Entertainer David Walliams will attempt a charity swim along the Thames next week. Starting in the Gloucestershire town of Lechlade, the 40-year old comedian will paddle his way 140 miles downstream to Westminster, about two-thirds of the river's total length.
The feat of endurance should take Walliams just eight days, beginning on 5 September. The effort, to raise awareness of (and money for) the Big Splash swimming campaign, follows Walliams' successful cross-Channel swim of 2006 and several other sporty adventures.
He'll be heartened this morning, no doubt, to read that the Thames has been classified by the Environment Agency as one of the country's most improved rivers, along with the Wandle. The Thames was declared 'biologically dead' in the 1950s while its southern tributary was classified as a sewer in the 1960s. Both are now thriving havens for wildlife. We've even seen kids swimming in the Wandle.