Jay didn't just swim the length of the channel when she took part in Swim22 – she swam back again, clocking up 44 miles in 3 months. Jay is also one of Swim22's top 10 fundraisers, raising an incredible £1840.
Wanting to show support for people she knows with diabetes
"I was looking for a fitness challenge after having treatment for painful joints. At the same time, I watched the impact that diabetes was having on one of my young students and his family. I also thought of a particular childhood friend who spent 50 years managing her diabetes."
I’d spent a year trying hard to lose weight and get exercise back into my life. I was a competitive swimmer as a child but lost the motivation in young adulthood. I had never been able to get back into the pool other than short, sporadic and temporary ‘phases’. I decided that Swim 22 would be good for me and good for Diabetes UK. Win Win.
I started getting used to the distance and my stamina improved. I found a time of day that worked for me and started recording swims on the challenge site. I joined the Facebook page - everyone supported and encouraged each other.
Having lost two good friends in the previous year, I decided to dedicate my swims to donors and friends. I used my 40 minutes in the water every other day to think about the impact those people have had on my life. I showed my gratitude and updates in daily Facebook posts.
It inspired me, at every turn; the way people wanted to support me. I was able to share information about diabetes and felt motivated to go further in every session.
"The challenge improved not only my fitness but my stamina and strength. My mental health, happiness, confidence and sleep"
Going the extra mile
By the end of week 7, I made it to 22 miles but still had 5 weeks left. I turned around and swam back, making the 44 on the final day of the challenge.
The challenge has improved not only my fitness but my stamina and strength. My mental health, happiness, confidence and sleep was better. I started to appreciate my friends and family in a new way. My swimming sessions gave me a chance to think and get space from working life.
I dedicated time on each swim to genuinely connect with and reflect on my feelings about and relationships with donors. So after each mile, I posted on Facebook to show my gratitude and share my thoughts and memories of that person/those people. I have been really dedicated to getting fit and losing weight this last year and Swim22 was part of that process. My friends and family were genuinely pleased to see me enjoying my swimming again and saw the benefits to my physical, emotional and mental health.
My Facebook posts were open, personal and the gratitude I expressed prompted others to donate. It gathered the right momentum and people I love could see what impact it had for me and my well-being. Life hasn’t been easy these last few years and it represented something greater than a few miles in a pool. I didn’t expect to raise so much money. It wasn’t what I set out to do- but I feel proud of myself and my dear friends and family who kept me going over 44 miles.
Life after Swim22
Since the end of the challenge, I’ve used an App to track my swims. I’ve continued to swim a mile every other day and have invested in a gym membership. I enjoy visiting other pools and recently swam at the Olympic Pool in London and the Lido at London fields. I recently celebrated my 54th birthday with another fundraiser event - ‘Swim for Restoration’ at Manchester’s beautiful Victoria Baths which are being restored. This swim really started something for me and I can say, hand on heart, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.