Q1. How/When/What made you start open water swimming?
I have always loved swimming, most of this indoors. I used to enjoy swimming in the river and sea for fun but had to stop when I was diagnosed with colitis in my early 20s.
Running was my favourite sport and when a few sporty friends went from running to triathlon a couple of years ago it was something I wanted to join them in. Unfortunately my colitis symptoms stopped me from swimming or cycling too far.
Last March (2017) tumours were found on my colon and I was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer. I had surgery in March to remove my entire colon and have been left with a permanent ileostomy. Not pleasant but it means I can enjoy the sports I love without the anxiety of having to dash to the loo. I couldn’t eat for ten days post op and dropped to 43kg. I was sent home at the end of April to put weight on before my Chemotherapy started at the end of May.
My first chemo was on 24th May 2017, 24 hours later at home, I had a drug induced seizure and was admitted to A & E. The following day I had a second drug induced seizure on the ward and followed by the first of four cardiac arrests. I was rushed to ITU by the duty crash team where they tried to stabilise me. My family were warned I may not survive. After 2 and 1/2 days in a coma, I woke, unaware of what had happened.
I spent 1 week in ITU before returning to a ward for 2 weeks. I remember laying in ITU with my laparotomy scar,fractured ribs and fractured sternum, and weighing 42kg (having lost the weight I put on after surgery). Hoping to be able to walk/ jog 5km within a year. I suffered with vomiting for months after surgery and it took me until the end of 2017 to get back to 50kg.
Swimming was the first sport I started doing after surgery and it has been fantastic in my recovery as my body weight was supported.
A year on and I have swum 14,000m , cycled 212km and run 217km.To be able to step into Papercourt lake a year before the anniversary of my arrests was a unbelievable dream come true. I feel that there is no judgement of my speed or need for gloves and boots when nobody else is wearing them.
Q2. What is it that you love about open water swimming?
I love the freedom of being in the water, the stunning scenery and the way that all
my worries fade away.
Q3. What are your goals for the season?
I would love to do my first ‘proper’ sea swim this season. Possibly my first open-water
Q4. What competitions/challenges have you recently completed or got upcoming?
I have my first ‘official’ sprint triathlon in July and my first half marathon in September.
All the events I will be doing are to raise money for the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal
Q1. Where is the best place you’ve ever swam outdoors?
It has to be between two boats in the solent!