A 20-year-old graduate has become the first person to complete the gruelling 13 Lakes Challenge in just three days – beating the previous record by 24 hours.
George Taplin swam 71 kilometres across all of the publicly accessible lakes in the Lake District.
The competitive triathlete and distance swimmer set off with a windy 17 kilometre swim on Windermere – England’s longest lake – and finished his record-breaking feat on the shores of Derwentwater.
The former Sheffield University student, from Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, has raised more than £2,000 for the water charity, Just a Drop.
George is no stranger to long distance fundraising swims. In 2017, he and his father Ian undertook a 13 kilometre swim across Lake Geneva from Switzerland to France also to help raise money for Just a Drop. But the 13 Lakes Challenge is by far the most demanding endeavour he has tackled to date.
“During the final few kilometres I managed to block out the muscle fatigue and tendon stress and just enjoyed the evening sunset swim,” said an elated George. “It was an overwhelming feeling to see the end of the final lake come into view.”
He added: “Whilst the swim had been a huge physical demand for me it was only one component of the successful outcome.
“My parents and girlfriend had to endure 300 miles of travelling, 6am starts, 9pm finishes, support kayaking and delivering thousands of calories of food to the lake shore; it really bought home the fact that these types of endurance challenges are never a solo effort and require a committed and enthusiastic team around you.”
The ecology and conservation biology graduate said he chose to raise money for Just a Drop as his course work highlighted the growing issue of water scarcity in a warming and increasingly populated world.
Founded in 1998, Just a Drop provides practical, sustainable safe water solutions across the world, partnering with grassroots local communities to deliver practical assistance.
To date, the charity has delivered more than 300 projects across 32 countries, bringing safe water, sanitation and hygiene programmes to more than 1.6 million people.
Over the course of the challenge, George and his team made every effort to ensure they used clean and dry kit when moving between the lakes to prevent the transmission of invasive algal species contaminating the lakes.