Arthritis does not stop swimmer Debbie

DEBBIE Duncan has such a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis that she cannot do any of the recognised swimming strokes.

DEBBIE Duncan has such a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis that she cannot do any of the recognised swimming strokes.

But that is not stopping her from getting in the pool in the name of charity.

The 45-year-old has instead developed her own stroke and is doing a fundraising swim at Woodbridge's Deben Pool tomorrow .

Mrs Duncan, who works part time for BT, said: “I used to swim a lot but as my health gradually deteriorated I gave up.

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“Now I've started again I wanted to give myself a goal to ensure I kept it up.

“I don't swim as such, it's more like treading water and running along the length of the pool upright.

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“The trouble is my bones are very light. I can't swim on my front as my neck is unstable, and when I'm on my back I don't go low enough in the water to swim. My body is like a cork because my bones are so light.”

Mrs Duncan, who uses an assisted seat to get in and out of the pool, is being helped by her friend Jackie Aufenast. The pair have been training together for six months.

Mrs Duncan, of Melton Road, Hollesley, said: “I am unable to go swimming by myself and I couldn't do it without Jackie.

“My health has significantly improved due to the swimming sessions and my current record is 28 lengths in an hour.

“I feel quite determined and try to forget my illness. My husband Rob and daughter Beth, 13, are both very supportive.”

The swim will raise money for L'Arche, a charity for people with disabilities. The charity has a house in Ipswich where people with learning difficulties and their assistants can all live together.

The houses provide a home or a place to gain life skills and confidence to live in their own accommodation with a lower level of support.

Mrs Duncan chose the charity because Mrs Aufenast has a disabled granddaughter.

Mrs Aufenast, who also lives in Hollesley said: “I go up and down the pool with her doing doggy paddle and making sure she does not get cramp.

“I think she is very courageous.”


N Do you have a message of support for Debbie? Or are you raising money for charity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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