David Walliams wishes Greg Whyte luck ahead of gruelling World Record Thames swim effort

220 columnist and coach to the stars, Professor Greg Whyte, will attempt to complete 125 miles of swimming in under four days

David Walliams training at Lake Annecy with Greg Whyte as part of the training for his Thames swim challenge in 2011.

No stranger to endurance challenges, Professor Greg Whyte was the coach who helped David Walliams complete an epic swim of the River Thames for Sport Relief in 2011.


Now he’s back, aiming to take on the swim again himself solo – but in an official World Record time.

Taking to the water on Tuesday 12 July, the #WhyteWater swim will see the UK’s leading sports scientist and Olympian covering approximately 30 miles per day over four days.

He will be in the water for around 20 hours at a time, with only 4 hours set aside for sleep, sports therapy and rest.

This is the first time anyone has attempted to swim this iconic stretch of British water as quickly as possible ­and is the culmination of many hours of gruelling training.

While many epic swims have focussed on distance, this one combines endurance with fast-paced swimming.

Greg Whyte training ahead of his Thames swim World Record attempt to raise funds for the Royal Life Saving Society as well as the RNLI (Credit: Ben Hull)

Combining endurance with speed

“125 miles in 4 days is a gargantuan challenge which I’m weirdly excited about,” says Greg. “For me, combining endurance with speed will be interesting – this is without doubt the toughest challenge I have ever attempted.

“The key message for me, is this: one person drowns every 20 hours in the UK and water safety is central to reducing this figure.

“Unfortunately, only one in five children have received any formal water safety education. By tackling this enormous challenge, I am aiming to raise funds to support the RLSS and RNLI to improve water safety education and reduce the tragedy of drowning.”

Fundraising for #drowningprevention

Greg has set a goal of £50,000 on his crowdfunding page and these vital funds will go directly to the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society) as well as the RNLI.

“We have worked with Greg for many years and his work to spread the message around water safety is invaluable,” Lee Heard, charity director at the Royal Life Saving Society UK says.

“We are very proud to be sponsoring Greg’s world record attempt and are extremely grateful to be chosen as one of the charities that the challenge will be raising money for.

“We, at RLSS UK, are all looking forward to following Greg’s challenge closely and cheering him on. We know he will secure the World Record!”

Greg training with 220‘s Editor Helen Webster in the Thames earlier this year. Helen will be part of Greg’s support crew for the challenge, which starts on 12 July (Credit: Ben Hull)

The swim will begin at 9am on Tuesday 12 July in Lechlade, the start of the ‘swimmable’ Thames, and is hoped to finish at 7pm on Friday 15 July at Teddington Lock.

Greg is encouraging other swimmers to join him for a mile of swimming and to donate to the appeal along the way.

Good luck from David Walliams

David Walliams, who completed the swim in eight days and raised over £1 million for charity with coaching and guidance from Greg, said:

“I wish Greg success in his challenge to set a World Record for the Upper Thames, a swim I know only too well. Let’s hope he navigates the poo without incident!”

David Walliams training at Lake Annecy with Greg Whyte as part of the comedian’s training for his Thames swim challenge in 2011 (Credit: Greg Whyte)
Greg Whyte

To follow the challenge, see Greg’s social handles: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

Who is Professor Greg Whyte?

Professor Greg Whyte is the UK’s leading sports scientist and represented GB at the Olympics in Modern Pentathlon.

He has coached many celebrities for Sport Relief challenges including David Walliams, Davina McCall, Jo Brand, Eddie Izzard and more.

He is passionate about drowning prevention and the importance of all children having access to swimming lessons.

Greg writes a monthly column for 220 Triathlon on training and sports science.


This challenge is to raise funds for the RLSS as well as the RNLI and is supported by HUUB, Elliot Brown, 220 Triathlon, U Perform, Beyond Swim, Le Boat, CDT Marine, Luxury Sports Breaks.