He has three children with diabetes.
"I am no longer in the diabetic zone thanks to Swim 22."
Life after Swim22
I am delighted to say that I completed the challenge, raised over £500 and the process has helped me become a regular, stronger swimmer, who can now swim properly and with more stamina than ever.
It has literally changed my life, as I go swimming after gym class twice a week now, and this fitness level has reversed my diabetes and given me a new lease of life.
Before the challenge
When I was younger my mother suffered from diabetes and I have always struggled to avoid it myself.
Three of my children are diabetic, one of my sons is Type 2 and my two daughters are Type 1. One thing I have always told them is that love is the glue that holds us all together as a family and that it will conquer all, come what may.
Our diabetes experience began when we were on a family trip over Christmas. My wife was recovering from a traumatic a bi-polar episode and we’d gone away to get away from it all. On Christmas Eve my eldest daughter nearly died after going into a coma with undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis after being rushed to hospital. She was just fourteen.
As if that wasn’t enough, last year I had to have elective heart surgery - a quadruple heart bypass, to prevent me having a heart attack. It all went very well and I feel better than ever. Now, at 63 years old, I have decided that I need to re-motivate and inspire my troubled family and prove that if you stay positive and confront your problems, anything is possible.
Changing my routine
I started by taking on the Diabetes UK London Bridges Challenge, walking 10 miles across all the bridges in London with a group of supportive friends I managed to gather. I raised over £750 and was one of the top individual fundraisers. I’ve never liked exercise, so it was quite something for me to train, work up to, and actually do the walk on a hot day in London.
My new-found regime has helped me lose around 6 stone and get myself completely out of the pre-diabetic zone. Now I continue to exercise regularly, doing circuit training and heart rehab in the gym twice a week, with people my own age who are also post cardiac patients.
In the gym there is a great pool and when I finish my training I always used to go for a short swim as a way of calming down. I watched the lane swimmers enviously, as they sped along like porpoises, length after length. I wished I could swim better.
"Then I saw the Swim 22 Challenge and decided that this should be my next big challenge. Blimey - am I really going to Swim the English Channel?!"
Two months ago I had swum no more than 5 lengths of a 25m pool. Having worked out that I needed to swim at least three times a week and do around 50-60 lengths per swim to hit the target, I figured I had better start getting used to doing loads of lengths very often.
My first step was to take some swim improver classes which showed me how to do the proper strokes. Since then I have built up from 4 or 5, through 10, then 20 etc. and I am now up to 50 lengths for most swims each time I go to the pool. Needless to say, my strokes have improved and my technique is getting better. Slowly!
"I have never felt fitter or more ready to do the challenge."
I have already spotted someone else in the pool wearing the Swim22 swim hat so I am not alone. We have nodded encouragingly to each other across the pool lanes. Now it is just a case of diving in and going for it!
Why it's important
I want the world to know that diabetes need not be something that ruins your life. In fact, dealing with it has brought my family closer together, and given us more strength, both individually and as a team.
And we all can sense that, with more money, enough resources and bags of energy, those who are clever enough and committed to finding a cure or effective treatment for it will soon achieve a breakthrough. The research and development is vital to help save lives and make our children’s future brighter, without fear of diabetes. But until then, there is much to do to help those suffering, and to help prevent those who can avoid it with simple diligence and understanding, powered by awareness and education, brought about by publicity and social interaction. How to avoid it is part of the big conversation millions of us have daily online, that will help stem the tide and give us a chance to turn it back forever.
It is not just up to people like me, it is up to every single one of us to take responsibility for it and help the millions of people that could avoid diabetes, and wake up to that possibility before it is too late. We can either sink or swim. And I am choosing to Swim22 for Diabetes UK.