Comic actor David Walliams emerged from the murky waters of the Thames triumphant on Monday after completing his 140-mile swim of London’s largest waterway.
The Little Britain star’s marathon fundraising effort for Sport Relief took him eight days, during which he battled bacterial infections, water fleas and the sensory hell of swimming in pitch-black water for 12 hours a day to earn £1,093,325 for the charity.
Emerging from the river, Walliams announced to the crowd of spectators who cheered him on for his last stretch: “I’ve just swum the length of the Thames; I feel quite tired”, adding that the ordeal “nearly killed me.”
When asked by comic Lenny Henry whether he had a message for his supporters, Walliams said: “Thank you so much, thank you for your waves, your cheers, but most of all thank you for your donations, because each time this would be completely meaningless unless you all put your hands in your pocket, and I know times are hard so I really, really thank you from the heart, you’re really going to make people’s lives better.”
As well as running the risk of contracting E coli, salmonella, hepatitis and Weil’s disease, the comic’s challenge was rendered all the more difficult on his second day in the river after flooding meant that 500,000 cubic metres of sewage were dumped into the waters he was due to swim through.
And despite having previously swum the English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar, reflecting on his Thames experience, Walliams admitted, “To be honest, I am over swimming now.”
If you’d like to sponsor David Walliams, you can do so at http://www.sportrelief.com/walliams