Zoe has been very dedicated in her fundraising efforts and has been putting her fitness to the test in an effort to raise as much money as possible! Here's how she did it...
When I found out that I would be going to Guyana in the summer to work with Guides and Guide leaders, I thought very hard about how I was going to raise my £1700 in order to pay for the project costs. I had been meaning to start swimming for a while and so the idea of a sponsored swim seemed like a good one. When I was younger I used to be quite a good swimmer and gained my 5 km swimming badge when I was 10, something that most swimmers never manage. Since 5 km seems to be the standard swimathon length I thought I would try to do this again, both as a personal challenge and to raise some money.
This time, however, I was at a disadvantage. Unlike when I was younger and spent about 2 hours a week swimming, I hadn't been swimming for about 5 years when I completed my Duke of Edinburgh's award physical recreation. I went for my first training swim on 2nd March at Tiverton Pool in Selly Oak. The pool is an old Victorian baths with very basic facilities but it was pleasant and fairly quiet. On my first visit I managed a total distance of 1.5 km, but I had to keep stopping for a rest after every 500 m. I was pretty shocked at how unfit I was and wondered whether I had set the bar too high with a 5 km distance.
I am lucky to live in Birmingham as the council are running a 'Be Active' scheme which gives everyone with a leisure card free swimming at certain times. At Tiverton pool that meant free swimming on a Monday so I was able to swim each Monday and not spend any money, a bonus when I am trying to raise as much as possible. I would try to swim between 12:00 and 1:00 as that was the time when the pool was split into lanes and I was able to swim whole lengths without anyone cutting across and so it was easier to work out how far I had swum each session. By the start of April I could manage 2 km at a time without stopping, a nice improvement in a month and then began to build up my strength by swimming with floats and swimming some lengths faster. By the start of May I was able to swim 1.75 km in an hour and it was getting to the right time to try the challenge.
On Sunday 13th May I had planned to get the first train from Northfield to Selly Oak which would mean I had just under 4 hours to get my swimming done before the pool closed. However, things were not to go to plan. I arrived in plenty of time for the train but due to overrunning engineering works the trains were not running and instead there was a rail replacement bus at 9.38. There was no sign of a bus but there were plenty of other people waiting so I waited. And waited. At 10:00 there was still no bus and I was beginning to wonder whether I should give up and reschedule the swim for another week since the bus would take much longer than the train. At 10:05 I gave up and started to walk home, only to have the bus pass me on its way to the station. So I ran back to the station and just made it! I was still a little worried about time but for some reason the bus driver missed out the next two stations and drove straight to Selly Oak, arriving at 10:20. I made it to the swimming pool and got changed in record time and was in the pool by 10:30. I was still worried about not finishing in time so I tried to swim faster and managed to swim the first kilometre in about 30 minutes! After that I settled down so I didn't tire myself out and managed to keep going. After three kilometres I felt pretty tired and although I was swimming in the slow lane I was still being overtaken by some people but I just kept swimming! After 2 hours, 57 minutes and 42 seconds I finished 5 km and happily grabbed the side of the pool. I managed to drag myself out of the pool and onto the train (which were now working fortunately). When I got home my husband made a massive plate of macaroni cheese and a nice cup of tea and then I had a nice long soak in the bath.
I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me in this challenge and to everyone who has supported my swimming it means a lot :)
Well done to Zoe from all the team!
Remember if you want a copy of the Guyana Challenge send us an email!