Katy was part of a six person relay team who took on the iconic Arch to Arc challenge and raised over £4,000. They set off on Friday 1st September at 2.30am from Marble Arch in London and arrived in Paris on Sunday 3rd September at 11.11am, having run  87 miles from London to Dover, swum 21 miles across the English Channel to France and cycled 181 miles from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe. The team worked together in a strict rotation of an hour each of running, swimming and cycling.

Katy says: Having grown up in South Africa, swimming has always been part of my life, but it was only in 2016 that my real passion for open water swimming started. I was looking for a good form of exercise to get into after having two children, and swimming seemed like the obvious option. I used to go to my local gym and swim up and down until one day I saw a leaflet at the gym for an introductory course to open water swimming and haven’t looked back since. 

I swam my first English Channel relay in 2017 for Aspire and since then have completed two more, a Loch Ness Relay, the Europe to Asia swim across the Dardanelles and Eastern and Western Solent. I like to challenge myself and am always amazed at what you can achieve if you believe in yourself and work hard towards a goal. This is why I took on the Arch to Arc challenge. 

The Arch to Arc team on the beach in France

Although I am very comfortable in open water, I have had to work hard on my cycling and running, overcome injury and fit training into a busy life. It hasn’t been easy. It always helps to have a more personal reason for raising money and Aspire is a fantastic charity. When I first came to the UK in 2003, I was a live-in carer for people with spinal cord injuries. I travelled all over UK and met so many incredibly strong people whose lives had changed in an instant. I am very grateful that I can now help raise money for a charity that helps support these inspirational people.

I found the run section better than I thought as I was really worried about it. I did have to do both my runs in the pouring rain though! I loved the swim but then I always find swimming in the English Channel quite magical. I was lucky enough to start the swim, which was really special, but the highlight had to be all finishing on the French beach together to the applause of lots of locals. My first cycle was daunting - cycling in the dark empty French roads on the wrong side of the road, however I soon got used to it and it became quite serene and peaceful. 

The team holding an Aspire banner at the Arc de Triomphe

The hardest part of the whole thing was the lack of sleep. We basically lived in a van or on the boat for three days and only got a little bit of broken sleep here and there. I think the adrenaline of it all just gets you through.  Arriving at the Arc de Triomphe was an emotional moment.  We had finally made it! It all felt very surreal.  

The other teams members were amazing and have become like family. We had so many laughs along the way which made it all extra special, but primarily everyone just really looked after each other. The drivers and support crew were exceptional and we couldn’t have done it without them. 

It is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done but also probably the best. The memories will stay with me for a lifetime! 

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