Suzie took on the Aspire Channel Swim in 2018 and raised £881.  She works at Zoggs, a partner of the Aspire Channel Swim since 2011.

I found out about Aspire because I work at Zoggs. When I first started there, Aspire was one of my main clients so I got to know about the Aspire Channel Swim challenge through this partnership.

I decided to sign up for the Swim because I am disabled, and so challenges such as running a marathon or climbing Kilimanjaro will never be an option for me.  The Aspire Channel Swim was my marathon.  Another motivation for me was that my sister was getting married the following June, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get fit and lose weight.

Suzie by a lake

I have always been a swimmer because I have a disability called Pseudoachondraplasia, a form of short limbed dwarfism.  This means my joints are quite weak, so I have swum since a young age because, as a non-weight bearing sport, it allows me to get some great exercise without damaging my joints. 

I enjoy swimming because, as well as being great exercise, I love the freedom of the water. When I have had a stressful day, or my head is in a strange place, swimming allows me to be on my own to go through my thoughts and really helps clear my head. I always feel calmer, re-energised and relaxed after a swim. I genuinely do not feel like you get the same feeling after any other exercise.

During the Swim I wouldn't say my technique got any better, but I do think my endurance got better.  At the beginning I was only swimming for 30 to 40 minutes but by the end I was swimming for roughly an hour. It also gave me an opportunity to train certain areas using a kickboard or pull buoy, which I don't use during an average swim session.  I didn't set any fitness goals, but I felt my fitness increase throughout the challenge. My joints were feeling less achy etc. because I was building the muscle.

I would encourage anyone to take on the Aspire Channel Swim, particularly if you struggle with weight bearing exercises like running, as swimming is such a great challenge for that.  I swam at David Lloyds in Woking and it was nice to chat to other people in the lane who were also doing the Swim. 

When I finished the challenge, I was really happy, especially as I managed to finish two weeks early. I must say I was also a little relieved to have a break from the pool to allow my hair to recover from the chlorine!  I think my hair was thanking me a little as well by that point!

Suzie in swimwear by a lake

My main advice for people taking on the Swim for the first time this year would be to get as much distance as you can in early on, as you start to feel tired, and sometimes other plans get in the way.   If you get as many swims as you can in at the beginning, if you miss a couple of sessions towards the end the pressure will not be as much due to the distance you have already achieved.

I was delighted to raise £881 to help people with Spinal Cord Injury and I was so proud of the amount of money I had raised because Aspire is an amazing cause.  I don’t directly know anyone with a spinal cord injury, although the son of one of my parent’s friends did have an injury.  He was lucky enough to recover, but of course when they found out I was swimming for Aspire they were extremely supportive.

I love fundraising as I know how lucky I am to have the independence I have with my disability, which is because of my incredibly supportive family and the work they put in to help me achieve this. I know how important it is to me to still have my independence, so to help give someone else the same independence that I’ve managed to achieve is the biggest reward I could get.

Suzie swimming in a pool

I have worked at Zoggs for three years as Retail Marketing Specialist, looking after all the marketing relationships we have with leisure centres from retail displays to campaigns and events etc. 

I have been really involved in the partnership with Aspire as I organise all the Zoggs elements for the event. More recently I have been working closer with our leisure partners to make sure they are making the most of the Aspire Channel Swim at their pools.  I am still involved in sending out the prizes provided by Zoggs and I always keep a close eye on it as I really believe in what Aspire stands for.

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