Saturday, June 1, 2019

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


  1. Hi Pradeep - you're so right about Beth French ... I'd read/seen something about her - so was aware she'd initially not given up, then realised continuing on was a step (swim) too far ... as she needed to be around for Dylan. There's so much humans can do if we put our mind to things ... great #WAWTB post ... thanks so much - cheers Hilary

  2. I love "She realised that she had reached her destination before the finishing line." It takes an extraordinary sense of self to understand that concept.

    Thank you for sharing this powerful story with us for #WATWB. I enjoyed reading this, very much.

  3. Great real life story. She is a role model. As a line in Kenny Rogers song goes: the secret to survivin' Is knowin' what to throw away And knowin' what to keep.

  4. As great of a swimmer that Beth is, her priority as "mom" comes first, a decision that could never be considered wrong. Family first, which she knew was her destination. Her son is and will forever be her finish line.

    Thanks for participating in #WATWB and sharing Beth's amazing story.

  5. Sometimes keeping on with something isn't the best way to go. Giving it up can be the best thing for us, sometimes. It just depends.

  6. Wow, that's quite a story, Pradeep. I hadn't heard of Beth. Hats off to her for everything she's done and also for her choice to put her son first. A lovely and inspiring woman!

  7. Thanks Pradeep for this truly amazing story. It takes great courage to give up, knowing that the destination had already been reached.

  8. What a story! British author David Bridger battles ME. It's a tough thing to witness even as friends through social media. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. A strong will can bring a weak physique to win things to any extent. It is our confidence that makes no stone unturned.It is nice of you Pradeep that you brought it here.


  10. Hi Hilary:
    Yes, determination and perseverance is the key to achievement.

    Hi Dan:
    Thanks for dropping by and for the comments. Glad you liked the piece.

    Hi Rajan:
    True, prioritising our objectives is very important.

    Hi Mary:
    In the pursuit of career goals, our family priorities are sometimes overlooked and taken for granted. What is remarkable is the courage with which Beth has made the choice.

    Hi Liz:
    True, getting the priorities right is so important.

    Hi Vallypee:
    Yes, the story sort of makes one introspect.

    Hi Susan:
    What makes Beth's story interesting the reason she has for giving up.

    Hi Darla:
    I didn't know about David Bridger's case. I am sure there are many who are trying hard to keep themselves afloat in the face of tough adversities.

    Hi Sarala:
    Yes, confidence and courage to do what one believes is right are so important. Ultimately, one's happiness is what matters.