Karen Pickering set to teach top TV comedian Frank Skinner to swim

FOUR-TIME Olympic Karen Pickering will embark on one of her toughest sports challenges to date when she attempts to teach comedian Frank Skinner to swim.

The Room 101 presenter has a phobia of water but will be taken under four-time Commonwealth gold medalist Pickering’s wing as well as undergoing therapy for his anxiety.

The duo have got together for Sport Relief which begins on March 23rd and Skinner’s challenge will be to swim a width of the new Olympic pool by that point.

“It’s a big challenge and Frank might not even get in the water during his first lesson, but I will be receiving help from another swimming teacher and he will also be having therapy,” said Pickering, an ambassador for Team Ipswich.

“Getting him over his fear and then teaching him to swim are two massive hurdles. It sounds so silly when you look at people like David Walliams who swam the channel and Eddie Izzard, who ran 43 marathons in 51 days, but in a way, this is almost a bigger challenge.

“I hope what Frank is doing will act as a big inspiration to other adults, with one in five in this country being unable to swim. Part of the problem for him is, because he is in the public eye, it would not be easy to go for lessons in public.”

Pickering is a successful businesswoman and runs several ‘Karen Pickering Swim Schools’ but admits she will only be able to do so much to help Skinner.

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“He has got to overcome his phobia too and the anxiety that goes with it. He has got to be able to trust us and know that we are not going to let him down,” said Pickering,

“His fear is an irrational one in many respects. Water can be dangerous but the real danger comes in rivers and streams, places where other external factors have a bearing.

“We will be starting in quite a small pool just to get him used to the environment and will be taking little steps with regular lessons.”