Novice swimmer seeks recruits for Dementia Awareness swimathon

A dementia nurse and university lecturer who overcame a fear of water and spent two years learning to swim is challenging others to join him in the pool on Friday.

Chris Knifton needs other swimmers to take the plunge for 20 minutes at a time for a sponsored five-hour swimathon at De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) Queen Elizabeth II leisure centre.


He has set a target of everyone’s contribution totting up to more than 3,500 metres – the same number as the estimated total of people with dementia across Leicester.

Chris hopes a further 500 metres will be swum to represent the additional people who may be awaiting a diagnosis.

“I never used to be able to swim, I grew up being scared of water and wasn’t very active or sporty as a child,” said the 44-year-old, who still lives in his home town Coalville, in Ashby Road.

“Two years ago, I was thinking about what I could do to publicise issues around dementia and wanted to highlight the point about big personal challenges. There was no point doing something easy.

“Swimming was a really big challenge for me. After two years of lessons I feel I can just about complete a few lengths for this fundraising event.

“Another point is that by doing something different, if you push yourself to do exercise and get more oxygen to your brain, you may reduce your own chances of dementia.”

Chris is a senior lecturer in dementia for DMU’s nursing and other Health and Life Science courses. He is also one of only approximately 200 Admiral Nurses in the country, and the only one in Leicester, who work with the Dementia UK charity specialising in caring for people with dementia.


Half the proceeds from the swimathon will go to Dementia UK with the aim of bringing more Admiral Nurses to work in Leicester.

Chris also works with the DMUlocal team within the community and the other half of the proceeds will fund projects to educate young people in the area about dementia.

To book yourself in to do a 20-minute slot (you can do more than one) and to get a sponsorship form, email The swimathon will run from midday until 5pm and up to seven people can swim during any slot.

Posted on Monday 15th May 2017

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