Angela wants to do the swim but is in lockdown in Melbourne
I first heard about Aspire in 2016 when I was a regular swimmer at a Virgin Active indoor pool in London and have done the Aspire Channel Swim every year since.
I liked the idea of a challenge and of swimming across the Channel to France. We have lived in Provence, as well as London and Australia, and so ‘swimming to France’ really seemed to be a fun thing to do. I am not a very sporty person, but I love to swim and always had my swimming friends wherever we were living at the time. We often chatted about the Swim and what a wonderful idea it was.
Aspire’s cause and the help that they give to those with spinal injuries really made an impression on me and I wanted to support their work. The added bonus was that I got much fitter and was really intent on swimming the miles as quickly as I could to make sure that I did not get run over in the shipping lanes!
From around 2005 I worked partly in the UK and partly in Australia, as well as travelling a lot to other countries. Keeping fit was important for me and I always tried to stay near an indoor pool so that I could get a swim in most days. When I started to do the Aspire Channel Swims, I was always keen to complete some of the Swim where I was at the time and then, if necessary, the rest was often in another pool in another country. But I got there by the deadline each time. I retired from full time work in 2012, but my husband and I kept coming to the UK and France about three times per year, and hence my swims were often conducted in pools in different countries. Sadly, we have not been able to travel overseas since the end of 2019, due to Covid.
Covid lockdowns in Australia
In Melbourne we have now spent more than 200 days in Covid lockdown - more than half of the last 12 months has been in strict lockdown which has meant no swimming. The 2020 Aspire Channel Swim was quite a challenge for me as I had to complete it between two lockdowns and two lots of surgery but, after many stops and starts, I did complete it. It was difficult, but I am so pleased that I got there.
We are currently in lockdown number six, and it is the strictest that we have ever had, with a two hour daily limit for exercise within 5km of home, masks to be worn inside and outside at all times, curfews and, of course, no pools are open. Added to this, the apartment building where I live has a lovely outdoor heated pool, but a month ago it became obvious that it had a serious leak and now it has been completely emptied. So even when it is allowed to re-open, it is not likely to be rebuilt for at least nine months, and that can only start when we are out of lockdown. So, I am at present locked up inside in an apartment building in the sky, with no sign of the restrictions easing in the near future. Even when the restrictions are eased to the next level, I will still most likely not be able to swim as indoor pools and aquatic centres may not be permitted to open and our outdoor pool will certainly not be. And it will still be far too cold for some months for me to be able to swim in the ocean. But as soon as the restrictions ease so that pools can reopen, I will be there!
Despite all this, I will always sign up and try! I love to do the Swim and to help those in need along the way, and I love to receive the certificate and medal at the end!
Swimming is great exercise, particularly when one is getting a tad older, and once you get into a rhythm it is such a lovely relaxing thing to do and clears the head.
I am not into gyms and running, and my old joints would not care for that anyway, but swimming is lovely. I am an Aquarian and that is very fitting for me as I am a real water baby! Swimming for me is also for relaxation, health and fitness and I enjoy the friendship with others who are also regular pool users.
I don’t have any particular challenges with swimming, other than I am getting older and, with limited swimming over the past 18 months, I have found it quite difficult to swim at any sort of decent pace, so getting the laps done is more challenging. I have also had quite a few health issues over the past year or so, and that has made it difficult as well, but I feel that if/when I can get back in the pool, that will help me a lot.
I am assuming that the RACV Club pool in Melbourne will be able to reopen at some stage and I am hoping that if I can book a slot in the slow lane, I will, over time, be able to complete the 2021 Aspire Channel Swim. But, due to lockdown, it is unlikely that I will be able to start swimming when the Swim starts in September, unfortunately.
Aspire Channel Swim
To anyone thinking of taking on the Aspire Channel Swim for the first time this year I would say just take that first step to sign up and make a start.
The feedback online is so lovely and it is so satisfying to enter your laps in the computer at the end of each swim you do to see just how far you have swum. And then when you clock over more than 11 miles, that is worth celebrating!
I also love to look at how many laps the great swimmers have done which is really quite brilliant, and then when you get there and arrive in Calais, wow, it is really exciting!
The main thing is to keep going, even if there are interruptions or you are not swimming so well, as you do improve and you will get there, because you MUST! The Aspire folk are counting on you.
I am very fortunate to have found Aspire, as from the contact I have had with people who work there, I find them all to be so friendly, helpful, understanding and personable, and it makes me feel like I can help, in some way, a very worthy cause. And they have all made me feel that my tiny contribution is actually assisting someone in need. It also gives me faith in my own endeavours, if I can complete it and be rewarded for an effort on my part. So, a huge thank you to you all.
I look forward to getting in a pool and trying to swim again, and to completing this 2021 Channel Swim!