Remarkable colleague tackles 24-mile swim

ian wrightWe're sending the best of luck (and huge respect!) to our pioneering Deputy Director of Human Resources as he takes on a gruelling 24-mile swim to raise money for the Sheffield Scanner appeal.

On Thursday 22 June, Ian Wright will swim a mile every hour for 24 hours in open water to help raise funds to bring the first MRI-PET scanner to the region which will transform research into a number of devastating diseases.

Fundraising began in March for the scanner, which combines the simultaneous power of whole body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in a single image. This provides unprecedented detail on the organs, tissues and structures in the body and how well they are functioning, and would hugely benefit research into, and treatment of a number of diseases from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to cancer and epilepsy.

Ian was inspired to take part in this extraordinary challenge to help advance this vital work.

“I love working at the University and the incredible research that happens all around us never ceases to amaze me," Ian said.

“The ground-breaking work which happens here in Sheffield has an impact on and addresses some of the world’s biggest challenges – it’s really inspiring.

“I’ve known people who have suffered from many of the conditions the scanner will help to tackle, so anything I can do to help develop new therapies and better outcomes for patients is fantastic.”

Although Ian has taken part in a number of endurance events over the past 20 years including 30 marathons, the Ironman Triathlon (3.8k swim, 180k cycle, 42.2k run), the Marathon des Sables (150 miles across the Sahara) and a 300 mile multisport race around Ireland, Ian said this will put his determination to the test.

“Speed is not one of my talents but 'bloodymindedness' is so I’ve taken to seeing how far I can stretch my ability to just grit my teeth and carry on,” said Ian.

“Open water swimming is, I think, much nicer than the pool. The scenery is generally better and there’s more variety which comes from the water temperature, weather, seasons and of course where you’re swimming.

He added: “There are not many places to practise open water swimming around Sheffield so you have to be a little creative but that’s part of the fun. I’m a migrant to Sheffield and a southern softie at heart so I generally swim in a wetsuit which provides additional warmth and buoyancy.”

On the challenge itself, Ian said he isn’t quite sure what to expect. “I’ve never swum at night before so that’s going to be interesting. The stop-start nature of the event is also a bit of an unknown but I’m looking forward to giving it my best.

“I have to swim one mile every hour for 24 hours so in-between miles, assuming I’m fast enough, I’ll be out of the water eating, drinking and hopefully resting a little.”

Ian has already broken through his initial fundraising target of £200 thanks to generous donations which will all bring the revolutionary imaging one step closer to benefiting research and patients in South Yorkshire.

Ian said: “I’ve been amazed by people’s generosity. This appeal is something that seems to have struck a chord with many people and so there’s a real willingness to contribute.”