Duncan Goodhew helps launch Norwich charity swim

Former Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew joined dozens of other swimmers as they took the plunge in Norwich this weekend to try and make a splash for cash for charity.

The popular swimmer, who won gold and bronze medals at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, was at the Riverside Leisure Centre in Norwich on Saturday as part of this year's Swimathon event in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Swimathon Foundation.

The Riverside-based attraction was one of 575 pools taking part in the event across the country over the weekend with around 18,000 swimmers being sponsored to different distances ranging from 1.5k to 5k for the cancer charity.

Mr Goodhew, who is president of Swimathon which has helped raise more than �30million for charity since it was set up in 1986, said it is a fantastic event which not only encourages people to get into swimming put raises money for charity too.

He said: 'Over the years we've had half a million swimmers who have raised a total of �34million for charity. Last year we had 2,000 swimmers that hadn't swam in years who swam for the event and most of them carries on swimming after the event. 'The side effect of it has been the charity fundraising which we never expected would be a major thing.'

Last year's Swimathon helped raise more than �2 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care, whose nurses provide free nursing care to people with terminal cancer and other terminal illnesses, in the place of their choice.

Mr Goodhew, who swam himself during the two sessions at the Riverside Pool on Saturday, said he hoped this year's event would raise a similar amount for charity while at the same time proving a catalyst to get more and more people involved in swimming.

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He said: 'Swimathon provides motivation and a personal challenge to swimmers nationwide. It also offers a goal to train for, a target to achieve and a great cause to support.

'It's a proper national event - a real swim as it were, and its just got such a sense of community and a celebration of personal achievement - people are swimming distances they've never swam before.'

A mixture of club and fun swimmers of all ages took part in the event on Saturday with parents and friends cheering them on and helping to count their lengths.

One of those people taking part in the event on Saturday was 14-year-old Ben Howell who was swimming 2.5k for the very first time in his life in memory of his grandmother Irene Middleton who died from cancer aged just 60 in 2003.

The Long Stratton High School pupil only found out he could take part in the event a month ago and already managed to raise �600.

His proud mother Jane, 46, a mother-of-three from Long Stratton, who was at the pool to cheer him on, said her mum would have been delighted with Ben's achievement. She said: 'She would've been proud of him. She used to look after him when I went to work. He wanted to do 5k and I said no, not for your first one, it's too much.'

Have you done something amazing for charity? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk