Having swam this event in Londons Hyde Park two years ago, I booked my place last year, and was getting ready for it when I suddenly became ill, with breathlessness, and after some CT scans and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I couldn’t swim like that so had to just give it up and not go, something that I was very disappointed about, but under those circumstances I had no choice. But it’s not the same this year, my cancer has been dormant since March, after the cancer in my bones had died off and the tumour had began to shrink after Januarys scan. June’s scan was the same as March’s scan, dormant, stable and showing no signs of growth, so I’m not just going to sit there and wait for it to come back, if cancer wants to take me it’s going to have to work so hard, and I’ve always thought of cancer as a very lazy parasite, wanting you to sit there and feel sorry for yourself so it can crawl all over you. But stay active, as active as you can and send your cancer to sleep. I think going vegan played a big part in that and being 100 % positive.
I found out about this swim in 2016, I had heard of it but that’s all, but my son-in-law Chris had provided all the hot tubs for this event, and when he got back from that event, Chris told me how I would of loved to do it, so I had a look and the next year signed up, and swam a mile in 15C water, in 57 minutes, and then you get out and sit in an amazing hot tub, that is such a great extra that Swim Serpentine added to make the event even more special. I hadn’t heard of any events having hot tubs to sit in to help you to get warm again, but it really is nice and a great finish to a great day. South East Hot Tubs is the buisness that he runs with our daughter Lib, and they’re doing so well with it, I take my hat off to them both for making it work so well, especially after remembering Chris coming home from work one day saying “A bloke at work is selling a hot tub, I’m gonna buy it and rent it out.” Yeah whatever Chris, went through my mind, but they’ve proved everyone wrong and making a huge sucess of it, and good luck to them as well, it’s been about eight years of hard work but they’ve done it and now getting the benefits of all their hard work, with a sucessful buisness and a lovely family to show for it, and I get to try out a hot tub every now and then, for free, they’re great. And if you want to rent one for the weekend have a look at southeasthottubs.co.uk a great addition to any party whatever the weather, and they were invented in Norway or Sweden to be used for a warm dip in the winter, and you always feel great once you’ve been in one.
This year I’m up for this swim, I had a great swim in early July, I went for my normal swim for about an hour or so, but Sonia was out with her sister Denise, so I had nothing to rush back for, felt good and just kept swimming, managing 64 lengths in 44 mins, 82 lengths in an hour, 128 in 1 hour 32 minutes, and 164 lengths in two hours, and then at least six more just as a warm down, I couldn’t believe it. Now it wasn’t none stop, and it’s pushing off at the end of each length, I also had two little stops waiting for someone to get out of the way. So it wasn’t an official record, but it was over two and a half miles, and I felt great. I have to thank a lady on ‘Healthunlocked’, a forum on the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation website, I read her story and she had half a lung removed due to lung cancer, and had gone swimming and was completed an amazing 360 lengths in one session, makes me look like an amateur, but I was amazed at her strength and courage, and never thought I’d be able to get anywhere near that, but I’m on my way, just starting with small steps.
Swimming the channel has always been a life long dream, but never actually thinking I would ever be able to do it, I still don’t if I’m honest but I will give it a try, starting off in a relay team then hopefully as a solo swim one day. I follow a lot of crossings and they say “so and so has just reached France in 11, 12, 13 or even more hours of swimming, how do you swim for that long? Absolutely amazing, I take my hat off to everyone that attempts this challenge, whether they get to France or not, such an amazing effort. I read a blog of someone who had been swimming for 12 hours, but the skipper of the boat called it off, as the tides were against them, and to actually finish would be at least another three hours of swimming. The tides are so unpredictable in the channel. I assume because you’ve got the Atlantic at one end and the North Sea at the other. The blog carried on and said the next day the same skipper went out, lovely conditions, and the swimmer got to France in almost a straight line, and swam seven miles less than the swimmer the day before. Oh my god just swimming seven miles is an absolute feat, let alone swimming seven more miles than someone else. An unbelievable effort.
This year Swim Serpentine is on the 21st September, the same day as my CT scan, just to check everything is still dormant, or not. They do like to scan you at the weekends for these check ups, my scan was booked in for 17.15, and all the waves that were left for the mile swim was 16.05 or 16.35, so it’s looking like this clash of times means a very disappointing not doing this swim again. I phoned up the appointments line but never got through, not once, so Sonia and me walked up to the hospital to see if we could get the time changed. My appointment was in the new Cardiothoratic department, first stop there, they couldn’t change the time of the appointment, but said if we went to main Xray department, if anyone could help they could. So off we went and a very nice young lady helped us and changed the appointment to the morning, so I had time for my scan and then get to Hyde Park and swim in the 16.05 wave. I’m feeling great now and really looking forward to this swim. I love swimming, I can’t swim far front crawl without stopping, but am practicing and getting further, but will be swimming this event breast stroke, I can do this all day long, but I just like the feeling of gliding along when you do front crawl properly. I just find myself swimming as quick as I can when doing front crawl, and getting breathless so quickly, but I am working on it.
So with Swim Serpentine booked, the London 10K completed, my cancer is dormant, this year is going great, cancer stopped me from swimming this last year, I was so determined to swim it this year, and was getting really worried that just a clash of appointments would prevent me from taking part this year. This was a mental battle as much as anything else, and I wasn’t going to let cancer stop me again, and was so relieved that the receptionist was able to help to change the time of the appointment. I didn’t want to cancel my scan as I had my oncologists appointment already, and these routine checks are so important in keeping one step ahead of cancer. So that’s another one to me, and I’d better get training then, and I’ll let you all know how I get on, take care and Don’t Be Afraid Of Lung Cancer.