My name is Laura and I work on the helpline here at MS-UK. I have set myself a challenge to swim 60 lengths a week, every single week for one whole year!
Swimming isn’t something I have ever been particularly that good at; I can swim but I have never been a strong swimmer at all. I much prefer things like yoga and Pilates! I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly fit either, but I am quite active in that I spend my days chasing after two young children.
The reason for this challenge is because this month would have been my Dad’s 80th birthday. Unfortunately, he died in 2010, a few months before his 71st birthday. I’d spent some time thinking about and discussing with family that I’d wanted to do something to mark the occasion. If he was here we’d have thrown a party, so why not still do something else instead?
I thought a challenge of some kind would be good, it would get me out and doing something just for me. Me-time is needed when life can be so busy. I’m not a runner - I’ve tried in the past and it really isn’t for me…I don’t enjoy cycling so that was out of the question. I didn’t really want to do a one-off event and I’m not doing this necessarily, entirely for the fundraising. I just wanted to do something a bit different.
My dad lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for a very long time. More years with it than without, in fact. He loved to be in the water. He was a good swimmer in his younger days and loved the benefits of hydrotherapy in his later years. The water provided a lovely sense of freedom and relaxation. A swimming challenge seemed the best option to keep that connection with something he liked to do too.
I decided to cover the distance of 80km (80 miles seemed just way too far!) for his 80th birthday but stretch this over a year to make it achievable. It works out roughly 60 lengths of a 25 metre pool every week. This is the hardest part for me… committing to go every week. My motivation will come from always thinking about why I am doing it and the fact I have no real reason why I cannot find the time in the week to do so.
Next year will be the 10 year anniversary of him passing so it seemed fitting to carry the challenge over a year to signify that too.
I have been ‘training’ since May and I’m pleased to say I have not missed a week yet! I thought I ought to do some kind of training as I wasn’t even sure I could manage one length let alone 60! My first swim back in May was really tough; I only managed 12 lengths and I was really out of puff. What I am amazed about is how quickly I have built up strength and stamina, and how much I am enjoying the peaceful time in the water.
I officially started my challenge this week and Tuesday night I swam 60 lengths for the first time ever! Now the challenge is on and I will do the same every week until the 80km is completed.
I have set up a JustGiving page for donations to the MS-UK counselling service. If you would like to donate please visit my JustGiving page.