AN ACCOMPLISHED athlete is not letting a life-changing condition stop her from taking on the biggest challenge of her sporting career.
Amateur triathlete Trish Deykin, 47, who lives in Milton Combe, is due to complete the Isles of Scilly Swim Challenge next week even though she has multiple sclerosis.
The former world, double European and double British sprint triathlon Champion was diagnosed with MS and had to give up her job, but found release physically and mentally in physical activity and continued her sport, winning major titles. She says the Scillies swim on Saturday, September 9, is her longest swim ever at about nine miles and will take from about 10 to 11 hours between 7am to 6pm.
The swim is set to go ahead, whatever the weather.
She said: “I have achieved a lot and I am always looking for new physical activities to stretch me.
“This year however, I think I have bitten off more than I can chew by taking part in the Scilly Swim Challenge on the 9th September.
“This challenge consists of starting off from St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly then swimming to each island, walking over each island, then swimming to the next, so on and so forth until you finish where you started.
“This is a total of 15K of swimming in one day. The longest I’ve swam is 10km (6.5miles) in the River Dart in a race.
“I’m really nervous about it because it’s outside my comfort zone. triathlons only have one km or so swims. So, Ive been building up my strength in the pool to swim a lot long than I’m used to.
“I swim in Mount Kelly poll regularly and try to do eight km or 160 lengths. I have to play tricks with my brain and convince it I can swim that far.
The main problem I have is fatigue in the afternoon, so due to the tides and ferry the last swim starts at 4pm - a really bad time for me as my MS fatigue kicks in around 2.30pm. If I’m at home I can rest, but not during demanding swims.”
Her determination to continue sporting activity has been recognised through two prestigious national awards and was given the Sunday Times Sports Women of The Year, Helen Rollason Award for Inspiration in 2018.
Also, the British Triathlon Peter Holmes Award for Inspiration at an International Level and was the first (and so far last) non-elite triathlete to be awarded the title.
Trish had to give up her job as a scenes of crime police officer due to MS which came on quickly, but new symptoms have been reduced in their impact by chemotherapy.
She said: “It was such a shock when I was diagnosed and all I could think was that I would deteriorate so fast and would be unable to do anything at all.
“I moved from Sussex with my family to be closer to relatives for support and gave up police work, although that was all I ever wanted to do and had 15 years of rewarding career.
“I hade little choice really and was told it was all about quality of life and living longer if I retired early.
“I have been managing my symptoms which has included having less stress from work and I get to recognise when I can recognise when I need to rest and react fast to avoid harming myself.
“I have great support and the neurologists and nurses at Derriford Hospital are really supportive and positive.
“The neurologists see me as a great role model for leading as active and rewarding life as possible while managing MS.
“I didn’t have any role models and it didn’t help that when I was diagnosed, the doctor then was very negative and added to my feeling very depressed about my future.’’
Trish does not train with a coach or club, which also helps reduces her stress. She is hoping to raise £1,000 in sponsorship each for MacMillan Cancer, The Marine Conservation Society and Devon Air Ambulance.