On August 17th I will be swimming 2.5 nautical miles, to the Isle of Wight to raise funds for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust (EMCT), which takes young people from the age of 8-24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer.
I believe in the power of sport and the outdoors to empower individuals to overcome the difficult challenges we can all face in life (open water swimming did that for me). I am really excited to be able to celebrate that by being part of a fantastic team of 24 swimmers raising lots of cash to support the brilliant work that the EMCT does.
I have been thinking about how to describe the positive and long term impact that the EMCT’s work has and realised that it’s best illustrated in the inspiring stories of the young people who learn to sail with them:
Larvell was 10 when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He spent a lot of time in hospital and missed over two years of school. During this time his hair fell out, he gained weight and lost his confidence.
Larvell first sailed with the Trust in 2005. “I had never thought about sailing before, but I enjoyed it a lot, and could talk about anything with the others on my trip.” He didn’t look back and has returned every year since.
In 2009 Larvell sailed in the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race where he was introduced to the former Head of UK business at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. A huge advocate of the Trust, he was so impressed by Larvell’s outlook and positive attitude that he offered him an internship with the company, beginning in 2010.
Since Larvell first stepped onboard with the Trust, his Mum has seen him transform from a shy retiring boy into a more confident and independent young man: “Being on a low income and living in Nottingham, sailing was an experience I could never have given him. Larvell is fairly quiet and doesn’t go out much, but has travelled the length of the country on a train by himself to go sailing with the Trust. It has given him much more confidence and taught him to see the ability inside him. Something good has come out of something bad, and I am very proud of him.”
In addition to that Larvell now runs half and full marathons, volunteers with the Trust, oh and has time to fit in studying for a Marine Sciences degree!
You can read other inspiring stories and find out more about the EMCT’s work on their website. Unsurprisingly, I feel immensely proud and privileged to be involved!
Every swim is different: Pool, lake, sea, river, training swim, skinny dip etc, and I love the changing dialogue I have with the water and where that takes me in my life on the shore.
I also love how swimming adventures pop up as if from nowhere; yet somehow reveal a hidden logic that joins once disparate dots from across your life, together.
It connects: childhood adventures to the Isle of Wight; my favourite jumper lost in the Solent; a university student inspired and kept on the straight and narrow by the achievements and determination of Ellen MacArthur; family and friends who have battled cancer; and an aspiring open water swimmer with a lot of dreams and whose perception of what is possible was transformed by Anna Wardley’s Five Island Swim Challenge…
So, ‘hello’, new swimming adventure. I very much look forward to seeing where you take me!
You can follow the Solent Swim Challenge team’s adventure on twitter and facebook and of course feel free to donate as much cash as you like (and check out some potentially embarrassing pics of me from my childhood) on my virgin money giving page.
Thank you very much for your support and Happy Swimming!