Thank you to Nicky Watts, Joe Glentworth and Lucy Critchlow who completed the Great North Swim in aid of SYRLJ.

Here is a message from Nicky to her supporters, showing what a challenge this event was to justify donations!

Their fundraising page is here for any last minute donations to support the trio:

“Thank you for supporting me and for giving money to SYRLJ. I know that this money will make a difference for this small charity helping people with their claims for asylum.

I have completed the swim and this is an account of my Great North Swim Experience.

Preparation for the swim was, for me, mostly obsessing about a suitable wetsuit. Other people I knew on the swim had bought cheap wetsuits on eBay, or in car boot sales. I bought one on eBay that was too short and too thin, another was too thick, and too big… another that I borrowed also didn’t fit, so if anyone needs a wetsuit, I have a selection to choose from. I prevaricated till the last few days, and then went to a Sheffield sports shop.

The sales girl assured me that I had the right fit, even though the crotch only came just above my knees, I had to contort my arms into strange angles to get the suit on, and could only stand in a bent position. ‘Its supposed to be like a second skin’. ‘Ill think about it,’ I said.

I looked online to find out how to put on a wetsuit. A YouTube clip assured me that it should take a person half an hour to put on a wetsuit properly, using plastic bags and an assistant. Armed with this knowledge I went back to the shop and bought the wetsuit – which I took back and changed size several times.

When I entered for the swim, I knew that I was extremely slow (almost stationary) at breast stroke, but thought I could intersperse this with crawl to keep up. I thought that I would enjoy the swim.

Lucy and Joe managed to do their respective half and two mile swims triumphantly. Both in good time.

I didn’t. Because as soon as I got into the water I realised that I couldn’t breathe. The wetsuit was made for a taller slimmer swimmer. The neoprene folded into ridges around my body, and I felt as if I was in the embrace of a particularly vindictive boa constrictor. My lungs could not expand, and I went into panic mode. I could see the other swimmers disappearing on the horizon, their green caps bobbing on the surface. To keep up I kept trying to go into crawl, as I had planned, only to find I was swimming across the lake in the wrong direction and was continually ushered politely back into the race by a man in a little canoe.

‘Am I halfway yet?’, I kept gasping. ‘Nearly’, they said. They were all liars.

At last I reached the final stretch. Swimmers were singing, chatting, laughing and enjoying themselves. I saw my friend, Michele, who had been waiting for quite a long time shivering at the finish line, and her family shouting encouragement. I struggled out, and as I crossed the finish line vowed never ever to take part in any sports event ever again.

Michele came in first for her age group, and I came in fifth. Yes there were more than five people in that category. Just.”

Well done Nicky, Joe and Lucy!

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