Hip-op will not beat Gemma, 31

MADE OF STERN STUFF: Gemma McCarthy is in training for a 5km charity swim.
MADE OF STERN STUFF: Gemma McCarthy is in training for a 5km charity swim.

Less than a year after a hip-operation to ease the affects of arthritis, a 31-year-old woman is in training for a long distance swim.

Gemma McCarthy, who manages the RSPCA charity shop in Sudbury’s Borehamgate precinct, is preparing to swim 5km – the equivalent of 200 lengths – for the cause.

The challenge comes in the aftermath of a hip replacement in June, brought on following years of suffering as a result of secondary arthritis.

“I am unfortunate to have such a problem at a young age, but you just have to get on with it,” said Gemma, from St Catherine’s Road in Long Melford.

“I had to have the operation as my pelvis did not form properly when I was younger. It took me three months to get back to work and there will probably come a point when I need the other hip doing, too.”

During her recovery, Gemma promised herself that she would not let the operation hold her back and, determined to get fit, took up swimming.

“I just loved it and started to swim more and more regularly,” she said. “At the moment, I am trying to improve my technique and gradually building up the distance.”

Gemma has earmarked August 10 as the day to complete the swim, which she anticipates will take two hours.

A lane has already been set aside for her at Halstead Leisure Centre’s pool and she is looking forward to rasing as much money as possible for the Danaher Animal Home – the rescue centre her shop supports.

“It is a cause that I believe in, and that will help me,” said Gemma.

“I have not set a target on how much I want to raise, but the more money I can get the better.”

To sponsor Gemma, pick up a form from the RSPCA shop in Sudbury.