Fantastic news! Dawn Craig, Thistle Wellbeing Practitioner working as part of the Midlothian Wellbeing Partnership (in GP surgeries), has won a coveted place to be part of a cross-Channel relay swimming team. The swim is scheduled to take place on 28th June 2020, although this will be weather-dependent and Dawn will only get 72 hours’ notice of the exact date.
Beating tough opposition at trials in London, Dawn impressed the judges with her ability, commitment and incredible story. For those of you not familiar with Dawn’s story, until 5 years ago she was crippled by agonising back pain that left her out of work and house-bound for over 10 years. Dawn came to Thistle and completed the Lifestyle Management Course which uses the Thistle Approach to give people the tools they need to manage a health condition and take back control of their lives and their wellbeing. You can read Dawn’s story here.
Why the Channel?
Dawn explains, “When I was asked by the Wellbeing Practitioner what my HOPES were, I said to swim the channel! This was a childhood dream but I was not thinking I could ever actually achieve this.
“Whilst on lifestyle Management I set up a swimming group to help people like myself find the confidence with others to get back into the water. The group is still running and is now led by peer volunteers who came through the Thistle Midlothian Service. I started wild swimming 3 years ago and realised very quickly that the freezing Scottish water massively helped reduce my pain. So I did more and more of it. Now I don’t reach for pain killers, I reach for cold water.
“I have such an amazing support network through the swimming and through Thistle. This helped me realise that actually if I put in hard work I could still swim the channel. One day, I would love to do a solo channel swim but this takes years of training and a massive commitment so I’m more than happy that I am getting this amazing opportunity to do a relay for starters.
“I have encouraged and supported so many others get back into swimming either in the pool or outdoors and it is such an amazing feeling seeing them benefiting from the water just as I do.”
Sharks and Seaweed
Dawn’s is an extraordinary achievement. The cross-Channel relay team comprises just 6 swimmers.
“I am so excited. In fact, I keep pinching myself it’s so hard to believe that I’m not dreaming. I know I can do the distance now but mentally I have many fears and I need to do lots of night swims soon as I have only ever swam in the dark once and I haven’t swum out into the middle of the sea. I normally swim along the coast.
“Apparently there aren’t many sharks in the English channel... NOT MANY!! It only takes one, if you know what I mean. There are also jellyfish... and seaweed… ok enough.
“The weather will play a massive part in this. I’ve got a coach who is working hard with me on my technique and I’m going to have to put in lots of hours training as currently I am the slowest in my team and like everyone else I’d like to get across the Channel in as little time as possible."
Doing it for Charity
“I want to fulfil this dream so much for myself and as a massive thank you to everyone at Thistle and my family and friends for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself."
Dawn’s only disappointment is that she’s unable to raise funds for Thistle by doing this swim.
“In the past I’ve done lots of fundraisers for Thistle and would have loved to use this swim to raise more,” she explains. “But to be part of the relay team and for me to fulfil one of my life-long ambitions, I have to raise funds for Aspire Spinal Injury charity. All teams this year are swimming for Aspire and named after Australian animals so we are the kangaroos: Team Roo."
How to support Dawn
"I’m really grateful to so many of my colleagues who have offered to support me and if anyone else would like to, my funding page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dawn-craig4"
We’ll be following Dawn’s story all the way! Good luck!