Kirstie Beechey's English Channel Solo Swim - Selkie Charity Challenge
Posted on Monday, March 09 2020 01:18:00 PM in News by Karen Lee
I caught the swimming bug 4 years ago now. The few years leading up to this had been tough, for various reasons, and my health and fitness had taken a back step. With life finally calming down, I decided I needed to take back the reigns, and over a glass of vino or 3 with the family, I blurted out that I would complete a triathlon by the time I turned 30.
Not one to go back on my word (however daft), I started training and was making steady progress, but the swim section of the tri was in a river and not only had I never swum in open water before, I was a giant wimp! As a child, I’d always had a fear of open water....completely irrational, but a fear nonetheless. Even now 4 years on I jump at seaweed, and every silhouette I see of a swimmers elbow is, to me, a shark! Too scared to venture into the deep on my own, I persuaded my ever supportive sister to come along to a lake on a few occasions. We both squealed a lot and made an almighty fuss as we struggled to head up breaststroke our way round the lake in wetsuits (Anyone that’s tried head up breaststroke in a wetsuit knows it’s not easy). We just couldn’t get our faces in the water. It was too cold (17 degrees 😂) and too scary.
Anyway, stubborn as I am, rather than give in, I figured I’d try the sea instead. A little google pointed me in the direction of East Dorset Open Water Swimming Club and off I went (it happened to be the best decision I ever made)!
I was welcomed in and looked after by some VERY patient and experienced swimmers who metaphorically held my hand as I pansied around for the first few swims. I was petrified, but I remember coming out feeling like I had conquered the world....and who doesn’t love that? I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since!
When the season ended I wasn’t ready to stop, and it was then I was introduced to Beyond The Blue and the crazy world of winter swimming! I was fully neoprened up, but I surprised myself and swam through the winter and straight into next season. I felt like I’d discovered this amazing new secret world and I bloody loved it. Not only was I fitter than I’d been in ages (not hard), it was great for my mood, my confidence and I’d also met some top notch folk who were now very dear friends!
I did my triathlon, but I should have known that I’m not really built for land based speed, and that I have the balance of a one legged giraffe, so me on a bike was never going to end well. Needless to say, triathlon was quickly phased out, which left more time for swimming.....hurrah! Since then, with the support of my swim chums and family, I’ve been steadily pushing my boundaries, as well as my distance and my cold water tolerance. Fast forward 4 years and I’m now training for an English Channel solo swim.....holy c&@p bags!!!
I remember as a child, probably at the age of 9 or 10, saying out loud, very naively, that I’d like to swim to France one day. It was a very off the cuff remark from a child that hated the sea, but I remember it all the same. I'm very aware that I’m still fairly new to sea swimming. I'm also very aware that it's a fairly bold thing for me to be contemplating. However, the deposit is paid now (there may have been some vino involved here too), so I’m going to have to give it my best shot!
One of my main motivators is the hope that I’m going to be able to raise a heap of money for 2 very special charities along the way. These charities have helped my family personally after my son was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer at the age of 5. The work they do for families like mine, is invaluable and, in my eyes, they are hugely deserving.
The first charity is Piam Brown Ward. This is the ward where all children affected by cancer in the South Central region are treated and followed up. Funds donated to the charity help to provide equipment and toys for the ward as well as days out and parties for the children.
The second charity is Dreamflight UK. Each year they take a group of youngsters with various life changing illnesses on the holiday of a lifetime, without parents, to Florida. They have a huge team of Doctors, nurses, physios and BA flight crew that escort and look after the kids. It’s not just a holiday; the children discover independence, confidence, and a whole new outlook on life.
I’m extremely passionate about raising lots of money for these two charities and so the fact that the lovely guys at Selkie have decided to support me is just immense! I’m going to keep you all posted on my progress along the way, but in the meantime if you would like to donate then please visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/kbeechey
Also if you make any purchase on the Selkie website using the code CCKF20 then you not only get 20% off and get to look super fly, but 10% of the sale will get donated to my chosen charities!!! We call that a double win.
You can follow Kirsty on:
Twitter @kfoweraker and