Alaine and Marc first swam for Aspire with the Aspire Channel Swim in 2015 and have not looked back.  They have now done almost every open water swim that Aspire offers and Alaine volunteers as a boat leader for our Relay Channel Swim.


When we found out about the Aspire Channel Swim in 2015, we both thought it would be a good idea to take part as it would encourage us to keep swimming through the winter. I enjoy swimming because you can simply get in and do it without much thought or expensive equipment.

Marc swimming in Loch Ness

I had done a few triathlons and started open water swimming regularly because I wanted to increase the distances I was doing, which can be quite monotonous in a pool.  Alaine and I had both really enjoyed the Great London Mile swim, so we carried on with the open water swimming.  We go swimming at least once a week, but usually more and we will swim basically anywhere (as long as it isn’t near a sewage works!)   We are lucky we live near several open water swim lakes and we also swim regularly in the Thames.  In the summer we go to Dover to swim.

My favourite Aspire open water swim is their Relay Channel Swim, and the training weekends that take place in Dover leading up to it. 

Swimming the Channel is just such an iconic feat and I am privileged to have been part of three Aspire Relay Channel swim teams. 

There is so much support from team mates and other swimmers and it’s a great equaliser as even the best swimmers face unexpected challenges and it can be the weaker swimmers who make the difference.

Team Kraken in Dover

We don’t know anyone with a spinal cord injury, although through Aspire we have met some truly inspirational spinal cord injured people such as Paula, who comes to talk to the Relay Channel swimmers about how Aspire helped her after she was knocked off her bike by a car.  

We got involved with Aspire through swimming and have stayed involved because they are a great charity.

My favourite Aspire swim is the Relay Channel Swim and the training weekends in Dover.  Swimming the Channel is  such an iconic feat and I’m planning to swim it solo in 2020.


I wasn’t a big swimmer before I took on the Aspire Channel Swim.   We had swum the Great London Mile (very slowly) in wetsuits a couple of years before but we still couldn’t tell you what ‘trickle drill’ is!  

The Aspire Channel Swim was good fun and a great motivator to keep going to the pool, especially for me as I find it quite easy to make excuses to skip the gym!

 I started open water swimming because Marc had started taking part in triathlons, so I signed up to an open water swimming lesson at Shepperton Lake just to keep him company.  We did the Great London Mile a few months later so we had something to train towards. It makes me laugh that when I first started it was a struggle to limp 400m in a wetsuit and now I can do ten times that without much thought… and skins, the wetsuit was sold long ago!

On the boat in Loch Ness

The Aspire Channel Swim played a big part in us moving on to open water swimming because signing up to that was how we got the email suggesting we take part in the Night Swim, and subsequently the Relay Channel swim. Even though we were already open water swimmers, it was signing up for the Relay Channel Swim that made me ditch the wetsuit and I’ve not looked back since!

I enjoy open water swimming because it’s cheaper than therapy!   It’s very relaxing - almost meditative - and once you are in your rhythm you could swim for days.

We swim in lakes, rivers and the sea which gives us a great variety of things to look at whilst plugging away. However, the absolute best thing about it is the tons of friends we’ve made over the last few years. It’s a brilliant community.  

My favourite Aspire open water swim was Loch Ness in 2017, the first year we attempted it.  We’d not known failure until that point so every challenge since then has felt so much more deserved. The boat broke down the day before our swim and, due to the weather, we only had one chance. 

Alaine swimming in Loch Ness

We had to do it from a bright yellow rib, with no toilet, no hot drinks and no shelter, just an orange survival bag to help rewarming which, when you have a green hood, makes you look like a carrot!  We were 16 miles in when an unforecasted storm arrived and started to push us backwards, so we had to stop.  However, we went back the following year and successfully swam it.

Alaine looking like a carrot on the boat

At first, we found fundraising relatively easy as our friends and family were quite shocked with the enormity of swimming the actual English Channel, but it definitely gets harder every year. When we swam Loch Ness, we had got married a few months before, so we asked for sponsorship rather than wedding presents. Other than that, I use social media and that can be quite successful.

Having met people like Paula, raising money to support people with Spinal Cord Injury means a lot more than simply completing a swim challenge and meeting a fundraising target. Knowing how useful the funds are and how profound an affect Aspire's intervention can have to people who are adjusting to a new set of circumstances is a huge motivational factor. Spinal injury can happen to anyone at any time.

Team Barracuda on the beach in France

It’s a credit to Andrew, Paul, Colin and the rest of the Aspire team that we are still involved. I get terribly sea sick and they still can’t keep me off the channel boats as a boat leader!  

I would say to anyone that, if you’re even remotely tempted to swim for Aspire, just do it, you have so much to gain.

It was great to be invited to take part in the Henley Mile to celebrate 10 years of Aspire’s Relay Channel Swimming.   It was lovely to meet up with people we’ve swum with over the years and be a part of the celebrations.  Next year I'm planning a solo swim of Ullswater and I will be carrying on as a boat leader.  I’m sure the pair of us will be swimming more relays in the future with the awesome team mates that we’ve met through Aspire. 

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