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Helen smashes Swim22 target

Helen with her daughter Cerys

Helen wanted to take part in one of our events to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes, so she took on Swim22 – swimming the length of the channel (22 miles) in 12 weeks. In her own words, Helen takes us through her journey and reasons for taking part.

I decided to take on the challenge as one of my daughters Cerys has Type 1 diabetes. I was not a regular swimmer and I knew it would be tough for me. My inspiration was seeing what Cerys has to go through every day and I wanted to use the challenge as an opportunity to raise awareness of this as well as raise money. I set out to raise £100 and swim 22 miles.

The challenge

As soon as I made my first Facebook post the donations started to come in and I smashed through my £100 target in the first few hours. I started swimming on day one of the challenge. I firstly set out to swim 44 lengths on each visit. After the first week or so I wanted to push myself with the swimming to see if I could do the full mile. I did this and then made my goal to do a mile per visit. I changed my morning routine to enable me to do this.

The energy I got from swimming was incredible. I’ve always tried to keep active but it’s always been a challenge but not the case with swimming. I had found my thing! I was swimming every week day as well as going to the gym every evening. I had never felt so energised.


While the swimming was my thing the most important was raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes. I made regular posts on Facebook on different themes - hypos, Diet Coke, finger pricks, tiredness.

I received incredible support from my friends and family. My work colleagues were incredible too. Two chaps in particular took me by surprise as they made a point of coming to see me and telling me their own stories.

I raised the most money through embarrassing myself! I showed a close friend a photo I had taken in my swim hat – it was too funny but not at all flattering. She vowed to sponsor me extra money if I set it as my What’sApp profile picture. Which I did. My fiancé then challenged me to change my Facebook picture for the duration of the challenge if I raised a certain amount. He then proceeded to rank up the sponsors! Profile picture duly changed!

Going above and beyond

I smashed my 22 mile target, completing 44 well within the timeframe and then went on to complete additional miles which I “donated” to others including a lady who was struggling with morning sickness. I have continued with the swimming. I found huge support from the Swim22 Facebook group and I’ve been encouraged to sign up for swimming lessons and I’m now mastering freestyle. I still swim a mile every week day.

I raised in excess of £1000 – so far beyond anything I’d imagined.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, the most significant part of the challenge for me was the reaction of my daughter. She told me how proud of me she was for doing the challenge. She readily supported me in sharing her personal stories. At one point she turned and said “mum it’s clear how many people love you from the response” to which I had to point out it was people who loved “us”.

"The Swim22 challenge has without question been life changing for me."

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