Si­mon’s 24 mile swim raises £10k

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By DAMON WILKINSON @Da­monWilkin­son6

A FIRE­FIGHTER has com­pleted an epic 24-mile, 16-hour, end to end swim of Loch Lomond to raise money for young cancer pa­tients.

Si­mon Con­nolly, 52, has added his name to a list of less than 70 peo­ple who have swum from one end of the loch to an­other, while rais­ing more than £10,500 for char­ity CLIC Sar­gent.

It caps off months of train­ing and fundrais­ing, which Si­mon, from Roy­ton and a fire­fighter at Manch­ester Air­port, says took over his life.

“I hon­estly can’t be­lieve I’ve done it,” he said.

“There were def­i­nitely some dark mo­ments in the wa­ter when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to com­plete it. You think about pack­ing it in, but then it’s just a case of car­ry­ing on, stroke by stroke.”

Si­mon had to en­ter the wa­ter in the mid­dle of the night, in or­der to max­i­mize his day­light time in the wa­ter.

He said: “It was a very strange ex­pe­ri­ence swim­ming in to­tal dark­ness, it was like swim­ming into a black hole. It was a daunt­ing start.”

Through­out the swim Si­mon was ac­com­pa­nied by a sup­port boat, which held fam­ily and friends. They pro­vided him with food and drink as he burned more than 10,000 calo­ries. How­ever, at mile 11, things took a turn for the worse and Si­mon felt ill and started vom­it­ing. “That was the hard­est time,” he said. “I just couldn’t stop be­ing sick and I was float­ing in the wa­ter, feel­ing ill and thinking ev­ery­thing was all over.” But Si­mon pushed on and started to feel bet­ter, de­cid­ing to swim the re­main­ing 13 miles with­out tak­ing on any ex­tra food. The fi­nal two miles were com­pleted in to­tal dark­ness. Si­mon added: “When I got close to the fin­ish I could see lights in the dis­tance but it just seemed like it wasn’t get­ting any closer. Your mind wan­ders and you are al­most deliri­ous and emo­tional.” CLIC Sar­gent is the char­ity part­ner of the Manch­ester Air­ports Group, but Si­mon was in­spired to sup­port it after los­ing his brother John to cancer in 2016. He said: “John was 58 when we lost him and things hap­pened very quickly. It makes you re­alise how quickly your life can change. “I can’t imag­ine how dev­as­tat­ing a di­ag­no­sis of cancer could be for a child or a young per­son so I think it’s really im­por­tant they get that sup­port.” Rachel Kirby-Rider, from CLIC Sar­gent, said: “We are ab­so­lutely blown away by Si­mon’s hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to help­ing us.” Long dis­tance swim­mer Si­mon Con­nolly

Si­mon Con­nolly com­pleted an epic 16-hour swim in Loch Lomond

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