Epsom and Ewell’s 2017 Sports Personality of the Year will be swimming the 15 km stretch of the Mediterranean sea between Corsica and Sardinia.

Mickey Helps will be undertaking the challenge in memory of his best friend of 20 years and former water polo captain Mark Shepherd, Sheppy to his teammates, who died of a heart condition in 2016.

The athlete, who lost his brother-in-law to a heart attack, will be donating all the money raised to the Britain Heart Foundation, which aims to prevent premature death from heart conditions.

Mr Helps said: “It looks like a nice stretch of water and appears swimmable, so I’m intrigued to find out why so few have undertaken it. So we’re going to find out.

“I enjoy the excitement of the unknown that open water swimming presents and each adventure brings a unique set of challenges.

“I hope people will choose help by supporting the great work of British Heart Foundation.”

The former water polo player, who swam the Sea of Galilee in April, will be joined on this occasion by his two lifelong friends David Kimber and Mark Pollard, who share his passion for challenging swims.

The three friends have experience of undertaking swims together. Mr Pollard and Mr Helps swam the Bosphorus and Gibraltar Straits together, and Mr Kimber played on Mr Helps’s water polo team in the 80s and 90s.

Mr Helps is all too aware of the challenges open water swimming can present. The swimmer had to be rescued and taken to hospital, after he passed out in the English channel less than a mile from the English shoreline.

Cold water, strong currents and stormy weather had caused Mr Helps to swim for two nights for a total of 43 hours and 92.4 miles.

The cold, salt water in his lungs and exhaustion kept him in a high dependency unit for two weeks.

Mr Helps was awarded the Sports Personality of the Year award to mark his achievements over a number of years.