Top fundraiser Alice has swum to France and is now swimming back!
I found out about the Aspire Channel Swim through Facebook and decided to take on the challenge because last year Keith, one of my childhood friends, dived into a swimming pool and was paralysed by a spinal cord injury.
I enjoy swimming, mainly for fitness, but also for a sense of freedom from the world; it’s good to switch off. My main goal was to improve my swimming fitness and get faster. I like being competitive with myself each time I swim, and I always try to swim a bit faster time each time I am in the pool. When I started this challenge, I was swimming one length breaststroke followed by one length front crawl as I couldn’t manage two lengths of front crawl in a row. Now I can swim up to 96 lengths (1½ miles) front crawl without stopping. At first a mile took me 42 minutes, but now I can swim it in 34 minutes. However, there is always room for improvement!
My original challenge to myself was to swim the 22 miles in four weeks instead of 12. I started the challenge on 1st September and finished three weeks later through sheer determination! In order to raise as much as I can for Aspire, I realised that I would have to do something to really challenge myself. So, I am now swimming back to Dover and aiming to complete the round trip in 44 days. My husband joined me for the last mile of my Aspire Channel Swim, and I am hoping he will join me for the last mile of the swim back to Dover.
My main obstacle in achieving my personal target in the timeframe I have given myself is time. I run a busy household - we have four children at three different schools, horses, dogs, chickens and my husband is extremely busy running his own business. I have had to make swimming my ultimate priority every day above everything else in order to complete this challenge.
When I’m in the pool my main motivation is Keith and others like him with a spinal cord injury
I often think how much work my legs are doing, and this challenge has made me so much more grateful that I’m able to use them. I think at times many of us take our bodies for granted. Karen Darke MBE, a British Paralympic cyclist, Paratriathlete, adventurer and author is a huge inspiration to me. I have had the pleasure of meeting her because she is a friend of my husband. What she continues to achieve after her accident is truly inspirational.
I believe that charities like Aspire simply don’t get enough publicity and we hear about the same charities each year. It felt right to swim for a charity who has not been at the forefront in PR terms (I hadn’t heard about Aspire before I saw it advertised on Facebook) and because I know someone with a spinal cord injury, it felt like the right challenge for me.
Now that my fitness has improved, I’ve found a love for swimming again
I would like to get some stroke correction and would love to overcome my fear of open water swimming and actually get in a loch next Spring and do an open water challenge. I know from friends who do open water swimming that the feeling you get after swimming in open water is one of elation. I would love to experience that feeling.
I don’t find fundraising easy because people get asked all the time to donate these days to different causes and challenges. The power of social media means we are inundated with requests. People need to see that it is a real challenge and they perhaps also need to identify with the charity. The reason I chose to swim back to Dover was because I hadn’t reached my personal fundraising target, which I am determined to reach!
I don’t have much fundraising experience. I ran a half marathon many years ago in memory of my father who died of cancer and I have done a few other small challenges over the years but not much. This is my biggest challenge to date.
I mainly raised money through the power of Facebook, updates to my JustGiving page and emails to friends and family. I am lucky that I know quite a lot of people; my family and friends have been great and have shared my story through Facebook which has definitely helped. I have had people donate who don’t actually know me!
For anyone struggling I say keep pushing! Keep updating your story and keep it at the forefront of people’s minds. It’s so easy to miss feeds on social media so you need to keep plugging away