If you’ve been inspired by the likes of Sarah Thomas and her incredible Channel swims, then the New Year is the perfect time to set yourself a challenge. While I’d love to be the type of person who dons a thick layer of grease and swims the 22 miles between England and France, my aims are a bit more modest. If this also sounds like you, then Diabetes UK’s Swim22 campaign could be the answer.
The idea is to swim the equivalent distance as the width of the Channel but without the choppy seas and potential jellyfish stings. Over the course of 12 weeks, you’ll rack up the miles in your local pool and earn yourself a fantastic feeling of achievement at the end. You’ll also get fitter in the process and earn sponsorship for a very important cause.
Diabetes UK is the national charity for the condition and works to help fund diabetes research, as well as supporting those living with Type I. It also spreads information about preventing Type II and having a healthy, active lifestyle is a big part of ensuring against the condition. So, by taking part in the challenge, you can contribute to a healthier society in more than one way.
By the time you’ve completed your 22 miles, you’ll find that swimming has become part of your regular routine and you may decide to keep it up throughout 2020. Instead of unattainable New Year’s resolutions, I advocate positive lifestyle changes that are sustainable. While a challenge helps to motivate many people, I’m also of the opinion to get out and do something as opposed to nothing, which is how I got into swimming in the first place.
With a back that’s prone to aches and pains, as well as a fairly sedentary job, I needed to find a form of exercise that was low impact on the ol’ spine, but high impact on my fitness levels. Length swimming keeps me in shape and I definitely feel a bit lethargic when a week goes by and I haven’t managed to get myself to the pool a couple of times.
There are some great resources on the Swim22 website, like a link to the the Pool Finder, which will help you find facilities near you. As well as the traditional indoor pools, there are lidos, women only sessions and even open water venues, so you can decide what sort of swimmer you want to be in this new decade. I personally love to swim anywhere and everywhere, mixing it up a bit whenever I can. Most of my Swim22 lengths will be at Portobello Swim Centre, as it’s really close to where I’m now living.
Like all challenges, it’s best not to jump straight in and try to swim 22 miles. Between now and February 22nd, get yourself used to being in the water. Get into the habit of swimming a few times and week and work out how much distance you can cover in one go. This will help you to gauge how to organise the challenge, improve your fitness and in the long run, decrease your chances of ending up with type II diabetes.
So, in 12 weeks – from February 22nd to May 22nd – you’ll cover 22 miles in your local pool. Register now! I’ve already signed myself up. You can see my fundraising page here. After registering, you can expect to get a welcome pack through the post and an exclusive Swim22 hat once the first person donates to your page. Then, all you need to do is get swimming and logging your lengths.