Why is photographer John Offenbach swimming the English Channel?

John Offenbach in training and with his son Joe, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4.

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John Offenbach will be swimming the English Channel next month to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This is not his first time swimming the channel: In 2009, he and a few friends took on the challenge together under the name the Belly Flops, for the same cause. But this is John’s first time swimming it on his own.

“I’ve been training for well over a year and since November, when I began keeping a record, I’ll have clocked up pretty much 400 Km,” he says. “That’s about 16,000 lengths of your local 25m pool. Even in February, as the temperature in Parliament Hill Lido bottomed out at 1°C, I still dived in for a very memorable couple of widths. Memorable because the feeling in my fingertips did not fully return for a worrying 9 hours.”

John’s youngest son, Joe, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4. “He pricks his finger five or more times a day to draw the blood needed to test his sugar levels. As a consequence, he can’t really feel his fingertips any more. (So that’s me 9 hours and Joe… Who knows?) He has to calculate each time he eats anything and inject himself with a quantity of laboratory-produced insulin. That’s the stuff you and I produce in our pancreas. Joe doesn’t have a pancreas. There is a constant worry that he could overdose and become hypoglycemic, pass out, or worse, fall into a coma.

“The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation want to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes and then shut up shop,” he continues. “They think they can. But none of this is possible without a huge amount of support. So my swim will be raising money for JDRF.”

John has tentatively set August 23rd as his swim date. Find out more at his blog, anotherswim.tumblr.com. And to contribute to the cause, visit the Another Swim page at the Just Giving site: justgiving.com/Anotherswim.

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