Charity swim was for dad

Rachel and Alan Steele
Rachel and Alan Steele
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Swimmer Rachel Steele had a new inspiration for the second leg of a four-part charity challenge when her dad was suddenly taken ill.

Just one day before Rachel, a former Millfield High School pupil, was due to complete the Great Manchester Swim in July, her dad had a heart attack.

Alan Steele, of Bispham, was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for treatment, and Rachel continued with the swim as planned, all the while thinking of her father.

She said: “The fates threw me a curveball.

“Dad really wanted me to go ahead, so I thought of him the whole way and swam faster so I could get to see him in hospital sooner when it was over.”

Her time for the mile racewas 29 minutes and 48 seconds.

Rachel, who now lives in London, has completed the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere in June – which she did in 34 minutes and 40 seconds, and completed the Great London Swim on Millwall Dock on August 31 in 28 minutes and 57 seconds.

She will take on the Capital Tri Sport Pursuit Splash on October 13.

The four-part challenge will raise money for Bowel and Cancer Research. Rachel, 37, has already raised £600.

She caught the open water swimming bug 18 months ago while training for her first attempt at the Great North Swim 2012.

She said: “I decided to go one better this year – or four better – by doing four of the British Gas Great Swim Series.”
Rachel is now busy preparing for her final swim.

She said: “It’s not quite a mile, but it’s going to be very cold, so I hope my supporters will make allowances.”

Rachel began swimming as a child, encouraged by her PE teacher dad, who is now out of hospital and recovering at home, and mum Jean, who never learned to swim and prefers badminton and bridge.

She added: “There was a really good swimming club where I grew up near Blackpool and, looking back on it, I realise it probably rubbed off on me.

“I chose to support Bowel and Cancer Research because I have some very close friends who have to overcome debilitating diseases like Crohn’s and colitis. They are so brave – I’d do anything to take a little bit of their pain away.”

Rachel’s grandma Dorothy Tyson died of bowel cancer when she was four. To support Rachel, visit