Swindon Academy pupils pedalled to space and back on Monday – under the watchful eye of British astronaut Tim Peake.

More than 200 pupils from Years 7, 10 and 12 took part in the Triathlon Trust’s Space to Earth Mission. Splitting into teams, they took turns on an exercise bike and running laps in the school’s sports hall.

Their mission, which was given to them by British astronaut Tim Peake in a special video briefing, was to pedal and run at least 400km – the height that the International Space Station orbits above earth.

“It’s always really well received,” said Mike Jubb, CEO of the Triathlon Trust and organiser of Monday’s event, which was funded by consultancy firm Accenture.

“It was really interesting. They came in and were in awe of all the kit. But then we set them all the challenges.

“When they were watching Tim Peake the kids were totally silent. They were totally absorbed by the message.”

Astronaut Tim Peake spent 186-days on the International Space Station, returning to earth last June. In space, Tim had spend two hours a day exercising in order to stop his muscles from wasting away in zero gravity.

Susan Buckle, Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager at the UK Space Agency, said: “It’s vital for astronauts to be in top physical condition and the Space to Earth Challenge uses Tim Peake’s fitness programme to inspire interest in fitness and science.”

Swindon Academy pupils collectively managed to pedal and run more than 930km over the day. The Year 7 classes came top, together travelling 395km. In just 30 minutes they ran a total of 130km in laps around the sports hall.

Danielle Boucher, head of PE at Swindon Academy, said: “It’s gives kids a glimpse into triathlon. It’s about working as a team.

“Tim Peake talked about what he has to do to keep active. It gives a taste of what he has to do in space.”

Teachers at Swindon Academy hope to repeat the challenge next year. “We’ll try to beat our record each time,” Danielle said.