Category Archives: Charity

Sleeping Rough in Nottingham

Last night I slept rough in Nottingham. I bedded down in my sleeping bag in the cold, dark night and did my best to sleep while exposed to the elements. 

I was lucky though, it was just a one off for me as a way to raise money for charity

The fact is that many people have to do this as a way of life and that’s a disgrace in modern Britain. One of the stats we learnt is that rough sleeping increased by 132% since 2010. While 3 years ago there were 13 officially counted rough sleepers in Nottingham. Over the last 2 weeks that number has been counted as 85!!

My experience of rough sleeping was with about 100 others as part of the CEOsleepout at Notts County’s ground. We all met up at about 8pm and mingled as we were told some of the stats I mentioned above. Then at about 11pm we made our way outside and put our bedding down at the edge of the pitch. 


Nervous laughter, chatting and a lot of time spent on smartphones was the way nearly everyone spent the first hour, but gradually people settled down and started to sleep. 

In the end I coped fine with the experience. I struggled to sleep at first, but clearly slept well as when I woke up at 6am I was the only person left pitchside bar one other person in the corner of the pitch. I’d slept through everyone else waking up, getting up and clearing away all their sleeping kit before making their way inside. So I quickly joined them for a well deserved cup of tea. 

However I was able to sleep so well because I knew it was only for one night. It was dry, I was safe and I knew that I was going home afterwards. I was able to dry my sleeping kit off as soon as I got home and start my day no worse for my little ‘adventure’. 

Yet there are many people that don’t have those luxuries. They have to bed down in kit still damp from the before, often in places that put them at risk from the elements and possibly worse. And they have to do that night after night. It was to draw attention to those people and to raise money for the charities that support them that we did it – so if you can please spare some pennies by going to my JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Patrick-Smith-sleepout

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51kms in Windermere

I started this blog as a way to motivate me to swim one length of Windermere – which I did in 2012.

On Sunday I swam my third length of the lake, so a total of 51kms swum in that lake alone.

Sunday’s swim was cold and it took longer than I had hoped / intended. But it was also completed, so there is that I suppose. It didn’t have the “Oh my god I can’t believe I’m doing this” excitement of the first swim. Nor did it have the “Oh my god I can’t believe I’m doing this” despair of the second time I swam it. This time I just swam it (albeit slower and colder then I would have liked).

I suppose that is a level of success in itself. I can swim a length of Windermere in water temperature that may have reached the dizzy heights of 14.5 degrees and at the end I can shrug my shoulders and be a bit disappointed with my time (7hours 45minutes). It doesn’t really feel like success, but if I was forced to look on the bright side…

Anyway, it’s done and the season is done for this year. Let’s see what next year brings…

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The Windermere swim was the second of my swims raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. If you’re able to spare a few pennies I’d be really grateful if you could donate on Just Giving. I’ll leave the page open for a couple more weeks, but then close it down by Sunday 8th October.

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Windermere v3

This Sunday I’m hoping to swim Windermere.

I say hoping because there’s a lot that can happen between now and then (not least that we haven’t finalised the logistics) and a lot that can happen during the swim. But I’m committed to making it happen, so all things being well, by Sunday evening I will have swum Windermere.

If I do it, it will be my third length of England’s longest lake (at 10.5 miles) and that fact alone surprises me. I still don’t really consider myself a swimmer, but I seem to be doing a good job of fooling everyone, so I’ll keep going until the charade is spotted.

From a swimming perspective this year started badly with a mental and physical hangover from last year’s bad back. I couldn’t quite find the motivation at the start of the season and so the goals I set at the start of the year will be mainly unfulfilled (that’s for another post). However, over the last few weeks I’ve really started to enjoy my swimming again and have enjoyed both the physical challenge and meditative quality of swimming longer distances. Ever since the Ullswater swim I’ve had my swimming mojo back.

So after the channel relay I decided I wanted to do more. I did have a 2-person relay planned, but unfortunately that fell through, so Windermere was the next logical choice.

I’ve done it before. The first time I just loved being there, the second time I tried too hard to ‘achieve’ something and had a very bad day at the office. Hopefully for the third I can do something between those two. I have a goal, but I also want to enjoy it and have a good day. Fingers crossed.

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One last thing – I have been raising money for charity over the last few weeks with the channel relay and this Windermere swim. This is the last time I’ll mention it, but if you can spare a few pennies for the MNDA then I’d really appreciate it.

Please donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-swim

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Please support…

I’m not a great one for using my swims for fundraising. I’m gonna do the swim anyway, so it doesn’t always feel right to ask people to donate to something I enjoy. 

This time is different though. I’m raising money for the MNDA through JustGiving. Here’s what I wrote there:

Someone very, very important to me lost someone very, very important to her to this shi**y disease, so I wanted to do something.

What I’m actually going to do is swim a channel relay (swimming from England to France as part of team) – twice.

The first is a four-person relay which will hopefully take place at the end of August. In it we will swim for an hour each and I expect to get 3 or 4 swims (so four hours of swimming).

The second is a two-person relay at the end of September. For this one we will swim for two hours at a time and again I expect to swim 4 times, however this will mean eight hours of swimming.

If you think that this is something that is worth a few pennies then please donate. Thank you.

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If you would like to donate, please go to my JustGiving page to do so – http://www.justgiving.com/Patrick-Smith-swim

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Double Dip

After falling out of love with swimming I’m back to enjoying it more and more. This can be shown by the fact that on Tuesday I swam twice.

