With thanks to H20penMagazine for the donation of a Subscription to the magazine and also to SwimSmooth for access the SwimSmooth App. If you can offer services to donate to Davids Journey then please contact me at Jason@Southwestswim.co.uk.
Earlier this year we ran a quest to find our charity supported swimmer for 2016. Those that applied were shortlisted and then their applications were made anonymous and sent to our judging panel to select the swimmer to receive the benefit of our coaching package. David Stevens was the Athlete chosen to receive full benefit of our expertise, along with Sasha Leigh who was voted second place and receives some sessions to support her swim.
So, this weekend sees the start of their journey with South West Swim as they attend our Pool to Open Water Workshop. This is a session where we start to look at Open water skills, in the comfort of a swimming pool.
So, on this note I would like to introduce you to David Stephens and the story of his swim and why he is doing it. You can find out more and keep up to date with his swim by joining his Facebook group ‘A Swim to Remember’, as well as checking back in on South West Swim’s pages and website for updates every month or so.
Davids Sponsorship page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/David-Stevens13.
Here is David’s story in his own words:
A swim to Remember
By David Stevens
Like most good reads there is a start a middle and an end, you good fellows are joining me somewhere in the middle or thereabouts.
For me the mark of success is not rated by the next car you will be driving or how big your house is, to me it is measured by our children. I have two beautiful children Tylor and Leah, this part of my story is about Tylor.
Tylor was born at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford after a very worrying pregnancy. My wife Samantha and I had found out by no fault of ours he had heart problems, we did not know if he would survive. We were in our early 20s then, looking and working hard to build our life and our family and after weekly visits traveling backwards and forwards, which was a financial hardship at the time we were booked to be induced. Our baby boy was born on 7th September 1995, weighing in at 7lb 11 ozs, Tylor had surgery when he was only days old and I know if you have children I would not need to express the worry we went through , he was in special care for his first days ,
I’m kinda going to move on a bit now as i’m not wanting to bore you. Through Tylors life he had many surgeries for his heart and he had to wear full upper body brace at 9 as his back started to twist. After wearing it 23 hours a day, for over a year it was still getting worse so again as a father I had to carry my son to surgery again. I can’t find words to explain this feeling but as with all his ops, as with all his problems he bounced back with a smile. Even when the pins and rods worked loose a year latter he made the decision to go back under to have them tightened ,
But back to the story, as I could go on telling you of the strength, courage and sheer want for life and living for many more pages.
We sadly lost Tylor 3 years ago this June ,,,, When you world falls to bits it’s easy for me to see how easy the wrong turns are taken. I could have started drinking or Samantha and I could have split, as is is very hard to deal with 2 paths of grief traveling together along with many other things a life changing event can do to people. My choice was swimming! I started swimming to try to help rebuild our lives, I had stoped work for 10 months to hold my small family together, our lives shut down so great was (and is) our loss, but slowly I started swimming every Friday. Like a Scafolding around my heart my swimming was helping, helping me start work again and in doing so show my wife and daughter we still have things to do in this world ,to try and be able to smile again. With in my mind I knew I wanted to do something for make a wish foundation as they grant wishes for terminally ill children. Children that want so much and what we sometimes take for granted, just to live as normal a life they can , the wishes create smiles and memories, and memories are some thing you need when you’re at your lowest ,
A swim to remember was Born. I had watched Kev Bradys video I found on YouTube while looking for inspiration, so I started to swim more. This was in 2015 but I hit a snag shortly afterwards in February that year when I came down with bronchitis, which put pay to training for a few months. Not to be out done I decided to do something being pushed on by my sons love of life , so organised a swim in my local pool , Calne leisure centre. It was a great success and I swam non stop for 9 and a half hours, totalling a distance of 11 and a half miles. I want to point out at this point I am no athlete and when I stated this journey weighted in at 22 stone. That initial swim took place on Tylors 20th birthday, it was a great feeling as i felt I was still able to give him a present. We raised just under £3,000 and the support we received was fantastic.
On the back of that how could I not try to strive for that original goal of Swimming Windermere? again I was pushed on by what Tylor had achieved during his life. Through all his disabilities he came out of school with an A star in his art work and to this day his school has paintings of his art with portraits of him on proudly displayed on the art block, which showed me others felt the same love for my son.
In November 2015 I started open water swimming something I had not done since a child. I taught myself how to swim front crawl, which is something I had never been able to master. Now, I have spent all winter swimming in the pool and lake 32 twice a week, in All temperatures. This is where Mr Tait, From South West Swim comes in. Having spoken to Jason, who coaches at the lake, he informed me his company sponsors an athlete every year who is doing a charity swim. From there I put my application in and here we are! 🙂
I have being running a video blog diary since I started and am planning a number of small events before I attempt windermere on my boys 21st birthday this September, I start my coaching with Jason this weekend, April 10th. Even this will be hard for me as I’ve not done as I’m told since leaving school in 1988 🙂
So with that I wish you well and thank you for reading. please follow our page ‘A Swim To Remember” on Facebook and wish me and Jason Tait luck !! Ps ,not sure who needs it more