Gerry Griffin marked his 60th birthday in August 2008 by undertaking his greatest ever swimming challenge in aid of four charities. He swam the 22 mile distance of the English Channel in the space of one week in Purbeck Sports Centre pool.
That would be a tall order for most people but Gerry swam arms-only after losing the use of his legs at the age of two.
The poliomyelitis originally left Gerry completely paralysed. Over the next few years he regained almost normal use of his upper body but only very limited use of his legs.
A regular in pool classes, fitness room, pilates and aquafit sessions, Gerry attended an open water seminar and found that participating in sea swimming was improving his health tremendously.
“Swimming is my main physical activity and the buoyancy helps me to keep up with most people,” he said. “I’m not as fast as competition swimmers but I have a quite a high degree of stamina.”
Gerry regularly swims his annual 5km Swimathon for charity and in the last year has completed several sea swims of up to 2.6 miles.
His 2008 challenge involved swimming 202 lengths of Wareham’s 25m pool each day between 3 and 9 August, adding up to 1,414 lengths or 22 miles.
“I spent between 2¼ and 2½ hours in the pool each day,” said Gerry. “The sport centre staff were very encouraging during my training.”
Gerry’s achievement raised money for Macmillan Cancer Support, the RNLI, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British Polio Fellowship.