Orpington man hopes to overcome shoulder operation to swim Channel and raise £10,000

PUBLISHED: 11:31 25 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:27 25 March 2016

Chris Leek, and dad Dennis

Chris Leek, and dad Dennis


Chris Leek, 29, aims to raise awareness of Parkinson’s after it forced his dad, Dennis, to retire

An Orpington man says there is “no room for error” as he aims to raise £10,000 by swimming the Channel this summer.

Chris Leek, 29, of Finucane Drive, is taking on the mammoth challenge from the cliffs of Dover to the French coast to raise awareness of the effect of Parkinson’s, which forced his dad, Dennis, to retire last year.

However, the task is even more daunting for the Stella Artois employee having undergone a shoulder operation only months ago.

“I’m so far behind on my training it’s unbelievable,” he admitted.

“They say you really need to train for three years and I’ve got less than five months.

“I’ve only been back in the pool for a couple of weeks but I’m going to Turkey for an intensive swimming course in May.”

Mr Leek’s father was initially diagnosed 12 years ago but the family kept it quiet until a decision was made for him to undergo brain surgery later this year to try and slow down the disease.

He said: “I’ve seen the effect it has had on my family and I’m trying to bring people together to fight on and raise money to help us get closer to finding a cure.

“I used to swim to a good level when I was younger and I did the Iron Man in 2014, where I actually beat some of the pros in the swim.

“Swimming is a different challenge to running because you can’t listen to music - you’re on your own out there and it’ll probably get pretty lonely.”

Currently well over halfway to his £10,000 target, Mr Leek is confident he’ll smash through that ceiling having received donations and messages of support from as far as New Zealand.

However, he insists it’ll be mind over matter when he dives in on August 26.

“It’s so cold, and that’s what will stop me, rather than the distance,” he said.

“It’s going to be tough - I haven’t given myself any room for error.

“I don’t think some people understand the magnitude of the task - it’s anywhere from 20-40 miles depending on the current and as cold as 14-16 degrees.

“When you consider the average swimming pool is 30 degrees it becomes a mammoth challenge.

“Less than 2,000 people have completed it so it’s exciting but a mad thing to do.”

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