As we reported in September, our good friend, Mark O’Brien who is the former chairperson and current first teams’ Men’s captain of Rickmansworth Tennis Club was tragically diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a terminal condition that impacts the brain, nerves, and muscles and eventually leads to respiratory failure.
Not one to take the news lying down, Mark decided to make an official world record attempt for the longest ever recorded unaided open water swim for a person living with MND. Mark’s motivation for attempting the challenge was the following:
- To raise awareness of MND on a national and global basis
- To help and inspire other people living with MND to know that “even the impossible can be possible”.
- To raise funds for the MND Association, who support families impacted by MND
- To raise funds for continued MND research to find a cure for MND
- To leave my children, family, and friends with lifelong memories”
How did it all go? Well, we are delighted to tell you that Mark absolutely smashed it! Taking place at Denham Lake in Buckinghamshire, the distance of the swim was initially to be 10.5km but much to everyone’s surprise (especially that of his family) Mark announced live on BBC TV just before the swim that he was going to do an extra 500m.
In addition to that, the attempt was not without its challenges. The water temperature was cold and there were horribly strong cross winds. Mark also pulled his groin after just 4km which meant that for most of the swim he was using just one leg and by the end he had hyperthermia. Mark was swimming for an incredible 5 hours 23 minutes and in an emotional finish, was joined by his devoted children, Lauren, David and Georgia for the last 1.5km.
Needless to say, we are incredibly proud of Mark and his achievement and also proud to see how the tennis community has come together in support of this inspirational man. A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed in some way towards Mark’s goal.
Mark has a JustGiving page and if you would like to make a donation, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/mark-obrien-mndworldrecordswim
You can read our initial article about Mark here https://hertstennis.co.uk/2023/09/12/official-world-record-open-water-swim-attempt-for-a-person-living-with-motor-neurone-disease/
*Top image – Mark and his children