The first swim was a 6:30am start at a local lake next to Nottingham Sailing Club. They only opened for swimming last year, but it’s a great set up – especially as we have use of the sailing club showers and changing rooms. It makes for a perfect set up for a pre-work swim. The lake itself is set out as a c. 650m loop and I did 6 wide laps for a total of just over 4km in an hour and a quarter.

The second swim of the day was a charity event run by the excellent 100% Swimming up at the Activities Away lake. The idea was to predict how far you could swim in 20 minutes 17 seconds (20:17) and the closest to their prediction won. It was all organised in Aid of the Ethan Maull Foundation.

I predicted a total of 1,050m and decided to use it as a way to push myself as hard as I could for 20 minutes. About 300m in I got into rhythm with a wetsuited swimmer and we pushed each other around and I ended up just going past my prediction and finishing on about 1,060m.

It was a great event and hopefully it will be able to launch nationally next year. Thanks all for organising it.

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Collecting pebbles in Salford

There’s a tradition that if you complete a channel swim you collect a pebble from the beach in France as a memento. This weekend I completed my Aspire Channel Challenge by swimming 1,000 metres at USwim in Salford, so I collected my ‘French’ pebbles in Salford.

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Obviously, there’s still time to sponsor me: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim

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Nearly reached France

Today was going to be the day that I completed my channel swim and reached France. It didn’t quite happen.

It wasn’t because the water was too cold and I was suffering with hypothermia, it wasn’t because the currents took me and I wasn’t strong enough to keep swimming for another 3 or 4 hours, it wasn’t because I was exhausted and just couldn’t go on.

No, for me it was because I decided to stand around and chat instead.

You see, my channel swim isn’t in the actual channel, but is part of the Aspire Channel Challenge where people swim the equivalent distance (22 miles) in their local pool. I have 1/2 a mile left to go.

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Although I didn’t reach France, I did have some lovely chats.

Firstly I chatted to Ali – like me she is doing the Aspire Challenge. I first spotted her great lap counting device (a stick, with wooden dominoes with a hole drilled into the middle so they could be added or taken off the stick as required) and so I commented on it and we got chatting.

Ali is the perfect example of who the Aspire Channel Challenge is for. She hasn’t swum for a few years (although seemed to have a great stroke), so is using the challenge as a personal motivation to get back into the pool. However on top of that she has a friend that was supported by Aspire a few years ago, so she’s also raising money to repay Aspire’s support.

The challenge is about fundraising and I’m not normally one to ask, but even if you don’t want to ‘reward’ my swimming, then please think of people like Ali’s friend and if you can spare a few pounds that would be great – please sponsor me here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim.

As well as Ali, I chatted to Scott about open water swimming and front crawl technique and then even had a work chat sat in the sauna!

So, although I didn’t reach France it was a great morning in the pool. And if I can stay in the water long enough I’ll reach France during my cold water dip in Salford Quays on Saturday morning.

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Half-way across the channel

I’ve signed up for the Aspire Channel Challenge again this year and it’s been a great way to keep me ‘honest’ and persuade me to go to the pool when I haven’t always felt like it – especially those first couple of weeks when I was still struggling with my back.

Well, I’ve been ‘honest’ enough that I’m now half-way across the channel.

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Today I managed 2.2kms and actually swam two fairly quick kilometres – 18:40 and 18:53 respectively – which I’m very pleased with.

Of course the reason Aspire set this up is not to help people like me get back into swimming after back injuries, but instead to raise money. Please consider sponsoring me here.

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I’m swimming the channel tomorrow

Of course I’m not swimming the actual channel, but I will be starting the Aspire Channel Challenge.

The challenge is to swim the same distance as a channel crossing (22 miles) in your local pool over a 12-week period. It starts tomorrow (12th Sept) and runs until 5th December.

I’ve been struggling with a back injury this year so I haven’t done much swimming, so it really does feel like a challenge to complete the distance. However, I’ve been swimming a few times and I think I’ll be able to give it a good go.

Although my back is a bit better, it’s a long way from being right, so I’m easing myself into gently. At the moment my swim routine is as follows:
– 100m warm-up
– 4 x 250m swim
– 100m cool down

I’m hoping to gently increase both the total distance I can swim, as well as the distance I swim in one go, so I’ll increase those middle swim sets by 50m every couple of weeks.

The total number of lengths I need to complete to ‘swim the channel’ is 1416, while the above set is 48. So based on that, I’ll need to swim an average of 2.5 times every week for the duration of the challenge.

One of my personal reasons for doing the swim this year is to help with my motivation (to make me go to the pool 2 or 3 times per week), so for that reason, I’ve donated £22 to the cause (£1 per mile). I’d be really grateful if you could spare a few pennies too – please go here to sponsor me: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim

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The Aspire Channel Challenge

I’ve signed up again for the Aspire Channel Challenge.

Last year the swimming element of the challenge was easy for me, so I increased the challenge by doing it in 22 consecutive days. This year, after coming back from an injury that has stopped me from swimming at all this summer, it’s the swimming itself that will be tough.

Since I’ve been back in the pool in three swims I’ve managed to swim 1.8kms, so over 40kms for the channel challenge feels like a lot this year.

However, I’m going to do it and I’d love you to sponsor me here – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim (where you can read most of this blurb again).

As Aspire says: “Every eight hours someone is paralysed by a Spinal Cord Injury and Aspire provides the essential equipment, advice, housing and grants that spinal cord injured people need to live their lives independently. This is a big challenge, but the more I raise, the more of a difference I’ll make, so please be generous!”

And of course, you can sign up too if you want to take part in the challenge – just go here: http://aspirechannelswim.co.uk/

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