Special Olympics GB Aquatics Team Head Coach, Janet Warrington, is setting herself a special challenge to swim the 1 mile (1600m) course at the Great North Swim in Windermere which is part of the Great Swim Series of Open Water Challenges this Saturday (14 June 2014).

Warrington will be travelling to Belgium in September for the European Summer Games as Special Olympics GB Team Aquatics Head Coach (8-22 September 2014) and is raising money for the charity by taking part in this challenge. The Aquatics Team is the largest team being represented at the games with eleven athletes and three coaches who all have to fund their own places.

Janet said: “This time last year my daughter Hayley was participating in as many Great Swims as she could fundraising for Diabetes UK.

“I decided then to combine my 50th birthday with a fundraising challenge and swim the 1 mile course to raise funds for Special Olympics and in particular the European Games 2014 team. I wanted to make a difference and avoid the chance of a surprise party!

“I forgot that I would have to find time to train and that I had never swum in open water my whole life and I may find it difficult. I hadn’t really been swimming for about five years. Everyone says ‘oh you must be fit all the swimming you do’ when in reality I just stand on the poolside and shout!”

“After a few early morning sessions in February, I finally ordered my wetsuit and started training at Redricks Lake in Sawbridgeworth and also Lea Valley White Water with Hoddesdon Tri Club.”

“The first session was awful I had to be supported by David Price in his boat all the way round and I was ill the next day.”

“One week later I managed two laps (with a bit of a breather in between). By the third, and final week of training, I managed to swim two laps continuously (1600m) and immediately afterwards took part in a coached session, so actually stayed in the lake for 2 hours and really enjoyed it!”

“I am being supported by my family who are travelling up with me and staying over for the weekend. My children are swimming too; my son Ben is swimming the 800m supported by Chris Donno at 9am and Emma and Hayley are swimming with me at 10am.”

“There are a few Hoddesdon Swimming and Tri Club members travelling up for the weekend to participate. I know that Lucy Charles is competing in the Elite Women 5k on the Sunday at 14:30hrs. Her dad Mark and sister Holly Charles are both swimming on the Saturday 30 minutes after my wave starts (10:30am) and have told me they are planning to catch me up!”

Special Olympics East Herts (SOEH) is a branch of Special Olympics GB who is the country’s largest provider of year-round sports training and competition programmes for children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities. SOEH was founded by Neil Ward (Deputy Head Amwell View School, Stanstead Abbotts), in 2009 and had two clubs swimming based with Hoddesdon SC and Athletics run by volunteers from Amwell View School at Wodson Park. Today the charity club has 20 different sports and physical/social activity clubs in the local community more information about the clubs can be found on their website www.specialolympiceastherts.org.

Janet will be tweeting her progress at @HoddSC on the day!

Janet has set up a Just Giving webpage for donations which can be found here: http://www.justgiving.com/Janet-Warrington