Hanging up my hat – Vicky Larkin

I’ve done it! It’s time to hang up my #Swim22 hat as I swam the last 80 lengths to complete the challenge on 22 May.

Vicky swimming in Sri LankaThere was a point when I really thought I wouldn’t finish in time. I’d just got back from holiday in Sri Lanka and was very behind schedule. The sea had been too wavy for me to swim in and we didn’t stay anywhere with a swimming pool except for the last two nights. I was very proud of myself for getting up early and bashing out some lengths in the hotel pool while everyone else was enjoying a leisurely breakfast. Back in England (and back to reality), I realised I still had eight miles to swim in just 14 days. But I was determined to do it – it just meant I had to up my game and use every spare minute I had to go swimming…

Less than two weeks back from holiday and I was off again for a weekend in Telford volunteering at a Diabetes UK Type 1 Family event. It was an eye-opening experience for me, especially as I am not personally affected by diabetes. To spend time with children who manage their Type 1 diabetes so well and so bravely was really humbling. The youngest child there was just three years old and on a pump. No one complained or let it stop them from running around, joining in the games or enjoying a day out at the zoo. It was also lovely to see the parents and carers get just as much out of the weekend as the kids, and everyone left smiling. It really reminded me of why I was doing Swim22 and made my 7am swims that weekend in the hotel pool worthwhile.

One thing I really wanted to do before the end of this challenge was visit the London 2012 Olympic pool. I was slightly nervous when the lady at the front desk asked if I was going to be ok with the 50 metre length. ‘Yes’ I replied very hesitantly, wondering if this was a good idea after all or if one of the lifeguards was going to have to rescue me from the middle of the pool! My nerves got worse as I entered the pool, realised just how long 50 metres was and saw all the professional-looking swimmers powering through the water in the fast lanes. Once I was in the water and took a few deep breaths, I was fine. I managed to swim 36 lengths non-stop, in the medium lane. Not the slow lane. The medium lane. I was so happy! A fantastic experience in such an iconic pool.

Swim22 has been a real challenge for me but I can’t believe how much I’ve improved in technique, speed, stamina and confidence. It’s really given me the push I needed to tackle my fears of the water and I can honestly say I enjoy swimming now. I’m thrilled to have smashed my fundraising target for Diabetes UK and I’ve currently raised over £700. There’s still time to sponsor me on my JustGiving page.

Swim22 swimning capI may have hung up my #Swim22 hat but I’ll definitely be back in that pool soon with my goggles and my nose clip…swimming in the medium lane.

22 May stats (my final swim)

Lengths: 80
Time: 50 mins
Stroke: Breast stroke
Head under water: Yes
Place on Swim 22 leaderboard: 320
Badges earned: Wave Master and Champion of the Channel
Total miles completed: 22.09 out of 22

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