I have taken on the Aspire Channel Swim every year since 2016 and enjoy it because it gives me a purpose this time of year to get up and do something rather than feel like winter is upon us.  I enjoyed the first year I did it in 2016 and thought I should do it again the following year. After that it became an event where I could make a personal challenge whilst raising money and family and friends now say “I suppose you are doing that challenge again?” so how could I not? 

My main reasons for swimming are the health benefits, fitness and wellbeing.  I enjoy swimming because I find I can do my thinking and not be disturbed. Nobody talking to me puts me in my own little world to think, plan and have my ‘time out’ whilst swimming. It’s very calming.  I always feel so much better after a swim.

Michele standing in the pool

Now I can easily swim 22 miles but the first in 2016 I only just about managed it.  As it’s a personal challenge, this year I’m upping the game and swimming 120 miles.  My 12 week plan is to swim 10 miles a week (two miles for 5 days) then rest for two days.  I’m currently just over a mile ahead of schedule.

I couldn’t swim as a child but gradually got to master breaststroke. As I’ve got older I thought I really wanted to master front crawl but didn’t like my face in the water or water in my ears so it’s a big challenge.  I set myself the goal of being able to swim front crawl by the time I was 60. Through swimming lessons, friends and advice from colleagues at the local swimming pool and YouTube, I gradually kept at it. It took me a couple of years but I slowly got the hang of it and gradually progressed. So here I am now at 64 striding up and down the pool with ease and the challenge for me now is how fast can I swim. I even have other swimmers commenting on my swimming - how cool is that?!

For someone taking on the swim for the first time this year I say enjoy it - even if you don’t manage the 22 miles, it’s the taking part and the money raised that counts. You can come back stronger next year and do it again. Make it a personal goal and not a competition with other people who are taking part. There will always be better swimmers than you - it doesn’t matter!

Fundraising is hard as people have less spare cash. I am the charity organiser for a large sixth form college and it’s very hard to get the students to assist with the work behind the scenes to organise events, let alone ask them to donate. The Covid years were difficult and I made 1,500 face masks which I sold for £4,500 and distributed to charities that I felt would benefit locally, as well as £500 to Aspire.

A couple of years ago, a gym friend who was in our spin class (my other passion!) was missing and we found out she had had a very bad cycling accident which resulted in her becoming a wheelchair user with a spinal injury. Her partner also came to the same class and he overheard me talking about my Aspire Channel Swim. He instantly started talking to me (and later sponsored me) and said that Aspire had helped her so he was very appreciative of the work they did. So now I always think of her when I do my swim and on those days I’m not feeling very energetic, it spurs me on.

Doing the Aspire Channel Swim every year has made me love swimming and I enjoy the three months at the end of every year doing something worthwhile. I have all my certificates and medals hanging in the garage next to my spin bike.

I love letting people know what I am doing and I get asked a lot by people where I swim - at Bannatynes Fitness Centre in Colchester - why I am swimming for so long. Two miles now takes me 1 hour and 19 minutes – five weeks ago it was 1 hour and 25 minutes - so I am still getting faster so happy days and raising money along the way.  

Sponsor Michele

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