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Keri inspired by brave daughter Mae to Swim Serpentine

For brave 10-year-old Mae Webster nothing comes easy, so when mum Keri decided to raise funds for her condition she wanted to do something that would test her too – and that’s what she fully expects Swim Serpentine to do.

Keri, 33, from Pimlico, London, will be taking part in the first ever Swim Serpentine on Saturday 24 September to raise money for the charity Arthritis Research UK.

Her daughter Mae has been diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) since the age of two.

Before diagnosis, Keri noticed her daughter was moving quite slowly and started limping. Following this one of Mae’s knees swelled up and she collapsed and was rushed to hospital. After months of tests Mae was diagnosed with JIA.

Mae spent the next years on medication to try to keep the condition in check and had been making steady progress until a relapse this year.

It was then that mum Keri decided to find a challenge that would see her raise funds for Arthritis Research UK.

Keri said: “Mae had a flare up earlier this year and ended up back in hospital. It was then that I decided to do something.

“I heard about Swim Serpentine, saw Arthritis Research UK had places and I thought it was something I could do. I knew I had to do something positive to help children like her, who live with this incredibly painful and debilitating condition on a daily basis.”

For Keri taking part in a swimming event is particularly special as it is one of the few physical activities she can enjoy doing with Mae.

“Swimming is something we enjoy together,” explained Keri. “Because you are in the water, there is less stress on the joints and it’s something that we can do together.

“Mae has been really supportive of me since I started training and she has found it quite inspiring.

“But to me, Mae is the real inspiration. She is so strong. Everyone pictures childhood as running and jumping around without any problems but Mae can’t do these things without being in pain.

“Arthritis is hard to understand - not just the fact that you can get it at any age, but the fact that it is often a lifelong and very invisible condition. Arthritis Research UK has been an invaluable source of information for us. That’s why I am honoured to be raising funds for the charity, and raising awareness.”

Keri says training has been going well and she is hoping to complete the one-mile swim in the famous Hyde Park lake in about 35 minutes.

“I have done some open water swimming and I hope once the school holidays are over I will be able to get into the Serpentine to get some practice,” she said.

“I’m confident of doing the distance but swimming with so many people around me will be something different.”

Throughout every stroke of the mile, Keri will be focused on Mae and she will be ensured of the biggest hug from her number one fan when she does get to the finish.

“Mae will be there supporting me,” said Keri. “She’s my inspiration.”

Entries for the inaugural Swim Serpentine have now closed.

The one-mile mass-participation swim takes place on Saturday 24 September while the following day the British Open Water Swimming Championships will take place with a programme that will include an elite invitation 5km swim.