Lowri is swimming because her father has lived with a spinal cord injury for 50 years
I have friends and family that have taken on the Aspire Channel Swim in the past and, although I always admired them, I never considered myself a swimmer and so in turn thought it wasn't the right challenge for me. That being said, during lockdown I was asked to join a friend of mine for an open water swim session at Stoney Cove in Leicestershire. Although initially I was terrified at the prospect, I am now a complete convert. With my new-found love of outdoor swimming I thought I would combine it with raising money and awareness for this amazing charity. Selfishly, I wanted to end what has been a terrible year for everyone with an achievement and be able to look back on 2020 with pride in my ability to not only swim 22 miles but by doing so during the winter in freezing cold water.
Once I made the decision to 'take the plunge' and sign up to the Aspire Channel Swim challenge, I quickly posted the link to my JustGiving page on all of my social media platforms. I have to say that I was immediately blown away by the support from my friends, family and colleagues. Having only swum three miles of the challenge at this point I have already smashed my £500 target and currently stand at £695! As we approach November and December, I know that the length of time that I can spend in the open water will reduce each session, but knowing that I have already raised so much money is really helping to spur me on to get to the 22nd mile. I am secretly hoping that I can get to £1,000.
Why would you do this crazy challenge in the bleak mid-winter in open water I hear you ask? Well the answer is very simple. My Father suffered from a spinal injury when he was in his early 20's resulting over time to permanent paralysis. At the age of 22 he was told that he would have only a couple of years to live, however he has shown great resilience and strength and has just celebrated his 71st Birthday!
Having grown up and experienced what it is like to live with someone who has a disability I am fully aware of the day to day challenges that people face, from pouring hot water into a cup to make a coffee to opening jars or reaching high shelves - the simple things in life we take for granted, such as giving someone a hug whilst standing up. We never think of how important that is, but when you have spent your life bending down to someone who is bound to a wheelchair the notion becomes very poignant. With the advancement in technology and progression in the abilities of wheelchairs, two years ago I was able to embrace my father whilst he was stood up in his chair. I cannot truly describe the feeling that gave me, it was in a word; phenomenal.
Aspire is such an incredible charity, they are able to support people of all ages with all manner of spinal injuries. Talking from experience, by having a variety of supportive aids around our home, my father was able to be independent in caring for us and in turn our childhoods where not hindered in anyway.
If anyone is thinking of taking part in this challenge, I would strongly recommend it, this year more than any other. Being able to set a challenge and complete it is the best feeling but even more so knowing how the money raised will completely change someone's life for the better!