WADING through the shallows at Stokes Bay, Ian Tautz was all smiles despite just swimming across the Solent.
The 32-year-old took just one-and-a-half hours to swim from Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, to Stokes Bay in Gosport – which is about three and a half miles as the crow flies.
His huge effort was for Aiden Farrell who has cerebral palsy and the five-year-old was on the beach clapping and cheering Ian on as he finished his challenge on Sunday.
Ian decided to swim the Solent after his daughter Kiki met Aiden at school. The pair are in the same class at Gomer Infants, in Gosport, and Kiki wanted to help with the fundraising for Aiden.
He said: ‘When I was doing the swim, I thought about Aiden and completing it for his sake. I wanted to do him justice.’
Aiden has already had selective dorsal rhitzotomy surgery to help with the tight muscles in his legs but his family, from Gosport, still have to pay for extensive aftercare treatment including physiotherapy, a personal trainer and trips to Scotland for specialist care every three months.
When I was doing the swim, I thought about Aiden and completing it for his sakeIan Tautz
Ian, also from Gosport, said: ‘I wanted to help in any way I could and swimming the Solent is something I have always wanted to do. I set myself a target of raising £1,000 but already I am at £1,400 so I am ecstatic to have beaten it.’
He added: ‘I had been training really hard for it and swimming three nights a week so physically, I knew I could do it but it was more of an emotional challenge. I couldn’t believe when I saw Stokes Bay because I felt like I could have carried on swimming.’
Aiden’s mum Sara was also cheering on Ian. She said: ‘I was completely overwhelmed when Ian said he wanted to do the challenge for Aiden. It was very emotional.
‘It was such a huge challenge for someone to take on.’
The Farrell family have just returned from Scotland where Aiden does strength and conditioning training and he walked six steps independently – the first time he has walked unaided.
Sara added: ‘We have all come so far and seeing Aiden walk unaided was incredible.
‘He had happy tears and I had to leave the room because it was so emotional.
‘It makes all the hard work worth it and all the fundraising worthwhile.’