Eleanor has taken part in the Aspire Channel Swim every year since 2003, as well as many open water swims, including being part of our first Relay Channel Swim team in 2009. By the end of this year she will have raised an incredible £20,000 for Aspire through swimming and is an Aspire Champion.

I found out about the Aspire Channel Swim in a leaflet at my local pool at the time in Shrewsbury. I was swimming most mornings so thought I’d put the lengths to good use.  I’d started swimming again the previous summer and took some lessons to learn how to do front crawl properly.

I like swimming because it’s good exercise and I enjoy the freedom it gives.  I take part in the Aspire Channel Swim year after year because of how it helps people with spinal injuries.

Over the years I’ve swum the 22 miles in many different swimming pools as I’ve moved around a bit: in Shrewsbury and Bishop’s Castle pools in Shropshire, Launceston in Cornwall, Downham Market in Norfolk and now Colwyn Bay in Conwy!  I will - of course - be doing it again this year, as I can’t miss the 20th anniversary Swim!

Eleanor in a pool holding certificate

For my fundraising, I usually just ask people for donations, but I also get donations from giving presentations about being part of Aspire’s first Relay Channel Swim in 2009, and how Aspire helps.  I support people with Spinal Cord Injury because I have permanent neck and back damage from two car accidents, but ‘only’ need elbow crutches and a surgical collar.  I also have friends who have a spinal cord injury.

Eleanor swimming a pool

To anyone thinking of doing the Swim for the first time I say just enjoy it. It’s not a race, so take it at your own pace.  My advice for disabled people would be to go when you’ll feel most comfortable in the pool, for example when it’s less busy.  

Open water swimming

I’ve always preferred swimming outside, but the practicalities of dealing with two elbow crutches was a bit daunting so I’d not swum outside for some years.  The lack of opportunity and accessibility played a part, too. 

When I was invited to take part in the first Relay Channel Swim in 2009 I had to find somewhere to train, which wasn’t easy in Shropshire! Two hour trips to the coast and Lake Bala, and a holiday in Shetland helped me prepare.  I love the freedom of open water swimming as I love mountains and the sea, so I’m in my element.

Eleanor at the Henley Swim Festival

I go open water swimming at least once a week. I live in North Wales so have been swimming at Lligwy Beach, Anglesey and Llyn Geirionydd near Treffriw.  I’ve been keeping an eye on tides and currents etc around Colwyn Bay and I’m going to start swimming here as it’s right on my doorstep.).

I’ve done many swims for Aspire in addition to the Aspire Channel Swim and the Relay Channel Swim.  I’ve swum the Solent, in the Lake District, the Dart 10k, Great North Swim, Great East Swim, and most recently the Henley Mile as part of Aspire’s 10th anniversary celebrations of Relay Channel swimming.  This August I also swam the River Arun with Aspire.

Eleanor in a wetsuit after her River Arun swim

I was delighted to be asked to become an Aspire Champion.  I promote Aspire and the Aspire Channel Swim in my local swimming pools, at the open water swimming groups I belong to and through the presentations I give to to local groups.

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