Saturday, July 13, 2024
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    LEE Havern says he hopes that his sponsored water tread in aid of the RNLI in Newcastle will help to promote water safety. On Tuesday 25 July, Lee got into the diving pool at Queen’s University Belfast and treaded water for nine hours. At the most recent count he had raised over £1,500 with that figure set to rise further by the closing date of 15 August.

    Lee, who is from Newry, said: “There are people who go to places like Warrenpoint, Rostrevor and Newcastle, who are not paying heed to the safety. I thought I would raise funds for the lifeboat station in Newcastle and promote the water safety side of things. I want to get the education out to schools as much as I can.” He feels more could be done to educate young people and adults about safety in water. “If you don’t respect the water, it won’t respect you. People don’t think ahead and that is where the dangers are. They don’t think anything bad will happen until it does actually happen.” Treading water is an important skill in swimming, and one that is necessary in order to be safe in water. It is relatively straightforward to learn, but treading water for nine hours is very difficult. Four years ago, Lee did a tread water for six hours, for the children’s hospital in Belfast.

    The 41-year-old said: “Whenever I did that I thought ‘that was the hardest thing I have ever done, I’ll never do that again’.” But the desire to push himself, and to raise money, meant he had to make the test tougher. “This is the hardest thing I have done. I have done all the adventure races, triathlons. But nothing is close to this. It is more the mental side of things was the issue.” When he told people that he was going to do another water tread challenge, the reaction from friends and family was one of surprise. “They couldn’t believe it. They thought that I was absolutely crazy. “Everybody who heard the challenge thought I was going to lie on my back for nine hours. I said ‘no I can’t lie on my back. Treading water is every half hour’. They said, ‘So you can get out every hour and a half to go pee?’ I said, ‘No I can’t do that. I have to be nine hours in the water’. “People thought I was crazy. Even the lifeguards thought I was crazy. “I was a swim teacher for years and a lifeguard. Treading water was never an issue for me. I always knew that I could do it. I know the routine and rhythm.”

    Lee’s business is Platinum Training Institute, which runs health and fitness qualifications. They train QUB staff and the public. So, with that background Lee was qualified in the proper preparations for such an intense physical test.

    The test for treading water is battling hunger, tiredness and cramps. The hunger was managed by having snacks such as jelly babies or flapjacks every hour and a half. He also made sure to hydrate. But one of the biggest tests was beating the mental challenge of spending so much time doing the same thing. “It is a pure mental game to get through to the nine hours. I knew that was going to be the biggest issue. That was why this time around I got a lot of people to jump in with me during the day, for ten or 15 minutes. I knew that would have been the toughest thing to stay in there by myself. “That really helped to get through it. I knew from day one the mental side would be the issue. “The preparation I did was on breathing techniques and preparing on focusing on one thing. “Being able to pick my spot. Staying in that spot and finding a rhythm. So it was about piecing that all together. Then talking to everyone who was hopping in with me. I had to keep the conversation with everyone who got in with me.” He said that the tiredness didn’t kick in till the eighth hour. “That was when there were a few more people in the pool with me to help me get through right till the end. “The Queen’s University lifeguards jumped in, so did family, like my daughter, and my brother. A few friends jumped in as well. RNLI were there to help out too. One of them jumped in. The coastguard was down. We had quite a team. A few of the members of PEC jumped in. Constantly throughout the day there was a variety of people with me.”

    When they got Lee out of the water after the nine hours, he couldn’t walk because his leg muscles hadn’t bore any weight for so long they had lost strength. “They had to drag me out of the pool. There was zero feeling in my legs. I was like walking as an old person. They had to push me into the sauna to get a bit of heat. “As I had done it before, I knew what was going to happen. But that only happened for a few minutes. Then it came back. It was no problem after 10 to 15 minutes.”

    If you would like to donate to Lee’s fundraiser, go to this JustGiving website: nli-newcastle.

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