Our Director of Marketing, Rachel Avery, is one of hundreds of people taking on our Swimming the Distance challenge this November. She shares what prompted her to take part and why she would encourage anyone to commit to a 30-day challenge.
“I am not a runner. I am in awe of people who can run for more than a couple of minutes without turning beetroot. I’m also not a keen cyclist. My husband got me a bike for Christmas (I asked for it – it wasn’t an unsubtle hint!) and it’s spent most of its life in the shed.
“Swimming on the other hand, that is my favourite form of exercise. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved swimming. I have wonderful memories of family holidays where I would just live in the pool. So, when I saw our Swimming the Distance challenge, I knew that was the fundraiser for me.
“I try to complete a fundraising challenge every year. Having worked at the charity for over six years, I see the impact we are having on people living with lung cancer, so I want to do my bit too.
I’ve done the Zip Wire challenge. I performed the Viennese Waltz at our Strictly Ballroom event (three 10s just so you know!) and I’ve walked the Wirral Walk whilst pushing my twin boys in their pram. Now it’s time to dive into the next challenge to help raise as much money as I can.
Set your Own Goal
“One of the things I love about the Swimming the Distance challenge is you can adapt it to suit you.
“I would class myself as a strong swimmer so I wanted to set a target that would really push me. I decided to swim a marathon in November which works out at 1,687 lengths of my local pool. I worked out I would need to do about four swims a week, completing 100 lengths each time.
“I’m sure to a lot of people that would think that’s a crazy amount of swimming. In fact, my colleagues and friends are constantly saying that to me!
I think if you’re asking people to sponsor you, it needs to test you – and it certainly is testing me!
“But that’s why a 30-day challenge like Swimming the Distance is so good because everyone has different levels. For people who aren’t confident in the water, swimming a mile is real challenge so you personalise for you.
Much Needed Motivator
“As I’m writing this, it is teaming down outside. The temperature has dropped, and it now feel like November. In past years, this would result in me shutting out the cold, donning my pjs and snuggling down in front of the telly, gorging on the beginning of Christmas goodies and piling back on the pounds.
“But that isn’t an option now. I have committed to something. People have donated. Failure is not an option so off I go… four times a week for a whole month!
“Another great thing about these 30-day challenges is they are really flexible. Yes, you need to commit to a month of activity, but you can do it when it best suits you.
“I set out the dates I would aim to swim but then life takes over and it doesn’t go to plan. Last week for example, I had two 12-hour days out filming as part of an upcoming campaign so couldn’t swim. Then, I got a really bad cold so had to have another few days out of the pool. Technically that’s left me behind my schedule, but because I have the whole month to complete it, I know there is still time to catch up.
“As I said before, my usual place in November is curled up on the couch but because of this challenge, I am now exercising on a regular basis and seeing the benefit.
“Working at Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, I am surrounded by people living with this disease. A big part of my role is sharing the stories of people with lung cancer. I have interviewed people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s who have been affected by this disease.
No one is immune and growing old is the greatest of privileges so I want to everything I can to grow old with my husband and see my two boys grow into fine men. By taking on this challenge, I am prioritising my health and reducing my own risk.
“Just over halfway through the challenge, I have already lost weight and inches off my waist. If I keep this up, I may HAVE to go shopping for new clothes as my current ones are getting a little baggy! Gutted!
“I am also feeling the benefits. I have more energy. I am less anxious and more focused. What’s not to like about that?!
“Plus, if I swim 100 lengths, I can enjoy that bar of chocolate, or glass of wine, 100% guilt free!
“My job is busy and can be emotional and stressful, particularly at this time of year. November is lung cancer awareness month, and we have our On the Right Path campaign running.
“Add in family life, which is never quiet with 7-year-old twin boys, a husband who works away a lot and the fact our house is undergoing an extension, and there isn’t a lot of time for just me.
This challenging has given me the gift of time. Time for just me, and as I’m gliding through that water, my mind can rest.
“There is no phone, no emails, no dinner to cook, no clothes to wash. I completely switch off from everything else that is happening right now, and I am truly in the moment and it is wonderful.
“I always knew our fundraising team were awesome but it’s great to see it first-hand. I’ve had so many messages of support, it really spurs you on.
“What’s more, there is also a dedicated Swimming the Distance Facebook group, full of other people taking on the challenge. There’s so much positivity in the group and it’s great to be able to chat to other people who understand how hard it can be to drag yourself to the pool when it’s blowing a gale and freezing cold.
“I am also incredibly fortunate to have wonderful support from my friends and family too. One of my oldest friends is taking on the challenge too – unofficially. He is trying to match my number of swims and distance and every time he misses one, he donates another £5!
Bag of Swag
“And finally, there’s the merch! There’s the Swimming the Distance t-shirt, swimming cap, towel and, of course, the medal. I mean who doesn’t love a freebie!”
Rachel has completed 950 lengths of her Swimming the Distance challenge and has 737 lengths to go and 12 days to do it in. You can donate to Rachel’s JustGiving page and show your support.
You can also sign up for one of our 30-day challenges. In December, we are starting our Sit Up Challenges or give January to you with our Space to Breathe challenge (details coming soon).