The swim was a mile in the Manchester Ship Canal and I was really nervous. I was confident I could do the distance but having done no open water swimming before there was still the potential for disaster. My friend didn't help when she casually told me on the morning of the swim when she casually told me that a professional swimmer had drowned in the canal the week before. I think she was still suffering the effects of the previous night though so I'll let her off.
My wave wasn't setting off until 12.35 but I was there really early. It was a lovely sunny day which meant there were lots of people out watching so for an hour I just sat in the sunshine, relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. As it got nearer to 12.35 though, I got more and more nervous. I just wanted to get in and get going.
Check in for my wave opened at around 12.00 so at about half eleven I got changed ready to meet my cheerleading team (my mam and cousin Niamh!). Because it was so hot wetsuits were optional but they recommended first timers wore them as they give you extra buoyancy. At this point anything that was going to help in any way seemed like a good idea so I decided to go with it. And first challenge complete - I managed to get into it. They are not flattering items!!!
Finally it was time to check in. The whole thing was really well organised. I had a chip attached to my ankle which not only timed me but was also tracked all the way around to make sure I didn't get into any difficulty. There were plenty of safety canoes out on the water too so despite being nervous I did feel very safe. Once I got through check in, there was an acclimatisation area to get used to the temperature and feel of the water. Apparently the water temperature was 22 degrees but it still felt cold when I got in. Soon warmed up once I was out there though.
After a quick dip in the acclimatisation area it was time for a warm up and then we were off! There were some pretty serious swimmers in there, triathletes etc and a couple of first timers like me. I decided right from the start not to worry about what anyone else was doing. My time wasn't that important to me, I just wanted to get round, raise some money for charity and enjoy the experience. And I did all three! I positioned myself near the back and just took it slow and steady all the way round.
Swimming in open water made more of a difference than I thought. In the pool I can do a mile in around 40 minutes, this took me one hour five minutes. I had expected a bit of a current but there was more than I thought, it's much easier to veer off in the wrong direction and weeds, twigs and leaves in your way are not fun! I loved it though, it's an amazing feeling out there. Just feel really free and a little bit naughty as this picture shows
Although I was towards the back I felt fine most of the way round but the final bit towards the finish line was pretty tough going. I could see the finish line but it felt like a very long way away. I wasn't giving up at that point though, I'd come too far to not finish it. And people have been very generous in sponsoring me so I wasn't going to let them or World Vision UK down. This is where my cheerleading team really helped me out. I could hear them both shouting and it made me keep going. I was a bit wobbly when they pulled me out of the water, but smiling and so proud!
So why did I decide to put myself through this? It's all part of my fundraising challenge. I've decided to concentrate all my fundraising efforts on World Vision UK. I've done the swim, I'm taking part in the Team World Vision running challenge, running a sweepstake and collecting used stamps. Please have a look at my fundraising website to find out more about all my fundraising activities.
So far the swim has raised £178 (£222.50 with gift aid!) online and I have more sponsorship offline which I need to collect now I've done it. If you've not sponsored me yet, there's still time. My sponsorship page is still open
PLEASE CLICK HERE AND SPONSOR ME NOW!!! THANK YOU :-)
Wonder when entries for 2014 open? I'd definitely do it again.,