Two brothers from Tottington will attempt a world record swim next month to raise money for the charity which has been helping their mum fight leukaemia.
Twenty-one-year-old Lewis Coleman and his 10-year-old sibling, Oliver, will join past and present Olympians – including Mark Foster and Karen Pickering – as they aim to raise £100,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in aid of their mum, Maggie, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June 2012.
The sponsored swim, named Swim4Leukaemia will take place at Ponds Forge in Sheffield on Saturday, February 1 at 3.30pm.
The campaign will see 100 swimmers from across the country take part in the Guinness World Record attempt, with each of them swimming 100 metres as the team aim for the 100 x 100 relay record, which currently stands at 1hr 37 mins.
Lewis, a former Greenmount Primary school pupil and a member of the GB Swimming Squad, started swimming at the age of six at Ramsbottom Rascals where he was coached by the late Derek Bevin. His talent was first spotted when he became Lancashire BAGCAT champion at the age of 11.
Dad Joe, who has recently moved back to Tottington having completed 38 years in the Army, said: “When I was posted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst with the army, we decided to move to Surrey.
Lewis became a member of Bracknell and Wokingham Swimming Club and gained his first national qualifying time in the 200m breaststroke.
However, when Lewis was aged 13 or 14, the family moved again – this time to Colchester.
“Realising Lewis’s potential, the first thing we looked for when we moved to Colchester was the best coach in the area, then a school, then a home,” said Joe.
“Eventually we settled for a home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, so that Lewis could be trained by Dave Champion, the former coach to Karen Pickering who was an ex-Olympian and World champion.”
Lewis flourished at Team Ipswich, gaining his first national bronze medal in the 200 individual medley in his first year. Over the next four years he became the Open national champion in the 200 individual medley.
Lewis has since gone on to represent Great Britain at various venues around Europe and was successful at representing a young GB squad at the American national championships where they won gold in the 4-200m freestyle.
He currently holds Open county records in Suffolk and Yorkshire – his latest being 1:48.91 for the 200m freestyle.
Joe said: “During his time at Ipswich, Lewis was under an extremely demanding training regime which involved getting up at 4.20am every weekday to attend training.
“After school he would go back to the pool to train on four out of the five weekdays, getting home at around 7pm.”
Towards the end of his time at Ipswich, Lewis was invited to join the GB Development squad and was named in the London and Rio Development Squads. He also qualified to represent GB juniors in Prague in 2009 and Helsinki in 2010.
However, the Coleman family then received the news that Joe was being posted to Belgium.
“We made the heartbreaking decision to leave Lewis behind for his benefit, so that he could chase his dreams of being an Olympian.
“We found him a home in Sheffield with another great swimming family, said Joe.
After a few years at Sheffield with new coach Russ Barber, Lewis had progressed up the GB ladder and is now part of the GB Podium Potential squad.
Having watched his brother in action from the age of two, Oliver, pictured below, who has joined Greenmount Primary school in Bury, began to develop a keen interest in the sport himself, and was developing as a swimmer at Team Ipswich.
“From a young age, Oliver thought visiting various swimming pools around the country at weekends, and trying to get decent swimming competitions for Lewis, was normal life,” said Joe.
When the Colemans moved to Belgium, Oliver, then aged seven, joined an international school in Belgium and Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE) swimming club.
“Oliver had a natural ability in the water and a big heart for demanding training. “He loved the challenge just like his big brother,” said Joe.
At a young age Oliver found himself competing with older children and holding his own especially in the 50m backstroke, his brother’s least favourite stroke.
He received many accolades at SHAPE, including the award for best achiever over the season, and is currently training with Bury.
For further details on Swim 4 Leukaemia follow @Lewis_Coleman or @Swim4Leukaemia on Twitter. Anyone wishing to donate can log on to the Just Giving website page at www.justgiving.com/lewiscoleman