On a cold dark December afternoon when all you want to do is sit by the fire and eat cake, I was challenged by Max, one of our fittest members to train for the Great North Swim which involves swimming one mile across Lake Windermere. It is worth pointing out that I was never taught to swim properly as a little girl, I am most definitely no athlete, I have never swum in open water or worn a wetsuit and last, but definitely not least, I am not getting any younger!!
After much thought and a few panic attacks I decided that I would take up the challenge provided that the Lancky Dog members sponsored me for the greyhounds. I decided to call my challenge “Not Waving but Drowning”.
Under Max's supervision, I started the training in earnest in January – it was cold and it was dark – but I kept going and ploughed up and down the local pool for months building up my stamina until it was time to squeeze myself into a wetsuit and start the open water training – which was a whole different ball game. The water was so dark and choppy it made me feel dizzy but the intense cold was the worst. It made my head and ears hurt so much and it didn’t take long before I lost the feeling in my hands and feet. At this point I really started to doubt whether I could actually do this and, to be honest, I was scared. I steeled myself and thought very hard about all the beautiful hounds out there desperate for help and depending on the money I would raise to help them and ploughed on.
I booked a place in the one mile swim at Salford Quays in May to give me the experience of swimming under event conditions, and hopefully, some idea of what to expect on the big day at Windermere. The day was wet and windy and cold and the quays looked very uninviting indeed. However, I had some wonderful support which really spurred me on so I flung myself in and went for it and was thrilled to finish safely and in one piece – it gave my confidence a real boost and I started to believe I really could do it.
So the big day dawned cold and wet (again!!) but I was definitely ready. We were on the ferry very, very early in the morning but this time I had two mascots – Clarence, my knitted frogman, and my new little girl Hattie – who made it very clear to everyone just why we were there! After all the training, tears and torture it was suddenly time to do it – so I threw myself into the lake, buoyed up by the good wishes and support of all the LD members and the love of all the beautiful hounds and swam and swam and kept on swimming and ……. I did it!!!
My efforts were not in vain and I succeeded in raising a magnificent £3000. Thanks to the generosity of LD members and their families and the support of our friends in the wider community, we will be able to continue helping all those hounds still waiting and hoping.