After my cycling accident in 2011 I stopped all sports, I tried to continue with Triathlon for a while but I was just in too much pain so eventually, I gave up. I didn’t train, compete, or even think about sports for 5 years.
I first got back into swimming as a result of going on a Chronic Pain, Pain Management Programme at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. The course lasted a year with a 6 month and yearly check up. It started with 3 weeks intense physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, psychology sessions and also worked with someone on medication too. At the beginning of the course, we had to set goals and one of mine was to try and get back into swimming, if possible, open water swimming and maybe into Paratriathlon. Sport had always brought me so much joy and it was part of my identity, which at that moment I felt I had lost. I hoped that if I could get back into sport then I may not only be able to improve my mental wellbeing but it may also help me to figure out who I was despite my disabilities.
I have mentioned about some of the difficulties I face when swimming in earlier blogs so won’t go into detail but basically, anything touching my legs hurts. It was a long, slow process getting back into swimming and one thing that held back my progress was my lack of confidence and self-belief; I simply didn’t believe I would be able to get back into sport and actually enjoy it because of my pain levels. In 2019 I realised that one thing I would need if I wanted to get into Para-Triathlon was my own racing wheelchair and to get one I needed to fundraise. I approached a few charities for help and found Arctic One through a friend and they were the first charity to give me a grant towards my sport. It gave me a huge confidence boost as it made me realise others believed in me and wanted to help me achieve my goals. Since then, I have wanted to do some kind of fundraising for the charity so that I could give back to their Forward Motion Grant System.
Arctic One is run entirely by volunteers and their Forward Motion Grant system has now given out over 200 small grants to athletes of all ages and levels across 29 different para-sports! I have been lucky enough to receive 2 grants from them, the first one went towards my Racing Wheelchair and this year it paid for a new wetsuit, a dryrobe and a new pair of folding crutches so that I am able to tow them in my Ruckraft when swimming. Both of these grants have made a huge difference to what I am able to achieve in my sports both physically and mentally and so I want to raise money that can go into helping other athletes who may also be struggling. One thing I like about Arctic One is that 100% of any money raised and donated goes straight into their Forward Motion Grant System to allow them to continue helping disabled athletes.
Alongside providing grants to disabled athletes of all abilities from entry level athletes up to Paralympians Arctic One also put on at least two events each year, the Tri and Para Tri Festival and also the Junior Para Triathlon. At these events they aim to introduce new para athletes of all abilities to Swimming, Cycling and Running. They are hoping that next year there will also be an Open Water Swimming race included in their para triathlon festival – I, for one can’t wait!
You can find out more information about the charity on their Facebook Page and Website – https://www.arctic1.co.uk
You can donate on my JustGiving Page here –