Triumph over Success

Oct 30, 2017

Beth French

This month, Wellington swimmer, Beth French, paid us a return visit. Last year, she told us of her intention to be the first person to complete the Oceans 7 Challenge in one year. Beth explained that, after suffering from glandular fever as a child and then developing ME so severely that she was in a wheelchair when she was 17, she became determined to beat her illness through swimming.

Beth set herself huge challenges and, after swimming the English Channel and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, she decided to attempt the Oceans 7. After months of planning the swims began last year. Beth had the added complication of her autistic son, Dylan, who she home schools and who would be travelling with her on her adventures.

In her talk, entitled ‘Triumph over Success’, she told us harrowing stories of being very sick on the first swim in Hawaii, having to swim with one arm paralysed and of being stalked by a shark. During that ordeal, she had to stay calm and keep upright in the water until the shark lost interest; if she had even touched the kayak that was accompanying her, the channel attempt would not be counted.

Beth completed four out of the seven channels, the following three in the USA, New Zealand and Gibraltar. It was on her fifth swim in Japan that she realised she couldn’t continue as her son was becoming so distressed and anxious when she swam. She abandoned the challenge although the adventure, she says, is not over; it’s just changed. At Dylan’s request, they are preparing to climb England’s three highest peaks!

Members’ time this month was spent covering shoe boxes with Christmas wrapping paper and filling them with suitable gifts for the YMCA Christmas collection. More than 50 boxes were filled and, for a while, the meeting looked rather like Santa’s workshop!

The new walking group had had a very enjoyable trek up to Wellington Monument and back and the equally new photography group produced some stunning photographs on the theme of Red and Yellow. A final call was made for knitted and crocheted poppies for the Remembrance displays in Wellington Park and Monmouth Gardens and final arrangements were made for the two theatre trips this month to see Shirley Valentine and Pam Ayres. This month’s Supper Club will have a spooky Halloween theme and the Quiz team will be taking part in the County Quiz final.

The speaker at the meeting on 16th November will be one of our own members, Ellie Zaremba, who will be talking about her work as an anaesthetist.

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