2020 Ambassadors

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Wanda Stockdale

Wanda pic

Challenge: All 5 challenges (400m, 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k and The Triple 5k)

Bio: Hi my name is Wanda, this year will be the fifth time that I have taken part in Swimathon and my third year of being a Swimathon Ambassador. The experience of being an Ambassador doesn’t get any less exciting and is still just as special, each time.

My swimming journey began in 2015, when I started swimming on the advice, following advice from my physiotherapist, after sustaining a back injury. 

Aside from a few lessons, during my primary school years, I’d had only limited opportunities to learn to swim.  My swimming stroke was, up until 2015, limited to splashing down the pool, with my arms flailing. In 2012, I made the decision to learn to swim. It was to take me, another two years, before I booked my first lesson, on May 8th 2015. Learning to swim, was to prove, more challenging, than I initially anticipated, but I loved it. 

My mental health benefited, through swimming by helping me to create space to process my day. Swimming has also had significant positive benefit on my physical health, alongside my back injury, I also have osteoarthritis and asthma. Being in the pool, gives me such a sense of freedom.

Eighteen months, after I started swimming, my chest consultant found my lung function to be the best it had been, for 6 years. Something which he believes was attributable to me swimming on a regular basis. In 2019, the positive benefits that swimming has had, on my physical health was highlighted in Swim England’s “Moving Medicine” Campaign and also in their “Value of Swimming” report. 

This year Swimathon have changed their swim hats not only are they, in my opinion, much better quality, but there is now space to write who you are swimming for. So grab a permanent marker and get writing on your swim hat, this year, who you are swimming for. It maybe for yourself, cake or, as in my case, a loved one. On the Swimathon Ambassador day, I proudly wore my grandad’s name on my hat, my grandad frequently spoke of his love of swimming, in his younger years. I know that he would have been very proud, that his granddaughter (eventually) has the same love of swimming.

Each year, when I have taken part in Swimathon, I have taken on a bigger challenge than the previous year as I have progressed on my swimming journey. In 2016 I took on the 1.5km, the year after 2.5km, then in 2018 I swam a total of 5km over the Swimathon weekend. Last year, I planned to swim 5km, but the lure of the new Triple 5km, was too great and over the space of a week, I completed the Triple 5km.

 So which challenge am I taking on this year? 2020 marks 5 years, since my first adult swimming lesson and the 5th time I have participated in Swimathon, so there was one obvious choice…I am taking on all five Swimathon challenges: 400m, 1.5km, 2.5km, 5km and the Triple 5km.

Laura Jane

Laura jane

Challenge: Triple 5k (twice)!

Bio: Hello! I’m Laura from sunny Worthing, West Sussex. I’m 31 years young and i’m a single working parent. 

I taught myself how to swim just 2 years ago and haven’t had a dry day since! For me, swimming is a way to escape the daily stresses and strains that life can bring. It’s changed my life massively and I am now training to become a swimming teacher. I want to be able to give other adults the opportunity to reap the benefits that swimming has to offer. 

This will be my second Swimathon event and I’m planning to take on the Triple 5K...twice! Swimathon has absolutely ignited my passion for swimming and has now given me this fantastic opportunity to share my love with the world! Not only is it a highly sociable event but it also provides the ‘feel good factor’. Whilst promoting good health and well-being we are also fundraising for Marie Curie and Cancer Research, two charities that are very close to many of our hearts - what’s not to love. 

 Prior to last years campaign I created a facebook support group for the Triple 5k participants and it has thrived ever since! 

If you haven’t yet signed up to Swimathon 2020 - what are you waiting for? Jump in and make a splash, you may just surprise yourself! 

Who will you be swimming for? #SwimForyou

Sue Wilson 

Sue wilsonChallenge: Triple 5k 

Bio: Hi, I’m Sue. I live in New Malden and swim in my local pool, at the Malden Centre. This year is my third Swimathon and I’m taking on the biggest challenge of all – the Triple 5k.

In my first year I entered as part of a team and last year I pushed myself to complete a solo 5k. I managed this in 2 1/4 hours and felt really proud of myself.

This year is harder as I’ll be doing 5k on the Friday, then one on the Saturday and another on the Sunday. I’m nervous to see how I get on and hopeful that I’ll be able to complete at least one swim in a quicker time than before. 

I’m delighted to be accepted as an Ambassador again, but this year is more special as I’m in an Ambassador team with my daughter, Emily Wilson. She was inspired to do this challenge after seeing my swim last year.

 My love of the water has just grown and grown, I’ve lost over 2 stone in weight and feel fitter and healthier than I’ve felt in a long time. I now also regularly Open Water swim in the Thames with a fabulous group of people who have become firm friends. Swimming has done so much to enrich my life and I can honestly say that I’ve never this confident and at ease with myself, my body image and my fitness. 

Swimathon has been a very personal journey for me as I had never completed any physical challenges before. My aim, as an Ambassador is to try and tell people that you don’t need to be a pro to attempt something like this – anyone can have a go whatever your fitness and whatever distance you choose – just get in the water, start swimming and help raise money for these excellent and very important charities!!

Emily Wilson 

Emily wilson

Challenge: 5k 

Bio: My name is Emily Wilson, I am 14 years old and am challenging myself to do the 5K swim for my Duke of Edinburgh Silver award. I set out to do 1.5K in the Swimathon last year and pushed myself to do 2.5K, I’d never swum that far before. As an ambassador I want to raise money for the two charities and encourage lots of people that are around my age to take part. I’m not particularly sporty, so I think if I can do this then anyone can have a go. I’m training really hard in the pool and at the gym and my swimming is improving.

I was very excited to be able to go the Ambassador training day and meet Olympic Medallist Duncan Goodhew. We had a pool session with Duncan where I learnt a lot and found it fun, he even asked me to demonstrate one of the drills.

My school has been excited that I am taking part and have been selected as an ambassador, I even featured in our end of term assembly. I’m doing this with one of my best friends, Shayda and I hope lots more people will get involved too.

Helen Mbazirra

HelenChallenge: 400m

Bio: I am Helen Mbaziira, a mom of 4 beautiful and multitalented young girls. I just recently learnt to swim as an adult with support from Swim England and the Love Swimming Campaign. Many of you would have seen my story on Swim England social media outlets. I started my swimming journey on  4th September 2019 with an amazing coach Suzanne Penhale and  fantastic support from Becki Ellis at the GLL Didcot Wave Swimming Pool, and I haven’t looked back. It is unbelievable how much I have achieved in just 4 months of swimming.

This year, I am taking part in the Swimathon challenge with 3 of my girls and the fourth one as a cheer leader! Our team is called the Didcot Black Marlins. We are taking on the 1K challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK in memory of my loving mother and my children’s grandma Mrs Alice Kemikyera Twinamatsiko Kanushu (RIP) who passed away on the 6/11/2016, having battled a rare form of urethral cancer.

To support our cause, please visit our Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Helen-Mbaziira. Every little helps!