This is how a Halifax girl became a world champion in bog snorkelling

Jason Blackbond and daughter George pose with their medals from the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales.
Jason Blackbond and daughter George pose with their medals from the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales.

George Blackbond has returned from the 33rd-annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships as World Champion.

The 10-year-old from Halifax competed in the eight to 10-year-old category and saw off the other competitors to claim first place.

Bog snorkelling requires competitors to complete two consecutive lengths of a water-filled, 55-metre trench which is cut through a peat bog in the quickest-possible time.

Competitors must wear snorkels and flippers and complete the distances without using conventional swimming strokes, relying on flipper power alone.

The championships, which were held in Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, were under threat of cancellation after a summer heatwave. But those worries soon evaporated with plenty of rain in recent weeks and on the day, leading to one of the toughest championships ever.

“After 12 months of training weekly at Halifax Swimming Pool - the staff were very supportive of our ambitions - she won,” said George’s father Jason Blackbond.

“She worked very hard for it, and managed to win, despite it being the coldest and wettest event in it’s 33-year history.”

The 10-year-old completed her length in one minute 14 seconds to finish in first place.

Jason also took part in the event, completing his lengths in two minutes and 41 seconds.

George, who attends Ling Bob Junior Infant & Nursery School in Halifax, was required to swim one length of a 50-yard bog while Jason completed the full two lengths.

Jason has multiple sclerosis (MS) and took up bog snorkelling as a way to keep fit. He and George have been training at Halifax Swimming Pool for the past 12 months.

The centre even gave George and Jason their own lane to practice their snorkelling, and that has now paid off.

Jason and daughter George competed in the event last summer, with Jason finishing in a time of three minutes and 44 seconds and was the fastest disabled entrant.

He smashed that time in this year’s event while raising money for Overgate Hospice.

“It is the hardest thing I have ever done,” Jason told the ‘Courier’.

He continued: “It was absolutely freezing and we had practiced hard for 12 months.”

Jason and George’s main aim was to raise the money for Overgate Hospice and so far their efforts have totalled roughly £300.

Jason added: “Keeping Multiple Sclerosis at bay isn’t easy, but with a World Championships to aim for, and a great cause to support in Overgate Hospice, the motivation is as high as can be.”

The pair have a JustGiving page that can be found by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/georgenjaysbogsnorkel2018, where donations can still be made during the coming weeks.