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A former heroin addict who used swimming to turn his life around will take on a mammoth four event challenge this summer to raise funds for charity.

William Wright, from Sudbury in Suffolk, has transformed himself from someone who was addicted to drugs and alcohol for ten years, into a fit and active athlete who takes on long distance swimming.

William lost his job as a reporter when his life overtook him and he eventually sought help from rehab in 2015.

He eventually learned to channel his thoughts and energy into a health lifestyle and decided to take on swimming in the pool that helped him focus on his goals.

He found a love for the sport and began to tackle it outdoors. Completing open water swimming made William feel like he was achieving something positive in his life.

William became experienced in open water swimming and began to tackle 5k and marathon swimming distances around the UK.

Now he will take on four events in the Great Swim Series this year, the 10k at the Great North Swim, as well as 5k distances in the Great East Swim, the Great Scottish Swim and the Suunto Great London Swim.

William, 38, said: “Taking up swimming has meant that I have essentially gone from a junkie into an athlete in the space of a year.

“I was at a point where life really overtook me and I was going on a downward spiral where my health suffered greatly.

“I had a relatively successful life, then I got divorced and ended up in a bed sit.

“I lost my job and home. I had a real battle on my hands and I was in and out of rehab a lot. I was basically killing myself.

“Finally, in October 2015, I decided I needed to take control and put my energy into something that was going to benefit my health.

“I found swimming quite meditative and that it was really good for my brain and thinking.

“When I finished a swimming session, it was a huge thing for me to feel something so positive, like I had achieved something like that. I absolutely loved that feeling and wanted to go again.”

William discovered open water swimming and began to take on mass participation events to improve his distance and skills.

He will join thousands of other participants across Europe's biggest open water swimming series this summer. His home swim event, the Great East Swim, takes place at Alton Water in Suffolk on Saturday 17 June.

Will aims to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, hoping to raise over his target of £500. He decided to focus his efforts on raising money for the charity after seeing the care and support they brought to people in the region while he was working as a journalist.

William, who now works as a self-employed builder, added: “I managed to raise £500 last year through fundraising so this is something that I am aiming towards again in 2017.

“I got to know the local team at Macmillan really well and was so impressed by their dedication to cancer patients and their families.

“When I take to the open water at a swimming event like the Great Swim, the atmosphere is so great and you get such a feeling that everyone is enjoying themselves that it makes you want to return again.

“The change in me is unrecognisable and I have swimming to thank for that. I am so glad that I found a way out.

“I have been clean for two years come June, around the same time that the Great East Swim takes place.

“I managed to find a job as a builder which is going really well and I have the support of my partner Teal.”

For more information about Great Swim events or to enter any of events around the country, visit: