A BRAVE Bromsgrove boy who has half a working heart wants other residents to join him in taking part in a charity swim.
Enthusiastic Thomas Evans, 12, took part in the Little Hearts Matters’ Big Hearted Swimathon last year, swimming 102 lengths and raising £1,700 for the cause which supports families when their child is diagnosed with half a working heart.
Thomas said: “I wanted to do it because I knew that Little Hearts Matter is a great charity that helps people like me who have half a heart, and members of their family too.
“They have helped my family since before I was born.”
Thomas has the very serious congenital condition ‘Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome’ which means only half of his heart functions properly and he becomes out of breath very quickly, making exercise very difficult.
This has meant Thomas has never been able to swim more than a few lengths in one trip to the pool.
Last year he started with a goal of 15 lengths, raising £100.
“In my first swimming session I swam two lengths and felt excited about doing it.
“My mum set up a ‘Virgin Moneygiving’ page and the money I raised overnight was well past my goal.
“In the second swimming session, I swam six lengths, to my mum’s amazement – as it was the furthest I had done in just one session in the pool.
“I realised that I would easily reach 15 lengths by the end of August so I changed my lengths goal to 40 lengths and ended up swimming 102 lengths in total and raising over £1,700.”
Thomas is taking part in this year’s Big Hearted Swimathon again this year with a view to swimming even more lengths and raising even more cash for children diagnosed with half a heart.
He said: “Surprisingly, I didn’t find it that hard to reach my length goal so when I do it this year I will probably have a goal of 160 lengths, which is equal to about 2.4 miles.”
Thomas has also come up with a series of tips in a bid to inspire others to join him.
They include people who are not confident swimmers practising in their local swimming pool a few weeks before the swimathon, getting parents to share updates and photographs on social media to drum up interest and boost fund-raising and setting up a fund-raising page to make it easier for people to sponsor them.
He also suggests starting with a low money and lengths target which could increase if reached early.
Visit http://www.lhm.org.uk/Info/big-hearted-swimathon-184.aspx for more information on the Little Hearts Matters’ Big Swimathon.