I took on the Aspire Channel Swim because I knew a lot of people who would sponsor me

I have been a member of the Aspire Leisure Centre for 11 years.  I do swimming, take aqua classes and go to the gym.  I have been a member for so long because of the companionship you get.  With other gyms no one talks to you, you just go in and come out, but the Aspire Leisure Centre feels like a social club.

I started coming because of an injury.  I had an operation on my spine, because the top 18 inches of it was bending so I was just looking at the floor.  It was the last chance before it would have been inoperable, and they had to break the top of my neck and straighten it.  It’s now supported by four rods and I have to wear a neck brace permanently.   My surgeon (who also operated on Princess Beatrice!) said that I should go to Aspire after I left hospital, for physio.  Originally, I was meant to come for eight weeks but I thought it was great, so I stayed. 

Alex Fogal Copy

The Aspire Leisure Centre is part of my life.  I come five days a week and, if I’m away, I really miss it

I took on the Aspire Channel Swim in 2016 because I knew a lot of people who would sponsor me if I took on the challenge.  So many people said yes, but it was such a job to collect the money after I had done the Swim because I didn’t use JustGiving, so had to go around asking them for the money they had pledged. 

I ended up swimming to France and back (44 miles) and raised £1,300

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I would have loved to do the Swim again this year, but my current injuries mean I can’t.  At the moment, I can only do 20 lengths at a time because my left shoulder needs a replacement, which I hope will happen in November.

I am planning another challenge to take on in aid of Aspire - the distance from London to New York (3,500 miles) and back from Miami (4,500 miles) by swimming and cycling on the sit-down bike in the gym.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do this next summer once my shoulder has recovered. 

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