North Norfolk swimmers make a splash for charity
- Credit: Archant
A 17-strong group of doctors, health care assistants, fitness instructors and supermarket workers made a splash for charity this week, by swimming the equivalent length of the English Channel in aid of Diabetes UK.
The event was the idea of Ash Allen, who is a duty manager at Splash Leisure and Fitness Centre, at Sheringham.
He challenged staff at Sheringham Tesco and the town's medical practice to take on a five-strong team of Splash lifeguards and fitness instructors in a 22-mile 'swim-off'.
With the help of health centre practice manager Pauline Craske and Tesco community champion Sue Lowe, he also organised games and health information stands, as well as a drop-in circuit training session.
Mr Allen, who specialises in fitness rehabilitation for diabetes, weight loss and cardiac patients, is part of a Splash team running a GP referral scheme which has seen more than 100 people a year sent to the centre by doctors at Sheringham, Holt and Aldborough.
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Patients, including those with diabetes and osteoarthritis, or recovering from strokes and cardiac surgery, are put on a 12-week fitness programme, with trained instructors also advising them on nutrition and lifestyle changes.'Getting back in to exercising is one of the scariest things when you have been inactive,' Mr Allen said. 'So what we aim to do is to make people feel safe and confident in the gym environment as it can be hugely beneficial to patients' recovery.'
After hearing about Diabetes UK's Swim22 appeal – which challenges community teams to complete 22 miles in their local pool - Mr Allen decided to sign up, also adding an element of competition.
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'Knowing Tesco supports Diabetes UK, I thought it would be fun to challenge staff there, and at the medical practice, to a contest,' he explained. 'And, to make it more difficult, I arranged for the wave machine to be turned on at random intervals.'
A small army of supporters turned out to count laps and cheer the three teams on and, in spite of the medical practice counting Under 12s county swimming champion Abigail Gotts as a team member, Mr Allen and his team finished their 320 lengths of the pool first, winning a bottle of champagne donated by Tesco.
The swim raised £320 on the day, with more expected at the final count.