Ian Thwaites

Ian's Brutal Double Ironman

Fundraising for Level Water
raised of £3,000 target
by 66 supporters
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Level Water

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1151510
We use the power of swimming to change lives for kids with disabilities


This is a long post, so here’s the short version:

After breaking my back, I resolved to do a fundraising challenge for Level Water.  The Brutal Extreme Double Ironman is going to take 30-40 hours, including an 18-hour bike ride and a double marathon.  Level Water is the charity that I run full-time; we teach disabled kids to swim then help them go on to compete.  Please donate what you can.

Here’s the full story:

In April 2014 I crashed my bike and broke four vertebrae in my back. I was hospitalised for four days, concussed for four weeks and haven’t exercised for almost a year since. I run a charity (Level Water) that teaches disabled children to swim and during my recovery I thought a lot about how difficult their day-to-day lives are and how much they will miss out on if they can’t play sport. I resolved to get fit again and personally do a fundraising challenge for the charity.

Photo - in A&E

I started training in April 2015 and after three weeks I was out running on the anniversary of my accident. I had done 20k and felt fresh, so decided to run a marathon. It wasn’t pretty but I wanted to prove to myself that my mind and body were still tough enough.  The next day I searched for the most extreme races in the world and found this list – I’m doing the only one in the UK.

brutal extreme triathlons

An Ironman triathlon is the ultimate endurance test. It’s 140 miles; you start at 7am and have until midnight to finish.

The Brutal Extreme Double Ironman is twice that distance and no one has ever finished under 30 hours.

It’s a 5-mile swim. The lake is usually 13 degrees.

A 230-mile bike ride – like riding from London to Paris and with 5,000m of elevation (riding up more than half the height of Everest).

Then we run up and down Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales).

And finally make it up to a double marathon.  That’s 52 miles, a huge challenge in its own right.

I’ll be on the bike from 9am Saturday until (hopefully) 2am Sunday, before running up and down Snowdon in the middle of the night. After a full 24 hours of racing I’ll start the two marathons. I’ve done plenty of 1-hour triathlons but never raced an Ironman or a Marathon. I don’t think I’ve even swum more than 1.5km continuously!

Happily I've got a big reason to prove that I’ve recovered from my accident and an even bigger reason to never give up:

Level Water: Getting Disabled Kids Swimming

We launched Level Water two years ago because disabled children are one-third as likely to play sport as their friends. They face isolation and exclusion from the start. The thing they want to do most is swim, so we find those disabled kids who aren’t playing sport and teach them to swim. From there we introduce them to mainstream group lessons and help them go on to train and race.

Donations change lives.


Last year Nici raised £1,500 for Level Water so that we could provide 150 one-to-one swimming lessons at her local pool in London. One year on, eight of those children have learnt to swim and are ready to join mainstream group lessons and progress in to competitive clubs. (So Nici raised another £900 this summer.)

One of those children is Morgan.  His mum, Karen said:


 “I had not considered any kind of sport properly as a possibility for Morgan. It only takes one person’s support and suddenly you’re thinking 'how far can we go with this?'  Having the right support from Level Water is truly a life-changer.”

To ask for your donation I knew I needed to do something impossible – hopefully this fits the bill. We’ve grown from three sites to twenty in the last year and I hope this success can continue with your support. Whether you’re an old friend, colleague, swimmer, triathlete or supporter, this is the first time I’ve asked for donations since we started, so please give what you can.

We spend every penny of donations directly on swimming lessons. Each lesson costs us £10 and with £10,000 we can teach twenty children for a whole year.

To get more disabled children swimming, please donate here, and I’ll share a few updates in the coming months.

Huge thanks and big smiles!

Ian xx

Director, Level Water

About the charity

Level Water

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 1151510
At Level Water, we use the power of swimming to improve lives for children with disabilities. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn to swim and fall in love with the water.

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