Monday, 20 August 2012

We swam to France!

On Thurs 9th August, we got the call to say we'd be swimming on Friday the 10th, so to get our asses to Dover sharpish! As mentioned in the last post, Sophie briefly went a bit blind due to some prescription seasickness medication (lesson - if there are side effects, Sophie will probably get the most exciting ones...), so spent a bit of a panicked Thursday in eye A&E waiting to find out if she'd be fit to swim. Gladly, all was okay (and the consultant gave us some sponsorship money, winner), so we finally set off from Leeds at 5pm, with Sarah's dad Trevor at the wheel, and Sarah's sister Lisi on board to supply the gossip and bubblegum-flavoured bonbons en route!

After a night in our trusty tent (and poking someone's trailer-tent with a pole whilst putting it up in the dark...), we headed down to Dover marina to meet our fantastic fellow Seals and begin our journey on our boat Gallivant! Sadly, team member David had managed to get hit by an 8-foot wave whilst training in France, which perforated his eardrum and ended his 2012 swim dream - onwards and upwards to 2013 - get well soon, David!

After some comedy frolics with the Olympic torch, we were off! The team had decided that in David's absence, Sarah would be swimmer number one, which introduced some last minute nerves (oh, swimming hats, ever glamorous)...

...but then she was off!

Despite almost getting squished by our sister boat Sea Satin - what are sandwiches without mayonnaise?!

Boat leader, aspirant solo swimmer (good luck in September!) and David's replacement Alice was up next...

...she had a great time!

Then it was Jackie's turn to enjoy the beautiful weather...

 ...she was off!

Next up was Heather...

...beaming her way across the Channel!

Then it was Sophie's turn...

...who looks like she thoroughly enjoyed it!

A master switchover by Sophie and Kay...

...led on to Kay having the most adventurous swim of us all!

We carried on, one after another, through the evening...

...and then the night...

...whilst trying to keep warm and stop throwing up!

And after fourteen hours and fifty-nine minutes, Jacky touched France!! We were happier than we look, promise!

After the triumphant and snoozy three hour ride back to Dover! Hooray!

We even got to celebrate briefly with the legend that is Freda Streeter! Although she was a bit put out that we weren't getting back in the water...

A fry-up was next up - after eighteen hours of not keeping anything down, it was downright necessary!

And then we got to immortalise ourselves on the wall of the White Horse (well, until they next have a refurb!)...

...alongside Channel legend Alison Streeter...

...our boat pilot Mike Oram...

...and many many more!

We did it! And in case you've not had just about enough of's our swim video!

More thank yous, of course, to our latest sponsors during and since the swim - Jenni, Timandra, Lesia, Scotty & Nige, Col, Trevor P, James, Trevor (Sarah's dad), Sharon at Best Pawz Forward, David, Will, Jess, Callum, Dougie, Julie, Matt, Carole, Andy and Katie. You're all fantastic, thank you! We (literally!) couldn't have done it without you. THANK YOU! x x x x x

We did it!

We really did! On a gloriously sunny Friday, we set off from Dover, swam for fourteen hours and fifty-nine minutes, and touched France just after 4am! We'll do a proper swim post, but before we do, we have a very long-overdue update and a truck-load more thank yous!

22nd June - 2 mile Great North Swim - sadly, our swim was postponed because of hideous weather, but we persevered and went for a frankly apocalyptic swim in Derwent Water. 'It's okay, there are no powered craft on Derwent Water' announced Garnet confidently, shortly before a ferry chugged past us. Amazing. Unfortunately because of the 30mph winds and torrential rain our tent flooded, our sleeping bags got drenched and after deliberating for hours with the tent whacking us in the faces, we decided that we couldn't stay. But we kept smiling! 

26th June - we hit our target of £3500!

2nd July - Liverpool Triathlon - Sophie and Phurba supported Garnet at the triathlon and squeezed a few more pounds out of some soggy Liverpudlians!

14th July - bag packing at Allerton Road Tesco in Liverpool - we raised another £337.74, thank you, shoppers!

This got our fundraising up to £4,023.87!! Naturally, curry, wine and cocktails were required to celebrate!

