We've gone global! US swimmer signs up for our challenge

Aug 29, 2016

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Andrew Butcher from St Albans and Jim Donlon from Albany (New York) have been friends since they met on a swimming app – challenging each other to swim ever further distances to keep fit.

Andrew wanted to participate in the Aspire Channel Swim 2016 starting in September, but a recent cancer diagnosis has meant he needs to undergo chemotherapy as soon as possible.

Jim stepped in however and has offered to complete the UK charity challenge swimming the distance of the 22 miles of the English Channel in his NY outdoor swimming pool!

He has already raised over $860 on his JustGiving page which will go to the English spinal cord injury charity, Aspire. Jim says, “So, why is an American doing this channel swim for Aspire?  Simple answer.  I am doing this fundraising challenge for a UK friend, Andrew.  He usually does this swim annually but this year faces a greater challenge ~ cancer and chemo.   So, I am "taking his place" this year.  Please, can you help, even in a small way?   Together we can make a difference in the lives of others.” 

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What makes Andrew’s story extra interesting is that his last year’s charity challenge was also remarkable.

In Sept-Dec 2015 he not only completed the Aspire Channel Swim (22 miles – the distance from Dover to Calais), but swam another 22 miles (making the return trip back to the UK) swimming these 44 miles in 45 different swimming pools around the country.

Andrew found an ingenious way of incorporating swimming sessions into his schedule while acting as a volunteer driver for the Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John.  He would drop the clergyman at his appointment and then find the nearest pool to continue with his charity swim while waiting to drive the Dean home.

In total, Andrew swam in 45 pools all across the country from Portsmouth to Leicester and “everywhere in between”, and completed 44 miles. In the course of his challenge he swam in more pools than any of the other 4,500 people taking part.

Our Aspire Channel Swim challenge requires participants to cover the virtual distance of the English Channel over a 12-week period – but you can swim the distance in whatever pool you can find. For 25m pools, it equates to 1,416 lengths.

To get involved in the challenge this year or to make a donation to Jim, go to his JustGiving page or sign up too.