A CHALLENGE has provided a 'perfect tonic' for sidelined swimmers.

Knutsford Vikings Swimming Club members have been unable to enter pools since before Christmas but it has not stopped them from being busy.

Instead, officials set members a fun five-week step challenge to keep them active, fit and engaged, with some outstanding results achieved by the finish.

And it also helped to provide much needed breaks away from the screens that most are using for home schooling.

The challenge ended on Sunday and it proved to be quite competitive, with parents involved just as much as the swimmers.

How the challenge worked:

- Steps could be gained via walking, jogging or running outside, following Covid restrictions at all times and using activity tracking apps and technology to count the steps.

- Given that it is Olympic year, Vikings members were set an initial target of stepping their way from Knutsford to Tokyo...5,890 miles and approximately 11,778,999 steps.

- The club was split into six teams, with each team being led by one of the club's coaching team.

- The teams, named after famous Vikings, competed against each other to see who could accumulate the most steps across the five weeks and during each week of the competition.

- To keep things fun and engaging, the teams were set an additional 'sub challenge' each week while out and about racking up the steps...

Week 1: To photo as many post boxes as possible

Week 2: To photo as many squirrels as possible

Week 3: To Photo as many road name signs that feature the letter 'V' for Vikings, excluding the obvious Drive, Avenue

Week 4: To photo as many different species of birds as possible

Week 5: Teams were given a list of 31 things to find and photo

The club amassed a total of 16,445,042 steps, 8,222 miles, smashing their Tokyo target by some way.

Further highlights from the final results include Hannah Webster being the top individual stepper across the five weeks.

She completed 447,506 steps which roughly equates to 224 miles.

Zack Cocksedge held the individual record for the most steps in one week, with 124,671 steps (circa 62 miles).

Team 'Erik The Red' led by coach Pat O'Brien came out on top of the team competition with 3,200,235 steps.

O'Brien said: "Amazing results across the board.

"It definitely motivated us to get out for walks when it would have been much easier to stay warm inside.

"It was a real team effort across all of the age groups, with some fantastic performances from our younger swimmers. It was great fun!"

All photos were posted to the club's closed Facebook page.

This created additional fun and a real community spirit.

Vikings head coach Phil James said: "The engagement has been high from young to old.

"In a time of very tough Covid restrictions the challenge has provided the perfect tonic whilst also helping to keep the Vikings spirit as strong as ever.

"I would say that the response to the challenge and the achievements gained has completely blown me away. However, nothing about this fantastic club or its amazing members surprises me anymore.

"If any of your readers have wondered why young people have been having selfies with post boxes, squirrels and road name signs...well now they know!"

Meanwhile, an International Swim Meet was held at Manchester Aquatic Centre over the weekend.

The meet was for those elite athletes preparing for the Olympics, including world record holder, Olympic and World Champion breaststroker Adam Peaty.

Whilst the Vikings did not have anyone competing, they did have three of their licensed officials in attendance.

Nicola Jones, Alan Jones and Jeff Pratt volunteered their time to help ensure the meet could go ahead and provide much needed race practice for the Olympic hopefuls.