Year 10 pupil braves open water to achieve their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze award

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 February 2018

Kara Schelhase about to start a swim. Photo: Heather Schelhase.

Kara Schelhase about to start a swim. Photo: Heather Schelhase.


A 14-year-old girl has braved open water to achieve her Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze award.

Kara Schelhase swinging from a rope swing at Stratford. Photo: Heather Schelhase. Kara Schelhase swinging from a rope swing at Stratford. Photo: Heather Schelhase.

Kara Schelhase, from Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden, swam 16 different lakes in rivers in Herts and Beds last summer as part of her award work.

Kara said: “My favourites were Stony Stratford - which had a rope swing in a huge willow tree to jump from - and the River Beane in Hartham Common where, after your swim, you could run around on the common to dry off and have a picnic.

“My open water swims were all about being outside with family and friends and each swim added a new dimension to the challenge award.

“I also did the inflatable obstacle course at Box-End and Stanborough Lakes which was great fun and allowed me to introduce the open water to my friends, who maybe were a bit nervous, but we all left the lakes with big smiles on our faces.

Kara Schelhase underwater. Photo: Heather Schelhase. Kara Schelhase underwater. Photo: Heather Schelhase.

“It took a lot of driving to get to the different rivers and lakes, but I love the outdoors and the water always looked so inviting when we finally arrived at our destination. The cake after each swim was an added bonus.

“We were very lucky, because each swim turned out to be dry and sunny, even if we left the house in the rain.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award accepts open water swimming as an activity in the physical challenge category, so Kara set out between May and September 2017 to use that activity to complete her Bronze award.

Amanzi Open Water’s Heather Schelhase, who is also Kara’s mother, set the objectives for the bronze level of the award as the ability to navigate accurately, assessing the dangers of open water before swimming and making sure the stroke was efficient for the open water.

She said: “I am very proud of my daughter for choosing to improve her outdoor swimming proficiency and hope that more youngsters do the same.

“Open water swimming is a wonderful activity but needs to be practiced safely as there are serious risks attached to open water swimming when not done in a controlled environment.”

Kara documented her activities using an underwater camera, which she then submitted in her award application.

To find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, visit

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