Kicking off the Aspire Challenge to swim the 22 miles across the Channel – outdoors in London

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Last summer I spotted a story on facebook about the Aspire Channel Swim which challenges swimmers to raise money for the spinal injury charity Aspire as they swim the distance of the Channel over a 12 week period. I’m very pleased to be joining in again this year, and to be attempting the 22 mile swim outside. This is very straightforward in early September, with a lovely 61 metre long lido on my doorstep to swim in as the summer swimmers head indoors. But by October the mercury’s started to dip, and the distance to cover will seem to stretch further every time. I’m doing it in skins – so without a wetsuit as I loathe my wetsuit (the yanking on, the wrenching off, the lugging home on my bike and the drying out).

I’ve upped my game and used the challenge as impetus to push myself harder in the water. No more paltry 20 laps for me, heeding the wimpish voice that suggests I get out, but instead I’m ploughing on and am up to 36 lengths. In the last couple of weeks I’ve clicked I need to swim further to warm up (brain and body) and that if I do stick at it I’ll be rewarded with a surge of endorphins.

As I go I’ll be choosing to remember all the swims we’ve had this summer –

the river dips in the Derwent and Thames,

the lido tripping to lidos beginning with H Helmsley, Hathersage and Hinksey,

the sea pool swimming in Margate

the week swimming in the sea around Filey, Speeton and Bridlington

(not forgetting the indoor trips to Sheffield Ponds Forge, Chesterfield & Bridlington).

This list makes it look as if we’ve done nothing but swim all summer. True.

How lucky we’ve been to be able to enjoy all these places, the balmy, the bracing and the brilliant, how lucky to be unencumbered by injury or illness.

If you fancy coming along for the ride and banishing those Back to School and End of Summer Blues there’s still time to sign up, just, at Aspire – and if you’re tempted to sponsor me please do quickly nip on over to JustGiving.



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