Swimming opens up 'whole new world' for Keynsham fundraiser Ashley

Published on: 02 Sep 2016

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A Keynsham man who less than two years ago couldn’t swim more than a few metres is now undertaking a mile-long challenge for two charities close to his heart.

Ashley Jenkins, 26, has quadriplegic cerebral palsy which affects all four of his limbs, meaning he is wheelchair-bound.

He first took the plunge at Freeways Hydrotherapy Pool and says he barely managed to swim a length of the eight-metre pool independently.

Just 22 months on, however, Ashley is now just days away from a fundraising challenge that will see him swim the equivalent of a mile at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre.

Beside the physical difficulties he had to overcome, Ashley said there was one mental barrier he had to tackle too: “Getting over the fear of drowning! The key was getting used to being underwater and controlling your breath.

“Once I did that it opened a whole new world! Swimming has really helped my movement, confidence and is a great form of cardiovascular exercise.”

Ashley will be carrying out his sponsored swim on September 5 and hopes to complete it in under five hours. He said: “Hengrove have been outstanding in ensuring that disabled people can access their public pool and have given me use of a lane for the day.” 

Two charities will benefit from the money Ashley raises, which already stands at £1,155 on his online fundraising page.

The final total will be split between Freeways Hydrotherapy Pool, where Ashley started his journey and which offers physiotherapy to people with complex disabilities and conditions, and Cerebral Palsy

Plus, which Ashley says works hard to raise awareness, put on events and campaign.

Ashley adds that both charities have made a real difference to his life, reminding him “disability is only a state of mind”.

He added: “Have a strong mindset and determination no matter what’s in the way. Twenty-two months ago I couldn't swim eight metres, now it’s only a week until I swim 1,600 and I can't wait.”

To sponsor Ashley, visit his fundraising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ashleyjenkins

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