Ashfield Teacher Completes Marathon Open Water Swim for Charity
As Head of Uniformed Services at Ashfield School’s Post 16 Centre, Julie Taylor has taken part in a number of challenges over the years including the annual Lyke Wake Walk (a 40-mile map-reading and navigation exercise with her students), high ropes courses and swimming events, but this year’s challenge was literally a marathon endeavour. Mindful of demonstrating the personal characteristics required by today’s uniformed services personnel to her students, she took on a highly disciplined physical challenge that required commitment, perseverance, consistency and a positive mental attitude, entering the first ever UK 26.2 mile open water swimming event.
At 7pm on Thursday 20 June she entered the lake at Hatfield where she was required to swim one mile each hour, starting promptly on the hour, for 26 hours, with an additional 200 metres added on to the final mile (to make up the distance normally associated with a running marathon). In swimming terms, this equates to over four marathons!
Julie swam the event as a solo swimmer, starting along with 16 others plus three pairs; at the event’s conclusion there were just five solo completers and two pairs. Each swimmer had their own land crew and safety kayaker who stayed beside them through the hours of darkness. She decided to raise funds for Cancer Research and Macmillan Cancer Support, offering supporters the opportunity to swim ‘A Mile in Their Name’ for people who have cancer, have battled cancer, or who have lost their lives to cancer, including her own mum, dad, auntie and uncle. The aim was to raise £2,620 … this has been achieved and funds are still coming in.
She commented, “I am so pleased to have been able to complete the challenge and raise much needed funds for two charities which are very close to my heart. Open water swimming has different challenges to pool swimming and I love it! It’s obviously influenced by the weather and swimming throughout the night was another new experience. I am so grateful for the support of my land crew and it has been a privilege to swim a mile in memory of 26 people.”
The image here captures the moment Julie arrived on land after the last 1.2 miles. Her lead swim coach, Leon Fryer, said of her achievement: “The open water swimming community has a fantastic heritage of raising money for good causes…Myself and the team are in awe of Julie’s resilience to cope with lack of sleep, her swimming ability, and the huge smile she wore at the end of each lap. Her achievement and grace will be with us for a very long time.”