School closed, exams gone, no future certainty and a wave of lockdowns sweeping through Europe: I was feeling depressed. Wallowing around in a state of self-pity (unsurprisingly) did nothing to help. Like many others my age, I felt betrayed that everything we had been working towards, and looking forward to, had been taken away in the space of an hour.
I thought long and hard about what I could do with myself. I lost sleep (not that I really needed it), pondering constantly about how best to deal with the lockdown. Some long-term project had to be undertaken to prevent the onset of insanity; something that would take my mind off the doom and gloom exacerbated by the media.
I began whittling down my options. Ideas ranging from painting to musical composition quickly fell away and I found myself left with sport. With no idea what the final goal was, training began. I turned instantly to the two sports the whole nation had discovered simultaneously: running and cycling. However, like most of the nation, I became a ‘one weekend Wiggins.’ The bike idea fell away, and running was the only thing left.
The swimming emerged as an idea in late March. I have always enjoyed swimming and used to compete at a very low level. We are fortunate enough to own a natural pool - a 15m freezing pond looked after by nature – which has always been a source of enjoyment, albeit cold and ephemeral.
The training, after turning a corner, became rather intense. Weekdays involved a six-mile run in the morning, followed by a two-hour swim in the afternoon. At the weekends, two four-hour swims took place. Accompanying all of this was a lot of research (but still no goal in mind). I started investigating wetsuits, nutrition, swimming challenges, hypothermia and plenty more, ultimately gaining a lot of knowledge in an area I'd known little about. The challenge of the Channel was an arbitrary decision. Before I fully knew what I was getting into, I was fixated on the idea. "It’s possible, but horrific," said a friend (far better at swimming than me). "Far more people have climbed Everest," echoed my Div don, Mr Rattray, who has been a source of great wisdom throughout, via our regular Skype calls.
Nonetheless, the big day is approaching. I still feel terrified. On Sunday 31st May I will be doing the 21 miles of non-stop swimming (2,318 lengths) taking approximately 12-13 hours. The charity I have chosen to do this for is St Giles Hospice, Lichfield, who looked after my grandfather over the summer of 2019. The support I have received so far has been phenomenal, and I would like to thank everybody donating. If you would like to contribute, the link below contains more information about St Giles Hospice and what their work means to me.
22nd January 2021
Despite a challenging 2020, progress on Winchester College's new state-of-the-art Sports Centre continues, as the school and local community look ahead to the opening in 2022.
25th May 2021
Despite the regular downpours, Furley's secured top spot at this year's inter-house school sports day, known as Athlā. A resident of Furley's and captain of athletics, Frankie Shropshire reports on a day of competition, teamwork and encouragement.
24th May 2021
Correspondent for this year's Wykeham Journal, Margaret Gilmore, talks to archaeologist Amy Bunce about the extraordinary mediaeval discovery beneath the school's old swimming pool.
26th April 2021
Young rower, Lawrence Hagger, set himself an ambitious challenge over the Easter holiday that has resulted in a new British record.
18th January 2021
Southampton FC midfielder Oriol Romeu visited Winchester last month to share the secrets of his success with the sports scholars.
17th November 2020
The latest milestone in the development of Winchester College's new Sports Centre was marked this November as the contractors reached the lowest point of the dig, where the foundations of the swimming pool will be laid.