Ipswich: Woman swims length of the English Channel three years after stroke

A 52-year-woman who suffered a haemorrhagic stroke just three years ago has swum the length of the English Channel at an Ipswich gym.

Margo Brown, who was left partially sighted after the stroke three years ago, says she was inspired by a quote from former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

On Sunday she finished the last of her 1,400 lengths – taking 19 hours in total – at David Lloyd Ipswich, raising around �500 for charity Aspire.

Margo, of Bernard Crescent, Ipswich, said: “Winston Churchill once said ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’, and that has always inspired me.

“When I felt like quitting, I remembered my great fortune just to be swimming. People die from hemorrhagic stroke and the resulting damage can leave a person blind, in a wheelchair or unable to speak. I was very lucky.”

The former US soldier is from Seattle, Washington, but moved to Ipswich 11 years ago. She admits she is lucky to be alive after the stroke.

“I suffered a haemorrhagic stroke in 2009 which left me partially sighted and created a lot of trouble with the left side of my body,” she added.

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“I worked very hard to rebuild my strength and I have always wanted to do a Channel swim.

“It was a very big undertaking, requiring at least a year of training beforehand as well as getting a doctor’s permission to do this hazardous swim.

“I did some research and found this charity Aspire, who offer a chance for people who wish to raise money for the charity to do a channel length swim (22 miles) in their own pool.

“The fastest time for a channel swim is just under seven hours, but my average speed for the swim is just under two miles per hour – which I admit is slow!

“My coach, James Johnson, was instrumental in this feat, as was all the support from David Lloyd and my infinitely patient husband Dr Graeme Brown. I am going to rest for a few weeks, then I think I will attempt another 22 miles – but go a little faster this time!”

Jim Dale, club support manager at David Lloyd Ipswich, said: “Margo’s overcome a lot to complete what is a magnificent feat. I’ve really enjoyed being able to support her and keep her company for a few miles of her swim.”

Are you taking part in a challenge with a difference? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk