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David Walliams completes eight-day Thames swim

13 September 2011

David Walliams completed his exhausting 140 mile Thames swim on Monday evening as the total raised for Sport Relief sailed past the £1 million mark.

The 40-year old, who was swimming the length of the Thames as part of the UK’s largest swimming campaign the Big Splash, reached Westminster eight days after setting off from Lechdale in Gloucestershire.

Before I’d swum the Channel successfully – that’s 20 miles. This was doing that every day for seven or eight days so that was really hard.

Walliams’ epic journey saw him overcome vomiting and diarrhoea after a bout of ‘Thames Tummy’, avoid a number of over-interested swans and even rescue a drowning Labrador.

But after a huge 110,738 strokes (burning an estimated 65,574 calories), the Little Britain actor finally reached his goal with hordes of well-wishers cheering him on his final 15 miles from Teddington Lock to Westminster Bridge.

And after a celebration on the banks of the Thames, Walliams admitted the difficulty of his endurance swim had surpassed his expectations.

“It was really, really tough and the distance took it out of me,” said Walliams. “I did a lot of training but I don't know quite how you can prepare for this because it's an endurance event.

“Before I’d swum the Channel successfully – that’s 20 miles. This was doing that every day for seven or eight days so that was really hard.

“It was a lot colder than I thought, the weather wasn’t good, I got ill. So there were a lot of things against me but I just knew if I kept putting one arm in front of the other then I would eventually get there.”

Click here to show your support for Walliams and sponsor him for Sport Relief.

While Walliams' challenge should not be copied, there’s nothing to stop you trying it... in the comfort of your own pool!

In fact, using British Gas Swimfit, you can track your progress on Google Maps after each session to see how close you’re getting to the finish line.

If the Thames sounds a bit far, we’ve got challenges to suit all levels of swimmer. Head to Swimfit now and set yourself a swimming challenge...

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