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Zoggs Swim Diaries: A Look Back at the #TeamBetter Marathon Swim Challenge

on 8th March 2016

teambetter syncro Strike a pose! The team were joined by synchronised swimmers Aquabatix

We caught up with a few members of #TeamBetter to see how they found this incredible and gruelling challenge. On 25th February 2016, 13 individuals associated with GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited) embarked on an extraordinary journey to swim 31 miles across 31 different UK pools in just 6 days for Sport Relief. The team travelled by foot, bus, plane and train, swimming a mile at each pool along the way. Here's what they had to say after the event.

Now it's all over, how are you feeling?

"Sore shoulders, tired but extremely happy to have done this adventure. I actually feel quite sad that it’s now over. I really enjoyed every part of the challenge and being back to my normal life seems boring now. I am very proud to have been a team member of #TeamBetter." - Roberta Paracchini, GLL

"Tired, obviously, and over-worked. It’s like coming home to your email backlog after a holiday, without actually going on holiday. Mostly however, I'm proud that we completed the swim as a team. We started with 13 swimmers and finished with 13 swimmers, most of which I didn't know previously. I loved how the team stuck together and cheered each other along, and were supportive when people were struggling." - Simon Griffiths, H2Open Magazine

teambetter duncan goodhew #TeamBetter complete their 25th mile with former competitive swimmer Duncan Goodhew

"Heroic!!  Shoulders are still sore, but recovering. I feel pretty good really, and have been amazed by the reaction!" - Ben Hornett, Zoggs

What was your favourite part of the tour?

"All of it?!? I'm not sure I could pick one favourite part, I enjoyed the team environment, as well as travelling around the GLL centres and meeting people that I email on a regular basis but hadn't had a chance to meet yet! The reception at the centres in Belfast, Manchester, Oasis & London Aquatics were some of my favourites" - Ella Gosden, GLL

"Walking into the fantastic reception at London Aquatics Centre for our final swim – it was very emotional – it really hit me then what we had achieved... even though we had one mile left to go!! I cried..." - Claire Rowland, Zoggs

What was the worst part of the tour?

teambetter final mile1 #TeamBetter complete their final mile at the London Aquatics Centre

"At some point during the fifth day I really felt I’d had enough. My shoulders felt like they were packing in and my legs ached from walking and it still seemed like such a long way to swim. It was a good thing we had the team dinner on Monday night to cheer me up." - Simon Griffiths, H2Open Magazine

"For me, although we had a fabulous red-carpet reception at Oasis on Day 5, I really struggled with swimming in the outdoor pool – it was pretty cold – I'm not a cold person. It took a good 400m to warm up – the team knew I was struggling... but they were so supportive getting me through that mile... I honestly could not have got through that mile without the support of my lane buddies!" - Claire Rowland, Zoggs

Which was the best mile to swim?

"I thoroughly enjoyed both swims in Belfast. The staff teams were amazing, ensuring that the last mile of the day was thoroughly enjoyed – I loved the pool party!!! Although actually swimming has got to be Manchester Aquatics centre at midnight - the pool was amazing!" - Ella Gosden, GLL

IMG_20160225_190026 On the tube - #TeamBetter travelled by foot, bus, plane and train

"I had a lovely swim in Manchester at The Aquatic Centre - it was almost midnight, we had been travelling all day - starting the morning in Belfast - so were pretty tired. We had the pool to ourselves and it was such a great facility – the reception from the staff who had stayed behind to welcome and support us was very memorable. Being from the North West, it was a great home coming... plus, it was our first night sleeping on our Tour Bus which was pretty exciting too!!" - Claire Rowland, Zoggs

Who was the most inspirational person you met along the way?

"Paralympian Michael McKillop (GB Para athlete 1500m runner, London 2012 gold medallist) in Belfast. He came to both miles in Ireland, nice guy too." - Ben Hornett, Zoggs

teambetter mark cavendish #TeamBetter even met cyclist Mark Cavendish on the way to their final swim

"We met a lot of inspirational GSF (GLL Sport Foundation) athletes, all who shared their stories (& medals) with us in support of our challenge! However, the brains behind our challenge, Andrew Clarke, kept the whole team motivated throughout the entire 6 days. His leadership really kept our strong team spirit throughout our challenge." - Claire Rowland, Zoggs

The team have raised over £15k for Sport Relief so far, how does it feel to be a part of such a huge fundraising success?

"I felt proud to be part of the team. We were amazing, I never thought about giving up, not even when shoulders were hurting so much that every front crawl stroke was painful."  - Roberta Paracchini, GLL

teambetter tour bus Home from home: #TeamBetter spent 3 nights on a tour bus

"It's great that people responded so positively. I hope we can push that total even higher over the next couple of weeks." - Simon Griffiths, H2Open Magazine

"Proud doesn't really describe it – I can’t quite believe that we have managed to raise quite that much (and it’s still coming in!) It’s a huge amount of money but when you think of the difference this amount will make to so many people in the UK and across the world. The fact that the amount we raised could be used to send 5500 girls in Africa to after school clubs enabling them to stay in education and improve their job prospects helping themselves, their families and their whole communities is staggering"  - Ella Gosden, GLL

What was the toughest part of the #TeamBetter challenge?

teambetter 18 rainbow lc The team after mile 18 at Rainbow Leisure Centre in Epsom

"The swimming itself was not the toughest part – in fact, it was the most enjoyable – we swam as a team, all supporting each other – in fact, we had a lot of giggles along the way too….for me, the toughest part was on day 5 & 6 when we ditched the Tour Bus in favour of TFL and pounded the pavements, carrying our kit bags – which got heavier and heavier with our wet kit!  – We actually walked more than we swam!!!" - Claire Rowland, Zoggs

"Finding the right balance of nutritious and easy to digest food and drink, especially on the bus where eating had the potential to make me travel sick." - Simon Griffiths, H2Open Magazine

Have you been back in the pool since?!

"No, as my skin is soooooo sore! Planning on getting back in on Monday though!" - Ella Gosden, GLL

Zoggs' Claire with Team GB Athlete Susan Rodgers Zoggs' Claire with Team GB Athlete Susie Rodgers

"Yes, on Thursday night, about 48 hours after the final swim at LAC. It felt surprisingly good to be back in the water but it didn't take long to find those sore muscles." - Simon Griffths, H2Open Magazine

"I can't stay away from the pool, the day after the challenge I went for a swim. Unfortunately a swimming gala kicked me out halfway to my mile." - Roberta Paracchini, GLL

The team have raised over an incredible £15,000 for Sport Relief during this gruelling challenge, and you can show them your support by sponsoring them here. You can find out more about the challenge and how they got on in our Zoggs Swim Diaries.