Strong to the core

So happy to publish the first guest blog on Winging It Club. Written by the brilliant Georgie Sollom as she embarks on the challenge of a lifetime all in aid of the wonderful hospice that cared for her mum in her final days.

Having my erect nipples airbrushed for a publicity photo in our local paper was not something I’d anticipated being part of my Channel swim training. For the first time since I’d agreed to join my friend Tim’s relay team, I actually stopped to consider exactly what I’d signed up to. My two daughters, who are bamboozled about the whole thing, have been asking my why I don’t get a boat or just fly and I am beginning to think they have a good point. Exposing your body to inordinately cold water for hours on end with no wetsuit is just the first hurdle (hence the bullet nips) but there’s so much more to grapple with. My naggingly aching shoulders from hours in the water doing front crawl, thigh muscles sore not from just the training but constantly recovering from excessive shivering, the psychological fear of what lies beneath, hanging out with my public enemy no1, jellyfish, and horrendous seasickness are just some of things to contend with when swimming the Channel. So what on earth has possessed me to undertake this challenge?

Last year my darling MuGeorgie and mumm died after a long battle with breast cancer. It was awe-inspiring to see the tender, respectful and kind care she received day in day out from all the staff at St Raphael’s Hospice, where she spent the last few precious weeks of her life. The way she suffered – gasping for every breath and whimpering in pain with every tiny movement she made was unbearably cruel but the dogged determination with which she fought it was humbling beyond belief. Strong to the core, Mum never gave up until she had absolutely nothing left. I had the great honour of being with her when she took her last breath and saw for myself how peaceful and gentle it was. For me, this was a life-changing moment, quite literally, and has allowed me to engage with a visceral force within me I didn’t know existed.

The best way I know how to say thank you to St Raphael’s Hospice for the sanctuary and comfort they showed Mum in her dying days is to raise money for them by doing something I love; swimming. But like most of the things in life, I never choose the easy route (no warm balmy indoor pool for me) and I am TRULY winging it! I have no idea if I’m training properly or eating the right things (gallons of Prosecco are still ok at the weekend, right?). It’s such a huge challenge so all I can do is take things a day at a time and train as hard as I can, when I can. More people try to climb Everest each year than swim the Channel which really rather puts things in perspective.

My open water training began in earnest in February – an icy 5 Celsius lake was my first foray into this crazy world and I came out as pink as a freshly cooked lobster such was the cold water trauma on my body. The enormity of the physical and psychological challenge almost mirrors the sadness and emptiness of a life without Mum. Wherever you are now, precious Mum, I know you’ll be cheering me on.

Now, where are my goggles…….

Georgie Sollom

Georgie is the former BBC South weather anchor and entertainment reporter and is doing the challenge to raise funds for St Raphael’s Hospice in London.

You can donate to Georgie’s amazing cause here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=GeorgieSollom&pageUrl=3

Read more about Georgie’s challenge here: http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/14465807.Popular_TV_presenter_to_swim_the_channel_for_charity/?cid=dlvr.it

Image credits: Georgie and her gorgeous girls; Georgie and her darling mum

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