A Rickmansworth resident’s record-breaking swim has raised thousands of pounds to help create an environment where disabled children can learn how to swim and be safe in water.
Matthew Dawson, trustee of the Access Sport charity, dove headfirst into his epic 13-lake challenge last month to support the charity’s new inclusive swimming offer.
The project will train swimming instructors to adopt and promote inclusive practices.
Matthew had already raised more than £20,000 for the charity, previously conquering the 335km Virgin Money London Marathon cycle.
This time, Matthew set his sights on breaking the 41-hour record for swimming the 13 publicly accessible lakes in the Lake District.
He embarked on his mission in the early hours of July 8, starting at Lake Windemere and still recovering from three fractured ribs sustained in a go-karting crash three weeks earlier.
Matthew said: “About an hour from the end [of the first lake], I got a searing pain in my back.”
Luckily, the pain eased up during the course of the challenge and Matthew was able to plough ahead.
The last of the lakes was Wast Water, and it was here when the darkest thoughts began to take hold.
Matthew said: “I had thought I had caught glimpses of the beach at the end of the lake, whilst swimming. A big no-no when swimming is to look at the horizon.
“I counted 100 breaths, to give myself something to focus on and not allow myself to look up until I had completed them. As I started to count another set of 100, I could see the lake bottom beneath me. I could not have been more relieved!
“I got to my feet unsteadily. I stopped my watch and raised my weary arms. We had done it! The total swim had taken 33 hours and 31 minutes, beating the existing record by seven hours and 29 minutes.”
So far, Matthew’s swim has raised nearly £5,000. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/page/matthew-dawson-09072023