Three weeks left until the swim...we were very excited!

We were also overwhelmed by the donations up until the swim - thank yous go to Loga, Helen, Glynis, Richard the Chemic fiddler, Michael, Heather, Jamie, Jeff and the consultant who checked Sophie wasn't going blind after suffering the side effects of some exciting seasickness medication!

Sunday, 5 August 2012


It's been a ridiculously busy SEVEN weeks since we last posted, so before we update on what we've been up to, and get incredibly excited that our swim window opens in just THREE days, we wanted to do an updated thank you list. It's a long 'un!

Since the last time we posted, huge thank yous to:

Sue and Tim, Catherine, Nicola and Ed, Emma, James, Nick, Dan, Christopher, Gary, Hayley, Edward, Kim, Dave, Helen, Tigh-na-Feigh Holiday Cottage, Mark, Kirsty, Chris, Leah, Sulafa, Natalie, Tim, Chris, Claire, Carl, Ali, Sarah's Gran and Tracey!

You're all wonderful!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Dover Take Two!

Hello! Last weekend was a chilly but very successful training weekend down in Dover with the rest of Team Seal and the other Aspire swimmers!

We swam... out and got warm... back in and swam...

 ...and were reunited with our fellow Seals...

...all of them!

It looks so inviting until you see the number of coats we're wearing! The water was about 13 degrees, which after May's 10 degrees felt much more pleasant, especially as on Saturday the harbour was a bit of a washing machine, and we weren't really thinking about the temperature, more about how the waves were crashing over our faces every other breath. Nice!

In between swims, the Seals were also the poster team for Zoggs (thanks for the costumes and goggles, Zoggs!)!

When Sarah was off fetching the snack bag (more of a snack holdall really), the rest of the Seals decided it would be a brilliant idea to try the 2-hour qualifier, and after 2 hours of the shakes, teeth-chattering, incoherent gabbling and swimming with the infamous Claw, sheer damn stubbornness dragged three of the team through the qualifier!

Which earned us a certificate from the legendary Freda Streeter...

...and a telling off for warming up with a hot water bottle - 'toughen up' were her words!

Soph completed her 2 hour qualifier today in Bristol, with similarly hideous symptoms, so Team Seal are now two thirds qualified to swim the Channel in August! This is also the first year that Aspire swimmers have completed their 2-hour qualifiers in June, which is a definite confidence booster for the swim!

If you haven't yet, please please support us on our JustGiving site. Thank you so much for all the donations so far, including those from Kathleen, Margaret, Lily and Kiran! 

We also received an incredible donation of £250 from EBS - many thanks to everyone at EBS, and in particular Penny for arranging this donation.

Your donations and another tabard-sporting bag pack at Horsforth Morrison's yesterday have helped us raise a whopping £3257.70 so far - that's 93% of our target! This money could be used by Aspire to:
- buy a complete set of easy to hold crockery for one of their houses 
- pay for an Independnt Living Advisor to spend a day in a Spinal Injury Centre offering advice and support to newly injured patient
- buy SmartNav technology for a PC to enable someone with a high level spinal cord injury to use a computer thank you all very very much!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

May Madness!

So this has been a month and a half! With various house moves, swim training, a trip to Dover and a whole lot of work, we've had plenty going on, but this weekend, we concentrated all our efforts on fundraising...and raised a massive £606.05!

Many many thanks to the generous folks shopping in Kirkstall Morrison's on Saturday for donating £477.90, and also to our other halves, friends and family who donned the most stylish of attires - the Aspire tabard - to help us pack bags!

Sarah's mum Jayne also raised £23 from selling plants, including these beautiful Alpine gardens:

...and we spent a beautifully sunny Sunday in Kirkstall Abbey selling our crafty (and tasty) bits and bobs, raising a brilliant £105.15!


Thanks again to all our crafty family - Sarah's grandma made these psychedelic tea cosies!

Thank you also to Sarah and Paul and Auntie Sandra for their generous donations! We're now 78% of the way towards our target, which we're so, so pleased about - thank you all so much for your support so far!