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Issue 341 – Six-year-old Oliver swims ‘The Channel’!

A young Frome fundraiser has broken a record after completing a 22-mile swim over 12 weeks to raise cash for people with spinal injuries.

Six-year-old Oliver Saunders, from Woodlands near Frome, completed the swim on Saturday 26th November, becoming the youngest boy ever to complete the Aspire Channel Swim.
Oliver swam his final 20 lengths at Frome Leisure Centre, with his family and friends cheering him on.
He totalled a mammoth 1,416 lengths of the pool to complete the challenge.
Oliver said, “I love swimming and I’ve really enjoyed counting up my lengths from every swim and tracking my progress across the channel on the Aspire web site. It’s been great getting messages of support from famous Olympians and swimmers like Mark Foster, Liam Tancock and Hannah Miley. I even got good luck messages from Amy Williams.”
The event allows you to swim the distance of the English Channel as and when it suits you. It is a national initiative, set up to raise funds for those with spinal injuries and so far, funds raised exceed £330,000 from across the country.
Oliver’s mum Karen adds, “We set up a blog and Twitter account initially to enable all our family and friends to keep track of Oliver’s progress, we didn’t expect there to be such a wonderful response to his challenge, www.oliversswim. has received over 1300 hits and his Twitter page @oliversswim has been supported by some truly inspirational athletes. We’re so appreciative of all the positive support.
“As parents we were a little apprehensive at Oliver taking on such a massive challenge so young. But he was adamant he wanted to do it and knowing how determined Oliver is once he puts his mind to something, we had to give him the opportunity to try.
“He’s amazed us with his enthusiasm; he’s swum early mornings, late at night and even pulled out of swimming lessons at school to clock up extra lengths – he’s been a true sporting hero. We are very proud of him.”
Oliver’s dad Simon who has swum most of Oliver’s lengths with him said, “When Oliver is in the pool, he just keeps going. Oliver would just keep swimming if it was up to him. We’ve had to help him pace himself, ensuring once he’d reached his weekly average of 120 lengths, he could do it the next week and the week after that.
“Swimming 120 lengths a week is one thing, but keeping it up for 12 consecutive weeks is another thing entirely – for an adult that’s a serious challenge, he’s only 6.
“I actually think Oliver would be quite happy when he reached France to turn round and swim back again! He’s been amazing.”