63 year old Heather has arthritis and has had a knee operation and a new hip this year
When I was a child, swimming the channel was one of my dreams. So, by taking on the Aspire Channel Swim, I'll be achieving a dream as well as helping myself back to fitness.
I’m 63, have arthritis, and this year I had a knee operation in January and a new hip in June. At the moment I’m up and moving so I want to use my swimming to help people with mobility problems. It will also help me; I know I’ll need other operations in the future, but I’ll keep moving while I can, it’s so important to me.
I do love swimming. When I was young, I was a club swimmer and a competitive diver. I trained in Recreation Management and have taught and coached swimming most of my adult life, and I've also worked with disabled people, including many with spinal injuries. I retired at the beginning of this year because of my arthritis. It was getting hard to walk round the pool for hours at a time, and to climb in and out.
The Aspire Channel Swim will be a challenge for me in many ways; I haven’t done very much swimming myself for a long time, so I’m not water-fit. I’m also not good at a routine now I’ve retired, so I know it won’t be easy to get into a good routine and stick at it. I also tend to over-do things and injure myself, so I’ll have to take it very steadily. On the plus side, it’s non weight-bearing which is good for me, and in the water, I don’t limp! I feel like myself.
I’m looking forward to the challenge. I was going to try to do it in 6 weeks, but I’ve had a re-think and may well take the 12 weeks. I’ll see how it goes, as I have to walk my energetic young collie twice a day and I don’t want to exhaust myself! I have upped my level of exercise this month. Since I had my lovely new hip I’ve been walking, swimming and cycling to build up strength round my joints.
I swim to keep myself moving. It’s also a bit like meditation and really does help me to feel calmer
I’ve lost over a stone this year and have about another 10lb to lose to put less strain on my joints, so it should help with that too.
It really means a lot to me to support people with spinal injuries. I’ve seen people diving into the shallow end at pools. I’ve seen head and neck injuries. I know how to get people out of a pool on a spine board on a spine board. I’ve tried to help people with spinal injuries at work, and although my mobility problems are only a fraction of the problems caused by spinal injury, I still find them extremely frustrating, so I have real empathy.
Research is making such great strides but, in the meantime, injured people and their loved ones need a lot of help and support, both emotionally and physically. The money raised by the Aspire Channel Swim can help them.