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Blog: “Sport helped my confidence and massively changed my life"

The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) website features a blog post every Friday. This year we'll be sharing the experiences of disabled people involved in sport and exercise at all levels, finding out what impact being active has on their lives. Today, Claire Cashmore tells us about transitioning from a GB para-swimmer to a triathlete.

Claire Cashmore on bike in Triathlon

My name is Claire Cashmore, I am 29-years-old currently based in Manchester.

I am a lower left arm amputee. As a teenager, I was hugely self-conscious about my arm, but getting involved in sport, where there were so many people with different disabilities, really helped me to build my confidence.

After taking part in four Paralympic Games as a swimmer, I took some time to reflect. I decided I fancied a new challenge, so I started as a triathlete in January 2017.

I currently train with Manchester triathlon club but I also do a lot of my training on my own too.

I love being active, I love the feeling after sport when all the endorphins are released. It’s strange that when I have a holiday and am less active, I can feel myself becoming grumpier.

It’s also very social - I always recommend it to people who have moved to a new area as a way to make friends.

Taking part in my triathlon training always makes me feel great but I am not going to lie when times are tough and it’s cold and wet outside I often ask myself why am I putting myself through this, but I love that feeling of pushing my body to its limits. I feel that often we underestimate what our body is capable of and our mind puts restricts it, as it doesn’t want to go through the pain.

The support of my family and friends has been huge. Being able to pick up the phone and have that support network there gets me through the tough times, as well as the good times.

I am very lucky to have people around me who have supported me every step of the way and equally never pushed me. I do it because I want to, not because I am being told to.

I always want to push myself and consequently, I am always looking to try new things. I believe you should say yes to any opportunity that comes your way and if you hate it, so what?! At least you are not always thinking ‘what if’.

As a British para-swimmer I’ve won a number of medals, most recently a gold and silver at Rio Paralympics in 2016. Although the triathlon is still very new, I am hoping to be as successful and looking to compete in the World Series more this year. Then, if all goes well, I’d like to compete in the World Championships in the Gold Coast in September 2018.

To anyone who is thinking of becoming more active or taking part in a sport, I say just go for it. What do you have to lose? Sport really helped my confidence and massively changed my life.

I’m proud I took up the opportunities that were offered to me. My main piece of advice to others is to embrace every opportunity.

If you want to be more active but aren't sure how to start, visit our dedicated webpages for advice.