Poppy hopes her doggie paddle will make a splash for charity

When swimmers line up to take part in one of the swim calendar’s most popular events, one participant in particular is hoping for a new personal best.

Because alongside the many two-legged entrants in the Henley Swim Festival on July 11 will be one with the potential advantage of having four – black Labrador Retriever and swimming enthusiast Poppy!

Poppy belongs to founder of swimming charity SwimTayka, Bryan Avery. SwimTayka runs programmes around the world, teaching children to swim, to help combat the alarming annual statistic of 360,000 global deaths from drowning.

Poppy getting ready for here swim

Poppy will join Bryan for the mile-long swim, hoping to beat her time of last year, of just over 30 minutes. To egg her on, this time she’s being sponsored in aid of SwimTayka, so her doggie paddle may take on a faster pace.

“This is the second time Poppy has taken part and we’re grateful to the organisers of Henley Swim Festival for allowing her to do so,” said Bryan, from Swindon. “We’ll join the last wave of the event. I just hope she concentrates! Last year, so many people were cheering ‘Poppy, Poppy’ she sometimes got distracted and swam towards the bank to bathe in her applause! I think she ended up swimming further than a mile as a result.”

Thanks for Cotswold_drone_co for photos and videoing

Poppy, who is four on July 4, will swim behind Bryan, wearing her special dog float coat. Bryan’s a keen open water swimmer, swimming twice a week at Lake 32 on Cotswold Water Park, and Poppy usually accompanies him into the water for one or two kilometres. In fact, she often nudges him to go faster!

Bryan said: “I was very proud of her last year, and she thoroughly deserved to get her medal for participating. This year, we’ve both been training hard and being sponsored to raise funds for SwimTayka will give us both even more incentive to do well.”

To sponsor Poppy, visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/PoppySwimsaMile?invite=true.

For more about SwimTayka, visit https://swimtayka.org/.