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Marathon Swimmer is at it again!

Former Exeter City Swimming Club swimmer, turned Marathon Swimmer, Neil Gilson, has embarked on serious training to prepare for his next huge challenge, which will hopefully take place this summer.

You will recall that in June 2019, Neil swam 24 miles in 24 hours in Loch Lubnaig, Scotland to raise money for the charity PANS PANDAS UK. This charity is very close to Neil's heart, as his young son Jack suffered with a rare condition that affected him quite dramatically, causing anxiety, involuntary movements, OCD and refusing to eat. Doctor's initially struggled to diagnose what was wrong with Jack. This understandably caused a huge amount of stress for Neil, his wife and his family and friends. Thankfully Neil discovered PANS PANDAS UK after watching ITV's This Morning and seeing another family who's child was suffering exactly what Jack was going through. Having spoken to a Doctor who diagnosed Jack as having PANS, he was able to treat Jack and he is now symptom free and thriving at school. Neil and his wife Lucie have subsequently found out that their daughter Lily also has PANS, but thankfully has not had to suffer the symptoms for as long as Jack did, thanks to their knowledge and experience of the condition, as well as the support from PANS PANDAS and it's Doctors.

Neil raised over £5000 towards the charity in 2019 and has now decided to challenge himself again, to hopefully raise even more money towards this special cause. Neil has begun his training in earnest since Autumn last year, with lots of pool and sea swimming. However, this has been hampered slightly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the current lockdown. However, Neil is very grateful to have access to a 12m private pool, so that he can continue his training.

In July this year, Neil is going to attempt to swim the 24 miles from Swansea to Ilfracombe, across the Bristol Channel. Neil says "The swim genuinely scare me, the tides are fierce in the Bristol Channel and the conditions can change so quickly!" The distance will be the same as his previous challenge, but this time it is in the sea and not a calm Loch, so without doubt will be a tougher proposition for Neil. Neil goes on to say "I have made it my mission to raise awareness of the condition and raise funds for the charity to help other children and their families, who are desperately suffering and don't know what to do". Neil's Bristol Channel swim will be piloted by Swansea Watersports. Members of Exeter City Swimming Club are planning on being at Ilfracombe to welcome Neil's arrival on the day of the challenge.

We will be updating you throughout the year of how Neil's preparations for this huge challenge are going and we urge as many people to support Neil in any way they can. All donations towards this truly worthy cause will be very gratefully received, no matter how small.

You can follow Neil on Instagram at marathon_swimmer85 and you can find out more about his challenge, the PANS PANDAS UK Charity, as well as donate at

Neil will be on BBC Radio Devon at 2.05pm on Friday 5th February talking about his amazing challenge. Tune in to hear all about his training, the charity and the event this Summer.

Good luck with your training Neil!


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