Where's Walliams?

Expected to reach London on Sunday with over £573,000 raised so far


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Warning. The public should not try this themselves. The Thames is incredibly dangerous and many people have drowned in its waters which have powerful tides and unpredictable currents.

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David Walliams is due to reach Hammersmith by the end of this weekend as he continues his epic challenge to swim 140 miles up the Thames.

On the sixth day, he has set off from Cookham, cheered on by a big crowd including his friend, comedy actress Miranda Hart, and is heading for Bray, via Maidenhead.

Here's what happened on the fifth day:

Five days into The BT Sport Relief Challenge: Walliams vs The Thames and things are looking up for swimming hero David Walliams. Finishing at Caversham Lock at 7.14pm on Thursday night, David finally reached the halfway point of his epic swim after a total of 38 hours in the water.

He is currently expected to reach London by Sunday.

According to the Port of London Authority:
"The swim will start initially from Teddington Lock in the early morning on 11th September, finishing at Putney on the first day sometime late evening. The swimmer will restart early morning on 12th September from Putney, aiming to arrive at a point upriver of Westminster Bridge approximately 09.00 on 12th September."

The comedian, is now closer to London than Lechlade, the starting point of the challenge, and is being cheered on by thousands of people along the river. David’s good friend Jimmy Carr came out to meet him at Shiplake Lock on Friday morning and gave him some on river vocal support.

David said: “It's fantastic to be half way - although if I think for too long about the fact that I've got to do as many miles again, I feel even sicker than normal. I'm learning to live with the stomach bug and had a more settled night. I even tucked into fish and chips, so I’m taking food on board again. The support from the public has really taken me by surprise - not just the money raised so far but the thousands and thousands of people who are turning out to cheer me on. I can't tell them how much I appreciate it or how much it lifts me. My friend Jimmy Carr came along today which was a lovely surprise. I couldn't hear everything he was shouting at me from the boat but I'm sure it was nothing but kind words of support!” 

Although all seems to be going swimmingly, David is still being monitored by doctors regularly due to his stomach upset, and to add to his troubles he now has a rash on his neck caused from the rubbing of his wetsuit which is posing a risk of infection. The rash, combined with the stiffness and pain he is suffering in his arms and shoulders is making this extraordinary challenge harder with every stroke.

Day 5: David receiving treatment for his rash & physio

Stopping at Sonning this morning for some tea and toast, David’s trainer Greg Whyte said:
“David's in good spirits, but his arms and shoulders are seizing up and he is receiving increasingly painful Physio at every stop. He'll be in pain for the duration now, it's just a case of us trying to minimise it for him now.”

David said: “My shoulders and neck are in a lot of pain and the physio I'm receiving is starting to really hurt. I don't think it's going to go away from now on, so I'll just have to live with it."

Day 4  - the pain is showing

With his body cramping and his appetite failing, David has only managed to stomach a measly piece of toast, a flat cola and several glucose tablets so far today – a far cry from the carbohydrate overload that his body needs to complete the challenge.

As a result, his trainer Greg Whyte is becoming increasingly concerned about David’s physical state and speaking from Oxfordshire Greg said: “David is burning upwards of 8,000 calories a day but his stomach problems are meaning he can't get the fuel in him he needs. It's a vicious circle which means his pace is slowing - but he’s ploughing on.”



Although David is constantly swimming, the bug has meant his pace is a lot slower and his planned schedule is looking doubtful.

After being reunited with his wife Lara Stone at Wallingford Bridge last night, David said this morning: “I'm still feeling ill and getting cramps so am not great. I can't face food really either so that's a worry. But I can still put one arm over the other and that's what I need to do and keep doing.”

Looking back over the challenge

David is urging everyone to keep him afloat by sponsoring him now at www.sportrelief.com/swim. As well as making a donation, people can check out the GPS tracker online at www.sportrelief.com/walliams and follow the Twitter feed using #hash tag #Thamesswim to see where he’ll be.

BT is giving £40,000 a day to support David’s swim as part of the £1 million it has committed to raise in support of The BT Sport Relief challenges - a series of celebrity challenges sponsored by BT for Sport Relief 2012. BT is also asking people to join in and become part of David’s swim by ‘trunking’ – posting pictures of themselves donning goggles and a swimming pose in a take on the latest internet craze ‘planking’.

September 10, 2011