A COUNTY man is aiming to become the first person to swim the navigable Warwickshire River Avon when he takes on the challenge next month.

Craig Openshaw, who lives near Worcester, has already raised £3,600 and is hoping to bump that number up to £4,700 for Cancer Research UK when he takes on the 47.1 mile swim on July 17.

He said: “As far as I’m aware, nobody has ever swam the Warwickshire River Avon.

“I’ve spoken to the Avon Navigation Trust and researched it, but it appears that no one has ever done it.

“Two people have swam the River Severn but nobody has done the Avon – the navigable part of the river.”

He is aiming to complete the challenge in 20 hours.

He said: “I have set myself a target of 20 hours originally - so we will try for that but that’s a very difficult timetable. I’m hoping for 20 hours, but if not then I definitely want to do it in 24 hours.

“I’m going to have two half hour to an hour breaks every six hours – and with the rest of it I’ll just be eating in the river with a banana or a bit of malt loaf.

“I’m doing the Channel swim this weekend which is 21 miles so I’m doing the equivalent of that in the river on Saturday without the sea behind me, which will be a good test in itself.”

He will be supported on the journey from Alveston above Stratford-upon-Avon to Tewkesbury by a four-man crew who have all been affected by cancer in some way.

He said: “One of the reasons we chose Cancer Research UK is because it’s a disease which affects one in two people and we can have a big impact helping a large number of people.

A message on his Just Giving page said: “All team Swim The Avon members are fathers and hope for a better future for our children. One where cancer affects fewer people.

“Tragically we’ve all lost family members, friends and loved ones to this brutal disease - that’s why we want to help make a positive change.

“Cancer won’t disappear in our lifetimes but we feel it our personal responsibility to help those that could do so much good work to provide better outcomes and treatment for those affected.”

To donate, visit: justgiving.com/fundraising/swimtheavon