YOUNG cystic fibrosis sufferer Ella Hamza has been putting an ace team of Royal Navy divers through their paces.
The 12-year-old will join the seven sailors on their epic attempt to swim around Portsea Island for charity this Saturday.
For weeks they have been training together at Horsea Island’s Defence Diving School in preparation for the 13-mile challenge.
Now Ella is ready to take on the final four miles in aid of local charity Cystic Fibrosis Kids of Portsmouth and the Project Vernon Monument fund.
‘It’s going to be fun,’ she said. ‘They asked me if I wanted to join in and I said yes please!
‘I hope we can raise some money for people with cystic fibrosis, but I really just want to make it to the end.
‘The water is much colder than I would normally swim in, but I’ve been practising and hopefully it will be fine.’
Springfield School pupil Ella, from Braintree Road, in Cosham, has battled against the degenerative disease since she was born.
She started swimming when she was four and her mum Vanessa said it not only helps her condition but has given Ella something to live for. ‘Ella is happiest by far whenever she’s in the water,’ said the 45-year-old.
‘You might never think that she was ill.
‘It can be a real struggle for her because she only has a third of the normal lung capacity.
‘But she stays so positive and the biggest problem the navy lads had in training was getting her to slow down!’
Vanessa is a trustee for the Cystic Fibrosis Kids of Portsmouth and said Ella is always desperate to do anything she can to raise money for other children struggling with her disease.
She added: ‘Hopefully this will help raise awareness of the disease as well.’
The swimmers will start from Eastney beach at 9.30am and journey anti-clockwise around Portsea Island, picking Ella up at Gunwharf Quays before returning to Eastney. The team predicts it will take seven hours.
Lieutenant Commander Richard Watson said: ‘We’re delighted to have Ella joining us. We hope we can support each other and work as a team to reach the end.’