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BBC Breakfast’s Louise to double up at Swim Serpentine

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin is so excited to be taking part in the first ever Swim Serpentine she has decided to swim twice!

Experienced swimmer Louise will take part in the one-mile mass-participation swim on Saturday 24 September and then return for the British Open Water Swimming Championships 24 hours later on Sunday 25 September.

“I can’t wait,” said Louise who has been a regular presenter on BBC’s flagship Breakfast programme since 2006 and who finished second in this year’s Celebrity Masterchef.

“When I was living in London I used to live near Hyde Park and would often go swimming in the Serpentine after work. I’m really looking forward to going back there for Swim Serpentine, it’s such a fantastic place to swim.”

Louise was a keen swimmer at school but only got back into the sport in 2013 when - after being inspired by the Brownlee brothers’ success at the London 2012 Olympics - she took up triathlon.

Underpinned by her strong swimming, Louise’s rise through the ranks of triathlon has been stunning and last year she represented Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago in the 45-49 age group.

Louise said: “So many people who do triathlon look forward to swimming the least. But it’s the thing I look forward to the most. I love swimming and I love open water swimming.”

With the Brownlee brothers adding more medals to their Olympic collection in Rio, Louise expects plenty more people to follow her lead and to try out open water swimming – starting at Swim Serpentine.

Anyone who is interested in taking part in Swim Serpentine has until 17:00 on Thursday (25 August) to enter and Louise has some top tips for those who do decide to sign up.

“The Olympics have been brilliant and if people have been inspired then swimming a mile at Swim Serpentine would be a great introduction to open water swimming,” she said.

“Of course you would need to train for it, but it’s achievable. It’s about 64 lengths of a 25m pool. You can do it as slowly or as fast as you want and you don’t have to do front crawl like the Olympians do. You can do whatever stroke you like and you can even stop for a little while to recover if need be.

“Open water swimming is a fantastic experience and if you are only used to pool swimming then you should try it. The first difference is you don’t have to do any turns in open water swimming, which I love, and the second big difference is how exciting and invigorating it is to swim outside.

“Often when I swim there will be ducks and swans alongside me. You really do feel part of nature. It’s wonderful.”

Another famous face to have signed up to Swim Serpentine is Olympic star Gail Emms who won a silver medal in badminton’s mixed doubles in Athens in 2004.

Gail is swimming the one-mile event to raise money for SportsAid, a charity which has helped her and hundreds of other British athletes shine on the world stage.

“You can miss that buzz from competing when you are a former athlete and challenges like Swim Serpentine give you another chance to push yourself both physically and mentally,” said Gail.

“It's going to be a special experience having the opportunity to swim in Hyde Park at the venue where the open water race took place at the London 2012 Olympics. It's a different kind of training and preparation to what I am used to but I'm enjoying it!”

In total, 238 of the 366 members of Team GB in Rio had received financial support and recognition from SportsAid during their careers.

Furthermore, 46 out of the 67 medals won by Great Britain were from SportsAid alumni including Mo Farah, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock.

The charity, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is hosting its inaugural SportsAid Week from Monday 26 September to Sunday 2 October.

All entrants to the one-mile mass-participation event at Swim Serpentine must either wear a wetsuit or use a tow-float which will be available to hire on the day.

The British Open Water Swimming Championships on Sunday 25 September will include an elite invitation 5km swim, as well as age group championships.