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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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West Cumbrian woman's 6,824-mile swim challenge nears end

Gay Eastoe is nearing the finish line of her mammoth fundraising challenge which has taken more than two decades.

For the past 23 years, the sport-mad mother-of-four has been swimming lengths at Copeland swimming baths, Hensingham, in a bid to complete 6,824 miles – the equivalent of swimming around t he UK coast. And she has just 514 miles left to swim, which she hopes to complete by next year.

So far, Gay has raised a staggering £43,981 of her £50,000 target which will be donated to West Cumbria Hospice at Home. The 59-year-old said: “I took on the challenge as it seemed a good idea at the time. Anyone who knows me will know I never give up on a challenge.”

Swimming the equivalent of around the world will take 439,466 lengths in a 25m pool.

But the task has been made more difficult for Gay, as she suffers from a type of autism – Asperger Syndrome – which affects the way a person communicates with others.

It means she has a fear of people’s faces and when she catches a glimpse of a face while she is in the pool, it causes her to hyperventilate and have a panic attack.

To keep fit she also cycles to and from the pool from her home in Woodend, Egremont, and sometimes even runs there. She is a keen runner and fell walker.

Gay has written two books about Asperger Syndrome and she also plans to write one about her swim when she finishes it. She is also the co-chair of Cumbria Autism Board.

Anyone who wants to support Gay can go to justgiving.com/gay-eastoe

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