Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Great North Swim - - Again

Last year, you may remember, I tried to do The Great North Swim.

It's swimming a mile in Windermere, the largest lake in the Lake District.

Two days before it was due to happen last year, it had to be cancelled because of toxic blue-green algae in the water.

I was gutted. I had been practising since November 2009 and I was really looking forward to proving something - - I'm not sure quite what! - to myself. That I'm not quite past it, I suppose.

I've always swum a lot. I'm not naturally athletic, but it's the only sport I've ever been any good at. And I've always loved it. Some people love the freedom of running - - well, I've never been able to run any distance at all.

But I've always been able to swim. Not fast, but I've always been able to keep going. Since November 2009, when I decided to work toward the Great North Swim, I have swum a mile two or three times a week: it's sixty-four lengths of a normal-sized pool. A mile takes me almost exactly an hour.

I swim breast-stroke, though not - I hope - that "middle-aged-lady" breast stroke with your head up high, your perm intact and your glasses on.

No, I swim a plunge-your-face-in-the-water kind of breast stroke and that's my only asset, really - I have quite a decent style. That and a kind of dogged persistence and an inner refusal to believe that I'm over about twenty-five.

Stacked against me in the swimming stakes are that I've had a deep-vein thrombosis in my leg, I'm diabetic and I'm - er - not in my first flush of youth. Also I'm blind as a bat. Even with my prescription goggles. Yes, I'll start off in Windermere - - who knows where I'll end up!

When I first saw the swim advertised I thought "hey - - I could do that!" But ever since, I keep meeting much better swimmers than I am who have said "Ohhhh no, you'd never get me doing that. Not in a lake. Oh no." And I keep thinking - - should I be worried? Will I be able to do it?

I've been practising swimming in my wetsuit, (they insist upon swimmers wearing them for warmth) which has taken a lot of getting used to - it's too big, and it takes a while before I can get all the air out of it. But I'm getting better.

Now then. I have several friends and colleagues who suffer from the terrible, debilitating illness Multiple Sclerosis, or MS.

An actress friend of mine, Sally Womersley, has been raising money to buy a special machine to assist with MS research. She has already raised nearly thirty thousand pounds for the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research.

So, in doing the swim, I am also trying to raise money for this excellent cause.

I am asking for your help. I have never asked you for money before and I know that these are hard times. But anything that you can give will be very gratefully appreciated. You can donate to Sally's MS Research machine here - just click on the link, it's a secure site for donations.

The swim's on Saturday, 18th June - in just under two weeks' time. Stephen and Silverback will be there to cheer me on, and I'm grateful for their support. I am nervous, but I am excited. Wish me luck!


Anonymous Milo said...

GOOD LUCK! You'll do great I'm sure! Look forward to hearing about it afterwards.

8:35 pm  

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