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West Wickham Underwater Hockey Club to swim distance of English Channel underwater

PUBLISHED: 10:50 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:50 30 May 2018

Members of the team training for the challenge. Picture: Paul Pizzey

Members of the team training for the challenge. Picture: Paul Pizzey

Archant

Members of West Wickham Underwater Hockey (UWH) Club are embarking on their biggest charity event yet - to collectively swim the distance of the English Channel underwater.

Wearing standard UWH equipment (masks, snorkels and fins), the team hope to swim the 33,300m distance whilst holding their breath, within a one-hour time slot.

The epic challenge will be completed on May 31 at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The reason behind the challenge is to support founding member Paul Cook, who has recently been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Paul, who started his UWH playing career at West Wickham in 1974 aged just 14, captained the team for 17 years, winning the National Championship three times and the European Club championship once.

He also represented Great Britain at five World Championships, winning two silver and two bronze medals.

Chairman of the club, Paul Pizzey, said: “We’ve never really considered how far we swim underwater in a typical club night - that is until now. “Then doubling the challenge after initial training results to swim the channel and back in under an hour has really raised the bar with each swimmer submerged, holding their breath for 45-50 minutes over the one hour swim.

“We are really pleased to take on this unique challenge and make a difference for Paul and others tragically affected and immobilised by motor neurone disease.”

Money raised will go towards pioneering stem cell treatment for Paul and for future research and support provided by the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).

The disease is a rapidly progressive illness which affects the brain and spinal cord.

It attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles refuse to work and can leave sufferers locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk and eventually breathe.

Affecting up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time, it kills six people every day in the UK.

There is currently no cure.

To help the team reach their target of £33,300 visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/WestWickhamUnderwaterHockeyChannelUW to donate.

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