Beth French: The importance of knowing when to give up

This blog post is a part of the
We Are The World Blogfest
This is an amazing story, one which will make us stop, ponder and introspect.

Some of you might have already read about British swimmer Beth French. Even if you have, her story is so inspirational that it's worth going over it again and again.

At the age of 10, Beth began to feel very weak and tired. It progressively got worse. Finally, at the age of 17, she was diagnosed with ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis, also called chronic fatigue syndrome or CFS.

Beth French in an interview to ITV's Lorraine 
Things were so bad that she couldn't lift her hand to brush her hair, and a day came when she couldn't even get up to sit on the wheelchair.


The condition ME is a collection of symptoms and there's no proper cure. Her mom took Beth to an alternative therapist to find out if they could find some way to improve things.

Beth had to take a totally new look at herself and her life. Drawing up a bucket list was one way -- achieving each task would give Beth a sense of fulfilment and hope.

Beth loves water
The bucket list helped. She fought against her conditions, both mind and body, and she ticked off one after the other. There was some improvement but things weren't fully okay.

There was one more in the list -- to swim to France. She achieved that by swimming for 15 hours. By the way, as a child Beth liked water, and swimming almost came naturally to her.

She was working and a single mother. She wanted to not only challenge herself with harder tasks but also demonstrate to her child Dylan that anything is possible. The best part was Dylan was always with her not just physically but also emotionally motivating his mother.


She now decided that she would swim the seven of the world's most dangerous ocean channels, called Ocean 7, in one year. She completed four, but things were not okay at home as Dylan, who was then close to eight years, was showing signs of autism.

In a disappointing turnaround, Dylan began telling her mom not to swim. His anxiety levels went up so much that Beth couldn't leave her son even with her mom.

This made Beth think. We are always told never to give up, but she realised that after a point, we all have to make a choice.

Listen to this extraordinary story of Beth French on BBC's Outlook, on the importance of knowing when to give up.

Beth succeeded at first by not giving up and later succeeded by giving up. She chose her son over swimming because she had proved her point, to herself more than to anyone else, what she can achieve. Now there was another challenge.

She realised that she had reached her destination before the finishing line. She says it is so empowering to make a choice -- her choice to take up the challenge and now the choice to give it up.


Beth French's website

Beth French on BBC News Points West (a programme for the West of England)

Beth French on ITV's Lorraine

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