Felicity, aged 60

2016 GREAT EAST SWIM OUTREACH PROGRAMME

“Everything in my life changed for the better”

Felicity lost her husband in 2014, he died from lung cancer less than 12 months after diagnosis and needless to say her world fell apart.

Felicity had become reclusive, not doing anything much at all, and she lacked motivation and focus. She comes from a big supportive family and they tried to get her out of the house but she just spent a lot of time on Facebook or watching TV.

So she decided to give Facebook up for lent, and was literally going through the process of doing that when up popped an advert which caught her attention “Do you need motivation and are you physically inactive” Felicity hadn’t swum since childhood so she was sure she ticked all the boxes and in a mad moment she clicked on the link before she realised what she was doing!

She recalls “A few of my sisters and me meet at church on Sundays and we have breakfast together afterwards, so I asked them if they wanted to join me and the person who I least expected to say ‘yes’ was my younger sister but she did agree to do it with me”.

She remembers the first training session and like most people in the group, she was quite nervous but they were all in the same boat and most of them struggled with just ten lengths.

But once she got into the exercise programme of swim training once a week and gym sessions twice a week, she found it tough going but she absolutely loved it. She did doubt herself as to whether she could complete the swim because she was struggling with the distance and was very slow but Sarah the project coordinator was so positive and she encouraged her to still go for the mile swim. Felicity and the group went for their first open water session using a wet suit and they all felt quite overwhelmed but were amazed at how much they loved it.

So much so that they started meeting independently for the open water swimming sessions and found them incredibly motivational. On the day of the Great East Swim so many of Felicity’s family were there for her and although she wasn’t fast she did the mile course and the feeling when she came out was amazing. Her sister completed the half mile and when they’d both finished they just sobbed together for so long it was incredible. We loved it!

Felicity says “Everything in my life changed for the better. I suddenly became that person I was before I’d lost my husband but even better. I was so much more positive, my body was better which made me feel good. I looked forward to going every night and I loved it.

The open water sessions were such fun. The whole thing was wonderful and me and my sister became so close. Sometimes we hated the thought of going to the sessions but we always felt so good when we’d finished”.

Felicity recently went to Singapore for three weeks and she swam everyday. She’s been to and swum in Lake Windermere and she’s started to sort things out in her home, something she hadn’t been able to do since losing her husband.

She rarely watches TV at all now and she’s made a lot of new friends. She’s still exercising, following the strength training at home which she learnt on the programme. She’s bought a cross trainer and a bike and rather than walking her dog she now runs with him.

She added “I’m doing a lot of things now that are self motivating which I need to do and this works for me. I’ve found the whole experience incredible and for me it was completely life-changing”

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