A man from Luton is aiming to swim five river marathons this summer to raise money for Thrombosis UK.
Mark Smith, 46, of Stockwood Cresent, will take on the 50km swimming challenge over seven weeks in rivers around England, Scotland and Wales.
On Saturday, July 13, he completed his first swim, the River Adur at Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex. He will also be tackling the River Thames, the River Spey in the Scottish Highlands, the River Wye in Herefordshire and the River Mawddach, in North Wales.
Following a pulmonary embolism (blood clot on the lung) in 2016, which left him off work for several months, Mark took up swimming at Active Luton Sports Village to help him recover physically and mentally. He now wants to improve understanding of the risk of blood clots.
He said: “Unlike heart attacks or strokes, very few people are aware of this life-threatening illness.
“It is sadly little understood by the general public, despite the fact that one in five who experience a PE, will die with immediate effect.
“If this challenge helps to raise awareness and prevent one death, it will have been worth every one of the 61,000 strokes that I have to complete this summer.”
Blood clots can occur in anyone without any warning signs or symptoms, they most commonly occur in the limbs as a deep vein thrombosis or in the lungs.
Mark added: “I used to laugh at people who carried out stretching exercises on long-haul flights, but now I know better. My advice to anyone on a long-haul flight this summer is to take simple preventative actions.”
Each of Mark’s swims will involve swimming non-stop for between three to six hours. To donate visit www.just giving.com/fundraising/mark-smith338.