Soldier braves the water for charity

John Dynes is getting ready for the mammoth dip
John Dynes is getting ready for the mammoth dip

A PART-time soldier who has avoided swimming for three decades is taking the plunge for charity by swimming across Britain’s biggest lake.

John Dynes is about to grease up and go back in the water as he attempts to swim England’s longest lake for Help For Heroes.

John serves as a member of the Reserve Forces in the Territorial Army and will be joining fellow soldier David Hills in the Lake Windermere swim next month.

The 51-year-old, who is a captain in the 4th Division RTC based at Aldershot where he has the role of an education officer, told the Observer where the idea came from. He said: “Dave is my sergeant major and has already ridden from Lands End to John O’Groats on a bike and walked coast to coast for Help for Heroes.

“He asked me what I was going to do for the charity and it has ended up with us attempting to swim the biggest lake in England.”

Lake Windermere is in fact 10.5 miles long, up to 200 feet deep and has its own tidal effect due to the wind.

“When we started planning this Dave couldn’t swim. I hadn’t swum for 30 years and I wasn’t fit,” said John, who works as a curriculum mananager at a college in Romford, Essex.

But nine months on from the start of their training, the pair are now tackling five-hour swims in Olympic-sized pools and local lakes.

John, who lives here in Hastings, said: “Swimming in a lake is completely different. In a swimming pool you have a wall and a floor and the water is clear but when you are in a lake, it’s cold, it’s black and you have the wind and waves to contend with.”

John and Dave have been given permission to make the attempt on Lake Windermere over two days on July 5 and 6.

“We will pick up the safety boats the day before and do some practice swims before going out in the boat on the lake to pick up landmarks. On the big day itself we will go in the water at 5am and start swimming. If all goes well we will get out at the far end the same evening - job done,” said John.

John has received support from both his college and TA colleagues who are making donations via the Just Giving website but, like all fundraisers, he is hoping local people can spare a few pounds.

He said: “Everyone knows Help For Heroes is a fantastic charity. We have people from our own unit who are out there serving in Afghanistan.

“Swimming Lake Windermere will be a tough challenge but we are determined to do it.”

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