I first took up the Aspire Channel Swim in 2011 after my second child was born.  I could barely swim two lengths of front crawl and was carrying some serious baby weight. Through watching YouTube videos, I taught myself to breathe properly and in the space of one challenge went from swimming a few hundred metres to swimming kilometres at a time. 

It gave me a serious love for swimming, a true outlet to help my mental health and at the same time I was helping others which kept me going when I got tired. 

Although this is my 3rd time taking on the challenge, life took over during the second attempt and I didn’t complete it. It has been sitting in the back of my mind that the Aspire Channel Swim really started my love of swimming.

Over the past year I have qualified as an open water swim coach and am swimming more and more. I swim in cold water all through the year and it was time to give something back to a charity that has given me so much. 

This time I aimed to complete it in four weeks before the October half term when I get too busy to swim. I am using it as the start of my winter training as next summer I intend to do the Triple Crown in the Lake District. The Aspire Channel Swim gives me a short sharp goal to work towards; it is a long way but broken into chunks is achievable. When I’m swimming I like to think of the actual Channel and how a couple of kilometres is just scratching the surface. I love it when I have Aqua Fit next to me in the pool at Westwoods Health Centre in Edinburgh as it makes it splashy and more like the real thing!  After half term, I intend to swim back again.

I swim for general wellbeing, fitness and brain space. Swimming is so mindful. The simple motion of locking my phone in a locker in the changing room and putting my head into the water, where the outside world has to wait until I get out of the pool before they can get to me again is so good for my mental health. 

I never regret a swim, no matter how tired or how much of a bad day I have had at work, I always feel better after a swim. The pool is not my choice of swim location as I will always go for open water, however with a full work schedule and darkening nights, the pool is the only choice.  I have completed some of the challenge in open water; the cold water and lack of pool ends gives me complete freedom to swim as far as I want to go in any direction. Swimming in the rain is my absolute favourite! 

Rebecca wearing a woolly hat by a lake

My advice to first time Aspire Channel Swimmers would be to just do it.  Take it a bit at a time and build up your swimming.  12 weeks is a long time and no matter how far away France feels, it will get closer with every swim.  Just keep swimming.  It is just you and the pool. Think of the benefits to yourself as well as to others.

I have been fundraising using Facebook and Instagram and have found that people are really generous.  I don't know anyone with a spinal cord injury, but I know how much I value my freedom and fitness. Aspire does amazing work in helping people with spinal cord injuries.

Sponsor Rebecca

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