Duncan Goodhew launches Swimathon 2013 at Hackney’s London Fields Lido

Duncan Goodhew at Clissold Leisure Centre

Duncan Goodhew at Clissold Leisure Centre - Credit: Archant

Olympic gold medallist Duncan Goodhew spoke about losing both his mother and mother-in-law to cancer at the launch of a nationwide swimming challenge, which he hopes will raise over £2.5m for caring for the terminally ill.

The athlete who is famous for his bald head took a dip at London Fields Lido to raise awareness of Swimathon 2013, which challenges swimmers across the UK to swim at their local pool to raise money for charity.

Established in 26 years ago, all proceeds this year will benefit Marie Curie Cancer Care which gives people with terminal illnesses the choice to die at home.

Mr Goodhew said: “I lost both my mother and my mother in law to cancer. One died at home with nurses around helping and my children were there, it really made a difference having people who are trained and who can understand and who can help.”

“Where do you want to be at the end of your life?” he asked.

“Being home with people you know rather than in hospital was a very natural thing to happen and it made the worst moment in somebody’s life the best it can be.”

He added: “These nurses are the most terrific people and they deserve and should get all our support.”

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The 55-year old, who has been involved with Swimathon ever since the initiative began in 1986, loved Hackney’s open air lido.

“It’s the most spectacular pool, once you get in it’s lovely, it was just a little bit chilly when we got out of the pool, there’s a bit of a wind blowing today,” he said.

He added: “A good day is a one swim day, a great day is a two swim day, we aren’t designed to polish chairs, when you exercise you operate better.

“Swimming is such great escape, it is the best form of exercise, and when you get out you feel the best you are going to feel – everybody get your togs on and go for a swim.”

Registration for Swimathon is open until April 24 at www.swimathon.org.