Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Helen's story: I did Swim22 for my daughter and smashed my target

Helen and Cerys diabetes story


Helen's daughter is living with type 1 diabetes.

Swim22 has, without question, been life changing for me.

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. Here, Helen takes us through her journey and reasons for taking part. 

Diabetes UK and me

Helen's path to Swim22

Helen took on the Swim22 challenge in 2019 as one of her daughters, Cerys, lives with type 1 diabetes. Not being a regular swimmer, Helen knew this would be tough.

"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 as well as raise money. I set out to raise £100 and swim 22 miles".

At the end of the challenge, Helen raised an amazing £1,355.


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.

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.



I made my pleas on Facebook very personal. I spoke about the impact of Cerys’s diagnosis and the on-going implications. I used photos and images and made regular posts on Facebook on different themes - hypos, Diet Coke, finger pricks, tiredness.

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 WhatsApp 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.

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.


Going above and beyond

I could only do breaststroke and had never swum distances/times but with huge support from the Swim22 Facebook group, I smashed my 22-mile target. I actually completed 44 miles well within the time-frame and went onto complete additional miles which I ‘donated’ to others including a lady who was struggling with morning sickness. 

Throughout the challenge I built my stamina so that each swim I was achieving at least a mile. At the end of it I decided to learn how to do front crawl and had swimming lessons.

Outdoor swimming

I eagerly signed up to Swim22 in 2020 and I have again loved the challenge. This time my aim was to try swimming outdoors and I was delighted when the conditions worked out perfectly for me to try this for the first time during a visit to the Lake District.  

I was so excited, I was the first in the water and then swam the entire length and back with my wonderfully supportive other half, his brother and his nephew.  I seriously don’t think I stopped smiling for a good 24 hours.  Having posted it on Facebook some of my friends asked if I was scared and I can honestly say fear didn’t come into my mind at any point.  I absolutely loved it and look forward to being able to do it again.  

When I can, I now swim a mile on average 3 or 4 times a week and with the exception of a few lengths as my warm up/cool down I swim freestyle. Some days are tough but that’s rare - most days when I swim I find I have loads more energy. I sleep well and stick to a good sleep routine. The benefit of doing the challenge is just incredible.

All of this is thanks to signing up to Swim22 to help support my wonderful T1 daughter.

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk