Category Archives: Charity

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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Train to Tokyo

Last September, as the new school year was starting, a colleague and I heard a few stories on social media of kids that were not able to take part in school PE because they didn’t have any kit – not that they’d forgotten it that day, they really didn’t own any suitable kit.

This shocked us – we’re both very active and love what doing sport, being active, just moving does to our bodies and our minds. We were amazed that this was happening in the UK and we both felt that those kids were missing out on something fundamental to what being a kid, or even just a person, is all about.

Rather than just forget about it we looked into ways we might be able to do something about it.

We’ve thought, chatted, asked for advice and then thought some more and think we have a plan that can make a big difference to kids’ lives. We want to develop a daily sport / exercise / movement programme for school kids. Our goals are very simple:

– The primary goal is to be a ‘trojan horse’ that will actually allow us to give away sports kit to any school child that needs it. They can then be active when and how they choose – whether at school, at home, or in clubs and teams – without being limited by a lack of kit.
– The secondary goal is to create an interest in sport so that more kids want to take part and enjoy sports – to inspire sport as a way of life for all.

pumpsWe have the outlines of a plan and want to create a pilot programme with a couple of different schools. We hope that a successful pilot will then allow us to go and ask for funding from a variety of organisations so that we can start to roll this out.

This is where you come in – please help us raise some money to create the trial.

We think we need £6,500 to run this trial.

That money will fund the cost of the kit and printing posters & wall charts etc and petrol costs and all other expenses. But, and we have to be honest about this, it will also cover some of the time it will take to make this happen. We’ve already spent a lot of time on this and as passionate as we are about it, we unfortunately can’t give up the massive amount of time needed completely for free.

The Pilot

For the pilot we will target two different schools and hope to have the involvement of at least one class in each, in different year groups.

We will support the schools throughout the year as they run through the programme, but we will also use their feedback to improve and update our programme.

As soon as the pilot is underway we will be using it as a proof point to try and gain access to other pots of money – from government and local government, sports teams and organisations and the commercial sector. The pilot will just be a stepping-stone to a greater roll-out of this programme.

The Programme – Train to Tokyo

olympic_rings_on_white_206913The programme will be a series of games, sports, exercise routines that will earn the kids points and get them closer to Tokyo – the hosts of the Olympics in 2020.

To achieve this, all the children in a class will be given a set of kit (shoes, shorts and t-shirt) that will allow them to take part in sport, whether at school, at home, or in clubs and teams. The kit will be subtly branded and so the kids will form a ‘team’. We also hope to be able to persuade local and national companies to offer discounts to kids that are wearing their kit.

The exercise programme will be a quick and easily adaptable one that can be incorporated into the school day – it will be similar to the ‘Daily Mile’ programmes that are starting to gain popularity. However, we will also try and focus on some of the less well known Olympic sports.

Where possible we will develop links with sports organisations and sports people to arrange visits from Olympians to schools. If a kid isn’t enthusiastic about football, netball or athletics, we hope to show that there are many, many more sports out there that they could enjoy.

We will also create a programme for schools that will go way beyond just physical exercise. By setting it out that the kids are working towards Tokyo we can introduce a range of other educational elements. Geographic targets allow for the introduction of geography, language and religion lessons to be included, while the points themselves can be included in maths lessons.

Of course this is about more than just school sport. Schools will be how we will deliver this to kids, but we want to create interest and excitement for sport in the kids that otherwise would be left out. We want to light a fire that cannot be extinguished and create a new generation of active people.

Consultancy

We already have teachers on board who are offering valuable advice about how this can be incorporated into classrooms. We will creating a board of experts that will advise on everything from the educational requirements of our programme, through the financial aspects to the creation of fitness programmes.

Payment

We are not at this stage a registered charity, nor even a formal business. That will come. At present we are an idea and a passion that we want to get working on – but we need your help. However, we also need your trust.

If you can help us out financially then we ask that payment is made to Joshua PR (my business). A completely separate account will be created for this and the incomings and outgoings of this account will be tracked and managed by the bookkeepers and accountants that currently work for Joshua PR. We will also make this available to anyone that donates if they request to see it.

But right now, we can’t simply set up a JustGiving page, so we ask you to trust us.

Summary

There are kids out there, in the UK, that are not physically active simply because they don’t have the kit to be able to be active in. They are missing out on all the benefits of an active lifestyle – the health benefits, the mental benefits and the life lessons, friendships and self-confidence that can come from sport.

We think we can do something to help alleviate this situation. We are asking for your help.

If you’re able to donate, please get in touch and I’d be happy to chat it through more and also provide details for your donation.

Thank you.

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401 marathons

I’m mainly a swimmer nowadays, but I’ve done a couple of marathons back in the day. For a while my ambition was to do five marathons, I thought that that would put me in a fairly select club. Lots of people have done one or two, not many are dedicated enough to have done five. But that’s absolutely nothing compared to someone I’ve just been made aware of:

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Ben is running 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days.

