What I learnt from a month-long 'Channel Swim'

Soooo you guys all know by now that I swam 22 miles last month to raise money for a special little lady called Amelia - you can donate to her fund here!

Amelia developed quadriplegic cerebral palsy after a traumatic labour despite her parents Chloe and Chris experiencing a really straightforward pregnancy.

It means she has limited mobility and can't do things other children her age can do - something her parents are supporting her with through specialist physiotherapy and services not available on the NHS - and of course all this comes at a cost.

They've been fundraising themselves non-stop and I wanted to do something to help them out.

I had wanted to do a swim challenge for a while as my legs haven't been up to much running for a few years now (chronic compartment syndrome) but wasn't sure what.. it's too cold for outside and I'm a bit far from any lakes! As long as you don't count East Park...

The challenge coincided with a move into Hull and a load of new leisure centres to try out.

Hull City Council offer a full gym, swim and classes package for just £24.50 a month, with access to three pools (four once Ennerdale has been refurbished). Which is really cheap! But I soon found out why...

My challenge got off to a tricky start on October 1st... when I arrived at Woodford Leisure Centre after work at 5.25pm to find out the pool closed at 5.45pm! This was a common issue with trying to swim.

The hours are so crazy - so many early finishes and times when you can't swim. For example - Beverley Road Baths are only open between 12pm and 4pm on a weekend!

And the facilities aren't that great at Albert Avenue either, with both there and Beverley Road having dingy changing rooms, stained pools, cold showers, few or no lanes, and people who refuse to let you overtake them if you're swimming faster than them... it's been frustrating at times!

Though Woodford Leisure Centre has been refurbished and it is really nice swimming there, it's quite far from where I live on the Avenues.

While swimming I've been hit, kicked, scratched with lethal nail extensions and even completely clobbered by an impatient bloke on one occasion... it's not been fun a lot of the time!

And through being ill, weird swim times and having lots on this month it's been soooo hard to find the time to swim!

But during the times when I've had good swims in quiet pools and got my head down and my lengths done it's been great.

Having this goal to work towards and doing it for a cause close to me has been really motivating and I wouldn't have done anywhere near this much exercise had I not done it for Our Amazing Amelia.

It's had a really big positive effect on both my physical and mental health - clearing my mind, providing endorphins, and getting my lungs in shape.

Before I started this challenge, I could only swim 50 lengths in an hour, now I can do 80, and even twice swam 96 lengths in 1 hour 20 minutes - a huge new achievement for me!

I also had to retire a swimming costume half way through the challenge as it was hanging off me!

So if you're impressed I managed to make it 'across to France' for this really amazing cause then please give me a sponsor - and help one lovely little girl improve her own mobility!


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