Women who have recently learned to swim made a big splash in Barking in aid of cancer research with a sponsored swimathon involving 400 leisure centres around the country.

Six members of the adult swimming programme at the Abbey Leisure Centre raised £300 for Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK charities swimming 1.5 kilometres each in less than 50 minutes - equal to 60 lengths in the pool.

Priyanka Pammi, 32, floated the idea of learning to swim just last year. 

“I joined to keep my ‘inner child’ happy,” she beamed. “It was my dream to learn to swim but there were no resources where I grew up. I finally did it at Barking.”

Team-mate Jessica Larsh, 35, joined the classes during lockdown after going on holiday with her children and having to stand on the side and hold the bags.

“Now I can join in,” Jessica said proudly. “I started in the beginner class and worked my way up to advanced and have now completed a swimathon.”

Others taking part were Dawn Curtis, 46, Tasnim Ahmed, 27, Olasoji Ajayi, 24, and Kira Taiwo, 25.