Two Uckfield girls overcame illness to successfully complete a 22-mile swimathon for the Diabetes UK Swim22 event and raise more than £750 for the charity.
Abigail Craig, ten, and her eight-year-old sister Samara, from The Mount, completed the event in 31 swimming sessions consisting of 19 hours and 40 minutes, writes Jacob White.
Abigail, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes faced several challenges to complete the swim along with her sister, according to their mum Amanda who is also Abigail’s full-time carer.
Amanda, said: “We had some hiccups. They were ill for three weeks with flu and tummy bugs, Abigail clicked her shoulder out and sometimes when her blood sugars were fluctuating we had to cancel swimming but no matter what her diabetes threw at us we did it.”
Amanda said that the girls became so good at swimming they started with 23 laps every day and by the end of the event they were doing between 60 and 66 laps three days a week.
Looking ahead, Amanda, said: “They don’t have any other challenges for this year. Maybe the swimathon next year – we’ll see! They will keep swimming lessons each week though and Abigail is working on rookie lifeguarding and Samara may join later this year.”
After spending last the few months in the water, the girls hope to enjoy spending time on it over the summer as they plan to do a beginner’s course in windsurfing in August.
Amanda, said: “Their dad Andrew is a windsurfer so together we will hopefully have lots of fun on the water as a family and in addition to this they have completed a kayak course.”
The money raised for Diabetes UK through Abigail and Samara’s swimathon will go towards research into pancreas and beta cell transplantation.
It is hoped that a treatment for transplantation will be developed to stop the immune system from attacking the insulin producing cells.
Amanda, said: “If this transplant could be done successfully then it would mean that Abigail would not have Type 1 diabetes (or any diabetes) and effectively be cured.”
Up until now these transplants have been largely unsuccessful in those with Type 1 because their immune system attacks and destroys the cells.
Amanda said: “There is a deep satisfaction and sense of achievement. We are incredibly grateful to anyone who supported us whether it was financially, through encouragement – texting, phoning, mailing. It was awesome so many people responded and made this possible.”
Abigail and Samara’s swimming has so far raised £785 for Diabetes UK. Their starting goal was £500 and anyone wishing to add to that tally have until May 31 to donate online at: www.justgiving.com/abisam4diabetes or by texting 70070 saying SAB76 with their desired donation between £1 and £10.