Do you know what my problem is? So much happened last week that I’m almost afraid to try and put it into words in case I can’t find the right things to say that will come close to conveying how incredible it all really was. I have been quiet on here for a whole week, thinking I needed a bit of time to digest it all. The thing is, I still don’t feel much nearer to knowing where to begin! If I leave it much longer, you might even wonder if everything went OK. (Please believe me, everything went wayyyy more than OK!! 😀 😀 )
Anyway, putting this off so I can tell the story more perfectly only makes another day pass by, so here I am, keyboard at the ready.
I wrote on here last Wednesday about how exciting it was to be waiting in the Reception area of Armthorpe Leisure Centre for everyone to arrive. What I didn’t mention was something that made me feel very emotional. A very very dear friend handed me a card. As I opened it I realised there was a lot of money inside. My questioning but delighted look indicated I was wondering how much she had given me and she pointed to something she had written inside the card. It said ‘I saved £1 for every mile you swam!’ Imagine that! £250 on my final day which took my fundraising to £7,000!! You can understand why I hugged her and cried. I simply couldn’t thank her enough. How could I possibly fail in my efforts to fundraise as much as I can, when I have had such incredible support like this. Even over a week later, it makes me emotional to think she did that.
The current total to date is over £7,500, and with money still to come in, it is very likely I will reach the £8,000 mark by the time I’m finished. If anyone would like to help me make sure of this, and you would still like to make a donation, my current Just Giving page is at https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo Thank you. And a special thank you again to my lovely friend who made my Final Mile day even more memorable because of her wonderful kindness and generosity.
So, back to where I left off. The Osmonds had arrived. Hugs all round. Time to swim my final mile. Actually is wasn’t a full mile. It was 1000m or 40 lengths. I had decided that people wouldn’t want to wait around for me to complete a full final mile so I swam extra lengths the day before. My dear friend Carol (also known on here as ‘Friend up North’), who has been my best friend since our Osmonds for Newcastle days, was in charge of the count down flipchart numbers. We decided it would help people up in the viewing gallery see how many lengths I had left. It also helped me to know how far I had to go.
I was vaguely aware that I was being recorded ‘Live’ on my Facebook page, and it seems that there were many friends and family who couldn’t be there, who watched online as it was happening. The wonders of technology!
As I got into the water, I have been asked several times how I was feeling at this point. I expected to be nervous as there were many people there to come and see me finish this, including Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond, as well as the reporters from Calendar News and local radio and press. My family and friends were there and my grandchildren were too. This was a big deal. Yet strangely I had the calmest, happiest feeling come over me. My dream was now a reality. I needed to enjoy my swim and believe me, I did. There were a few moments during the 40 lengths where I caught myself getting anxious when I could see TV camera men crouching down on the poolside to get a good shot, or Press photographers positioning themselves to take pictures at different stages of my swimming stroke. I was very conscious of Justin swimming alongside me but slightly behind. I think if I had had him swimming in constant view, I would have not been so calm! But he had told me that he would stop before I came to the end, so I could finish the final laps on my own. (His family had done this for his 250th mile when he was completing his run, and felt it very important to do that). As I set off for my last two lengths I could hear the noise from the poolside getting louder, and as I turned at the deep end to swim my final length, I had a strong impression that this is what heaven must be like. Those we love are cheering us on, encouraging us to do our best, wanting us to complete the race. I was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement and the noise as I finally completed 250 miles. My dream had come true. The deaf children would benefit from all of this and at that very moment in time, this is all that really mattered.
Tomorrow I will return to share what happened next. 🙂