Sian had a French themed party when she arrived in France

I always enjoy taking part in challenges and raising money for charity. I had heard about the Aspire Channel Swim challenge over the years, so I did some research and came across Aspire and the challenge.

I had recently got back into swimming and wanted to do something that would keep me motivated when I returned to work after the summer holiday (I’m a teacher). I grew up swimming competitively however, once I finished high school, I never really continued swimming regularly.

I have always been a water baby - every time I am near water guarantee I will be in it within minutes. I used to take my school children swimming and the highlight was jumping in (fully clothed may I add) on the children’s last session because I simply couldn’t resist the water!

I really love swimming and find it such an escape; it’s an hour of the day I don’t think about anything else, it’s a bit of me time, doing something I’m actually good at.

I first started back to swimming in the summer, swimming every other day in order to be fitter. I have always been a larger lady and love that I have found an exercise which I love, which isn’t causing my body to ache and helping me become fitter. Over the last couple of months, I have focused on bettering myself for me and not for everyone else and I have found having the routine of going swimming is motivating me to focus on myself and my body in a more positive way rather than thinking negatively about my body and my size.

I absolutely LOVED swimming again after the first lockdown. I swim at Hampton open air pool and in the summer it was beautiful to be swimming in the bright sunshine. I thought it would be a bit miserable swimming in the cold and dark but, with the heated pool, I find it somewhat mystical and beautiful as you enter the pool and the steam is rising and the sun is setting, it’s just beautiful! My first swim back on 1st August was slow and I didn’t get very far. I did 750m in an hour. Now, since starting the challenge and swimming more, often I’m now completing 2500m in the same amount of time – I’m soo pleased with my progress.

Sian Dawe 3

Fundraising

When I started the challenge I was convinced I would get minimal sponsorship. I knew my family would sponsor me, but that’s about it, but within a few days I was past the £100 mark and I was absolutely shocked by the generosity. In all honesty I do feel awkward asking people to sponsor me to complete activities, especially given the current circumstances, however people are absolutely incredible in contributing to charities which is amazing. I use Facebook and Instagram to do my main asking for sponsorship. I do notice that the majority of the time whenever I mention it in my Instagram stories I get at least one additional sponsorship which is great!!! I do nothing but talk about the challenge I’m doing so hopefully that will encourage more people to sponsor me. Members of my family said they would double their sponsorship if I swam back to England which was a great motivation.

I don’t personally know anyone with a spinal cord injury, however after spending a lot of time on the Aspire Channel Swim website I have been inspired by the amazing work the charity does for people who have been affected by Spinal Cord Injury and I think it’s such a great charity to support.

I finished my first 22 miles last October and enjoyed a French party with my family. The following day I jumped back in the pool to begin my journey back to Dover.

Sian Dawe 1

The lockdown and subsequent closure of my outdoor pool meant it was put on pause and upon return I had to get back into the rhythm of swimming. I absolutely couldn't wait to get back into the pool, it was my sense of release especially after a busy day as a teacher.

Last Saturday (1st May) I arrived back in England after completing the 44 miles in 44 sessions which is a great achievement. I am currently looking for my next challenge to give me a goal.

Thank you for organising such an incredible challenge even during these uncertain times it has given me something to enjoy and look forward to. The website is such a great motivation and I love watching my progress along the channel and back again.

Sian Dawe 2
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