One week on!
It's been a week now since KEITS' previous employee Roz swam the channel with 3 friends in honour of her husband, Alex South. They have raised an incredible amount of money for Bowel Cancer UK and Team Verrico.
We caught up with Roz a few days after their success and asked her a few questions..
How was it?
"Well what an experience that was! We had all worked so hard to get to that day, and when we did, it almost felt a bit unreal to begin with. As I got into the water for the first time just after 4am on a very foggy Friday morning and swam towards the shore, I did have a moment of doubt, had I trained enough? Could I really do this? Thankfully, as has been the case throughout all my training the first 5 minutes was the hardest and where the majority of doubt was, after that my body seemed to settle into a rhythm and all the training paid off. I genuinely felt as good on my 5th swim as I did on my first. Given all that my body has been through over the last few years it felt incredible to feel that well and that strong again. Getting into the water each time never got any easier, I have struggled with the cold throughout the training and although mentally I got stronger dealing with the cold water, physically it still felt really tough. They call it 'the claw' when your fingers stop being able to stay closed in the water and during the last 10mins of each swim my little fingers and ring fingers were open resulting in my hands being of very little use! Which wasn't ideal, but luckily the legs kept going and the arms were enough to keep propelling my body through the water. To be able to start and then finish this challenge was incredible and although not our plan (we had hoped to do it within 16hrs meaning Kev would have finished) it was a really special moment to swim into France with the sun setting and touching the sand for the first time was AMAZING! I was incredibly emotional when I got back on the boat and happy to admit that I sobbed. For all of us this challenge wasn't just about raising awareness and lots of money but about honouring a very special man who will forever be in our hearts and who I was incredibly lucky to have been able to call my husband.
What was your best part?
"Do you know I don't think I could say, the whole experience was brilliant, the guys in the team are the most wonderful men and kept the atmosphere on the boat fun and light hearted throughout, we had lots of laughs and really enjoyed the experience. Of course touching down in France will be incredibly memorable but I think the whole journey from the start of training to the boat ride home will stay with me forever."
Were there any low parts?
"There was once stage when we were in the middle of the shipping lane, I was finishing my 1hour swim in some really choppy waters and was being thrown about a fair bit (we have some great footage of that) in the meantime those on the boat weren't fairing much better and were holding on tight as the boat rocked from side to side. As I got back on the boat, it was still rocking and I suddenly felt very sick, that hour was pretty tough for me, I needed to rest and refuel but with every movement I thought I was going to be sick, I was very grateful for the strong word from Kev to focus on the horizon and after about an hour it subsided!"
How do you feel now?
"Well I am now 5 days post swim and starting to feel normal. I have ulcers in my mouth from the sea water and was fairly dehydrated and very achy in the first few days. I'd love to sleep more but I have 2 little sleep thieves who think it's acceptable to wake me up at 4am, but overall I'm doing pretty well physically. I shall give myself a few more days to recover before I contemplate any exercise, but not too long as I have received so many lovely treats from friends, which are going down very well and probably straight onto the hips!!
Mentally and emotionally this has been a really tough journey for me, those that know the reasons for me embarking on this challenge may also realise that this has been driven by a lot of emotion and heart ache. Alex was a truly remarkable man, loyal, kind and loving and when faced with the cruel disease that is Bowel Cancer, he was incredibly brave and strong throughout. His words to me when we were told he was terminal were; 'well Roz, this is the hand we have been dealt, and we have to get on with it'. Those words will stay with me forever.
Of course this challenge was about raising awareness, I have always said if I can get the message out there, raise awareness so that someone finds their cancer earlier and is therefore saved from this heart ache then we will have done an amazing thing, and I stand by that.
However personally, it has been about more than that, it has also been about remembering my husband for the brilliant man he was, to do something in his honour that will go down in history, something to look back on with our 2 boys and feel proud of.
I have healing still to do but I hope that the success of this and the money we have raised will make a difference."
What are you future plans?
"Short term we are beginning to organsie our Charity Gala Ball to be held in October, the 'finale' if you like, It is the Swim for Alex Gala Ball. We are planning an auction and I begin the hunt for companies and individuals willing to donate prizes, experiences, meals etc for our guests to bid on, all donations welcome!
After that it will be all about building a life for myself and my boys, one we can be proud of, something I know Alex would want for us. One thing I have learnt from this experience, is that grief never leaves you, but with the right support and the motivation to keep going you can grow around grief and still live a positive and fulfilled life. That's the plan anyway!"
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