I signed up to "Make a Splash" this year to try and raise the profile of both the drowning prevention work of the Royal Lifesaving Society and as a way of giving back to Retford and District Lifesavers (RADL) who have invested so much time in me over the past couple of years, as a person and as a swimmer.

I was determined to really make an impact this year and hoped to complete the 100 km but it is hard going. I'm by no means a "natural" swimmer so it has been a real challenge to build up the strength and stamina to cover the distances each week.  

My swimming and fitness has increased a lot over the past two years.   The coaches at RADL have been amazing. As well as clocking up kms for the "Make a Splash" distance, I am also progressing through the National Lifesaving Academy Bronze Certificate and Star awards.   The NLA awards add an extra dimension to my time in the water. Having held first aid certificates continuously since 1985, adding the elements of water rescue and water safety has made refreshing these skills a novel  experience as I have to think  about handling the emergency situations slightly differently when water is involved. It's definitely boosted my confidence. As for my swimming, when I first started at the club I couldn't swim more than 15 metres using freestyle stroke. Thanks to their dedication and support I completed the 800 m at the 2023 RLSS Open Water Fest, using freestyle.

I find myself motivated by the people around me. As well as the club coaches, I also have friends who have joined in the Open Water swimming. One day I might find myself pushing my swimming fitness with 1400 metres front crawl, another I might be doing a very chilled out 200 metres with a nervous first time dipper. Both give me a great buzz!  Chat groups with my various swimming friends stop me from giving in on bad days. Trying to fit my swimming around family life is tricky. I often have to do a pool "splash and dash" in between dropping my children off at dance classes. Before "Make a Splash" I would have sat in the car for an hour killing time, so it's definitely given me a focus to increase my activity levels. I find that I do some form of swimming at least 3 or 4 times a week now. It's also been good for my arthritis as being in water really helps manage my pain and mobility.  

For me, supporting RLSS UK is about saving lives. Recent events in the news have often made me think that it  could be me losing someone I care about  to a drowning event. No family should have to go through losing a loved one because of a lack of education.  No-one says you can't still have fun, but understanding and managing risk in and around water is something that could really help. RLSS UK provides a wide range of resources including freely available education materials, as well as awards, qualifications, and experts to get those messages out there and hopefully my challenge will help raise awareness and funds to keep that work going. 

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