Suffolk: Olympic legend Goodhew backs Great East Swim launch

OLYMPIC champion Duncan Goodhew yesterday threw his weight behind one of Suffolk’s biggest sporting events.

The gold medal winner was in town for the launch of the Great East Swim, which takes place on Alton Water near Ipswich on June 11.

More than 3,000 are expected to join Mr Goodhew at the swimming extravaganza, which has raised around �400,000 for charity in its first two years.

Mr Goodhew, who claimed gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, said: “When I was at the top of my sport there were no events of this nature and I think they are a great addition to the calendar and inspire people towards healthier, fitter lifestyles.”

A diverse range of Suffolk competitors joined the swimming champion at the launch event, which was held on a yacht in Ipswich Docks.

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Among them was 16-year-old Suffolk champion swimmer Ryan Thomas, who said he had an outside chance of competing at London 2012.

The teenager, of Egglestone Close, Ipswich, said: “The conditions are so different in open water, it’s so much colder and it’s hard to get into a rhythm.”

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“It’s not too likely,” said the St Albans School pupil, talking of his London 2012 chances. “I’ll be in the trials, it’s just how I perform there.”

But while the teenager is opening up a successful career for himself another participant is using the Great East Swim to close off a dark chapter in his life.

Nick Hughes, of Great Waldingfield near Sudbury, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2006 and given a 20 per cent chance of surviving.

But the 44-year-old beat the disease and has just successfully completed his five-year check-up. He will raise money for The Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

“It’s just closure for me,” he said. “My prognosis was very bad, at the outset most people around me thought I was not going to make it.”

Also taking part are six members of an Ipswich family. Lee Smith, 48, his son Ollie, 20, and wife Liz Marley will be doing the one-mile swim. Joining them will be Liz’s mum Anne, 67, sister Becky, 34, and Becky’s partner Dan Bristow.

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