Meet Wanda - 2020 Swimathon Ambassador
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.
Over the past year, I have also started venturing into open water swimming. I haven’t got much beyond just “bobbing around” but living near the North Sea means that there are ample opportunities, for me to do so.
Not only do I enjoy swimming, but I also partake in regularly in aquafit and “Float Fit Hit” groups. Float fit hit, was introduced to my local pool, in 2019, it is essentially a workout, carried out on a boards, anchored in the pool. I observed it once and thought “not a chance”. The “teacher” however, had other ideas, encouraging me to “give it a go”. It’s now one of the highlights of my week, even though I regularly lose my balance and fall off my board!
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.