It’s been an interesting year: I’ve met some great people, learned a lot about myself (both mind and body), improved my swimming technique and done lots of different types of swimming training, but most of all covered lots and lots of distance in the water. I tallied it all up last night, and in the last 12 months I have swum an average of 35km per week (max 55km), and covered a total distance of 1,400Km. To put this in perspective, that’s equivalent to driving from Sydney to Adelaide or Rockhampton, or from London to Edinburgh. It’s a long way!
Clearly swimming is slow, relative to other means of transport, and I reckon I’ve probably spent 450 hours or more swimming in this period. 6+ hours of squads per week, and then the long, lonely swims at the weekend. These swims have been made much more pleasant by the good company I’ve acquired. Whilst these people shall remain nameless for now, I really appreciate the support of the Frosty Nuts, Bold & Beautiful, Tattersalls swimmers, and of course Vladswim and the team. The photo below sums it up really – Collie Kinsela (swimming the channel for the second time in a couple of weeks) and I up early, entering the water at sunrise, and heading off into the distance.
I was reminded last weekend of just how lucky we are, and also of the greater purpose of the challenge I have undertaken here. I have been an ambassador for Opportunity International Australia (OIA) for almost five years now, and attended a fundraiser at the weekend that included video of some success stories and facts about the people we help in India. It’s largely women, who are motivated to provide a better life for their kids. These families often live on less than $1.25 per day, qualified as extreme poverty. OIA provides small loans (e.g. $100) to a woman, then training and support, helping her develop, grow and maintain a business. They then repay the loan, which gets recycled and goes on to help others. Staggeringly the repayment rate is 97% - a figure a commercial bank would be more than pleased with. The reason why I believe so strongly in this microfinance model as a solution to poverty is that it’s a hand-up, not a hand-out. It’s sustainable and it’s commercial. It gives all the people involved self-respect, and the ability to provide for their family on their own – something we all strive for. Just as I have worked hard for a year to swim the Channel, these women work hard to create a better life for their families.
In 2009 I raised $11,000 for OIA, which went off to a programme in the Philippines. This money will have since helped more than 300 families break out of poverty, and it will help more than 100 each year, forever. This is a great impact to have made on the world, and I am thankful to all those who sponsored the challenge.
The objective for the Channel swim was $50,000. We’re a way off that now, but I am confident with your help we can have a good crack at making it.
Please sponsor me if you can (click here), and please send this to friends, family, and anyone else who would like to or be able to make a difference. $100 donated here can make a lasting impact on families FOREVER!
Lastly – well done to training buddies Wayne, Ali, and Wyatt – who followed Tori and all made it successfully across in August. Great effort guys, and I hope to emulate your successes.