January 24, 2018
I have always enjoyed swimming, went a lot as a kid at school and during the summer holidays. Was never a strong swimmer but just reasonably confident in the water….and loved the hot toast afterwards (anyone else get hot buttery toast after swimming or was it just an East End thing?)
During my twenties when my weight really started to creep up I would often go to my local pool and swim lengths. Mainly breaststroke as my front crawl was useless…I could never get the breathing right.
In 2006 though I had the bright idea to sign up to a Triathlon…and I decided to get some adult swimming lessons as the thought of swimming breaststroke in the docks with a million spectators felt a little bit scary.
The lessons were great, I learned to breathe, did some stuff on technique and my fitness improved too. Most importantly though I did not die during the race. But that was 10 years ago…and I now swim in a 50-meter pool not a 25-meter pool…and boy does that make a difference.
I live like 5 minutes away from the London Aquatic Centre…the awesome pool which was used during the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics…in fact in my work on the games I got to see the early architectural plans for the pool, and I went to a number of the test events…so it feels wonderful to swim there.
I have got out of the habit though and haven’t trained properly for ages, so when Swimathon approached me and asked if I would be interested in becoming an Ambassador for this years challenge…I was like YES I WOULD.
Swimming is such a great compliment to running, and I am training for the London Marathon which takes place the weekend before Swimathon so the timing couldn’t be better.
So what is swimathon?
Swimathon is the world’s biggest annual fundraising swim. In 2018 Swimathon aims to reach the milestone of raising £50 million for charity. In the 30 years since it began Swimathon has raised a staggering £48 million, for 36 different charities.
The event is set to take place over 3 days from the 27th– 29th April. To help attract more people to take part and get into the pool, for the first time Swimathon will include a 400m (16 lengths) challenge and virtual MySwimathon challenge, giving swimmers more options and greater flexibility to be part of the Swimathon experience however they want.
Swimathon began in 1986 with a London-only initiative, organised by the Guild of London Bath Managers to encourage pools to get more people swimming. The launch of the annual event was in 1988 and since then Swimathon has since seen almost 700,000 participants at over 1000…this year welcomes Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK as its primary charity partners.
Why might you think about entering?
But also, swimming is in many ways an ideal form of physical activity, accessible to many for whom other forms of physical activity are not possible and great to compliment running.
This is because it can be easier on joints, and the water can make it easier for some people to move and support their body weight…and I find it great for stretching out my body and perfect for keeping up my fitness if I am carrying injuries or niggles.
Plus you can fundraise for two brilliant charities while you are at it.
So where am I with my training?
Well on Saturday just gone I got to meet Olympic swimming legend and MBE Duncan Goodhue who won Gold at the 1980’s games in Moscow and also Keri Anne Payne Double World Champion and Olympic Silver medalist in open water swimming…what a treat.
We had some theory stuff around breathing and body positioning, and then we were straight in the pool to practice what we learned. At first I found the rotating of my body on every stroke really hard as it felt so alien (plus I was exhausted from parkrun that morning) but towards the end of the session, I could see how with practice this could really help.
Well…boy oh boy did it.
I went for a swim yesterday to see where I was at. I have committed to the 1500 meter swim and wanted to see how easy or hard that was going to be.
I have never been able to swim more than 1 length of the 50 meter pool front crawl without having to stop to take a breather…sometimes I am unable to make it the whole way. But yesterday I managed 3 consecutive lengths at one point. I covered 1000 meters in total in 42 minutes of swimming 50% front crawl and 50% breaststroke which I am chuffed with.
I am considering upping my challenge distance to 2500…and setting myself a challenge of being able to complete it all in 90 minutes.
I can’t wait to get back in the pool…and will be heading off there tonight.
So the big question is are you going to join me? Not at training tonight obvs, but doing Swimathon?
And here is the link to the TFTR training group page where I will be posting ideas for training sessions, all of the theory stuff Keri Anne shared with me, and just general encouragement. Plus we get to celebrate together at the end of April.
Look, obviously I am passionate about getting women running, but actually, I am just passionate more generally about helping women take part in any sport or physical activity that supports their health and happiness, so please get involved.
Please share this blog, encourage your friends and family to take part, and jump on social media Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #swimforall hashtag and let’s use Swimathon 2018 to get more women active