generous it would be great if you could find time to sponsor Archie at www.archieprice.com