The Aspire Channel Swim is a fun and easy way for me to exercise and allows me to swim at my own pace without any pressure to finish quickly, as well as allowing me to meet other people in the pool.

At the age of seven, I was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma on my spine which is a type of bone cancer. The cancer had formed around my L5 vertebrae and my spinal cord as well as spreading to my lungs and pelvis. Because of where the cancer had formed, this resulted in nerve damage below the waist; I became paralysed in my left leg below the knee and I have limited movement in my right leg. With hard work and determination, I have learnt to walk again without the use of walking aids but I do find it hard to participate in other sports. I have to be extremely careful compared to others when walking around the pool due to the way I walk and being prone to slipping easily.

This is the 4th time I’ve done the challenge since 2018. When I first took on the challenge it was to prove to myself I could do anything and not letting my disability hold me back. I also wanted to help raise awareness about Spinal Cord Injury and the impact it can have on people’s lives and their loved ones.

I have always loved swimming, but since my treatment in 2010 it has become an even greater love for me because it takes pressure off my joints and allows me to enjoy sport and exercise as much as I did before I became ill.  Swimming helps me to remain active whilst maintaining and improving my fitness levels. I swim at Grimsby Leisure Centre. Having a spinal cord injury makes it difficult for me to participate in other sports. The Aspire Channel Swim gives me motivation to get in the pool to continue working on my overall fitness and I like to push myself a little bit further each session.

Renee in a car

My swimming has lapsed this year because I’m studying at Lincoln University and travelling every day and work placement commitments mean I haven’t been able to keep up with my swimming. The Aspire Channel Swim helps to keep me motivated and will allow me to improve my fitness levels before leaving for my final year at university.

For people taking on the Aspire Channel Swim for the first time I would advise them to take their time. There is no rush to complete it as fast as you can as this can tire you out and you may struggle to complete it. I would also advise that if you are finding it hard to find the motivation or struggling to do a swim on your own, taking a friend or family member with you so you have someone to talk to which helps pass the time more quickly.


I find fundraising harder now than when I first took on the Aspire Channel Swim in 2018, most likely due to the effects of Covid and the cost of living increases. I usually share my JustGiving page to my Facebook for family and friends donate to.  My family and friends also talk about the Aspire Channel Swim at work and social groups that they are part of and I find people are very kind and donate when they hear about it.

The Aspire Channel Swim has helped me to become more confident and to believe in myself and that anything is possible when I set myself a challenge.  It is important to me to help raise funds for Aspire so that people living with spinal injuries receive the correct support, help and equipment to help them live happy lives as independently as they can. The Aspire Channel Swim is an amazing challenge to help raise money for a cause which holds a special place in my heart.

Sponsor Renee

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