On the 31st of July 2023, my friend William Henman and myself, Oscar Sanger, swam from Switzerland to France across Lake Geneva in 4 hrs and 44 minutes, raising over £4,000 for Beat.
My cousin has been in and out of hospital continuously for the last two years with anorexia and I have seen how damaging the disease can be. It’s been devastating for our whole family, and I wanted to find a way to show my support and so we decided we were going to swim across the lake.
It became clear that all my friends knew someone who was, or had been, suffering with an eating disorder.
Whilst walking to university on our exchange in Switzerland, Will and I would walk by Lake Geneva with its stunning views of distant snow-topped mountains on the way to class. We wondered how far it was to the other side of the lake, so we looked it up and saw there was a route to swim it. I really wanted to do something to show support for my family and raise awareness of what my cousin has been going through and the two things sort of clicked together, and I thought that would be my challenge.
As we started to discuss the swim and its reasoning with my friends, it became clear that all my friends knew someone who was, or had been, suffering with an eating disorder. After doing some internet research, I was shocked to find how prevalent eating disorders have become among young people, with one academic study stating that 13% of adolescents will experience a food eating disorder before they are 20. This broadened the objective of our challenge beyond my personal family situation, to raising awareness about of how common eating disorders are, their detrimental effects and the help available.
Inspired by Oscar and Will’s fundraiser? Check out their JustGiving page to donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/oscarandwillswim
The whole day was filled with excitement and adrenaline and knowing we were raising money to support Beat’s vital work gave us the extra push we needed
Swimming Lake Geneva was one of the greatest challenges myself and Will have ever embarked on. The swim was physically challenging, but looking at our surroundings and the weather made it easier. The whole day was filled with excitement and adrenaline and knowing we were raising money to support Beat’s vital work gave us the extra push we needed at times.
We chose Beat as we saw the great work the charity does in supporting individuals with an eating disorder, as well as supporting their friends and family through their helplines, support programmes and awareness events.
When it came to fundraising, we were overwhelmed by the amount of support we received from our friends and family. We initially set our fundraising target at £2000 and thought we were being overly ambitious! Amazingly we soon reached that target and upped it to £2,500. By the end of our fundraising journey, we had reached over £3,500 in donations and over £500 in Gift Aid, meaning we donated over £4000 to Beat. Their kindness and generosity gave us great motivation for our swim and we were able to spread awareness of eating disorders and the charity to more people than we could have imagined.
The recent shift on open discussions about mental health is amazing and we want the same to happen with the topic of eating disorders, where we have a society feel safe to discuss such topics.
Inspired by Oscar and Will’s fundraiser? Check out their JustGiving page to donate
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