For most people, the last four months have provided an opportunity to catch up on Netflix shows and enter the world of Zoom quizzes.
For University of Sheffield graduate George Taplin, it provided an opportunity to set a stunning new record.
George, 20, recently swam the lengths of 13 lakes in just three days. An avid swimmer since his youth, he was a student athlete at University and Goodwin Sports Centre was the venue of much of his training.
Speaking to Forge Press, he said: “In second year I joined the triathlon team, which was fantastic. That is where I started to pick up triathlon.
“That opened me up to the world of open water swimming because most of the races involve swimming in a lake or river.”
The feat, which saw him swim a total of 43 miles, was completed in order to raise money for his charity of choice, ‘Just A Drop’. They seek to provide safe water and sanitation to communities and will benefit from George’s conquering of 13 Lake District lakes.
He said: “I was studying Ecology and Conservation Biology at the University of Sheffield, they’ve got a fantastic department there, with some great conservationists. One of the main problems we looked at was water scarcity and the pressures on our planet as it becomes warmer and more populated.
“I saw Just A Drop, they were set up about ten years ago and they’re doing some fantastic work, not just focusing on water but improving sanitation as well, which is obviously so important at the moment due to Covid-19. It just seemed a very relevant charity for a swimming event, a water charity. Water is something we almost take for granted and I swam in 43 miles of it, so it just seemed highly relevant.”
Adventurer Matt Williams provided the inspiration for taking on the challenge, having spent ten days walking between and swimming the Lake District lakes himself. George’s initial plan was simply to conquer Windermere, but some research and a helpful phone call quickly put him on the path towards planning a record-breaking achievement.
George said: “I was thinking of doing Windermere and then I saw that Coniston was very nearby, so rather than swimming Windermere twice I decided to try and do Coniston on the same day. Then I realised that Wastwater actually wasn’t too far away, and then I quickly sussed that there was a fairly logical route around the lakes. I had a look at what the mileage was, and it was about 70km. That’s where the idea was born.
“As I was doing a bit more research for it, it turned out that an adventurer had swam there beforehand in 2019 and completed it with the same idea. Matt Williams hiked between them as well, so in February I gave him a call and he was really helpful. He gave me a lot of information about the algae and invasive species, he even warned me of a vicious swan in one of the lakes.”
Having taken advice on board and planned his route, George was all set for the challenge. However, he admitted that before consulting Matt Williams he had only considered the distance of the swim: “These were all things I never really anticipated, you just think about the raw mileage, which you think is going to be the biggest problem.
“There are a lot of logistics involved, so it was great that Matt helped me with that phone call, it prepared me for things I never would have expected.
“I’m more than happy to help anyone who is thinking of doing it.”
With a record in the Lake District under his belt, George now has his sights set on an international swim which will take him across the Strait of Gibraltar, between Europe and Africa.