CLARKS – Dave, Debbie, Lucy and Sarah took part in the 2016 Great East Swim  Outreach Programme

The Clarks are a hard working family, living in Bury St Edmunds. Dave is a tax inspector in Cambridge, Debbie works in a pre-school and their daughters Lucy and Sarah both work as lifeguards at Bury Leisure Centre. When Debbie signed up for the outreach programme she felt she wanted someone to do it with her for moral support so Dave, who had taken part in cycle races in the past decided to join her, especially as he enjoyed challenges and liked the idea of doing something different.

Debbie thought she’d definitely be the weakest link in the group and the most inactive, and despite Dave not being quite so worried about that, they both anticipated the training with some trepidation. Debbie struggled a little bit with stamina during the training, but she felt so much better in herself and lost a few pounds even though she found she was eating slightly more. She hadn’t ever been a big fan of swimming before the programme but she really enjoys it now and has continued to swim twice a week including outdoor lake swimming.

Dave was a big character in the group and he has a real can do attitude. He’s asthmatic and has type two diabetes with high blood pressure. He also has some knee problems but he found that the swimming and circuit training helped with this as it was tailored to people aged over 50. He’s actually carried on with this strength training since completing the swim, as has Debbie. Dave got fitter, his body fat improved and his knees were much better and he particularly enjoyed the camaraderie within the group, how everyone encouraged each other.

Their girls are both lifeguards at Bury Leisure Centre and when they saw how much their Mum and Dad were enjoying the first training session, they decided to get involved as well and took part in the younger programme.

Lucy, despite doing her lifeguarding training and working at the centre, was simply out of the habit of swimming for fitness, so completing the outreach programme for her was really good and she ended up completing the 1 mile course. Sarah had no confidence at all before the programme but by doing the training and the Great East Swim half mile course, her confidence has vastly improved and she’s recently signed up for a channel swim.

The Clarks all really enjoyed the Great East Swim itself and loved that they were able to take part in something together and encourage each other throughout the programme. They all completed their various distances and were proud to get their medals. Dave completed the 1 mile course, Debbie 1/2 mile, Lucy 1 mile and Sarah the half mile.

Sarah recently signed up for a charity swim for Aspire which is the equivalent of swimming the Channel. For Dave and Debbie, they both enjoyed the experience and feel sure they will take part in the GES again next year.

Dave said “Getting my medal was the best part, the achievement of completing the swim” And as for Debbie she says “This experience has made me look at outdoor water in a different way, it’s so much better than pool swimming” They both love that they have now found a completely new healthy interest they can do together in a different environment.


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