Zoe and 7 year old Samuel swam together
My 7 year old son Samuel and I both signed up to the Aspire Channel Swim. We loved every session! We have very similar personalities and enjoyed heading off for an hour’s swim first thing on a Saturday morning before coming home for tea and bacon sandwiches! Talking about what we’d be having for breakfast when we finished always helped.
When we first started the challenge, swimming at Crowborough Leisure Centre on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings, it was lane swimming. Usually they have open swimming all ages and abilities but early morning and late evening is mainly adults. Our first session we had to deal with a very grumpy lady who took a clear dislike to having 7 year old Samuel in the pool trying to do front crawl (quite splashy too). She loudly pointed out to the lifeguards that “children aren’t allowed” and pointed down at Samuel. He looked terrified and really hurt, but the life guard reassured us we were fine and kept an eye on us. I had previously checked that he was allowed to swim and was advised that as long as I’m with him it’s totally fine. For the next few sessions we concentrated on lanes, swimming anti clockwise, not overtaking and not stopping. I swam every length behind Samuel to avoid any collisions or further altercations.
After a few Saturdays the same people started asking if we were doing a sponsored swim as they’d hear us discussing and counting our lengths. Samuel has built up his confidence and happily chats to adults and would tell them what he was doing and why.
Most were in awe and unbelieving that a child of seven could be attempting such an insane distance.
On Saturdays towards the end, the older swimmers would be asking how he was getting on and talk to him about it. Our high point of the Swim was when Samuel swam 52 lengths in an hour; he ploughed through, determined to make it his strongest and best swim. The low points were those tired and cold Saturday mornings when it was icy; scraping off the car to go swimming was hard. It was also difficult when the pool was far too busy and we couldn’t see a way to swim up and down.
I saw Samuel get quicker at swimming and improving his stroke and technique. I had to learn to slow down to keep up with Samuel and manage my breathing and technique a lot better. I had done the challenge before and regularly completed 5k swims, Samuel used me as his inspiration, which is incredibly touching and special.
We finished the final length together and held hands to touch the side together - Samuel declared we were in France!!! I’m so proud of him.
Samuel, who will be 9 this November, has since completed his 1st river swim in the Mill 2 Mill 1½ mile swim last month. He really did so well and we were all so proud of him. Finishing the challenge and subsequent swims has given Samuel the confidence and determination to achieve and help others.
I’d definitely recommend the Aspire Channel Swim to other families. We really enjoyed it and would love to do it again and finish within the 12 weeks. The challenge was great for Samuel; he thoroughly enjoyed and understands the difference he’s making. We saw a disabled swimmer and Samuel asked me if she swam and was helped by Aspire. He’s aware of the difference he’s making, no matter how big or small. It’s such a wonderful charity to support and we’ve been so surprised and pleased by the support of our friends and family.