Belfast Telegraph

Skinner swims through panic attack

Frank Skinner has overcome his lifelong fear of water to complete a length of a swimming pool - despite a panic attack.

The Room 101 host found it was no laughing matter when he swallowed some water but battled on, cheered by the crowd for Sport Relief.

He was being encouraged by supporters such as Adrian Chiles and Clare Balding as he swam his 25 metres at the Barnet Copthall Leisure Centre in north London.

The comic, 55, who is due to become a father later this year, underwent eight weeks of training to overcome his phobia.

He said: "Towards the end I had one of my little panics that I often have - but I could hear the crowd and I just thought 'no, no, I can't stop now' and I kept going. I was half drowning, half choking - it was a good advert for terror."

Skinner, also a presenter for Absolute Radio, was given a congratulatory hug by his trainer David Tatler.

Afterwards he said: "I'm absolutely knocked out. I'm so relieved and excited. I lay in bed last night thinking about all the different ways I wouldn't finish that length.

"I want someone to learn to swim because of this. I know it looked really tough and frightening but I've had a good laugh and it will stay with me forever."

His challenge will be screened as part of the Sport Relief programmes on BBC1 from 7pm onwards. Presenters for the evening include Gary Lineker, Davina McCall, Dermot O'Leary, James Corden and John Bishop - who completed his triathlon challenge heading from Paris to London recently.

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