FEATURES,  View from the Water

Why I’ve signed up for a 31-mile pool swimming challenge

The other day I received an email that said, “would you like to join us in swimming 31 miles, in 31 different pools, over six consecutive days?” For some reason, I said yes.

The “us” from the email is a team from leisure operator BETTER (#TeamBETTER), which manages 230 leisure centres across the UK. The aim of the swims is to raise awareness and funds for Sport Relief as BETTER has become the official health and fitness partner for Sport Relief 2016.

The six days of swimming start at Finchley Lido early in the morning on 25 February before crossing London to Greenwich, Bromley and Hackney and then jetting across the North Channel to Belfast. We’ll then be visiting pools in the north of England including Carlisle and the Manchester Aquatics Centre. On day three we head back south through pools in the Midlands, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire finishing off with a final swim on Tuesday 1 March at the London Aquatics Centre.
Will swimming 31 miles in six days be a challenge? I don’t know. It’s certainly a lot further than I usually swim in a week but I’m wary of complaining when I know there are readers of H2Open who have swum 31 miles non-stop! And that’s in open water. I will be in warm pools where the main hazards will be breaking my finger nails on the lane ropes and skin damage due to excess chlorine. However, the logistics of travelling between pools while finding time to eat enough will certainly be tough. I will no doubt be exhausted at the end of it.

While I’m somewhat hesitant to ask for sponsorship for something I’m going to do because (1) I love swimming and (2) it’s my job, #TeamBETTER has set a fund-raising target of £9,000 for Sport Relief, which supports good causes in the UK and around the world. You can find the team fund-raising page at:


BETTER is the trading name for GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited), which operates as a charitable social enterprise. Mark Gliddon, the National Athlete Support Programme Manager for GLL and also part of #TeamBETTER, explains why GLL has partnered with Sport Relief and is supporting the 31 miles in six days challenge: “GLL are passionate about sport and physical activity, and the partnership with Sport Relief enables what we do on a day to day basis to positively impact people most in need across the UK and worldwide.  I am proud of what our challenge will do for raising the profile of swimming and the impact our team fundraising will make”.

I’m happy to be part of that too, curious about swimming in 31 pools in six days and looking forward to being part of the team.

You can follow #TeamBETTER on Twitter @Better_UK

I will also be posting updates on our Facebook page and on Twitter.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.