I started open water swimming from an early age because we lived in Australia when I was young. I have done some outdoor swims; the Henley Swim, triathlons (including Eastbourne in the sea) and I have enjoyed swimming in the lake near school and Caversham Lakes which is near where we live. I like open water swimming because it’s more challenging as you have to deal with lower temperatures, tidal changes and swimming in the unknown.  The biggest challenge for me was tackling the cold water.

Swimming the Channel is something I had always wanted to do.  I found out about Aspire online and decided to swim with them because it’s an incredible challenge for a fantastic charity.  I was in the Aspire Bison relay team; four of us from the same school and two others who came via Aspire.  I was really fortunate to be in a great team, which helped us to maintain a strong morale throughout our training and the swim. We had the most amazing boat leader, Rebekah, who was constantly encouraging and enthusiastic, full of incredible energy, really supportive and gave so much of her time to help the team.  Her best advice was to keep persevering. 

The Bison swim team in Dover

The Aspire training weekends were challenging but incredibly beneficial, and great for team building and practice.  As the date of our swim approached, I swam every day in either a pool or open water.  I’m really pleased with the fundraising; I’ve raised over £4k from a really supportive community and as a team we have raised over £12,000.  It has been really important to me to support Aspire because a friend of my parents sustained a spinal cord injury following a cycling accident.

Our swim was an incredible experience, really enjoyable though a challenge in the cold water. The conditions were reasonably calm and swimming with the rest of the team was really great. I swam three legs of the relay. My favourite moment was landing in France which was both exhilarating and a huge relief. 

Since swimming the Channel had been a significant ambition of mine, it was a great achievement, both for me personally and for the team. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to swim the Channel with Aspire.

Rebekah Kefford, Aspire’s Bison team boat leader, says, “The four young men on the team were committed from the outset and put in 100% to their training. They were all lean, so I was initially concerned they would struggle with the cold water training. It certainly was a challenge for them, but they nailed it. They all turned up to every Dover training weekend. They never complained when they had to get in 11C of water, they worked hard on their own personal training and fundraising, they never moaned at me once when I shouted at them to stay in the water, and they did all this whilst also sitting their exams at school!

Aspire Bison team on the boat

“When they actually swam the Channel on the 18th July they worked hard as a team, and with a smile on their faces.  I was so proud of their dedication and commitment. These young men are an inspiration!”

Sponsor Alex

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