Setback spurs East Preston’s Steve on to TV river swim

The team: Mike Latham, left, with Steve White, Beth Clegg, and Paul Ayling, right. They all took part in a swim for a new Sky TV programme.

The team: Mike Latham, left, with Steve White, Beth Clegg, and Paul Ayling, right. They all took part in a swim for a new Sky TV programme.

DISAPPOINTMENT and setbacks could not deter a charitable East Preston swimmer from taking to the waters again as part of an upcoming television programme.

Steve White – better known as the Swimming Gardener – was forced to pull out of Thursday’s (September 20) six-mile open-water swim in New York’s Hudson River after he needed urgent treatment for a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his leg.

But when a television production company contacted him, asking him to set up a swim for a programme being made for Sky TV, he pounced on the opportunity.

He joined in a four-mile swim down the River Arun as part of a reality television documentary set to air at some point next year.

The programme followed Felpham woman Beth Clegg, as she was taken on the emotional conclusion of a journey to shed unwanted pounds.

As well as organising the endurance event, Steve was asked to strap a small camera to his head to capture Beth’s swim from Houghton Bridge down to the Black Rabbit pub, near Arundel.

Capturing the action

He said: “My job was to swim with a camera mounted on my head to catch the real action from in the water, so it involved a lot of sprinting ahead, then dropping back to get good shots from all angles.”

The father of two was joined in the water by Beth’s trainer, Paul Ayling, Mike Latham, of the Littlehampton-based Tuff Fitty triathlon club, as well as American celebrity fitness guru Jessie Pavelka, who was riding in a boat beside them.

“The weather was perfect – clear sky and calm winds – and the swim went almost without hitch.

“It took around one hour 45 minutes to complete and was in one of the most beautiful, yet dangerous, stretches of the river,” said Steve.

‘Devastating’ setback

He added that it had been difficult to postpone his overseas charity endeavours, which looked set to raise thousands of pounds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

“This was a devastating setback for me caused by sitting for a prolonged period in a chair with my leg tucked under me.

“As an endurance athlete, my heart rate is slower at rest and this was a contributing factor, along with dehydration, at the time.

“I have now fought back to the fitness level required for the swim, but cannot take the flight due to the DVT. I will have to qualify for the event next year instead.

“I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Steve wished to thank crews from Littlehampton’s RNLI lifeboat station, who helped marshal the route, his sponsors, as well as Nick Tree, of Action Boat, who supplied the crafts on the water.




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