Apr 18, 2017

We spoke with 30 year old, Abby Vowles from Newport, Wales, who will be forever grateful for the Aspire Channel Swim. Not only has Abby helped to make the lives of those affected by a spinal cord injury a little easier with her fundraising, but she has also discovered that having a little faith, never giving up and having a fresh mind set can mark the beginning of an exciting new journey towards motherhood.

Here are 5 things that the 2016 Aspire Channel Swim taught Abby. 

1.       ‘I CAN DO THIS’

I am not sporty in the slightest and have never been hugely focused on health and fitness; however last year I spotted the Aspire Channel Swim in my Weightwatchers magazine and decided to sign up. Having taken part in the occasional swim in the past, I enjoyed getting back in the water and pushing myself to tougher limits than my body was used to. When I first saw the challenge I thought, ‘there’s no way I can do this,’ but once I started tracking my lengths and reminding myself what a fantastic cause the challenge is for – I started to believe in myself a lot more.

Having that belief and ‘can do’ attitude is what got me through and encouraged me to, not only swim the 22 miles, but to double my efforts and complete the return journey too - if you’d told me one year ago, that I’d be able to swim 44 miles in 12 weeks, I would never have believed you!


I know it sounds cliché, but even if you’re tired and you’ve had a long day – getting into the pool and knowing you’re doing something meaningful, makes it all worth it. I would set myself challenges and targets each time I got in the pool. My main target was to perfect my breast stroke, which I can safely say I’m now pretty confident with!     

When I first got into the pool, I could swim around 20 lengths and by the end of the challenge, I wouldn’t stop swimming until I’d completed at least 1 mile each time. (That’s 64 lengths!)


I know you’ve probably heard it all before, but swimming really is an amazing form of exercise. After the first couple of weeks in the pool, I found myself feeling much more energised and motivated to do more activities. You hear people say that exercise is a lot more fun when you do it with someone, so I used to bring my dad, my partner and my friends along with me!


Everyone aspires for different things in life; the dream career, a great holiday, lots of money – but for my partner and I, the dream was to carry a healthy baby. Having struggled to conceive for the past three years, we decided to try the IVF route. In October of last year, I was devastated to find out that, due to my high BMI, our application to start a course of treatment had been rejected. I was determined to make a change.

Fast forward two months and with my BMI dropping by 10.5 and a huge weight loss of three and a half stone under my belt; we were overjoyed to receive an acceptance letter which explained that we would be able to begin our IVF treatment in May of this year!


Every time I dipped into the pool to swim a mile, I thought about who I was doing this challenge for. For those who needed the money I was raising, to make their life just that little bit easier.

Aspire has helped me to begin my journey to having a baby and for that I will be forever grateful. I just hope that I can help people to achieve their dreams too, by raising enough money to help change the lives of people paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury.

Abby now swims 3-4 times a week and has developed a real passion and love for the sport. We wish Abby and her family the best of luck in achieving their dream of starting a family in the future.