A 10-YEAR-OLD girl has set her sights on her next swimming challenge in aid of her sister who is battling cancer.
Laura Smith, from Thorney Close, Sunderland, raised more than £1,500 when she completed 65 lengths – about 1,500 metres – in just 45 minutes.
Laura took the plunge at the Sunderland Aquatic Centre to raise cash for the hospital where sister Heather is being treated.
The eight-year-old was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last month.
Now Laura is planning to push herself even further to raise even more cash – and swim the English Channel before she turns 12.
She said: “The hospital needs money for equipment and things, and I think if I swim the Channel it will raise even more.
“I’m a bit nervous because if you don’t do it you aren’t just letting yourself down but also the pilot on the ship, and my coach because he is going to do it with me.
“If I do it next year or at the beginning of 2014, I will be the youngest female ever to swim the Channel, and I want to do it all on my back, because if I do I will be the only person ever to do it like that.”
Laura, who until her fund-raising swim earlier in the month had only ever swum 200 metres at once, needs to raise £3,000 to hire the boat that will sail alongside her in the Channel before she even raises any money for her chosen cause.
Mum Michelle, 43, a community staff nurse, said: “I just think it is amazing what she is doing for her sister.
“Everything Laura has done so far she has done herself, and she is getting more people on board to raise money for the hospital as she is doing it.
“When she said she wanted to swim the Channel, I said I would help her just because she wasn’t sure where to start. She’s only 10.
“I’m going to try and get local companies and big companies involved to help raise some of the money she needs.”
Both girls go to Hasting Hill Primary School, which mum Michelle said would back her efforts.
The family are putting on a raffle at the school – which three-year-old brother Stuart also attends – to raise funds for Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where Heather is being treated.
City of Sunderland Swimming team are also getting involved, and Yorkshire Bank have also started raising money to help.
Heather also has multiple disabilities, including Damp syndrome, which stops her brain from distinguishing between her arms and legs, meaning she often falls. She also has attention deficit disorder, speech, language and eye problems and mild deafness.
Laura added: “We do have fights and things. We argue a lot, but at the end of the day we are sisters and we do look after each other.”