A LAST-MINUTE sign up to Swimathon 2024 saw two Chandler's Ford schoolgirls make a splash at their local pool by raising more than £2,000 for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

Eva Deacon and Phoebe Marsden, both 11, decided to complete the 5k challenge in memory of Eva’s dad, Lee, who died from soft tissue sarcoma just a month earlier.

Both girls received a Swimathon medal, towel and gold ‘top fundraiser’ swimming cap after they each completed 100 lengths of the pool at Places Leisure, Eastleigh, on Sunday, April 28 in aid of the two much-loved charities.

Eva’s mum Caroline said: “One minute they were at their swimming lesson and the next they’d signed up to do 1.5k which then became 5k. I couldn’t believe how they just continued to swim non-stop for such a long period of time, managing to complete it in one hour and 21 minutes. They really earned their sponsor money and are keen to do the triple 5k challenge next year.

“I’m so incredibly proud of both girls and just like her dad, Eva showed such quiet courage and determination to set an example to all. He always put others before himself and that’s exactly what she has done here. I know Lee would have been so proud too.”

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Hampshire Chronicle: Eva, Caroline (mum) and Lee Deacon

Sonia Marsden, Phoebe’s mum, said: “Both girls were desperate to raise awareness and funds for these two fantastic charities to help support others diagnosed with this dreadful disease.

“We’re so unbelievably proud of them for pushing themselves to complete such an amazing achievement and we’re grateful for all the support and kind donations.”

So far the girls have raised £2,071 and people can still sponsor Eva and Phoebe by heading to their fundraising page here - justgiving.com/fundraising/evadeacon. 

Since it began in 1986, the event has raised more than £55m for charity. 

On Eva and Phoebe’s fundraising efforts, Elisa Mitchell, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Hampshire, said: “We are incredibly grateful to both Eva and Phoebe for diving into this challenge at such short notice and we commend their courage for taking part in Lee’s memory so soon after his passing.

“It’s thanks to the commitment and generosity of supporters like Eva, Phoebe and their families that we are able to fund research into the vital treatments of tomorrow. From pioneering some of the first chemotherapies, to the development of advanced, targeted treatments and immunotherapy, our research has played a role in around half of the world’s essential cancer drugs.

"That’s why we’re grateful to all our swimmers who continue to raise money and help us to keep making new discoveries and breakthroughs.” 

Jayne Waterhouse, head of fundraising at Marie Curie, said: “Every year thousands of people of all ages and abilities take the plunge at their local pool as part of the world’s largest annual fundraising swim. 

“As Swimathon’s charity partner, the funds that Marie Curie receives through this iconic challenge allow us to continue to support people with any illness they are likely to die from and those close to them. 

“Money raised through your sponsored swims help our nurses to continue to deliver care and support and funds our free information and support services which offer practical and emotional support on everything from day-to-day care to financial information and bereavement support.”