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

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.

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.


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 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.

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.

Swim22 has without question been life changing for me.

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.

Am I still swimming? Oh my goodness yes. I found huge support from the Swim22 Facebook group. Since finishing the challenge I set my target to learn how to swim freestyle (front crawl as I know it). I signed up to adult lessons (VERY nerve wracking). As a result 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 it all freestyle.

I’m amazed as I have never stuck to anything - the swimming seems to be my thing. I find the water is my sanctuary. 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. 

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