I love spending time in the local pool, especially with the kids, although these days I’m not sure who’s helping who – JD taught me how to do a flip underwater only a couple of weeks ago! I wouldn’t say I was the strongest of swimmers, but I do find it a great way of getting some exercise in while having lots of fun.
Recently, however, my relationship with the pool has gone for splashing about and doing the odd lap to dogged determination. Why the change of pace? Well, I’ve been taking part in the Aspire Channel Swim relay race with a few other fantastic bloggers – it’s for such a good cause, how could I not?
By embracing the baton and swimming 2.4 miles in 4 weeks, I have been working to do my part to help the 40,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK, because that’s what Aspire is all about: providing practical help to those affected, and helping them to lead fulfilled and independent lives in their homes, with their families.
Every eight hours someone is paralysed by a spinal cord injury in the UK, and for now at least, there’s no cure. So signing up for the Aspire Swimming Challenge meant I got to make a difference, having some fun and keeping fit along the way. With £580,000 raised in 2016, this was a challenge worth taking on.
Eleven of us have been taking up and passing the baton this year: me, Em Sheldon, Clare Nicholas, Dave Massey and Julie Nicholson, John Robertson, Stephen Morrson, Father Fitness, Mutha Fitness and Lucie Kerley.
Between us, we’ve been swimming the equivalent of the English Channel. So by the time we’ve all done our part, we will have covered the whole 22 miles, which equates to just over 708 lengths in an Olympic sized swimming pool!
To take part, you don’t have to be part of a team, of course, with thousands of individuals doing all 22 miles themselves over a 12-week period which started on 11 September finishes on 4 December.
The challenge is free to enter as an individual or as part of a team (everyone from families, work offices and children have taken part previously) and everyone can complete the 22-mile challenge at their local swimming pool, at their own pace.
They’ve already raised thousands of pounds and I’m super excited to see what the grand total will be. As of the time of writing this many amazing people are doing their part:
For those looking to really push themselves, Aspire has been running relay channel swims since 2009, which means doing the real thing, in one go, which is pretty amazing.
Here’s what people who have completed previous years have said about the experience.
“One of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The sense of achievement is huge, I would recommend it to anyone.” – Richard, Orca boat 2012
“Taking on this challenge has been an incredible experience; I’ve never met so many inspirational people or been in such a positive and supportive environment before. If you think you want to take on the Channel, I have two words for you: DO IT!” – Sophie, Team Seal 2012
How I did
All in all it’s a great initiative for a great cause, and one I had tons of fun taking part in. To some people I’m sure 2.4 miles doesn’t seem like a lot, but to me it was quite the challenge, and one I’m so glad I managed to complete.
My favourite times to swim was when I was at the pool nice and early and all by myself, head down and getting on with it. But I also loved it when the kids came along with me and cheered me on, which was surprisingly helpful at giving me a final little push! It was fun and sometimes hilarious to have my little cheerleaders shouting my times out to me across a crowded pool.
I’ve loved being part of this challenge and I’m keen to try again next year. Maybe I’ll even take on a bigger chunk of the distance – eek.
This is a commissioned post for Aspire.