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‘The Big C Swim’ challenge raises £9,000 for Velindre Cancer Charity and is set to return for 2023.

On 9th July 2022, a group of Velindre supporters, who were complete non-swimmers 12 months previous, conquered a 1 mile open water swim as part of the Swim To The Edge Series in Solva.

In 2021, Velindre supporter and Owner of Heathwood Swimming, Dave Tonge, decided that he was going to set a challenge for his clients to take part in their first ever swimming event in the open water. After deciding that he would also use it as a fundraiser in aid of Velindre, Dave was approached by many of his clients who each shared their own personal connection with the hospital and expressed their interest in getting involved. For all of them, this meant learning to swim in the open water and for a select few, they were faced with the challenge of learning to swim from scratch.

In total, 7 inspiring Velindre supporters dedicated months of training ahead of completing this very difficult challenge on 9th July alongside swimming coach Caris who is also a cancer survivor. The day was truly inspiring and saw all participants cross the finish line and complete the challenge within 1 hour which is a huge achievement.  

Amongst the group was Velindre staff member, Sarah Goman, who is a Senior Pharmacy Technician at the hospital. After becoming a patient herself in 2020, Sarah wanted to take on the challenge to raise vital funds and step outside her comfort zone to try something new. Read more about each swimmer and their reasons for supporting Velindre… 

Meet ‘The Big C Swim’ Team:

Sarah Goman

Sarah found a lump in her breast in August 2020 and was diagnosed with stage 3 triple negative breast cancer in October 2020. She started Chemotherapy in November 2020 for 6 months and had surgery in April 2021. After her surgery, she reached out to Dave at Heathwood Swimming to tell me her story and share that, at the age of 50, she wanted to learn to swim. She started her swimming journey a few months later and very bravely decided to take on this challenge. 

Andrew Williams

Andrew’s mum was diagnosed with metastatic cancer of the uterus in July 2014 and started active chemotherapy treatment at Velindre immediately. Andrew’s mum received chemotherapy and radiotherapy but sadly died in November 2015. Velindre was a weekly and often daily part of their lives for 15 months which is why Andrew feels so passionately about supporting Velindre through this challenge.

Richard Rees

Richard’s Dad, Rob Rees, had a routine screen in February 2020 where he was told he had bowel cancer before starting treatment in March 2020. Rob finished his treatment at the end of summer 2020 and was given all clear summer 2021. Richard starting learning to swim with Dave in 2020 and has since completed in two half Ironman events with a third planned for September 2022. 

Mike Smith

Mike’s Dad went into hospital on Friday 3rd of August 2001 after being unwell and was sadly told that day he had lung cancer and unfortunately it was too late for treatment. In just a few days, Mike’s Dad died on Tuesday the 7th August 2001. Mike started swimming with Dave as a complete beginner in 2020 and imediately wanted to get involved in this challenge when he heard about it. Mike wants to do his best to help other families living with cancer. 

Richard Rees

Richard’s Dad, Rob Rees, had a routine screen in February 2020 where he was told he had bowel cancer before starting treatment in March 2020. Rob finished his treatment at the end of summer 2020 and was given all clear summer 2021. Richard starting learning to swim with Dave in 2020 and has since completed in two half Ironman events with a third planned for September 2022. 

Nicola Spickett

Nic is swimming for her friend Zoe Pieris. Zoe was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 and treated at Velindre. In June 2021 Zoe found out that the cancer had spread to her liver. After a brave battle, She sadly passed away aged 51 on 26th May. During her treatment at Velindre, Zoe enjoyed the complimentary treatments such as reflexology. She leaves 2 beautiful boys age 10 and 12. Nic had never been sea swimming before but was motivated to join and go totally out of her comfort zone to raise funds and awareness after seeing how strong her friend was throughout. 

Caris Hedd Bowen (Coach)

Caris is a 30-year-old cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the very young age of 21. She had an intensive course of chemotherapy and was given the all clear 8 months later. Caris decided to teach herself how to swim in the open water using the internet as her teacher and later started having technique lessons with Dave at Heathwood Swimming. Caris now has her own swimming business teaching adults to swim in open water and is extremely passionate about supporting The Big C Swim team.

Sharron Bodman

Sharron is one of Sarah’s friends. She heard about what we were doing for Velindre and felt inspired to get involved and help make a difference. She has since entered several open water swim events and is loving her open water swimming journey.

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