Stop a minute and think about that – that is a marathon day for OVER A YEAR!

He’s doing to raise money for charity and would love your support in any way you can manage. I don’t know how much more I can write about it here – just go to his site and see more and cheer him on: http://www.the401challenge.co.uk/

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Review of the Year

There are lots of these posts going around, so to prove my lack of originality here is mine.

#TieForHelena

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A subject that took over my blog for a few days in December was the #TieForHelena. An online friend of mine (we’ve never actually met in person) and fellow swimmer was attacked near her house because she was wearing a tie. As a community we wanted to support her and hopefully give her the confidence to wear a tie again. Here’s the original post outlining this: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/tieforhelena/

What actually happened was that it seemed to strike a chord with people and it turned out to be quite big. Here’s the summary post I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/that-went-well/

2Swim4Life

About to start mile 20 - not happy!

About to start mile 20 – not happy!

There were two main events that were the focus of 2015 for me. The first was back in May and was the 2swim4life event. A simple premise of swimming a mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. I trained hard for it and had great support on the day, here’s the write-up I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/2swim4life-summary/. That said, it took me a while to get my focus back again: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/if-found-please-return-to/

Swimming the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43One thing that did help me to regain my focus was swimming the channel on behalf of the charity Aspire. This was a channel crossing with a difference as it was to be done in the pool over the course of 12 weeks. I decided to add another element to the challenge and do it in 22 days: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/swimming-the-channel/. I completed it successfully and as you can see I was effusive in my final write-up: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/ive-done-it/.

It’s not too late to sponsor me if you have any spare money lying around after Xmas: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

I didn’t do a channel relay this year (although there may be one on the cards for 2016), but I did write some of my thoughts on them for aspiring relay swimmers: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/channel-relay-thoughts/

Bala Disaster

2015 wasn’t all good though. I had my first ever DNF at Bala this year – and to make it worse I wasn’t swimming, but kayaking and had to pull my swimmer out of the water (sorry again Rach): https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/shit-shit-shit-shit-shit/. Fortunately we did get a swim in the following day: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/sunday-was-better/.

Cricket

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

I also tried to play cricket again in 2015, for the first time in over 25 years. As you can see from these posts, it wasn’t a complete success: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/crickets-hard-work/; https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/cricket-hmmm/

Crete

But at the end of the summer, I did treat myself to a swimming trip to Crete. It was a trip organised by the wonderful Swimtrek and I met some great new swimming friends: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/more-on-crete/. I’d definitely recommend one if you’re thinking about it.

Not a bad 2015 all in all. And I still think that 2016 will be even better.

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Filed under Charity, Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Four times across the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43The Aspire Channel Challenge officially ends today (if you’re still swimming your last few lengths, or raising your last few pounds, then keep going!). The challenge is to swim the same distance as an English Channel crossing (22 miles) in your local pool. The challenge started on 14th September and ran for 12 weeks, until today.

I decided that I’d set myself an additional challenge of doing the distance in 22 days, which I managed to do (I also swam in 20 different venues). I also managed to get a little bit of extra publicity for the challenge (here, here and here).

However, I didn’t stop once I’d done my 22 miles. I may not have counted them directly towards the challenge, but I kept on swimming, so I thought it would be interesting to see how much I swam throughout the twelve weeks of the challenge.

The first thing to note is that although I completed my part of the challenge as a mile a day over 22 days, I didn’t swim only a mile. Most days I swam a little bit more – I just didn’t count it towards my Aspire miles. In fact I swam an average of 2kms per day for those 22 days. After that, I went to Crete with SwimTrek. Then recently I’ve been getting a bit more serious with my training as I want to get a good base level of fitness ready for events in 2016.

The great SwimTrek group on the last night.

The great SwimTrek group on the last night.

So, the total amount of swimming I’ve done in the last twelve weeks is… drum roll please….

134.5kms, or just over 84 miles.

That’s nearly four crossings of the English Channel. Not bad I suppose.

And if that’s impressed you to sponsor me for Aspire, then please, please do so by going here: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

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The power of the press

As I’ve blogged about before, I recently completed the Aspire Channel Challenge – 22 miles of swimming to replicate a channel crossing. The Aspire challenge allows you 12 weeks to complete it, but I did it in 22 days.

Since completing it I’ve had a couple of articles in the local press. This one in the Nottingham Post and then this one (below) in our village paper, the Bramley.

AspireChannelChallengeComplete

Since it appeared in the paper I’ve had eight people make a point of mentioning to me that they had seen it. And don’t forget that we live in a small village, I don’t go out much and this was ‘just’ the local free paper. And that’s the people who have told me they’ve seen it – how many others must have also read it.

I’m not sure I’ll be invited to turn on next year’s Xmas lights because of it, but it does mean more exposure for Aspire. And as a PR professional it’s great to see the power of the press in action.

And don’t forget, you can still sponsor me for the swim here: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

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