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Woman with fear of open water swimming takes on Swim Serpentine for charity

Lisa Smith of Nottingham, 39, is determined not to let her fear of open water swimming stop her from attempting this year’s Swim Serpentine and completing the London Classics.

She is taking on the challenge to raise money for Equation which supports women who experience domestic violence after her aunt was murdered by her partner. Lisa’s family were left devastated and it was the desire to help support others that spurred her on to face her fear.

In September last year she told her husband that if she could muster the strength to swim in her local lake, just the once, then she would commit to swimming in open water.

Lisa said: “I went shaking with fear into Colwick Park Lake in Nottingham. I was fighting back the tears but nonetheless I did my first outdoor swim.

“My biggest phobia is actually of birds swooping while I swim. If any fly near me while I’m running, then I automatically scream. So the thought of swimming with them is awful.

“While swimming in the open water, I try not to think about the fact I’m in the lake. Instead I try to concentrate on what I am doing. I’m much faster when swimming outside rather than inside and I’m convinced it’s because I just want it over and done with!

“When I start to panic, I remind myself that my wetsuit will keep me a float if I roll onto my back.”

Lisa has since completed a Triathlon, in June. “A year ago I didn’t think this was possible to achieve due to being so scared of getting in the water,” she said.

Lisa had already entered Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and learnt about the London Classics medal that is awarded to those who have completed a London Marathon, Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 and the Swim Serpentine two-mile distance.

“Having already run the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2015 it left only the two-mile swim. So I thought to myself, let’s finish this mad year and do Swim Serpentine to complete my third and final London Classics challenge.

“What started off as me entering just one event has led to me overcoming a major phobia to putting my body through the most it’s ever been through.

“If I can save one family from family heartache then I have achieved more than a medal and a phobia conquered.”