Lucie Loves... Fitness // My 2.4 mile swimming challenge for Aspire Channel Swim [ad]
Over the past 4-weeks I’ve found myself floundering a little. You see, of all of the sporting escapades I've gotten involved in... the Aspire Channel Swim has been the toughest.
Earlier this year, I was invited by Aspire to join a blogger swimming relay team. Together, over the course of a few months, we’d be tag-teaming our way across the English Channel. The challenge? To each swim 2.4 miles in 4-weeks. For me, this meant completing the challenge by 4th December.
Meet the #ACS2017 blogger relay team
- The Everyday Man
- How Many Miles
- Father Fitness & Mutha Fitness (great swimming tips!)
- Em Talks
- A Mummy Too
- Julie & Dave - Brum Hour
- Emmy's Mummy
- and me, Lucie Loves
What is the Aspire Channel Swim?
People are encouraged to join the challenge and swim the distance of the English Channel and raise money for Aspire and people paralysed by Spinal Cord Injury. You have the option to join the challenge on your own, in a team, or with your class or colleagues and take on the 22 miles in your local pool, in your own time – or even in your lunch time!
On more than one occasion have I looked at myself in the mirror and had flashbacks to the 1997, High School skinny, pre-teen, version of Lucie; the rubbery smell of a fresh swimming cap filling my nostrils. I stand there, each session, psyching myself up to get into the waiting pool, knowing full well that every stroke counts towards my goal and that — even if I am a cruddy swimmer, which I most definitely am... I can’t fail. But, like everything in life, sometimes you just have to get over yourself. There are bigger, more important things at stake here!
I guess I’m most comfortable when both my feet are on solid ground...
I mean, make me do cross country running, and I’ll go as fast as my little legs will carry me...
But ask me to do a significant number of lengths in my local pool, and I will quake in my Clarks over-the-knee boots
My friend, John aka The Everyday Man, had agreed to take part and had put me forward for the challenge too. Well... I thought, if he’s doing it... and so I signed myself up. It would be a breeze... right? Wrong. I completely underestimated how weak a swimmer I was (read as: still am). There is no overnight cure for being a great swimmer. Like everything in life: practice makes perfect. My first mistake: thinking that I could swim 59 x 50m lengths in one session... shower, wash and dry my hair, get dressed AND do my make up, all before a full 8-hour shift at work. Fail!
It turns out maths has never been my strong point. It was only on my first session, swimming-capped up, at Charlton Lido, panting breathlessly at the side of the 50 pool after just 3 lengths... that I got talking to the lifeguard — my breath steaming in front of my face, in the freezing morning air.
”I’m doing a swimming challenge!” I announce.
”Oh? Really? What’s it for and how far do you have to swim? And how long have you got to do it?” The friendly Italian lifeguard asked, in his jovial sing-song voice.
Thankful for the distraction, I continue. ”I’ve worked out that I have to do 10 swim sessions, each time swimming 59 x 50m lengths.” I pipe up, still not realising my rookie mistake...
”And how far is it you’re swimming again?” Asked the lifeguard, now looking slightly bemused.
”2.4 miles...” I reply, none the wiser.
”’Ang on a minute... that doesn’t work out to 2.4 miles... that’s more like 22 miles...” He says, confused.
And then it dawns on me! I know where I’ve gone wrong... I’ve used the Aspire Channel Swim online calculator to work out the lengths... forgetting that I’m actually part of a relay team and not swimming the whole 22 mile stretch on my own! Doh! I’ve never been so relieved!!! If I wasn’t dripping wet, and clinging on, precariously, to the deep end of the pool, I’d have leapt out and hugged him! And so, it turns out that I only had to swim 76 x 50m length to hit my target. That was more like it — for a weakling swimmer like me.
It’s amazing your body & mind are capable of... when you don’t want to let anyone down.
But you know what really got me through it? Each time I got in the pool I felt grateful and incredibly humbled by the efforts of thousands of others, around the country, all swimming together, for such a wonderful cause. My Nan has always said that, in life, health and happiness are everything. To love and be loved — yes, that should never be taken for granted either... but it’s your good health that makes life easier. To see the work that the Aspire Charity does, day in and day out, to support those with life-changing spinal injuries, just blows my mind.
So how did I do?
Well, I won’t lie. It was tough. It wasn’t easy to change my routine to fit in the new training, but then, when you put it into perspective... what is giving up a few weeks out of 52, to raise awareness of a cause that’s going to make a unquantifiable difference to so many people, and their loved ones quality of life around the UK.
People kept telling me to “enjoy your swim!” and each time I really wanted to – and hoped to find myself getting stronger – that I would find my natural rhythm... but Alas! In hindsight, I should've booked in to see the Swim Doctor at one of my local pools. I've been told – by two of my mates who have had them – that adult swimming lessons are nothing to be ashamed of and are a fantastic way to improve your technique. Anyhow, having not pre-planned any swimming lessons and being short on time... I stuck with it, battling my way through using an amateur breast stroke technique. For some reason, I can't for the life of me work out how to do front crawl, have my face in the water, breathe and kick my legs all all the same time... Maybe that's my goal for 2018: learn how to swim properly, age 32.
I guess I'm proof that you don't have to be an Olympic-level swimmer to take part. It's much more manageable as part of a relay team. I'm still a bit shocked that I did it! But I feel so proud for taking part in my first-ever Aspire Channel Swim.
If you're interested in signing up for the next #AspireChannelSwim? It’s free to enter and people can take part as an individual or as part of a team, and can complete the 22-mile challenge at their local swimming pool, at their own pace.
About Aspire Charity
Helping people with spinal cord injury
Every eight hours, someone in the UK sustains a spinal cord injury. There is no warning, no preventative medicine, and no time to prepare. A spinal cord injury can happen to anyone at any time. Aspire is a national charity that works with people with spinal cord injuries to create opportunity, independence and choice.
We provide accessible Houses so that people leaving hospital have somewhere suitable to live. Our Independent Living Advisors all have spinal cord injuries themselves and provide direct advice and support for newly injured people. Aspire Grants ensure that people have access to the essential equipment they need, such as lightweight wheelchairs.
The Assistive Technology programme ensures that everyone can use a computer, even people with high level injuries who can’t use their hands or arms. Our dedicated Welfare Benefits Advice Service is tailored to provide appropriate advice for those entitled to benefits.
Aspire ensures that everyone with a spinal cord injury has the opportunity to live an independent and fulfilled life. We receive no statutory funding, so every penny raised through the Aspire Channel Swim helps our vital work. Your fundraising is so important to us.
For more information please visit www.aspire.org.uk
Sponsored post in partnership with Aspire.