Josh has raised over £850 and finds swimming incredibly therapeutic
I found out about the Aspire Channel Swim over 10 years ago, when I was 17 and still at school and there were leaflets promoting the challenge at the leisure centre I was regularly swimming at. I decided to take on the challenge but due to injuries and time factors like exams, I never finished, and I didn’t feel right taking people’s money when I hadn’t finished the challenge.
Fast forward to this year, and after the year we’ve had I decided this was the year to finally complete the challenge and raise the money (and more) that I should have done all those years ago… as a form of redemption I suppose. Earlier in the year before the initial Covid-19 lockdown, I managed to achieve a 600kg+ total in the sport of powerlifting (which had been a goal of mine for some time) and I ran Cambridge Half Marathon (my first ever half marathon) in sub 1 hour 50 minutes, so I was already looking for another challenge and due to the pandemic, I thought I could add a touch of positivity to the end of this year by raising money for Aspire.
Between the ages of 14-22 I swam almost daily - after school until I was 18 and then I went to university and joined the University of Nottingham swim club. I swam with the club (not the team – I was never that fast) for 4 years but after graduation, and moving to Cambridge for work, I found it harder and harder to find time to get to a pool and so I switched to just going to the gym instead. Now 6 years on, with no real swim training behind me, I’ve jumped straight into the challenge.
Swimming is incredibly therapeutic, it’s just you against the water and it gives you a lot of time to just think things through and relieve any stress that you may have had. It’s also an incredible workout for the entire body so fitness wise, it’s great to see the improvements from week to week, even session to session.
When I started swimming regularly at the age of 14, I was quite overweight and my goal was to use it as a way of losing weight. I managed to lose 2.5 stone/16 kg through swimming, dropping from 14 stone to 11.5 stone (88kg to 73kg) in around a year. From there, it became more about fitness, improving how fast or how far I could swim and just generally maintaining my weight loss.
The weight loss gave me an enormous confidence boost, so I suppose you could say that swimming changed my life.
My shoulders are quite injured from a number of years playing various sports and I’m quite an uncoordinated swimmer – I can never get my legs and arms fully going together so my arms end up doing most of the work
As I hadn’t swam in 6 years, I can’t say I missed swimming during lockdown, but it was unfortunate that I didn’t have any time to do any swimming prior to the challenge starting. I’m finding it more difficult because of the 6 years that I neglected swimming but, in hindsight, not having those four months where I could have done some preparation was a real shame and if it had been an option, I probably would have taken it.
When I started swimming again, it felt amazing, like I’d never left really. I was elated and surprised at how quickly my body has got used to swimming again as after 6 years with no swimming, I thought maybe this challenge was going to be beyond me again.
I’m able to do a mile (64 lengths) with minimal stops, in just over 30 mins which is about where I used to be at my peak all those years ago.
I was quite nervous no one was going to sponsor me so set a modest target of £250 but the response I’ve had from my family, my colleagues and my friends has been incredible and I’ve currently raised £864 – 345% of my initial target! I never usually like to ask people for money but for such a worthwhile cause, I didn’t hesitate. And this is my first time properly fundraising!
I’ve found social media to be an incredibly powerful fundraising tool
I’ve advertised using my Facebook and Instagram profiles as well emailing around my company providing updates, and WhatsApping my friends and family groups to spread the word. I’m continuing to post and provide updates via all means of communication to keep people in the loop and encourage further donations.
I don’t know anyone with a spinal cord injury personally, but as a former rugby player and massive rugby/Leicester Tigers fan, Matt Hampson is a real example of someone that has been struck down by a life changing spinal cord injury, only to fight on and provide an incredibly positive influence and impact on other peoples lives, especially those of young rugby players. It’s for people like Matt that I was inspired to take on this challenge.
It means a lot to me to be taking on the challenge to support spinal injured people.
For the last 10 years it’s been bugging me that I never completed my initial challenge attempt and that I wasn’t able to give money to those that needed it, so this time I’m doing my upmost to raise as much as possible and redeem myself as it’s truly an incredible charity and truly a worthwhile cause.
For anyone that is on the fence about whether they can do this challenge or want to do it, you can! And it is truly for the most worthwhile of causes. You won’t regret it and can look back at it as a highlight and a point of positivity in an otherwise difficult year.