Diving in to help cancer charity

Sheffield Team - Swim4Leukaemia 01/02/14
Sheffield Team - Swim4Leukaemia 01/02/14
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Olympian swimmers made a splash when they helped set a new world record in Sheffield.

Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington joined London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson in the pool at Ponds Forge to help smash the 100mx100m swimming relay record.

They were among 100 swimmers who took part in the event and managed to knock eight minutes off the previous world record – one hour 37 minutes and 53 seconds – by achieving one hour 29 minutes and three seconds.

Aspiring Olympian Lewis Coleman, aged 22, who trains at Ponds Forge, organised the event to raise cash for blood cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, after his mum Maggie was diagnosed with leukaemia in June 2012.

Her initial course of chemotherapy was unsuccessful and the mum-of-two was offered a clinical drugs trial before undergoing a bone marrow transplant the following year.

Lewis, who swims for four hours every day and is training for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, said he wants the £20,000 raised at the event to help more people be offered clinical drugs trials.

He spent a year organising world record attempt, which attracted the swimming stars to Sheffield.

Mark Foster, Fran Halsall, Karen Pickering also took part along with David Hailey, who flew over from Singapore to help make swimming history.

In front of a capacity Ponds Forge crowd, the swimmers each swam 100m to deafening support and applause after Lewis’ 10-year-old brother Oliver kicked off the world record breaking attempt before Lewis swam the final leg.

Afterwards, an elated Lewis said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic day. I’d like to thank everyone for coming down, everyone’s support has been overwhelming.

“My world was rocked when Mum was diagnosed with leukaemia and I decided I wanted to raise money to help beat blood cancer.

“I wanted to do my bit so that more people can have access to new drugs or clinical trials to help them beat this disease. Swimming has always been a massive part of my family’s life so I thought it would be fitting for the fundraising event to be swimming related.

Rebecca Adlington, who swam her leg in 58 seconds after signing autographs, said: “I think for these guys it is just nice to get in and swim fast and have no pressure.

“We are all kind of one big team and it kind of takes the pressure off a lot of the other guys who are still swimming and in that race environment.

“I just wanted to be part of it and help Lewis. It’s an awful lot him and his family are going through.

“Most people can relate some way to leukaemia and I think it is such a brilliant charity and everyone was just like we are just going to drop everything we’ve got.

“People have travelled from all over the country to get here and it shows what a tight swimming community we’ve got.”

Michael Jamieson said: “I’m in awe of everything that’s happened. There’s a huge amount of money being raised. Lewis is a friend, and for him to pull this off is unbelievable.

“The atmosphere’s brilliant, everyone’s enjoying it, though the swimmers were really nervous.”