20th October 2023

Debbie’s Swimming the Distance Challenge

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Debbie Brown, 61, has loved swimming all her life, even becoming a swimming teacher with her husband when her children were young, so when she saw our Swimming the Distance challenge was back, she couldn’t resist. Even though she is recovering from wrist surgery!  

“This year I’m doubling my distance, swimming 10k in honour of my dad, grandmother and grandad who all died from lung cancer.  Out of all three family members, only my grandad smoked and sadly he passed at just 63 in 1979.  

“As you can imagine, my life has been severely impacted by the disease and I would love to think my efforts were in a small way able to contribute to making the disease more survivable in the future. 

“This year it is going to be extra hard. Not only have I doubled my distance but I’m recovering from a spine and wrist fracture after my horse, Scooby Doo, spooked and bucked me over his head. Nine weeks ago, I had surgery to reconstruct my wrist joint.  

“Swimming is definitely more challenging but I’m never one to be defeated.”  

My dad’s motto was, always face a challenge head on. He certainly did and now I hope to do the same.

The challenge

“My recovery is going well thanks to the support of my amazing husband Martin. I’ve found swimming is great for helping my post-surgery recovery.  

“I always swim with a brace on my wrist which provides additional support, so there’s no danger of me doing more harm. My consultant also agreed so I’m ready to dive in! I can swim at my own pace and Swimming the Distance is motivating me to swim for a great cause. 

“Knowing the challenge was returning I’ve been preparing by building up my distance in the water and coupling this with cardio at the gym.  

“It’s the perfect challenge. I love swimming, especially the breaststroke. I find it therapeutic, just me and the water.  

“My goal is to raise £250 for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. I know times are hard but I’m hoping my friends and family will support me, they know how challenging it is for me right now.” 

What the challenge means to me

“I’ve mentioned the losses I’ve experienced. Three very important people have died because of the disease. My dad’s death hit me particularly hard, he was diagnosed in November 2019, and he deteriorated so quickly. 

“Dad died in March 2020, just before we went into lockdown. We later learned that the likely cause of his lung cancer was due to work, he was a joiner all his life but early on he worked with asbestos. 

“I was very close to him. We bonded over our love of sport, and he was always my biggest supporter in whatever I did, whether that be swimming, badminton or horse riding.  

“His death was devastating to me, he’d been loving his retirement, playing golf, gardening and coaching athletics. It felt cruel that his life was cut short so abruptly.  

“And that is why I do Swimming the Distance. It’s one way that I can give back and play a part in changing the future, so others don’t have to go through what I did.” 

Debbie will be taking on her 10k challenge throughout November during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. If you’d like to support Debbie, visit her Just Giving page here.