Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Guest blogger: My Swimathon Challenge

Guest blog post by Chris Newton, trustee, cat foster & fundraiser!

During March 2014, as a foster daddy, I came into contact with quite possibly the wonkiest, but absolutely the sweetest and most adorable kitten called Elsa. Elsa is a special little girl who has been on a long journey, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch is now ready to find a new home!

Elsa in the early days just after being rescued
Elsa now at 4 months and looking for a new home!

As you can see from the picture, Elsa isn’t your usual kitten. She has the tip of her left ear missing, a slight tilt of the head and those sad eyes that makes you want to scoop her up and cuddle her forever. Because of those abnormalities Elsa had to stay in foster care slightly longer to monitor her progress with regular vets trips. Sadly those vet trips cost the branch money and it was during one of my trips with Elsa that I decided to raise funds for this amazing branch who I am honoured to be so heavily involved with.
After having a look at various way I could challenge myself I selected a 5km (5100m to be exact) swimathon, which ticked my two main targets, 1) something I couldn’t just do without putting in a lot of effort and 2) I wouldn’t end up injured or in hospital doing!! Over ten years ago I had swum competitively for a club, I was confident I could still swim properly, but fully aware of the complete lack of stamina I would have and knew that it wouldn’t be easy building that up to the required level.
I found myself a 10-week training plan online, ordered what I was missing (literally everything except my trusted goggles) and set off for a trial swim to see if I could actually still swim properly, by that stage I hadn’t been in a pool for 4 months, even then it was just for a cool down paddle more than a swim! The trial session went as well as could be expected and from that moment it was full steam ahead.
Over the course of the 11 sessions I swam over 1,500 lengths of the pool at my gym clocking up over 26km worth of training. There were times when every muscle in my body was aching due to exhaustion but I knew that I had to keep going in order to complete my challenge and get as much money as possible for the ones that count, the animals.
On the day of the swim I can honestly say I was fairly nervous, not for any other reason than for letting the branch down and for whatever reason I couldn’t complete the swim. I knew I had trained hard enough that I should be fine, but there is always the element of doubt that I could go too fast at the start and wilt away towards the end. At 7pm on Monday 16th June I pushed off for my first length in the pool.
Before I started my training I had set myself a respectable, if not earth moving target of between 2-3 hours. As my training went on my target decreased. I had worked out that I could do 3 lengths a minute during certain areas of my training, doing some basic maths I then reckoned that under 2 hours was achievable including a few mini drink breaks to keep hydrated. It was with a massive grin on my face that after just 94 minutes I completed length 300 out of 300!

I’m absolutely delighted to have raised over £425 for the branch, which will go to help all the animals the branch look after. Thank you to all those who donated through the sponsorship forms at work and on my JustGiving page, I really appreciate your generosity, it is far beyond what I ever expected to raise for the branch. If you'd like to sponsor me retrospectively please do via the link above!

What next? Nothing planned for some time, but you can never rule a 10k swim out can you?

If you are inspired by Chris's story why not register for our next big fundraiser in October 2014 - the Fire & Ice Walk!