Hitchin family's 22-mile 'English Channel swim' to support spinal cord charity Aspire

PUBLISHED: 12:23 04 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:23 04 October 2017

The Seasame Seade Swimmers: Martin Holland, Sarah Burl and kids Niamh Holland, six, and Lucas Holland, four. Picture: Sarah Burl

The Seasame Seade Swimmers: Martin Holland, Sarah Burl and kids Niamh Holland, six, and Lucas Holland, four. Picture: Sarah Burl

Archant

Fundraisers aged six and four are swimming lengths in Hitchin to help their parents cover the span of the English channel for charity over 12 weeks.

The Aspire Channel Swim 2017 involves swimming 22 miles, the equivalent of the English channel.The Aspire Channel Swim 2017 involves swimming 22 miles, the equivalent of the English channel.

Niamh and Lucas Holland are taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim 2017 alongside mum and dad Sarah Burl and Martin Holland, in aid of spinal cord injury charity Aspire.

The family, part of a group of about a dozen participants at Hitchin Swimming Centre, have so far completed 780 of the 1,416 pool lengths necessary to cover the 22-mile distance – with six-year-old Niamh and little brother Lucas contributing 61 and 16 lengths of the 25m pool respectively.

Sarah said that she, Martin and the kids all enjoyed swimming, so it was great to do it together while raising money for Aspire.

She said: “Although none of our family has had personal experience of spinal cord injury, I do have a back injury that, at times, has led me to be completely immobile. Fortunately, I recover from these episodes – which is not the case with spinal cord injuries. This has enabled me to understand how important having some independence is, physical and emotionally.

“My own back issues have made it difficult to continue participating in particular sports that I would have enjoyed previously, but swimming is something that I can still do even when my back is not at its best.”

Their team is called the Sesame Seade Swimmers after Niamh’s favourite character from the books by French writer Clementine Beauvais – who has reacted by writing to Niamh and supporting the fundraising.

Since starting the challenge on September 11, Sarah has completed 301 lengths while Martin has covered 402. They are set to finish in early December.

Sarah said: “Our kids have been in the pool regularly from two months of age. Even just messing about in the pool is good for fitness. My son broke his arm just before the summer holidays and was not able to swim for six weeks, but he is now back to his normal crazy and energetic self.

“We do not push the kids to swim lap after lap, but they have shown an incredible amount of enthusiasm and self-determination to do as much as they can for the challenge.”

The Sesame Seade Swimmers have smashed their original £200 fundraising target, and are now at £364 with nine weeks to go.

If you’d like to support them or find out more, see justgiving.com/fundraising/seasame-seade-swimmers.

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