Wiganer aiming to swim the channel ... but he isn’t a very good swimmer!

Chris Shaw from Pemberton who is swimming the English channel for Motor Neurone Disease Association
Chris Shaw from Pemberton who is swimming the English channel for Motor Neurone Disease Association

A Wigan man who is set to swim the English channel for charity faces just one obstacle - he can’t swim yet!

Intrepid Chris Shaw is taking on the herculean task in September 2018, but must first cross the hurdle of getting his aquatic skills up to scratch.

He hopes to raise £15,000 by ploughing his way across the 21 miles of open water between Dover and Calais without assistance and without retreating to the safety boat that will accompany him on the journey. Chris, who lives in Pemberton, said: “I just fancied doing a challenge.

“I’ve just started swimming lessons. And I’ve been running and cycling to get my endurance up.”

The 36-year-old said family and friends were, unsurprisingly, stunned when he told them of plans.

“They all said I was crazy,” he said. “I’ve had a few people say I’m daft and that I’ll probably not do it. But at the end of the day, at least I’m trying.

“The more people I hear saying it’s going to be hard, the more I want to do it and the more determined I am to complete it.”

Chris, a contract worker for Manchester City Council, says he did pick up the very basics of swimming as a child, but never pursued it further and says now that he can only swim “as long as my feet are touching the bottom!”

But he began his training in earnest this week with Chris Suggitt, a professional swimmer from Wigan Wasps who has represented Great Britain.

He added: “I’m quite excited at the moment, but on the day obviously I’ll be very nervous.”

The challenge was set up to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Chris will take on the gruelling challenge in aid of colleague Kath Alexander, whose brother Alan has the disease.

Kath said: “He was diagnosed in his 40s. He’s had an absolutely bad time.

“Life’s not been fair to him, but he’s never bothered about it.”

She added: “It’s horrible to watch your own brother dying in front of your eyes.”

Motor neurone disease (MND) describes a group of diseases that affect the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that tell your muscles what to do. With MND, messages from these nerves gradually stop reaching the muscles, leading them to weaken, stiffen and waste away.