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Taking The Plunge

We are always grateful to supporters who raise money for The Royal Star & Garter Homes. From those who take on extreme challenges such as the Tough Mudder or London Marathon, to those who organise a special event such as a bake sale or town walk, your support is always appreciated. Trainee Barrister, Ralph Morley, is one such supporter and he has decided to raise money for our disabled veterans by taking on two big swimming events this year. He kindly wrote about his challenges and why he wanted to raise money for The Royal Star & Garter Homes.


I have always been a fairly ‘run-of-the-mill’ pool swimmer, and generally enjoy paddling a few lengths at a moderate pace. This year, however, I set myself the challenge of trying to improve my swimming times and technique. I thought that entering the Great London Swim would be the perfect way to give myself a definitive focus to aim for. Raising money for a Charity at the same time also meant that I couldn’t drop out!  


I started training in January: mostly in an indoor pool and gym local to me in Croydon. In the later stages, I moved onto open water practice at the lidos scattered around South London. Over the last three months I’ve been busy with exams and job interviews (I’m currently studying to be a barrister), so training in the latter stages was less frequent than I’d have liked. I did my best to keep plugging away, knowing that I could not let The Royal Star & Garter Homes and its residents down.


A hot July day in London was undoubtedly the best point at which to embark on an open-water swimming race for the first time: in a wetsuit, the water temperature was actually rather pleasant! I think I had much greater difficulty with the very low visibility than with the temperature: the brackish-green water meant it was barely possible to see more than a few yards ahead while under the water. I could see legs and arms, but not necessarily the rest of my fellow swimmers, which was a little disconcerting at times. This problem was compounded by the fact that my goggles sprang a leak about 300 yards in, rendering me reliant on one eye only to see my way around the course. This was, I thought, a fittingly Nelsonian touch, given that I’m raising money for an ex-Service charity – but it wasn’t one I’d necessarily have chosen! A swimmer’s eye view of the docks is quite unlike any other: you only really appreciate the size of the cranes, the bridges, the ships (and the ExCel exhibition centre) located along the side of the docks when you have to swim past them all and back again. I finished in a little over 40 minutes – not a stellar time, and there’s plenty of work still to be done, but a solid initial effort. Swimming in Loch Lomond next month (also for The Royal Star & Garter Homes) will make for an interesting exercise in comparing and contrasting!


I don’t have a particular connection to The Royal Star & Garter Homes, but I know from receiving the Charity’s newsletters (and from following them on Facebook for several years) that it does sterling work in looking after ex-Service personnel and their families. Several members of my family and many of my friends have been in the Royal Navy or the Royal Naval Reserve, so to help a Charity that works tremendously hard to provide high standards of care for former Service personnel seemed like the logical choice for dipping my toe into the water of charity swimming.


We wish Ralph the best of luck in his next swim and thank him for his kind support. For more information on Ralph’s challenge, please visit