When I first found out about the Aspire Channel Swim in 2010 I decided immediately that I should do it, because I can empathise with those with spinal injuries and how it can impact everyday life. I suffer from scoliosis and if it’s not maintained properly it can cause sciatica. I also thought that because I enjoy swimming it would be a good way to get fitter and achieve a goal at the same time. 

While I was at university, I was working a lot over a drawing board for very long hours and not paying enough attention to my posture. This made my scoliosis worse, and eventually the sciatica was so bad that I would at times lose control of my leg altogether.  I remember being given a lift, for example by friends to the cinema, but I couldn’t get in or out of a car and had to use my hands to lift my dead leg.  The university helped to arrange chiropractors, but they didn't think about how I was going to get there!  Spending so much time in treatment I fell behind with work, didn't complete a part of my project and wasn't given more time, so didn't get the grade that I should have. 

Health is SO important as without it nothing else can happen.  I still suffer a bit from the effects of scoliosis now, but I can manage it much better and actively look after my posture through yoga and swimming.

The Aspire Channel Swim is good for my health, my fitness and overall wellbeing. Swimming is a gentle exercise which means I don't have to take impact or weight. It also allows my brain to work on a different level; there’s something calming about swimming lengths and my brain can wander to other places.  Having a goal to reach makes me go more often, improving my body and mind at the same time.

The first time I did the Aspire Channel Swim was tough!  I have sailed the Channel in a sailboat and thought getting across would be easier without the rough waves and weather but even though the tides aren’t pushing me back, it’s still a very long way!  I did it on my own because I didn't know we could do it in a team but then I also lived nearer the pool, so I fell into the routine of going three or four days a week in the morning before work.  That would be much harder now that I have moved, but this year I’m doing it with a teammate which also helps.

I'm swimming at the Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh. Once you have a lifelong issue like scoliosis it doesn't go away. It may be easier to manage and not cause as great a disruption to life, but it doesn't mean that the problem is not there.  It sometimes rears its head and occasionally still puts me off doing things I love.  People with spinal injuries often need ongoing, continuous care.  The donations can only go so far - even if there were no more spinal injuries or born defects like mine from this minute onwards, we still have an existing problem on our hands, let alone the newly injured. 

For people taking on the Aspire Channel Swim for the first time this year I say keep going, don't give up, you will reach the other shore eventually, even if it feels so far away just now.  Plan ahead, swim frequently rather than tire yourself on one long swim.  It is no mean feat, and you will feel the satisfaction after doing it.

Fundraising can be tough, and I worry that as I’ve done it before, some people might not want to sponsor the same thing twice. I generally ask via email, and word of mouth, sometimes in WhatsApp groups to people I know.  I’m glad to be raising funds to help those with spinal injuries, as well as improving my own health at the same time. Although I will have to live with my spinal problems for the rest of my life, I know mine is not the worst. I can still do just about everything, with some discomfort and making adjustments, so how can I not help those who are worse off than me?  I just hope that the small amount of funds I can raise here will improve spinal injured people’s lives.

Sponsor Gloria

Aspire Channel Swimmer stories

Sign up to the Aspire Channel Swim

How we help