70s pop stars The Osmonds inspire Doncaster woman's 250 mile swim
When most of us fancy collecting a bit of cash for charity, it involves little more than perhaps a sponsored walk or run.
But dedicated fundraiser Linda Carlo decided she wanted to do something that would make a real splash.
And that’s why the super swimmer plunged in at the deep end - by deciding to swim a staggering 250 miles, the equivalent of going from Doncaster to Edinburgh by sea.
Linda, aged 56, has now reached the halfway stage of her gruelling challenge and celebrated her remarkable achievements so far by visiting the iconic Angel of the North statue, which lies exactly 125 miles between her Doncaster home and the Scottish capital.
“Travelling the 125 miles in a car at 70mph was quite surreal and I kept wondering which day I might have swam each mile in the pool”, she said.
“We travelled through rain, snow showers and sunshine before arriving at a cloudy and very cold Angel.”
Linda is attempting to swim the equivalent distance between South Yorkshire and Scotland in just twelve months.
The Auckley woman is taking on her challenge at Armthorpe Leisure Centre, swimming five times a week to stay on target for the charity challenge, which she says was inspired by one of the famous Osmonds musical family.
She decided on the swim after losing eight stones, as a way of keeping the weight off for good and it was Justin Osmond, son of Merrill Osmond from the 70s family supergroup that gave her the idea in the first place.
She said: “Last year Justin took on a massive personal challenge to run 250 miles in just eight days.
“I began to realise I would need as big a challenge to maintain my weight loss once I got to target.”
It was at the end of July last year that Linda hit on her fundraising idea which is drawing in cash for The Hearing Fund UK, a charity which raises awareness and support of deaf children and their families in the UK and which Justin is president of.
She said: “Instead of running 250 miles as Justin had done, I would swim that far instead. I would do it as a sponsored swim and raise money.”
Added Linda, a former swimming instructor: “I worked out that if I could swim five times a week, with a few extra miles here and there, I would accomplish the task in exactly a year.
“My aim is to complete the 250 miles by Friday August 6 and I am right on schedule.”
Linda, who taught swimming for 22 years, is aiming to raise £2,500 for charity and is keeping people updated on her challenge via her blog at https://carlolinda.wordpress.com/An online map is also being updated each weekend to show her progress.
She said: “The staff at Armthorpe are just wonderful.
“I taught many of the current lifeguards to swim when they were young!
“They are ever so encouraging and show lots of interest in how many lengths I swim each day.
“I’ve made friends with a few of the regular swimmers too, although I try and keep my chatting to a minimum as I find I don’t complete my daily distance as easily if I stop for long!”
One of her highlights of her challenge so far was ‘arriving’ in her home town of Chester le Street - which was 118 miles into the route.
She said: “I happened to mention this on a Chester-le-Street Then and Now Facebook page and I was contacted by the coach of the local swimming club asking me if I would like to swim with them whilst I was in the area!
“It was a little late to organise it as a fundraising event, but they are offering support if I would like to go back and swim with them again.”
She has also received support from Justin Osmond who contacted her as she approached the halfway stage of the trip.
Added Linda: “Someone special really made my day. The one and only Justin Osmond kindly sent me a personal email of support, telling me he was cheering me on in spirit.
“How nice is that? I smiled all the way through my 123rd mile as a result.”
She has been a lifelong fan of the American family band whose hits Love Me For A Reason and Crazy Horses made them one of the biggest acts of the 1970s.
Linda is now looking at encouraging others to join in her challenge by inviting people to swim a mile with her for the remainder of her challenge and says she will reveal details of how to get involved on her blog in the coming weeks.
She is being supported throughout the challenge - but her arrival at the Angel drew some questions from locals.
“One chap asked what I was doing. “When I told him I’d swam there the look on his face made me laugh out loud.”
You can contribute to Linda’s challenge at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carloThe original Hearing Fund, known as The Osmond Foundation, was the inspiration of Olive Osmond, mother of the famous musical family. Her vision was to raise hearing health awareness and provide for those living with hearing loss. Her two eldest children, Virl and Tom, are deaf.
Justin, son of Merrill Osmond, is the only second generation Osmond to inherit the deaf gene and was born with 90% hearing loss. With his huge desire to carry on his grandmother’s work, he is President of The Hearing Fund UK.
For further information about what The Hearing Fund does, please visit http://www.hearingfund.org.uk