I’m punching the air with relief and glee – I completed the MCS Big Swim in Eastbourne this weekend, and it’s all thanks to your generous support and sponsorship.
And it had already got off to a bad start.
The windy conditions meant the sea was pretty rough – so much so that they cancelled the longer option for the experienced sea swimmers. Nobody would be doing the 3K, we were all down to swim 1K and get round the circuit before the situation deteriorated further.
After a briefing from SwimTrek, the organisers of the route, the starting horn sounded and we all hobbled down to the water’s edge, pummelling our feet on the pebbly shoreline. Then my toes made contact with the cold water and I inhaled sharply. Mind over matter – come on, Drinkwater, you can do this.
After throwing myself into the waves, I front crawled as fast as I could – pretty much everyone there looked like they’d done this a few times before and were really speedy. The pace combined with the choppy sea dragging me harshly back and forth sent me into a panic. I swallowed what felt like a litre of seawater and my breathing was fast and shallow. Oh God, could I do this?
But then I reminded myself why I was there – I wasn’t there to race, I was doing it for the conservation of our seas, shores and wildlife and to help make a change for our future. And more specifically, when I was struggling to fight the waves, I thought of all your kind donations and knew I couldn’t let you down.
So on I went, forcing myself to get into a steady rhythm and focus on reaching the first yellow buoy. Once I rounded that, the next two legs were easier, relatively . But then I got back to the starting point and had to take on that difficult leg again. And that’s when my sodding foot decided to cramp up. I floated for a few seconds, pulling my toes back, willing the cramp to dissipate. The lifeguards, who were brilliant at keeping an eye on us all the way round, approached me to check I was okay and offered to pull me aboard.
“No!” I shouted (but kindly). I was going to bloody well do this. I carried on, the water smacking me in the face from all directions, going up my nose, making me cough and eventually making me feel sick from all the seawater I inadvertently swallowed.
By the time I reached the last leg, I had one-to-one coaching from one of the lifeguards on a surfboard. He continually shouted at me to keep going and just having someone beside me in that big expanse of water pushed me through.
Clambering out the water to the applause of supporters and the MCS team put the hugest grin on my face. I made it! I proudly looped my medal around my neck and beamed all the way back to the support tent where a hot chocolate was waiting for me.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who’s supported me – I hope my enthusiasm for marine conservation is rubbing off on you!
So far, donations have neared £400 (not including Gift Aid) – and with match donating from my employer, we have stumped up an amazing £800 so far! That really is an achievement, thank you. And it’s going to real, positive action that will take place immediately. £500 allows MCS to act as your voice to Government in calling for marine protected areas around the UK coast. Currently, less than 1% of our UK seas are fully protected – that’s nowhere near enough to allow marine life to recover and flourish from overfishing.
The rest of your donation will go towards helping restaurants understand which fish is sustainable and safe to use in their delicious recipes; will keep up the fight to reduce the amount of dead fish discarded into UK waters and will continue to help the charity reduce beach litter.
If my Big Swim has inspired you to donate to this fantastic cause, just click on the Just Giving button below.