I enjoy the Aspire Channel Swim because I like to swim, it's good exercise, and keeps me feeling good.  However, as the autumn days shorten it’s hard to stay motivated so having a purpose, and a challenge to focus on, is brilliant for me.  Knowing there's another mile waiting in the pool gets me up and out, whatever the weather, and it keeps me active and connected with a social group by swimming through the winter.

Jane in a wetsuit outdoor swimming

I signed up to my first Aspire Channel Swim in 2006 to help me prepare for the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere as I was not at all confident.  The challenge gave me a way to shape some training and stay motivated. I was on my own so it began as a way to build up my swimming confidence. I have now done lots of open water swimming, swam with seals, jumped off boats to swim, broken ice to swim, competed in multisport and open water events, and latterly retired to tick off some lidos.  

So I can say that that first Aspire Channel Swim launched me into things I'd never imagined, and brought me in contact with new people, opportunities and challenges that I've loved ever since.

I’ve signed up again this year because it's become a habit!  It's now part of my year as the seasons change and I try to keep active through winter. I enjoy helping in whatever small way I can by just doing something I like.  I enjoy swimming because it can be a solitary thing and you get some headspace.  I always feel good after swimming, both mentally and physically.  It's also sociable, once you take your earplugs out and get your specs on and see who else is there!  It's a good all-round exercise that doesn't challenge my creaky joints. I hope I'll be swimming long after I stop cycling and running.  I'm asthmatic, it's well controlled and swimming really helps to keep me breathing well. 

Jane by a lake

Swimming 22 miles is a very achievable distance for me - not that it's easy, but it's good to have a target. I swim at Nuffield Gosforth in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and because people think it's easy for a regular swimmer I commit to swimming to France and back again by Christmas, in the hope friends might think it worth sponsoring me. It's nice to track it on the map. I've been able to achieve 44 miles so far, but often very near the deadline (or a little bit beyond it).  Let's just say I have still been in the pool when the reindeer were ready to leave the North Pole!

I find fundraising very hard.  I'm lucky to be fairly fit and active, so I worry people don't think I'm challenging myself which is why I try to swim back from France too. It's getting harder to swim it each year, and harder to ask people to sponsor you in the current climate. I sponsor myself every year as I personally get a lot from swimming, so I'm happy to do so. As it's my 10th year I might try for a 10th anniversary push on Facebook!  It does feel special to commit to it and I do feel it's important to support and highlight the great work Aspire does.  I feel more committed to it each year.  As I get older it gets harder, but every mile I swim makes me feel so grateful that I can, so why wouldn't I swim with a purpose like that?

Jane swimming underwater

There are so many people like me who do the swim again and again and there are amazing swimmers undertaking the challenge in the face of personal challenges and disabilities, it's inspiring.  Good luck everyone, and remember the rewards on the way - scone, cream, jam, or whatever it takes, you'll swim it all off in time for your celebration croissants!

Sponsor Jane

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