Get Fit and Raise Vital Funds for Hospice Care with Swim the Distance

Swim the Distance is returning for its second year, and people are being encouraged to sign up and choose a set distance to swim throughout the month of March, all while raising vital funds for hospice care.  

Last year, Beth Hillier took part in the challenge with a group of friends, calling themselves ‘The Channel Croissants,’ and aimed to swim two laps of the English Channel (64km!). Find out how they got on and what Beth had to say about the challenge below.   

“Last March, myself and two friends, Natalie and Sophie, swam the distance of the English Channel between Dover and Calais, and back again… and we didn’t have to dip one toe in the actual channel! 

We swim together regularly as part of our fitness routine and a way to socialise, so we were very happy and excited to take on the ‘Swim the Distance’ challenge for St Wilfrid’s Hospice last March. We saw it as a fun way to raise some funds for a great local cause, whilst challenging ourselves physically too. 

We decided to set ourselves a rather ambitious target and opted to swim not just one lap of the channel, but two (we needed to virtually make it home too). We wanted to make it fun, so we came up with a team name of ‘The Channel Croissants’, as a play on words of ‘channel crossing’ and because we all love pastries. And Sophie, the artist in the group, even created some artwork which we used on our fundraising page and when we posted about the challenge on social media. 

The pool we go to is 20 metres long, so we worked out that as a team we needed to swim a combined total of 3,200 lengths over the 31 days, which meant a target of 1,067 lengths each. It certainly sounded like a big challenge – but we were up to it! 

We got started on 1st March, swimming all together. Sometimes we swam as a team – all three of us in one lane – which was great motivation for us all. Other times we did ‘shifts’ and swam alone, fitting it around our individual schedules. Every time someone completed a swim, we’d put it in our WhatsApp chat and then I would add the distance covered to our fundraising page online. We must admit we did get a little competitive with other swimmers on the distance leaderboard, which sort of made the challenge more fun! 

This challenge was really good to do as a team, because we were able to collectively swim a pretty big distance in just one month, whilst spending time with each, motivating one and other, and having a bigger network of friends and family to reach out to for sponsorship. What we all really loved about doing this challenge, is how much fitter and healthier we all felt by the end of the month. 

Fundraising together was great too. Whilst we know a lot of the same people who sponsored us as a collective, we each have our own families and separate friend circles and networks, so we were able to reach far and wide, and we were grateful for all the donations we received. By each of us sharing our fundraising page a handful of times on social media throughout the month with updates about how the challenge was going, and in various WhatsApp groups, we were able to raise £855, which we were super pleased with! 

In the end, we swam a collective distance of 81km, not the 64km that we planned, with Sophie managing to swim one whole length of the channel (34km) on her own! 

On the last day, we swam together and, having reached and exceeded our distance target, we also decided to have a little post-swim celebration at the end. We brought croissants to the pool and purchased Prosecco at the gym’s bar, and we toasted to ourselves for completing a tough but fun challenge. We were delighted that we’d been able to support St Wilfrid’s Hospice and raise some funds to help support people in our community who might need hospice care. 

You don’t need to be a super fit person or be an experienced swimmer to take on this challenge this March. You just need to have a pool to swim in and be able to dedicate some time throughout the month, to swim a set distance which seems achievable for you. It’s such a great way to get fit, get some lovely endorphins and raise funds for hospice care. Team ‘Channel Croissants’ couldn’t recommend this challenge enough!” 

If you’d like to take the plunge and sign up to Swim the Distance, visit www.stwhospice.org/all-challenges/swim-the-distance/ or email the Fundraising Team at fundraising@stwhospice.org for more information.  

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Madeleine is studying at The University of Brighton and spent a few days at the hospice.
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