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5 January 2005 PR 05/01

Loughborough swimmers to help tsunami aid effort

A team of swimmers from Loughborough University are urgently seeking sponsorship for a 100,000m swim to provide essential aid to millions of people left devastated by the Asia tsunami disaster

Olympians James Gibson, Mel Marshall, Lisa Chapman, Ros Brett, Sarah Price and Karen Lee will be among 70 swimmers from the University taking part in the marathon swim to generate much needed relief for victims of the tsunami that devastated coastlines across 12 nations.

The group, which will also include Paralympian Jane Stidever, is aiming to raise £10,000. They will have just 17 hours to swim the 100,000m distance which will require a demanding pace of 60 seconds for every 100m swum.

The swimmers will begin their challenge at 5am on Thursday 13 January, and need to reach 100,000m within 17 hours as a 10pm deadline has been imposed.

The challenge has been devised by Loughborough coach Ben Titley after discussions he had with one of his swimmers – World Champion James Gibson – following news of the catastrophic events.

“I received a text message from James telling me the death toll stood at 140,000 and that millions more have been tragically affected. The magnitude of the disaster as well as the amount of help needed is hard to comprehend,” said Ben.

“The swimmers were very receptive to the idea when I put it to them and all are up for the challenge.

“It will take a big effort from them and a great deal of support from the public too but these don’t compare to the challenges faced by the millions of people still coming to terms with the devastation caused when the tsunami struck.”

James Gibson’s own reaction to the disaster was compounded by the fact that a paradise island he visited just weeks before has been totally devastated by the events of 26th December.

“I’ve followed the aftermath of the earthquake very closely and what really brought it home to me was the fact just weeks before I was on holiday in Thailand on a small island called Koh Phi Phi. The events of 26th December have since obliterated the island – there is nothing left.

“The accommodation I stayed in was right on the beach and I wouldn’t be here today if it had happened just eight weeks earlier. It really makes you think,” said James.

“The island was paradise but much more important than that were the people – they were simply fantastic. Those who survived have been left with nothing along with millions of others affected by the disaster,” he continued.

“The target set for ourselves is 100km in a day. We’re going to be limited time-wise so we are going to have to swim every 100m in a sub-60second time if we are to achieve our aims.

“It’s going to take a massive effort but with the knowledge that what we’re doing will really go to help stricken victims, thanks to the support of the public, I’m confident we can manage the feat.”

The sponsored swim will take place at the Loughborough University pool on Thursday 13 January.

People wishing to contribute to the appeal can send cheques made payable to Loughborough University, c/o Swim for the Tsunami, EIS Swimming Pool, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU. Collection bins will also be in place at the pool.

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Notes to editors
Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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