No stranger to a challenge, Monica recently took the plunge in spectacular fashion when she participated in the ChillSwim Coniston End to End long distance swimming event with her friend and guide. She swam the full 5.25-mile length of Coniston Water in the picturesque Lake District in a whopping 3 hours and 32 minutes. Here’s what Monica had to say about the exhilarating experience…
I am totally blind and have always loved swimming and have taken part in lots of events such as the 2-mile Swim Serpentine in September 2021 on behalf of Vision Foundation which I swam with my son. But until recently I have had to swim breaststroke with my head out of the water so I could listen to instructions from whoever I was swimming with.
I wanted to learn how to swim front crawl with a guide, so in August 2022, I booked myself onto an open water swimming weekend run by Vision of Adventure (VOA). They provided me with a guide who taught me how to use a tether. The tether goes round both the waist of the guide and me and has a length of bungee between us. The guide swims ahead and the cord goes tort and then I can swim freely. The sense of freedom that I get into once I am in the rhythm is incredible.
There is a lake near my home called Redricks Lake and I have always wanted to swim there but none of my family or friends were interested. With the confidence I gained at the VOA weekend, I approached the organisers at the lake and explained my situation. They were very accommodating and set up a “swim with Monica” group and I started to swim with new people using the tether and everyone is surprised how easy it is.
I made a good friend through the lake, and we swim regularly now, and last summer we challenged ourselves to take on the Chillswim challenge in 2023!
The big day!
I am delighted to tell you that we completed the swim last Saturday in 3 hours 32 minutes. The day was amazingly well run and there were over 700 swimmers. We were divided by our swim time for a mile. We were in the third wave with orange swimming caps. We were very nervous to begin with as we had to make sure we had all our kit with us – ear plugs, swim cap, booties, tow float etc. We set off and the first mile seemed to never come! My friend stopped every now and again to tell me where we were in the lake and a little about the swim – other swimmers, safety kayaks, feeding stations etc. My lowest point came about 2.5 miles in when it began to get choppy, and it was like swimming in the sea. The tow float kept hitting my head and getting in the way of me breathing. After that I began to enjoy it and the next few miles seemed to go by faster. At mile 4 we knew we were over the worst and that the finish line was getting closer. Our arms felt like lead by then.
The feeling of achievement when we emerged from the lake all wobbly was immense. I felt elated that I had participated in an event like any other sighted person.
“Anything is possible with a little support and understanding.”
Ready for a challenge of your own?
From exhilarating swims to bucket-list marathons, we have a range of events to inspire our supporters to take on an incredible feat whilst fundraising to save sight and change lives! Check out our event calendar here.