Sophie McQuoid swam over 21 miles to raise money for a charity whose support was invaluable when her daughter was born with half a heart.
Sophie pictured with her daughter Olivia
The second year Psychology student at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) successfully swam the length of the English Channel during a series of swims.
During the challenge, Sophie completed an impressive 1,416 lengths in the university’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Leisure Centre, and her local pool.
“I really enjoyed doing the swim, it was challenging but it was such a great feeling when I finished, and my daughter was really excited too,” she said.
Sophie finished the gruelling 21 miles in 11 hours and 54 minutes.
She said: “Pacing was really crucial, I had an approximate number of lengths I needed to complete to stay on track.
“My underwater MP3 player was essential too, I couldn’t have done it without one!”
Sophie was raising money for local children’s charity Heart Link, which supports families who have children with a heart defect.
When her daughter was born with half a heart, she spent a lot of time at Glenfield Hospital.
Sophie explained how the charity’s work helped in those early years: “When Olivia was born, I was able to stay in the parents’ room, which was actually on the ward. It was so reassuring being able to stay so close to her.
“They were proper bedrooms with nice furniture and they weren’t clinical at all, which was brilliant.
“Heart Link also provided a parents’ kitchen, which is so helpful because sometimes you’d go in for an appointment for something minor, and end up getting admitted with complications unexpectedly.”
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Sophie now has two children, and fits her studies in with her job as a part-time research assistant.
She said: “It was quite difficult trying to balance the swim with university, my kids and life in general. I have no idea how I’ve managed to fit everything in – but it works!
“DMU has been brilliant in helping to accommodate my needs. They’ve made my timetable really flexible where they can to make sure I still qualify for my course accreditation.
“My lecturers have been really understanding of my situation too.”
University was a long time coming for Sophie: “I successfully applied and got into DMU three times, but every time I was about to start my daughter got really ill and I wasn’t able to study,” she explained.
“I originally started on a children’s nursing course before deciding I wanted to be a ‘doctor of the mind’ instead, which is why I transferred onto the Psychology course.
“I really love my degree, and definitely want to work in the field of psychology after I graduate,” she said.
Posted on Monday 17th February 2020