Ruth Rayner

Ruth's 730 consecutive days wild skin swimming challenge

Fundraising for RNLI - Royal National Lifeboat Institution
raised of £870 target
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RNLI - Royal National Lifeboat Institution

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We are a 24 hour search & rescue service to save lives at sea


I’ve been surfing on and off for the past 25 years and in May 2017, I started sea swimming. I have swum through three winters and am almost out on the warmer  side of my fourth. In case you're wondering, no, it doesn't get easier, you just know what to expect and what to wear before and after to limit the pain!

On March 16th 2020, I began sea swimming every day. I didn’t set out to do it for any particular length of time but it became a part of my daily routine, my way of coping through unsettling times. February 2021 was particularly challenging as I lost my grandma and aunt within the space of two days. This meant I relocated to Yorkshire to be with my mum and found myself swimming in a local reservoir, in sub five degree water, every day for a month. I swam through snow blizzards, gale force winds and had to break the ice to get in the water on one particular day. It was brutal but it helped numb the pain of overwhelming grief. On March 15th 2021, somehow I had completed 365 days without a break and in just my cossie (and swimming hat). Thanks to everyone who donated, I raised £965 for RNLI (and £1900 for Alzheimer's Society). 

Of course, I was looking forward to the challenge ending as I was pretty tired and still in the early stages of grief. I needed time to adjust, process, rest... It soon became apparent though, that the only way I could adjust and process my emotions, was in the ocean. I was calm and things were clearer in there, so I carried on swimming. Every day. Now, although I'd said it was a one year challenge, many knew regardless of what I said (and truly believed), there was a high probability, it would turn into a two year challenge. And they were right as I am fast approaching March 15th 2022 when I will have reached my final (yes really!) goal. 730 consecutive days wild swimming. I will have swum 800 times within these 730 days.  

Year Two has seen more reservoir swimming (although mostly in the summer this time), quite a few night swims due to working away and not getting back until way after last light, plus some (non-Covid-19) health issues. Having the unconditional support of my mum and a core group of swim buddies has, without doubt, helped me get through this second year!

So again, I’m going to take this opportunity to raise some more money for the two charities during my final 31 days. After my first 300 swims in 2020, I gave £300 shared between, Seabirds Ltd, Leave No Trace Brighton, RNLI, Firefighters and Sycamore Park Care Home (where Grandma was a resident). I’m now asking you to donate to the RNLI. I also have a separate JustGiving page for the Alzheimer's Society. Let's see if we can beat last year's total raised for both charities.

🔹 Why RNLI?

As a surfer and sea swimmer, I know the dangers of the sea. Too many people are still drowning. More than ever we need the RNLI’s help. As a charity, the RNLI depends on our donations so it can go on saving lives and keeping us and our loved ones safe. RNLI lifesavers are our lifeline. They’re the lifeboat crews who provide 24-hour search and rescue right around the UK and Ireland. The lifeguards keeping watch on 240 of the busiest beaches in the UK and Channel Islands. And the RNLI safety teams and educators working tirelessly to stop people getting into trouble in the first place. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance, for your incredible support.

About the charity

RNLI - Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Verified by JustGiving

RCN Eng/Wal 20609,SC037736,ROI20003326,IOM1308,Jer14
RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews provide a 24-hour search and rescue service all around the UK and Ireland, while lifeguards keep a careful watch on the UK’s busiest beaches. RNLI lifesaving and drowning prevention depend on supporter fundraising and the generous donations that you and others give.

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