A STAR teenage swimmer who swam 400 lengths of the pool for charity is aiming to go even further.

Luke Watling-Smith, 14, took part in the recent Christian Aid fundraiser in Helensburgh and collected at least £820 for his efforts.

The Hermitage Academy pupil is also a member of Helensburgh Amateur Swimming Club and has been racing competitively for the past year.

When he heard about efforts for Christian Aid Week as a member of the congregation at Helensburgh Parish Church, he decided to take on the Christian Aid Swim along with 40 other athletes of all ages.

The aquatic efforts were part of the campaign this year in aid of Burundi, where more than 70% of the population live in poverty.

Proud mum Jane told the Advertiser: "Luke joined swimming club after completing swimming lessons just before lockdown.

"His coach, Simon Kershaw-Yates, has inspired him considerably and Luke started racing competitively 12 months ago. He managed to swim last year in the Scottish nationals.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

"He heard about Christian Aid through the church hearing stories of the communities the charity helps.

"Christian Aid helps poor communities around the world obtaining services such as health and education, ensuring they are not discriminated against.

"They help them to become more resilient to shocks and disasters such as drought, climate change and hurricanes, and make the most of opportunities such as being able to sell their produce.

"Luke has been inspired by some of the stories and wanted to do his bit to help."

Luke has swam in the charity event for the past two years and in 2023 managed 300 lengths, raising £500.

This year he did 400 lengths in two hours and 50 minutes - with a few breaks to refuel. So far he has collected another £500 for Christian Aid. That's a full 10k or six miles of swimming.

Luke, who is also a keen runner, is doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and has recently been awarded a bronze medallion in lifesaving.

Helensburgh Advertiser:

"This is the start of his fundraising journey," added his mum. "He has really enjoyed raising money for Christian Aid and hopes to do more fundraising in the future to other good causes.

"He has a bucket list of other sporting achievements he would like to do to raise money."