This year, we're taking the ‘Every Body Swim' campaign to the Arla Great North Swim - showcasing that swimming is for everyone and that all swimmers should be celebrated.   

Everyone is welcome at the Arla Great North Swim, and we want as many people to experience the freedom and sense of belonging tSahat comes from open and cold water swimming. So, no matter your age, sex, ethnicity, swimming experience, mental or physical ability - you can feel inspired to improve and enhance your health.

Sarah Wilson is from Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Sarah found swimming helped her physical and mental health after she had her leg amputated, and she decided to take part in the Great North Swim to give back to the Bone Cancer Research Trust. The Wilsons are making it a family affair - her brother Ben will also be taking part to support her.

This is Sarah and Ben’s first time at the Great North Swim and they’re both taking on the 1 mile challenge.

What do you like about open water swimming?

Ben: I’m not sure yet! This’ll be the first time - I’m doing the mile in support of my sister who’s taking on an incredible challenge.

Sarah: This is my first time, too. I know open water swimming is going to be a challenge for me, but I wanted a challenge - and this fits the bill! Last year, the Bone Cancer Research Trust really supported me and my family - I was battling bone cancer, had my leg amputated and had my hip and femur reconstructed. I nearly died twice. I just want to give back to the organisation that helped me so much.

I know that as an amputee, open water swimming will be a huge challenge - but I’m ready for it. Just because I don't have a leg, it doesn't mean I can't take part in charity activities and challenge myself.

How does open water swimming make you feel?

Ben: I love being in the water - it really helps me to relax. Sarah and I will be finding some open-water swimming spots soon for training. We just want it to warm up a bit first!

Sarah: When I’m in the water, I know that I’m 'safe' and that I can’t hurt myself. I'm like a fish when I get going - swimming frees all my muscles up. It was a massive help to me after my amputation.

What does your training involve?

Ben: I swim multiple times a week, plus I’m doing lots of strength and endurance training to build stamina.

Sarah: Currently, I’m learning to walk on a prosthetic leg and that's really hard work, so I'm classing it as fitness training - ha! I'm also swimming at the gym a few times a week. Like Ben says, we’re going to find some open water spots soon when things warm up.

How has swimming inspired you or improved your daily life?

Bem: I find that swimming helps keep me active, but it also helps me de-stress from my job.

Sarah: Swimming hasn’t just improved my mental attitude towards my amputation, but it’s really helped my fitness too. Last November, I had another major surgery to have my hip and femur repaired with metal and swimming was my medicine. It made me realise I was capable of moving again, and it helped me build my muscles back up. I have a happy place, and it’s swimming. 

The Arla Great North Swim will be back on 7-9 June 2024. Choose from six different open water swimming distances to suit all ages, abilities, and level of experience. Whether you're looking to get fit, improve your time, soak up some nature or raise money for charity, you‘ll be part of an amazing collective experience - guaranteed.  Dive into nature and join us at the UK's biggest open water swimming event. So, what do you say - see you on the shore? Find out more here.