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A man will swim 22 miles in place of his best friend from St Albans – but in Albany, New York.

Andrew Butcher, from St Albans, had planned to participate in the Aspire Channel Swim in September, but a recent cancer diagnosis meant the 69-year-old had to undergo chemotherapy.

His friend Jim Donlon, an American he met through a swimming phone app, will swim the distance in his place, in his local New York swimming pool.

Mr Donlon said: “So, why is an American doing this channel swim for Aspire? Simple answer. I am doing this fundraising challenge for a friend.

“Andrew does this swim annually but this year faces a greater challenge - cancer and chemo. So, I am taking his place this year.

“Together we can make a difference in the lives of others.”

Between September and December 2015, Mr Butcher completed the Aspire Channel Swim challenge, but also swam a further 22 miles, making the virtual return trip back to the UK.

He completed the challenge in 45 swimming pools across the country, in more pools than any of the other 4,500 participants.

The Aspire Channel Swim challenge requires participants to cover the virtual distance of the English Channel over a 12-week period – but they can swim the distance in whichever pool they like.

To donate to Mr Donlon go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jimdonlon.