An 11-year-old Fife girl who lost a leg to cancer is urging people to take the plunge and sign up for Swimathon 2020.
Courageous Katie Pake, who celebrates her 12th birthday on February 11, inspired her team mates at Carnegie Swimming Club to support the world’s biggest annual swimming fundraiser to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
Katie, from Coaltown of Balgonie, trains with Carnegie three times a week and has made a splash by winning medals since recovering from cancer.
With her sights on eventually reaching the Paralympics, she is determined to help people with cancer through Swimathon, which takes place between March 20 and April 5.
Katie, who takes off her prosthetic limb to swim, said: “I feel free when I’m swimming and I love it.
“I’ve made some great friends since starting at Carnegie Swimming Club.
“The coaches are brilliant and have helped give me confidence and get my strength back after cancer.
“Now I have busy weeks. Mondays are football training, Tuesdays and Wednesdays swimming, then wheelchair racing on Thursdays followed by swimming again on a Sunday.
“It’s all go but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Katie was diagnosed with bone cancer in June 2017 after her parents Carol and Grant took her to the doctor when a painful knee stopped her from doing sports.
While intense chemotherapy got rid of the cancer in her spine and hips, she endured an eight-hour operation two days before her 10th birthday to remove the middle section of her right leg.
Surgeons reattached her foot and ankle to her right thigh to create a new knee joint to make it easier to wear a prosthetic limb.
Katie finished treatment in March 2018 and she has built up her strength to enable her to walk unaided as well as swim.
Carnegie Swimming Club development coach Stefan Hoggan-Radu said he was extremely proud of Katie.
“She’s a happy, smiley confident young lady who has come back from challenging circumstances and has a positive impact on everyone in the squad,” he said.
“She demonstrates true talent in the pool and I can see her becoming a Paralympian one day.
“We’re happy to support Swimathon as a club and will be setting our swimmers the longer distance challenges.”
Swimathon is is open to everyone and people can participate individually or as part of a team.
Covering a choice of distances, the fundraiser has raised more than £52 million for charities since it began in 1986.
Organisers hope that in this Olympic year, participants will raise a record-breaking £2.2m for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said people do not need to be super swimmers to take part.
“Whether you’re a champion swimmer or prefer to stick to the shallow end, there’s a Swimathon challenge for all,” she said.
To sign up for Swimathon 2020, or for more information, visit swimathon.org