School closed, exams gone, no future certainty and a wave of lockdowns sweeping through Europe: I was feeling depressed. Wallowing around in a state of self-pity (unsurprisingly) did nothing to help. Like many others my age, I felt betrayed that everything we had been working towards, and looking forward to, had been taken away in the space of an hour.
I thought long and hard about what I could do with myself. I lost sleep (not that I really needed it), pondering constantly about how best to deal with the lockdown. Some long-term project had to be undertaken to prevent the onset of insanity; something that would take my mind off the doom and gloom exacerbated by the media.
I began whittling down my options. Ideas ranging from painting to musical composition quickly fell away and I found myself left with sport. With no idea what the final goal was, training began. I turned instantly to the two sports the whole nation had discovered simultaneously: running and cycling. However, like most of the nation, I became a ‘one weekend Wiggins.’ The bike idea fell away, and running was the only thing left.
The swimming emerged as an idea in late March. I have always enjoyed swimming and used to compete at a very low level. We are fortunate enough to own a natural pool - a 15m freezing pond looked after by nature – which has always been a source of enjoyment, albeit cold and ephemeral.
The training, after turning a corner, became rather intense. Weekdays involved a six-mile run in the morning, followed by a two-hour swim in the afternoon. At the weekends, two four-hour swims took place. Accompanying all of this was a lot of research (but still no goal in mind). I started investigating wetsuits, nutrition, swimming challenges, hypothermia and plenty more, ultimately gaining a lot of knowledge in an area I'd known little about. The challenge of the Channel was an arbitrary decision. Before I fully knew what I was getting into, I was fixated on the idea. "It’s possible, but horrific," said a friend (far better at swimming than me). "Far more people have climbed Everest," echoed my Div don, Mr Rattray, who has been a source of great wisdom throughout, via our regular Skype calls.
Nonetheless, the big day is approaching. I still feel terrified. On Sunday 31st May I will be doing the 21 miles of non-stop swimming (2,318 lengths) taking approximately 12-13 hours. The charity I have chosen to do this for is St Giles Hospice, Lichfield, who looked after my grandfather over the summer of 2019. The support I have received so far has been phenomenal, and I would like to thank everybody donating. If you would like to contribute, the link below contains more information about St Giles Hospice and what their work means to me.
2nd July 2020
In our last postcard from home this term, Anvesh explains that, whilst he misses friends and school life, he has enjoyed spending time with his family, learning recipes from his older sister and playing games with his parents.
29th June 2020
Struck by the terrible hardships facing vulnerable communities in his home city of Bangkok, Toh started making nutritious, tasty food to be delivered to those most in need. In an inspiring postcard, he explains how he's balanced his charity work with his school work.
22nd June 2020
Denied a public stage on which to act out the drama that is such an important part of his life, Oscar has improvised whilst in lockdown and created his own set, costumes, and cast family members, to bring theatre to life inside his home.
18th June 2020
Tristan is finding new enjoyment in classically British pastimes and literature, as well as finding the increased independence required of online learning the perfect preparation for university.
15th June 2020
Volunteering in his local village and cycling for charity, Alfred is using his time away from school in a particularly inspiring way.
11th June 2020
Writing from Hong Kong, Seb is missing dorm life in his boarding house. He's working his way along the main island's walking trail, to escape his apartment whenever possible.