One-armed swimming for MS

When my school-time swim training friend Eliza suggested I join her for MS Australia’s 24 Hour Megaswim, and I gave her the somewhat nutty response of, “Sure, great idea! I’ll do the midnight shift!” I didn’t expect the niggling pain in my shoulder to get in my way.

Over the past nearly two months, my team, The Sharkies, has been dutifully training hard to prepare for the megaswim on Feb 22 and 23 and bragging about it on Facebook. Instead of joining them, for the most part I have been visiting a chiropractor, icing and stretching, buying (and sleeping on) an expensive high tech pillow, and trying to swim one-armed invent a new stroke that doesn’t hurt. 

What a great idea this megaswim was. Did I mention I’m sharing the crazy shift between about midnight and 3am?

I’d had a niggling twang near my right bicep for more than six months, but (like too many of us so often do) I’d ignored it and continued along with my life as though nothing was wrong. It’s hard to pinpoint the cause: carrying two stupidly heavy bags back and forth on the train to uni, too many late nights reading in bed on my side, sleeping in bad positions on bad pillows…

I suppose if I really had to put my finger on it I’d say it started hurting about the time I tried Bob Harper’s Body Rev Cardio Conditioning workout DVD for the first time then collapsed during a few too many side-planks in yoga (separate incidents but around the same time). Like I said, I ignored it. By the way, I still highly recommend the DVD.

Suddenly it all hit me just after I’d returned from Queensland after New Year’s – where I’d spent a week carrying heavy bags all day and sleeping on a particularly soft bed. Every morning I woke up to a sorer arm than the day before. Every morning I said, “Wow, my arm really hurts. I should get it checked out. Ah well…” We swam a bit at Wet’n’Wild and Whitewater World and I never felt much of a problem.

The following week I jumped in the pool for our first proper megaswim training session, and the first stroke was agony. I couldn’t do freestyle. At all.

“Wow, I really should get this arm checked out,” I thought.

And I finally did.

The chiropractor banished me from the pool for three weeks and has treated my arm weekly ever since.

“So when is this 24 hour swim then?” he asked.

“Uhh, less than two months away.”

“You’re screwed!” the grin on his face was priceless.


My first session back in the pool must have been great entertainment for the lifeguards. I turned up looking all professional in my Speedo bathers, fancy training cap and expensive goggles. When I jumped in, I proceeded to invent a very awkward style of stroke that I will now label “1.5 armed freestyle”. But I kept at it for more than 1km and I proved to myself I could at least avoid letting my team down on event day.

I’ve been visiting the pool about twice a week ever since and it is getting better and better every time. It’ll be a slow road to recovery but I realise now it’s probably a good idea to take niggling injuries seriously before they become major hassles in your life. Ha, let’s see whether I actually take that advice next time!

I am determined to continue training hard, resting hard, sleeping properly on my new fancy pillow, and generally being more sensible with myself.

My team, The Sharkies, will be lapping it up on Feb 22 and 23. Someone has to be moving in the pool for the whole time between 10am Saturday and 10am Sunday. I guess it’s like a Relay for Life but for swimmers. Between the 15 of us we’ve allocated shifts, so crazy me and Ashlee will be keeping The Sharkies going through the dark hours of 12.24am and 3.36am (and nerve wrackingly precise, might I add).

MS is a serious and terrible disease who way too many are affected by – and research and support is greatly needed. My immediate family has known some of those affected and realised just how debilitating MS can be.

All we need is a little bit of help. And my dearest, most marvellous, loyal blog follower, I don’t ask for much from you, do I? (Forget about that origami earring junk, we both knew you weren’t going to buy them anyway).

Any donation amount is welcome. It’s super easy to donate so please take a couple of minutes to check out my page.

All you have to do is click this link then click the big red button saying “donate now”. Simples.

Thanks, and go Sharkies!

megaswim profile pic


One response

  1. Pingback: MS Megaswim done! | Cutting Corners

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