The Christmas present, that keeps on giving….

The details of the Swimathon Ambassador programe are slowly coming in, travel plans are being finalised and loose ends, tied. It’s very evident that it’s going to be an incredibly busy weekend and I’m grateful that they have provided me with a hotel, that has a pool and gym. This will allow me, to squeeze an hour or so of “me time”. This will also give me a great base, from which to consider my answers to the videod interview. I have the questions, I just need to sit down and formulate my replies. That’s a job for Friday evening.

Part of me wants to share, all the details, now. However, I’ve decided hold back and share them, as they happen. It’s going to be amazing, I’m incredibly excited and I want to remember, as much as a can and make the most of every minute. It’s an opportunity of a life time, an incredible gift, that has just got bigger, and better, from the time I got the first e mail, just before Christmas.

So what excactly is Swimathon? I’ve taken this from the Swimathon website, which I really encourage you to visit, by following this link.

“Swimathon, the world’s biggest fundraising swim, has been encouraging swimmers the length and breadth of the UK to swim a distance challenge since the very first event 31 years ago. Since then, Swimathon’s mission of uniting swimmers around challenges and fundraising has prompted more than half a million swimmers to take part at their local pool and raised more than £48 million for charitable causes.

A challenge for everyone. A swim for all – Enter Swimathon 2018 and join Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie to raise as much money as possible for two causes close to the nation’s hearts. Swimathon will be returning for 2018 and will take place from Friday, April 27 – Sunday, April 29. This is your swim – from 400m to 5k, there is a Swimathon challenge for you”

I’ve taken part, for the past two years and it is an fantastic event. Last year I swam 2.5km, the year before 1.5km (I also later swam, a “simply swim” 2.5km. This year, my plan was to swim 2.5km, but then my friend P, who I train with, decided she wanted to take part. This year they’ve introduced a new, shorter 400m challenge, this was great for P, as she felt unable, to complete 1.5km, so I signed up for the 400m, alongside the 2.5km.

Then I decided tbat as it’s my third swimathon and 3 years, since my first lesson, why not complete 3 challenges. So I’ve signed up for 1.5km as well.

The ambassador project, will give me many fantastic opportunities, but.on a personal level, I really hope to get the message, out there, that you’re never too old to learn to swim. It will also be a great opportunity to show to people, that life doesn’t have to have to come to a grinding halt, after the diagnosis of a long-term health problem or disability. Life does change after such a diagnosis, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up, spend your life sitting on the sofa or lead a sedimentary lifestyle. I certainly will never run a marathon or even 5km, even if I wanted to, but in swimming I have a sport, I can regular participate in and love.

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Commitment…

Today, I was back at Aquafit. Aquafit is something I have a bit of love/”hate” relationship with.

One the one hand, I love it, becuase it enables me to enjoy a really good work out, supported by water. On the other hand I find it pretty hard going, spending forty five minutes, being told what to do, when what I would like to do is swim!

In addition, because the water is supporting me, physically I can do more,  I really enjoy pushing myself. This unfortunately, had led to me getting told off, by some participants, for kicking to hard, splashing to much or “wetting their hair”.  It’s hard to get tbe balance right.
Today, I noticed, there a few familiar faces missing. There’s a pretty grim viral infection, doing the rounds, which is decimating people. I started with on Christmas ay and three week later, I still have a residual cough. There were also a few new, unfamiliar faces. These might be people who have been a member of the gym, for a while, who have decided to give aquafit a try. Or they might be “New Year Resolutionsers”.

As Big Ben bongs it’s way into the New Year (other clocks are avaialable) New Year Resolutions are made. To get fitter and loose weigbt, are high among them. Buoyed up, by the enthusiasm, they head down to the gym to sign up. New Year, New me!

I first noticed this phenomena, last year. In January, the pool was heaving and the gym, busy. I overheard people discuss, how amazing they were because “they’d swam 20 lengths” and listened to  their plans to join “Weightwatchers”. By Febuary, the tide of new people slackened, by March there were few, of these once new faces, to be seen, either the pool or gym. The only evidence, of their former commitment to “go the gym, get fitter resolution” is that their 12 month contract still needs be honoured, necessitating the payment of x amount of money, to be talen from their bank account.

Committing to anything needs careful consideration. Doing more excercise, getting fitter, living a healthier lifestyle is hard work. It needs commitment of both heart and mind. Coming out of a swimming pool, when it’s -4c, outside isn’t funny. Even if you dried off and dressed! Getting up at 6am, to go swimming is hard work. Battling to swim, in a crowded pool, is frustrating experience.

I am pretty sure, many gyms, make a large proportion of their profits, from those people who never or rarely go. I’m guessing, many gyms, every New Year, run promotions…no joining fee, vouchers, catchy slogans, freebies, to entice people in.

Maybe though, what gyms should do is give people a trial period, offer support when that commitment starts to waiver, give advice and guidance when things get tough, maybe even offer things like a “buddy scheme”. If gyms are happy enough to get you to sign up for a year, should they not also they offer guidance and support, to help, encourage and support people to remain committed to their goals? In doing so, they will aid people people live healthier, fitter lives, could in the long run help wider society.

The update…

In my last post I made reference to something exciting happening, this year. It’s time to reveal all *drum roll and a pause worthy of a Britian Got Talent Final* 

(If you wish, you may want to miss the next few paragraphs and head to the end, to find out, without reading the rest of the post). 

