As a parent of someone with an eating disorder, I know first-hand the toll eating disorders take not only on the afflicted individual, but also their families. My daughter was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa in 2019, having struggled with severe anxiety for several years before. All I want is for my daughter to be happy and healthy, but I have learnt through watching her battle the monster in her mind that although she is much better now, it is an ongoing journey, full of ups and downs for which there is no quick and easy fix.
In the process of supporting my daughter, I have learnt so much and felt a drive to increase awareness of eating disorders and give others an insight into the harsh reality of supporting someone with an eating disorder. This is when the idea of fundraising for BEAT by attempting to swim an ice mile came in.
What is an Ice Mile?
An ice mile involves swimming a mile unaided in water below 5 degrees in just a swimming cap, trunks and goggles! To put this into context, only 1000 people in the world have successfully completed this challenge, so it is by no means an easy feat.
There is also a high risk of hypothermia and requires health checks, on-site medics, a 1km qualifying swim and lots of training. Over the last year my training has included swimming in indoor pools, outdoor pools, open water, practicing drills and cold water immersion in my at-home ice bath. Before I can even attempt to swim an ice mile, I have to swim an ice kilometre, also in 5 degree water in just a pair of speedos, which in itself is a tremendous challenge!
When I first embarked upon this journey I had definitely overestimated my swimming ability - when I began training in November 2022 I could barely swim 100 metres without feeling like I’d done a marathon and the idea of swimming a mile, let alone in ice cold water felt impossible.
However, fundraising for BEAT gave me serious motivation to carry on and I know that the challenge of swimming an ice mile has, for me, involved only a fraction of the pain those suffering with eating disorders experience.
After a lot of hard work and with the help of an amazing swimming coach, pool and lakeside friends and the motivation of fundraising for BEAT, I am proud to say I have now successfully completed my qualifying swim of 1km in 2.7 degrees in Loch Morlich, in Aviemore, Scotland! This was actually much colder than the temperatures I had been training in, making it more dangerous and even more of a challenge than it already was.
Now I need to swim further and faster!
Watch more about my challenge here.
Seeing my daughter get weaker, more headstrong, unable to enjoy sport, socialising and family time as she used to, her body malfunctioning and trips to the emergency department are just some of the ways in which her eating disorder impacted her and our family. During the toughest times, it was especially hard for me to see as a doctor. I had taken greater pride in being able to keep my family health and help them when they were unwell, but I felt helpless in that role when it came to helping my daughter through this illness.
BEAT is therefore incredibly close to my heart, not simply because of the support they provide to those struggling with eating disorders, but because they are committed to supporting those affected by eating disorders regardless of the state of their physical health and is why I decided to use my challenge of a swimming an ice mile, to fundraise for BEAT.
The journey I’ve been on to swim an ice mile has been incredibly challenging but also deeply personal. We started off with a fundraising target of £5k, which we smashed in just 3 weeks of launching our JustGiving page and have now hit an mind-blowing £10k thanks to so many people’s amazing generosity and my daughter who is behind the promotional content on social we have done!
In attempting to swim an ice mile, I hope to fundraise a substantial amount to donate to BEAT, which supports a cause which continues to resonate deep within me, and that the waves I make through my icy endeavours will serve as a testament to the resilience of those fighting eating disorders.
Want to support Ravi's fundraiser? Check out his JustGiving page by clicking here.
Visit our handy fundraising hub for all the information you need to get started.
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