I sustained an injury due to a road traffic accident when someone couldn’t tell the difference between red and green and I was run over. After many years of not doing much, this year I decided I wanted to go swimming again, so I convinced some friends to go with me.

Glen with two friends

I swim at the Crystal Leisure Centre in Stourbridge every week and noticed an Aspire Channel Swim poster on the walls during one of my sessions. When I noticed the distance I dismissed it. I thought to myself there’s was no way I can do that when I haven’t been swimming for that long - I hadn't swum since I was in my teens, in fact I hadn't done any regular exercise since my teens! 

I must have looked at the poster four or five times before I went online. I kept saying to myself I couldn’t do it with my level of swimming and poor stamina, but I’m so stubborn I just had to try.

The fact I would also be helping people with spinal issues and helping to raise awareness about Aspire meant a lot to me. I have spinal issues but at least I can get around. 

I’m lucky that I have friends who can help me, but not everyone does. I’m not able to support charities in other ways – walks, runs etc - so this was something that made me realise that I do have the ability to do something for others.   

I had several reasons for doing this challenge but a big one for me is personal growth; I know it sounds very cheesy, but having health issues means that every day is a challenge. Small things are often big challenges in themself.  So I do try and push myself when things come along that I can enjoy. 

I feel more human when I’m in the pool. It takes away a lot of the pain I feel in my spine and joints. I find I have time to think about things but also I need to concentrate on my motion, trying to find the smoothest way to swim. This was a challenge in itself as I don’t have great motion in my shoulders. Swimming also helps build muscles and loosen some of my stiff joints so it’s been a win all round really and I’ve noticed a great increase in my stamina. My doctors have been very pleased with me since my new diet and exercise regime and have stopped telling me that I need to do some exercise. 

I always feel relaxed in the water; it just sweeps me up and I have a moment of peace. I’d sleep in the water with floats and my sleep apnea mask if I could!

Glen on the beach with a walking stick

I really wanted to prove I could swim the 22 miles and support Aspire as well. I really thought I’d have to go swimming more than once a week to get there, but because I’ve improved so much I’ll be able to do it with time to spare, which is well beyond what I thought would be possible.  In March I could only manage 500m an hour. Now I still go once a week, but I’ve managed to go up to two miles in just under two hours. It’s very painful and I suffer for three days afterwards, but I’ve got the bug again. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved in such a short time.

It can be awkward just getting in and out of the pool but my friend holds my walking stick once I get to the stairs. I can get in without using the hoist but the biggest challenge is my back; I never know if it’s going to go out on me and I was worried about just dropping to the bottom of the pool. I use a physio back support which sits around my waist. It’s basically a foam float shaped for back support but means I can swim confidently without too much constriction of movement. But I do have to swim on my back so I tend to get kicked in the head a lot and if people are loitering at the side of the pool I do tend to bump into them too! Most people are pretty cool about this though. I love that the Aspire Channel Swim cap is bright orange - I didn’t wear one before so at least people can see me coming now!

Glenn holding two ice creams

I’ve always found fundraising difficult. I’m not one to go round asking people for money so I’ve only asked my friends via WhatsApp, messaging and Facebook. I would love to raise £100. It’s not a large amount but from my limited circle I thought it was a large goal. It would be nice to smash that target but getting close would make it worth the pain I put myself through. 

This challenge really is a big thing for me. To be able to give something back to the disabled community is amazing, something I never even considered a year ago. I tell my close mates that I feel like a sea lion - I wobble around on land but in the pool I glide.

I’ll be happy if I swim the 22 miles in the 12 weeks as this is my biggest physical challenge for decades. Thanks again to my friends for helping me get in and out of the pool and in changing rooms. 

Sponsor Glenn

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