The Aspire Channel Swim has made swimming one of Gill's passions

I never used to do any form of exercise but in January 2019 I started swimming in a bid to get fit for my 50th birthday. The Aspire Channel Swim seemed like a fantastic challenge to keep my motivation going as the idea of having a focus and raising money was just what I needed.

Then to have the opportunity to do it again this year seemed perfect. We all need a goal and my friend has challenged me to swim the distance of the Channel and back again, which post lockdown seems a great idea! It’s a huge contrast from last year when I thought it would be impossible to even swim the Channel one way. The support from my fabulous family friends and colleagues has been so important. I just need a swimming coach now as, to be honest, this has inspired me to want to swim the real thing! But for now, I am content with my wonderful pool.

I enjoy swimming because I lose my mind delightfully in the rhythm, I feel invigorated afterwards and I have made some wonderful new swimming friends.

I had never swum freestyle and taught myself from YouTube videos and with a lot of encouragement from Alyssa, one of the lifeguards Alyssa at the Village Gym South Leeds.

During lockdown I missed swimming massively. I hadn’t realised just quite how much it had impacted on me and how important it was for my mental wellbeing.

Gil

Getting back in the water again I felt utterly elated and my sanity was restored. I hadn’t realised how much I had grown to love it. Initially it was really difficult. On the day of lockdown I had managed to swim 3km (120 lengths) but on my first day back I could only manage half a mile (32 lengths).

Last year I raised £675 for my Aspire Channel Swim but this year I didn’t want to push it as everyone’s money situation is a little more compromised with the pandemic. I may put some posters up at work and ask them to post on their websites, as well as posting on my social media. I’m obsessed with Twitter and I am getting to grips with Instagram but need lessons!!!

I am happy to fundraise to support people with spinal cord injuries as the big charities are often very well supported. I have seen Sophie Carrigill, a paralympic basketball player with a spinal cord injury give some incredibly inspirational speeches at the school my daughter went to. She is an amazing young woman.

The Aspire Channel Swim has reaffirmed my love for the sport and I no longer see it as just a leisure activity; it is now one of my passions.

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