Back in December, way before Christmas and the last minute shopping, I received an e mail, essentially asking  me if I would like to be a “case study for Swimathon, to encourage women to swim”. Happy to be involved, I replied Yes! At this point, I thought it would maybe involve a few words and maybe a photo, on the back of a leaflet, somewhere. 

A few days and a phone call later, I realised that it might be it a little more than that. I still didn’t give much thought to, it sounded fun and an opportunity to “sell swimming to other people”. To tell people, just how amazing swimming is….

New Year came an went, bells chimed, fireworks went off and the recycling bin was filled. Then came another e mail and with it, the realisation of just what I’d “signed up for”. 

I am going to be a “Swimathon Ambassador”…yes that’s right, a “Swimathon Ambassador”. 

I am completely shocked, I’m astounded to have been asked. I really can’t understand why excactly they would ask me. It’s ridiculous, three years ago I decided to learn to swim, something many adults decide to do. Now I’m an ambassador! These sort of things, don’t happen to people like me.

I am uttterly stunned, I keep thinking I will wake up soon. So many people tell me they find my story “inspiring”, that’s lovely to hear, but I can’t get my head round why. When asked for names of inspiring swimmers, a middle aged woman, who totters around with a walking stick, carring a nebuliser in her backpack doesn’t excactly spring to mind! You think of the likes of Adam Peaty, Becky Arlington, Jazz Carlin, Hannah Miley and so forth. 

Initially, I had some doubts about being involved, I questioned if and how, my story could inspire others, I still do. This, however is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m going to grasp it with both hands, determined to enjoy every minute of it and get as much out of it I can. 

Happy New Year…here’s to 2018.

Well this post finds me in a similar position, to the last. Recovering from another chest infection. I became unwell, over Christmas, two weeks on I am still on regular nebulisers, antibiotics and prednisolone.

Currently I am not well enough to swim. I am however, planning on going to aquafit on Sunday. Asthma, severe or otherwise, will not beat me!!!

The next few months have something, exciting on the horizion, in relation to swimming as I prepare for Swimathon 2018. It’s early days, but in the coming weeks and months, I hope to be sharing this, here on my blog.

 

All change…

It’s been a considerable length of time, since I last blogged. This blog was set up, to chart my journey through learning to swim…something which I have now achieved. Swimming is still something I do on a regular basis and something I still love, recently I had a go at open water swimming, in Ibiza. It was amazing! Swimming along, watching the fish below you, sadly also what was evident was the sheer amount of rubbish, in the sea! 

I want to keep my blog running, but I need to widen the focus a little, I took up swimming on account of the fact I have chronic health problems, asthma and arthritis, both of which have been helped by swimming and my increased level of fitness, so the focus of my blog will widen to include posts with these  even further to my life in general. 

Rest more, to do more.

The weather, in the North East, continues in it’s awful, autumal fashion. Meanwhile, down south it’s baking…

While we have grey skies, three days of continuous rain and temperatures topping out at 12c, the South of the country enjoys glorious blue skies, summer sunshine and 30c plus. 

I haven’t been able to get swimming, this week. Monday I had meeting to attend, Tuesday and Wednesday, Brownies and Guides. On Thursday, my lungs were awful, tight, grumpy and frankly failing in their job. Walking through the town hall, for a meeting was hard enough, never nimd swim. 

Today was better…but then things went very wrong at work. I’m not in a job, where I can close the door, at 5pm amd that’s it, done. Consequently, I finally headed out the door, at 7pm. One pool, shuts at 8pm…the other pool, 9pm.  The problem is, the one that shuts at 9, is absolutely heaving on a Friday  

I decided to head that way, irrespective. As I was preparing to turn right, towards the pool, my work mobile rang and then rang again. Thinking this was something serious, I turned my car round, drove over a mile to a quiet spot and  checked my phone..it was a no win no fee, sales call. As my mobile number is protected and not used for any other purpose, than work, no one should have this number. There nearly was as an accident, as I was tempted to throw my phone and punch my steering wheel in pure frustration…

It sounds ridiculous, reflecting on it, but I just couldn’t be bothered to turn my car round, to go to a crowded pool and struggle to swim, amongst social swimmers, who prefer to natter than swim. The other day, I overheard a 15 minute conversation discussing the relative merits of gas fires…

The “knit and natter movement” is a popular one, perhaps it could be moved to swimming pools, for an allotted period of time, though given tbe conversations I’ve heard, maybe it should be renamed “bitch and stitch”. 

What I have tried to do though, is walk more. I love walking, as I’ve referred to before. I can walk for miles, a love I’ve inherited from my nana. 

In doing so though I’m discovering, to my frustration, that the distance I can physically walk, particularly given my increase in fitness resulting from regularly swimming, is restricted considerably by pain resulting from my arthritis. Walking is weight bearing, swimming is not. 

A reasonablely slow, 2 and half mile walk is probably the furthest I can comfortably manage, with the aid of my stick. This still causes me discomfort, but with codiene and paracetamol, it’s easily bearable. After this, my hip becomes increasingly painful, once I reach three and half/four miles, it’s close to unbearable. The pain will then continue, for many hours, impacting on my sleep and quality of life. 

So, I’m having to rethink my plan, my vivoactive watch sets me a distance to walk each day, I do aim for that distance, but I also aim for 5000 steps over a day. This is always less than what my watch, sets me, but it’s what I judge myself to be able to do, on a good day. Also, instead of marching down the park and doing the whole walk, at once, I try to keep to relatively short distances, before resting. The more I rest, the more I can comfortably, do.