WATCH: Nairn physio set to tackle Channel swim challenge for spinal injury charity
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A Nairn woman is preparing for an arduous Channel relay swim to raise vital funds for charity.
Mother-of-three Ashleigh Bulcraig (43) works as a physiotherapist in the NHS and will take part in the July challenge alongside five other people.
The effort is in aid of Aspire, a charity helping people paralysed by spinal cord injury.
“I have always loved swimming, I swam competitively when I was younger,” Ashleigh, from Nairn, said. “I also like running and do cycling and triathlon, but swimming is the one sport where I can just switch off. It’s great for my mental health.”
She signed up for the challenge after coming across details in a magazine.
“We will start in Dover,” she said. “There’s six of us in the team and we’re all given a number from one to six, and we swim for an hour at a time until we we get to France.
“Aspire is such a worthwhile charity. I have been doing open water swimming for the last six years and they have an open water society magazine where I learned about the challenge.
“It felt very special to me because I’m a physio and I am used to doing neurological rehab. Also to do something for spinal injuries and at the same time do something that’s challenging and worthwhile. For my children to see me and to keep doing these things as I get older, that’s what keeps me going!”
Ashleigh is the only Scottish member of the “Aspire Alpacas” team taking on the 22-mile challenge with the rest based in the south of England.
Over the coming months team will be fundraising and will take part in three training weekends in Dover ahead of the crossing.
“I think what I am most nervous about are the channel rules,” Ashleigh said.
“You have to do it in a swimsuit – you’re not allowed any wetsuits or neoprene gloves or boots.
“Temperature will be a challenge, and there’s a chance that because the boat will go really slow that people in the boat can get seasick. “Apparently there’s jellyfish!
“Currently I am swimming in the pool and I am going out into the sea to acclimatise. I hope I’ll be the most acclimatised, coming from Scotland!”
Ashleigh was gifted a barrel for “ice dunks” as a Christmas present, with her daughter recording her dunks on a dedicated TikTok channel.
Her first fundraising event will be a quiz night on Saturday, February 3 at the Nairn British Legion at 7.30pm.
For more information on the event or to donate to Ashleigh’s cause visit her JustGiving page at https://shorturl.at/abhKQ