A health worker who had open heart surgery to avoid a fatal rupture has completed his longest swim yet.

Freddie Beard, 27, of Hornchurch, completed a six-mile swim in the Serpentine Lake on September 16, seven years after open heart surgery disrupted his law degree at Surrey Guildford University.

Having finished sixth out of 50 competitors, Freddie admitted it was a feat previously thought impossible.

"It means so much," he said. "It was something I thought I would never be able to achieve.

"To be able to do these things now is a testament to how you can continue your life, even if you have been diagnosed with something," he added.

Freddie was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome in 2013, a genetic disorder that can be life-threatening, and still needs medication to slow his heart.

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Romford Recorder: Freddie celebrating his six mile swim with father Jason (left) and sister AlexFreddie celebrating his six mile swim with father Jason (left) and sister Alex (Image: Freddie Beard)

He started the race at 9.45am and finished two hours and 57 minutes later, beating his estimated three hour goal.

"I have never done that extreme long distance before," Freddie said. "It was very emotional to finish the race, I was overcome with joy.

"Only my dad had arrived when I finished as it was earlier than expected - he was absolutely beaming."

Freddie's father Jason had recalled the ordeal his son went through in 2016.

His son had been in intensive care for hours and Jason said he was terrified to see the outcome.

Jason was adamant that Freddie return to some sort of normality, and insisted he continue physical activity, including swimming and water polo.

Freddie, diagnosed by a junior doctor on placement, said he was relieved to finish the race and celebrated after with his family.

"I was gasping for a drink, alcoholic or otherwise," he said. "If you put your mind to it you can achieve anything you want."

He said he had to front crawl for two and a half hours and hit the wall on the fifth mile, but battled on.

"I kept going - I switched my stroke to breast stroke to give a different movement to my arms," he said.

Now a healthcare professional having graduated in 2018, Freddie has raised £1,063 for Marfan Trust as of today (September 28).

You can still donate here.