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Olympians prepare to swap waves for wheels in aid of sports charity


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When the 2012 Games come to a close on August 12, double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington will set her sights on sunnier climes - and a 280-mile bike ride across Zambia.

The 23-year-old will be joined by Olympic bronze medallist Jo Jackson, former Commonwealth champion Ross Davenport and ex-swimmer Mel Marshall as they look to raise £50,000 for Sport in Action, a non-governmental organisation that looks to inspire change in impoverished communities through sport.

Leaving Britain on October 3, the quartet will set out from Livingstone on a four-day Bike for Africa challenge, supported by British Gas and UK Sport, to the capital Lusaka.

En-route they will visit a number of projects, also supported by UK Sport, such as 'Go Sisters' which empowers girls and women through sport.

Conditions will be hot and dry but there will be no creature comforts or five-star hotels. Instead, they will stay with local families.

Once in Lusaka they will give swimming lessons at a pool that has been renovated with £13,000 raised at a charity ball by Marshall and where sport sits side by side with AIDS education workshops in a country experiencing a HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The target is to raise at least £50,000 which is earmarked for the construction of a physio wing alongside an already existing AIDS hospital.

The aim would be to offer patients physiotherapy but also provide sports physio in the same place in a bid to reduce the stigma attached to AIDS.

The challenge is the brainchild of former world, European and Commonwealth medallist Marshall.

The 30-year-old became a Sport in Action ambassador following her retirement after the 2008 Olympics.

On visiting the project, she made a pledge to president Clement Chileshe that she would 'make a difference' with the aim of undertaking a significant project every four years in line with the Olympics.

It has become a passion for the City of Derby coach and when approached by Marshall, all three swimmers jumped at the opportunity to participate.

Adlington, already an ambassador for the Encephalitis Society, said: 'I didn't even have to think about it, it was such a great idea.

'It is totally out of our comfort zone - well, certainly out of my comfort zone, I've not been on a bike for 10 years - so it is very, very new.

'It's a very different challenge - it's not going to be easy, it's going to be extremely tough but we're perfectly willing to do it for the greater good.'

It will be a whirlwind two months for Adlington who will attempt to defend her 400m and 800m freestyle Olympic crowns before performing bridesmaid duties at the wedding of best friend - and Olympic open water champion - Keri-anne Payne to fellow swimmer David Carry in mid-September and all the while training for the ride.

And she is planning to call on the expertise of a fellow Olympic champion.

The Mansfield-born swimmer joked: 'It's funny because after Olympics I am going into training for the bike ride so I'll have to get Chris Hoy to give me some tips and help me out. Hopefully I can go up to Manchester and go on a bike ride with him one day.'

For Adlington, though, the most daunting aspect of the ride will be the creepy crawlies.

'Awful, I think that is going to be the worst thing, the bugs and stuff,' she said.

'Things like spiders I just can't deal with so that is probably going to be the most difficult part for me.'

Olympic bronze medallist Jackson is also expecting it to be a shock to the system.

'I think it is going to be quite emotional, especially when we go to the hospitals and see what it's like,' she said.

'I think it is going to be emotionally and physically hard for us.

'But even if we just put a smile on the kids' faces when we are teaching them to swim then we've definitely done something.

'And it's something I never thought I would do so I am really excited, I was honoured to be asked.'

Davenport admitted the challenge came at a good time knowing the emptiness that can follow the high of the Olympics.

'You've been in a close-knit community with the Olympic team for three weeks and you've gone along this journey for eight, 10, 12 years.

'So as soon as that is finished there is going to be a massive void in our lives.

'It's nice we can quickly challenge ourselves and mentally prepare for something that is a very worthy cause.'

To donate visit, or Text 70070 - code TPDF50 & amount


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Mel has been inspiring swimmers in the London 2012 Olympic Pool.


Mel has been working with British Gas and Total Swimming on the Pools for Schools project. This project see's temporary pools placed for 3 - 6 months in schools, allowing children to access a swimming pool and have an opportunity to learn to swim. As a showcase event British Gas invited all of the schools who have been involved with the project to the Olympic Pool. Here they were entertained by Olympian Mel Marshall and Adam Whitehead. Over 500 children and young adults were entertained by the pair in the magic waters! As a concluding event swimmers raced the Olympians down the Olympic Pool cheered on by there teachers and peers!

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Athlete Coached by Melanie Marshall:

Peaty Smashes Best Time – Earns Second Automatic Qualification to GB Junior Team


Adam Peaty smashed his best time last night in the 200m Breastroke swimming a whole second underneathe the European Junior Qualification Standard. 2.15 was just shy of the 2-14 that made the final but what a fantastic week Adam has had! the two girls are uptomorrow in the 200m BK so we all still whoooooshing with excitement here in London!!


Snap shot of the London Aquatics Centre


Charity Bike Ride

Rebecca Adlington Double Olympic Champion OBE, Ross Davenport Double Commonwealth Champion and Joanne Jackson Olympic Bronze Medalist are teaming up with Melanie Marshall to cycle across Zambia in support of Sport in Action, The Children's Trust and Lusaka AIDS Unit.

The quartet will cycle the 450km trek from the famous Victoria Falls in Livingstone to the country's capital Lusaka. Aiming to raise £100 for each km travelled. They will stop in villages on route bringing education to impoverished communities on AIDS, HIV and facilitate the development of life skills in the youth of the region.
At the end of the cycle they will do what they do best and share their swimming knowledge with the local children in Lusaka in the newly renovated pool, which was achieved following the fund raising efforts of Melanie Marshall and friends. 
Motivational Speaking
 Big Zambia Bike Ride
County Development Swim Days