Swimming regularly I got quicker and my stamina improved
As someone that swims quite regularly I decided that I would aim to swim 44 miles, the equivalent of a two-way channel crossing. Things started slowly as I wasn’t able to swim during the first week of the challenge, but once I got into it, I really enjoyed it. It gave me a purpose to go to the pool and meant that I couldn’t allow myself to slack off. I had one week where I just couldn’t get to the pool because of life and work, but I managed to swim 44 miles in 9 weeks.
I'd only been swimming since 2012 and I surprised myself by being reasonably good at it. I also like the meditative quality of swimming; it allows me to 'reset' my brain, to switch off and think about nothing other than my stroke and counting laps.
Of course, what happened during the challenge was that because I was swimming regularly, I got quicker and my stamina improved.
I was doing two miles in 58 minutes; that’s certainly not breaking any records, but it’s good for me and more importantly it felt like a steady speed that I could replicate and go further with.
Even though I swim long distances regularly, there was still a huge sense of achievement when I finished. Any event is what you make of it and getting to the end is always satisfying.
For the Aspire Channel Swim, my main challenge was ensuring that I stayed motivated and didn't allow life to distract me. It’s hard to maintain the focus over 12 weeks, so I was pleased to be able to do that.
The challenge also gave me the discipline to swim more, which meant that my fitness came back, and my swim speed returned. I broke a few personal bests during the challenge, including my fastest mile in a pool, and so that felt like a real achievement too.
To this year’s swimmers I say: it's your challenge. You can make it what you want it to be and raise money for a great cause at the same time. Use it as a way to motivate yourself with a new fitness challenge and you'll reap the rewards, whilst helping people with spinal cord injuries to achieve independence.