An endurance swimmer from Norwich who lost her father and two friends to cancer is urging swimmers in Norfolk to take the plunge for Swimathon 2020 to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
Tracy Clark, 50, from New Zealand, who now lives in Norwich, is supporting the world’s biggest annual swimming fundraiser between March 20 and April 5 to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
The mother of two teenage sons is determined to help people with cancer through Swimathon, after losing her father to throat cancer aged just 59.
She said: “I was 28 when my father passed away and he never got to see me swim the English Channel even though he knew it was my dream from the age of 13.
"I also lost two close friends to cancer so I know just how devastating cancer can be. It’s a terrible disease that just doesn’t affect those diagnosed but also family and friends.
"Hopefully, by urging people to get involved in this year’s Swimathon, we can all make a difference and raise enough money for vital research so that one day we can totally eradicate cancer and the misery it causes.”
Tracy, who fulfilled her childhood dream of swimming the English Channel in 2013 in a time of 12 hours 46 minutes, was awarded the trophy for Swimming In The Most Arduous Conditions by the Channel Swimming Association after battling through near gale force winds and six-foot waves.
She has also completed an Ice Mile in 3.6 degrees water, swam the Strait of Gibraltar, Catalina Channel, Robben Island to Cape Town, circumnavigated Manhattan Island, and is also the first New Zealander to achieve the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (English and Catalina Channels and Manhattan Island circumnavigation).
The endurance swimmer added: “Whenever I have a tough swim and I start to tire and need motivation I keep repeating my friends' names Shelly, Cathy, Cathy, Shelly over and over in rhythm with every stroke to keep me going, I swim for them and it gets me through.”
Swimathon is open to everyone and people can participate individually or as part of a team covering a choice of distances. Organisers hope that in this Olympic year, participants will raise a record-breaking £2.2m for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
Tracy, who is three Ocean swims on the way to achieving Oceans 7, comprising seven of the toughest oceans in the world - a feat completed by only by around 20 people across the world - had some practical advice for anyone thinking about taking part in this year’s Swimathon.
She added: “The Swimathion is not about achieving long distances or arduous swims it’s also not about elite Olympic swimmers, it’s about taking part and making a difference, whatever your age or capability. My belief is to dream big, never give up, and you’re never too old to achieve your dreams - so get involved and let's raise some money for a worthy cause.”
With a variety of distances from 400m all the way up to the Triple 5k, Swimathon offers a challenge for everyone. People can participate individually or as part of a team.
The big Swimathon weekend takes place over the weekend of 27th-29th March at pools across Norfolk and the rest of the UK.
To sign up to Swimathon 2020, visit swimathon.org.