Disabled swimmer Mark prepares for latest challenge

FUNDRAISING: Mark Longstaff is is taking on a swimming challenge at Bowling Pool, Bradford

FUNDRAISING: Mark Longstaff is is taking on a swimming challenge at Bowling Pool, Bradford

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , City Hall Reporter

A DISABLED man is gearing up for a his latest major swimming challenge.

Mark Longstaff, 53, cannot walk, has limited use of one of his arms and is visually impaired.

Last year, he received a standing ovation after completing the Jane Tomlinson Swim for All - an open water swim across a cold lake.

But now he is preparing for an even bigger challenge, swimming the equivalent of the Channel over 12 weeks.

Mr Longstaff, of Laisterdyke, has had cerebral palsy since birth, and his mobility has slowly deteriorated. He has been in a wheelchair since he was 38.

On top of this, he struggles to move one of his arms and is visually impaired.

But keen to stay as fit and healthy as possible, Mr Longstaff started aqua running classes at Bowling Pool around three years ago, and describes swimming as being a "lifeline" for him.

Buoyed by confidence from the classes, Mr Longstaff took part in his first open water lake swim, the Swim for All in Wakefield, last year.

He also took part in the summer solstice swim at Ilkley Lido, braving the cold temperatures at 5:25am.

To complete his latest challenge, the Aspire Channel Swim, Mr Longstaff will have to swim around 118 lengths a week, for 12 weeks, at Bowling Pool.

He said: "It will be a job, a challenge. The actual challenge is that I can't swim on my front, and I can't do back stroke."

Mr Longstaff said he used a swimming stroke called 'backscrewing' to get through the water.

He said: "I've just got to move my arms and legs as best I can. I will swim every inch - I won't cheat!"

Any sponsorship money he raises will go towards helping people with spinal cord injuries.

In January, Mr Longstaff was given an award to honour his inspirational efforts to keep fit.

He was presented with a Bradford Council B-Active award aimed at recognising people who have overcome obstacles to physical activity and inspired others to lead healthier lives.

Then, Councillor Andrew Thornton, executive member for sport at Bradford Council, said: "Mark's story and achievements are inspirational."

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree