On Saturday morning, Chris Mount, a 28-year-old outdoor instructor, will set off from Lechlade-Upon-Thames to attempt to swim 137 miles down the River Thames. Swimming around 10 miles per day, he hopes to finish his swim on 28 August at Putney Bridge after 16 days of swimming. You can follow his progress here and support his swim on social media here.
We caught up with him to chat about the swim, mental toughness and his friend’s aunty’s caravan.
What is your endurance swimming background?
Actually none. I have done several endurance running events before, including running from John O’ Groats to Land’s End, and running the Pennine Way. After running the Pennines last year I was in quite a lot of pain with my knee, so I decided to try my hand at swimming.
Why the River Thames?
I have always wanted to swim a river from source to (almost) mouth, and thought I would try my hand at the Thames. I am doing it because it is there and to see if I am able to do it. The thought of it scares me, and I like to put myself in these situations to see how I come out the other side. I want to see what happens when I am broken down physically and mentally. It’s a real adventure through the heart of the country, down the country’s most famous river.
Why do you love open water swimming (if you still do after all the training)?
Haha! I do still love swimming outside. There’s nothing quite like it. I love being outside in nature and swimming through it. I’ve always loved water and swimming since I was a kid. Even before I started racking up the distance in training for the Thames Swim I have always gone swimming in rivers, pool, lochs and seas, Hyde Park – wherever I was and whatever the weather.
Where does your mental toughness come from?
I’m not sure. I think it comes from curiosity more than anything else – curiosity to see how far I can push my body, and to see how I react mentally and physically in these situations.
Is mental toughness something you can train for?
I think if someone sets their mind to something, and wants it enough, anything is possible. So yes, just like training your body, I think you are also able to train your mind.
What do you think your biggest challenge on the swim will be?
Keeping my muscles and joints in good condition, the cold, and trying not to get ill from all the sewage in the water.
What is your training philosophy?
I train hard and consistently. I like the regime of training, and like to follow a plan. I have changed my approach slightly in recent years and listen to my body more now. I aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.
What is your favourite food for marathon swimming?
Nut bars and bananas.
Where will you be sleeping at night?
My friend’s aunty has kindly lent me her caravan, so I will sleep there. We will stay in a campsite for two nights before moving on to the next campsite, and in the mornings my dad will drive me and Josh (my kayaker) to the river.
You are raising money for the Helen & Douglas House and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Why are those causes important to you?
I chose Helen & Douglas House as they are a hospice who support children with life-shortening conditions local to me in Oxford. I chose The Cystic Fibrosis Trust because a family friend’s daughter has CF, and I know first-hand how hard the illness can be.
To donate to Chris’s chosen charities visit his Just Giving page.