A MAN from Carmarthenshire is continuing his inspiring journey of swimming the equivalent distance between the UK and France across the English Channel.

James Thomas from Llwynhendy has completed most of his swim across the 22-mile distance across the English Channel (the shortest point) by swimming lengths of the pool in Ammanford.

James – who is blind and is mostly wheelchair bound after spending the first six months of his life in a special care baby unit - has used 61 sessions in the pool to do 20 of the miles – using his one good arm and a noodle to complete the swim as he doesn’t have use of his legs.

Derek Murphy, who supports James, says that the staff at the pool in Ammanford have been ‘amazing’ in ensuring that James’ challenge goes ahead. The pool is wheelchair accessible. Mr Murphy said: “James went past 20 miles yesterday as he heads towards the channel distance of 22 miles. His legs don’t work and he swims using his one good arm and a noodle to keep his head out of the water. The pool staff at Ammanford pool have all been amazing in facilitating James’ challenge.

“He has been blessed by, and is a blessing to, all those he has met in the pool over his 61 swimming sessions. He has five more sessions to complete this part of his fundraising side by side London to Paris challenge.”

The London to Paris challenge was started in May and sees James complete the 22-mile swim in Ammanford pool (1,408 lengths of the pool) alongside 247 miles on the road using a handcycle to raise money for Maggie’s Swansea and Bikeability Wales in Dunvant. The handcycle ride is being done in eight-mile sessions between Bikeability Wales in Dunvant to Norton Road in Mumbles and back and so far he has done 36 miles of this but the challenge has been put on hold due to the weather and Bikeability has been closed for the past four months.

The £7,000 handcycle James is using was donated to Bikeability and it allows James and others to use the handcycle from the site.

This is not James’ first attempt at going the distance to fundraise as he completed the distances of an Ironman to help fundraise for the handcycle. The use of the handcycle has seen James grow stronger as he now consistently uses his right arm – something he had barely used before – and it and his grip in his right hand – has been getting stronger each day.

James is a people person who loves interacting with others and supporting them, which includes helping with the preparation of food at the wellbeing space in Ammanford English Baptist Church as well as LFEC Church in Llanelli and Tabernacle Llwynhendy. These opportunities came as James has begun doing an NVQ Level 1 food certificate after passing his food hygiene certificate and has cooked for 25 people. He hopes to get into a fully accessible kitchen to help further his development whilst getting the support he needs.

All of James’ activities are supported side-by-side and he hopes that he can help inspire others to get out into the community to help.

James is fundraising for Maggie’s and Bikeability and donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/page/derek-murphy-1697553937041?checkoutMode=Headless