Ann Marie is 80 years old and taking on the Aspire Channel Swim for her 13th time!
I turned 80 this year and swimming is my mainstay. I have been swimming since I was five years old, it’s always been the major sport in my life.
I enjoy the Aspire Channel Swim because I like to have a discipline. It’s not just a social activity for me; by signing up to the Swim it means I have to go and get the lengths done. I keep signing up year after year because it’s such a worthy cause. I have met many people in the pool over the years who have spinal problems, who inspire me to do something for others.
I’ve been horse riding for 30 years and earlier this year I had a fall for the first time. I got on a young, strong horse which wasn’t completely trained yet, but I was keen and eager to sit on him. And then there I was… bang, flat on my back. It made me realise just how important it is to support Aspire as they help people who have accidents.
I enjoy swimming because I find it relaxing. After my fall I was in agony but as soon as I got back in the water, I felt absolutely brilliant again and I can feel that my body is getting back to normal. It’s so therapeutic and very calming – the perfect tonic. I like testing myself as it’s amazing where you get the strength from. I could swim for hours and hours, it’s effortless.
Since I decided to do the Swim again this year it’s been great, and I’ve been swimming three times a week. I feel absolutely fantastic. I like to have focus in my life, otherwise life is boring. Doing something for other people is just something I have to do.
Since I started doing the Aspire Channel Swim in 2003, I have raised £1,320. I don’t like asking people to sponsor me without giving them something in return, so I often have a stall in my local parish hall where I put out lots of information about Aspire and tell people about how Aspire helps people with Spinal Cord Injury and about my swimming for them. I have a lot of hobbies – quilting, painting and crafting - so I make things and sell them in aid of my Swim. My swimming pool lets me have a coffee stall in the foyer as another way to raise funds.
To anyone thinking of signing up to the Aspire Channel Swim for the first time, I would say it’s fantastic for wellbeing and that you will be helping so many people