A PARALYMPIAN is urging budding swimmers to take the plunge for charity.

Gold medallist Bethany Firth is calling on people across the county to sign up for Swimathon 2020.

The sponsored fundraiser is raising money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie and takes place at a string of venues, including Halstead Leisure Centre.

Bethany clinched three gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and a gold at the London 2012 Paralympics.

She is going for glory at the Tokyo Paralympics this August.

Bethany took time out from training to support Swimathon, inspired by mum Lindsey, who is recovering from thyroid cancer.

The Paralympian said: “It was a terrible shock when mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

“She has been such a source of strength and support for me throughout my life and career. It was a very difficult time but thankfully her treatment was successful and I’m so grateful that she’s getting back to full health.

“My mum’s experience means our family understand all too clearly why events such as Swimathon are so vital to support the work of charities like Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.”

Swimathon offers a challenge for everyone, with distances from 400m up to the Triple 5k.

The national event takes place over the weekend of March 27-29.

If swimmers can’t make one of the organised sessions, they can sign up to MySwimathon, which takes place from March 20 to April 5.

The event has raised more than £52million for charity since it began in 1986.

Bethany added: “Swimathon is such a fun and simple way to encourage people to dip their toe in the water and get swimming – all while supporting two incredible charities.

“It really doesn’t matter if you’re not the fittest or the fastest.

“I hope swimmers young and old, new and experienced will dive in and help thousands of families affected by cancer. The dedicated fundraisers who support these important causes are the real heroes.”

To sign up to Swimathon 2020, visit swimathon.org.