A former RAF serviceman wrote his name into the history books as he clinched victory in the first ever Swim Serpentine mass open water event over the weekend.
Bognor’s Mike Goody joined thousands of eager swimmers who headed to the two-day open water festival in Hyde Park, London.
The 31-year-old’s moment in the spotlight came in the men’s para swimmers elite race of the British Open Water Swimming Championships which saw competitors complete a mile-long course around the Serpentine.
Goody, swimming on behalf of Portsmouth Northsea, came home first as he clocked a winning time of 20.49min.
Eight years ago Goody was seriously hurt by a roadside bomb while serving in the RAF Regiment in Afghanistan, and eventually elected to have his left leg amputated below the knee three years later in 2011.
He has since become an eight-time Invictus Games champion and added another achievement to his name with this victory.
When I was back in the water it was like there was nothing wrong with me anymore and I felt free and able to do what I could do before.
“It’s not the first experience of open water swimming but it’s the first time I’ve done a proper gala event and I’ve absolutely loved it,” he said.
“I’ve been working with the Swimming Teachers’ Association as their disability and open water ambassador and it would be rude not to get involved in some open water events
“With this event, the first of it’s type, for a lot of us it was an interesting and different challenge for us. It’s just good fun. It’s a bit of a different experience. Swimming to me is everything. I love the feel of it, I love the atmosphere of gala events.
“I used to swim when I was younger and then I turned back to swimming after I was injured. I struggled to get around on land in a wheelchair and crutches when I had my leg and even after I had it amputated.
“But then when I was back in the water it was like there was nothing wrong with me anymore and I felt free and able to do what I could do before.”
Goody currently trains as a swimmer full-time, with sessions five to six days a week while he also swam the Channel as part of his rehabilitation in 2009.
Sunday’s race, which was organised by London Marathon events, was the latest challenge Goody had tackled and the setting – the same venue which had held the open water competitions at the London 2012 Olympic Games – was not lost on him.
“It’s everything about this event, from the competitors to the supporters to the venue, which make it great,” he added.
“This was made famous four years ago for the Olympics and it’s a beautiful place to swim.
“Having the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012 and then recently in Rio, it’s bringing to the forefront what is going on in para-sport.
“Media outlets are a lot more responsible for pushing it out there. It’s no longer a taboo subject to be disabled. Having an event where people can come down and watch it is fantastic.
“Anyone wanting to get involved with open water give it a go. There’s different ways of doing open water, whether it’s lidos, competition events, triathlons. But it’s important not to through yourself in at the deep end so to speak, make sure you are careful and measured about it.”
* Swim Serpentine is a new two-day open water swimming festival in the Serpentine, Hyde Park. For more information, please visit www.swimserpentine.co.uk
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