One of Great Britain’s leading equestrian lights is swapping her saddle for a swimming costume as she tackles the most demanding water hazard of her life.

Gemma Tattersall, 25, a member of the world class potential squad with an eye on London 2012 team selection, is swimming the length of the English Channel between 12 September and 12 December to raise money for spinal injuries charity Aspire.

Event rider Ruth Mathieson, who Gemma Tattersall knows well, suffered a spinal injury at Nurstead Court Horse Trials on 30 April.

Horsham-based Gemma said: “I will have to swim 1,416 lengths of a 25 metre pool during that period — not that I’ve been counting!

“I got to know Ruth Mathieson well as she leased experienced event horse Ollie Artois from me before her accident.

“What happened to her inspired me to do something to help.

“It will be a very busy time for me keeping 12 competition horses ticking over, and I’m away for two weeks.

“Thankfully I’m a strong swimmer anyway and did a fair bit at school so I won’t be doing much extra training.”

Aspire supports people with spinal injuries in a variety of ways including specialist housing, equipment and getting them involved in sports.

To support Gemma in her swim visit http://www.justgiving.com/gemmatatt