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Suffolk swimmer Nikki Hambling ‘overwhelmed’ after funds flood in for 50th birthday challenge

PUBLISHED: 09:19 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:47 03 January 2018

Suffolk swimmer Nikki Hambling, pictured centre, has completed her 50 mile butterfly challenge. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Suffolk swimmer Nikki Hambling, pictured centre, has completed her 50 mile butterfly challenge. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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A Suffolk fitness instructor who set herself a “unique” birthday swimming challenge has been “overwhelmed” by the support she received after more than doubling her fundraising goal.

Nikki Hambling, pictured in the pink hat, after completing her 50th mile at Stradbroke pool. Picture: NIKKI HAMBLING Nikki Hambling, pictured in the pink hat, after completing her 50th mile at Stradbroke pool. Picture: NIKKI HAMBLING

Nikki Hambling, who lives in Laxfield and runs Orchid Fitness, decided to swim 50 miles of butterfly – reputedly one of the hardest strokes – to mark her 50th birthday last year.

The former swimming teacher, who is a qualified pilates instructor, hoped to raise at least £500 for seven charities close to her heart – but managed to rack up more than £1,200 for the causes.

Over recent months, Mrs Hambling completed more than 4,000 lengths, many of them at Stradbroke Swim and fitness Centre, including 50 for last year’s Swimathon.

On achieving her goal, Mrs Hambling said she was “really proud” of the total raised and pleased to have become fitter.

“Swimming is often perceived as a solitary sport,” she added.

“I have been reminded of how rewarding and supportive it has been swimming with others as part of an organised session.

“I have lost count of how many times I have been congratulated on my efforts by other swimmers.

“I had a lovely moment during the final part of my swim when I turned around after my first length to see my fellow swimmers.”

Mrs Hambling said her choice of butterfly stroke had also created an intrigued reaction, “something like ‘wow, you make that look effortless’.”

“Butterfly is often seen as a hard stroke to master so I hope that I can continue to inspire more people to try it out,” she added.

Fellow swimmer Len Phoenix, who has won more than 1,000 medals in the sport, said he was “amazed” by Mrs Hambling’s achievements.

“I think it’s incredible,” he added. “I’ve never seen anyone who has done it before.”

Mrs Hambling said she was now looking for a challenge for 2018,

“I started this swim for many reason. One was to challenge myself to see if I could maintain a skill I learned as a child,” she said.

“I feel that is a memorial to my coach who died a few years ago.

“I have taught many people to swim in the last 35 years. I hope that some of them will continue to practise the skills they have too.”

Visit her Just Giving page to donate.

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