A coffee shop barista maestro will swim the equivalent of the English Channel in the pool at Wrexham Water World.

Gareth Hopkins, 27, who works at the Costa Coffee franchise within the Odeon Cinema at Eagles Meadow shopping centre, is taking on the 22 mile swim to raise money for Diabetes UK.

He’s aiming to complete the marathon challenge before the deadline on Friday, May 22.

Gareth, who has worked at Costa since the popular café first opened more than six years ago, is recovering from three months off work after suffering a bad case of sciatica.

Ater starting to swim as a way of getting back to some level of fitness, he spotted a Diabetes UK advert looking for people to take part in the Swim 22 challenge and thought it was something he could do.

He said: “I was basically bed-ridden for a couple of months with sciatica which is a condition like a trapped nerve. The pain was agony and I was basically unable to stand let alone walk.

“Once it cleared up and I got back to work I decided to build up my strength by doing a bit of swimming and saw an advert in the Tesco magazine the Diabetes UK 22 mile challenge and thought why not.”

He added: “I need to swim 22 miles, the distance across the English Channel, before May 22. So far I’ve managed six miles so still have quite a distance to go but I’m doing more and more the stronger I get.

“I don’t suffer from diabetes but know quite a few people that do and thought I could do my bit to help. If I can raise a few hundred pounds then it has to be a good thing. I’m being sponsored by friends, family and my work colleagues.

“I’m now doing more than 80 lengths a session which is really helping me get my fitness back. Actually, the exercise has really helped and I’ve never felt better!”

Carl Hughes, the manager of Costa Coffee at the Odeon said: “I’m really pleased to have Gareth back at work fit and well. He’s had a tough time but swimming has really helped his recovery.

“The fact he’s supporting Diabetes UK by tackling the Swim 22 is brilliant and I know all the Costa staff are right behind his fundraising efforts.”

Diabetes UK spokesman Gareth Browne says this is the biggest Swim 22 event the charity has organised.

He said: “The event started a few years ago and has grown each year. This year we have more than 660   signed up to tackle the challenge and we are hoping to raise a huge amount of money which will be used to research both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes as well as supporting people affected by both types of the condition.

“We reply on people across the UK fundraising on behalf of the charity and we are grateful to every swimmer who has signed up to tackle the Swim 22 challenge.”

To find out more about Diabetes UK and the Swim 22 challenge visit www.diabetes.org.uk