Swimathon: I’m sinking rather than swimming

Last year, I was asked if I’d like to be a member of the 2017 Swimathon BlogSquad. After an elbow injury meant that I was unable to complete my personal Swimathon challenge last year, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to redeem myself.

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I dug out my swimming costume, dusted off my goggles, consulted the internet and wrote myself a training plan. I hadn’t been near a swimming pool for several months and the first training session was enjoyable but challenging. I’d lost all of my swimming endurance. Last year I’d made myself swim 1500m; fast forward six months and I found myself struggling to swim a length.

That’s correct. Even swimming 25m was difficult.

After three training sessions I could swim the not so grand total of four lengths or 100m. Feeling slightly despondent I researched adult swimming lessons. Unfortunately, the timing and cost meant that swimming lessons weren’t an option.

December was more or less a complete write-off. I was juggling two jobs and working seven days a week. My local pool always seemed to be open when I was work and closed when I was at home. For the first time I regretted accepting a place in the Swimathon BlogSquad, I felt that other bloggers would have been able to devote more time and resources to the challenge.

Not a natural swimmerTaken during the 2016 BlogSquad session – work prevented me from attending the session this year.

Once Christmas was over I had more time to dedicate to swimming. I treated myself to a new swimming cap and costume from Zoggs – new kit always motivates me – and allocated time in my diary for training sessions. By the middle of January I could swim for 15 lengths on a bad day and 20 lengths on a good day. The good days started to outnumber the bad days and my confidence in the water started to grow. All I had to do was swim another 40 lengths…

At the beginning of February I managed to swim 1000m. I took me a long time and I felt shattered, but for the first time I actually felt like a proper swimmer. A combination of the lurgy and a re-occurrence of my elbow niggle unfortunately meant that after that epic 1000m swim, I only swam four more times in February.

I started to panic and the self-doubt made an unwelcome reappearance.

March arrived and I realised that Swimathon 2017 was weeks rather than months away. I taped up my elbow and returned to the pool. My first training session back was quite stressful as I was acutely aware that I was far too slow for the slow lane. It’s easy to move out of the way of faster runners during a race, it’s not quite so easy to swim out of the way of faster swimmers. I completed 10 lengths and then relocated from the deep pool area to the shallow water area. When you’re nearly 6ft tall swimming in shallow water is difficult. I went home feeling quite deflated.

The following day I returned to the pool, ignored the other swimmers in the slow lane and made myself swim 1000m. My confidence increased and mid way through the month I swam 1250m. Only another 250m to go! Six days later I experienced what felt like a panic attack while I was swimming. I tried to stand up mid-length, discovered I couldn’t put my foot down and swallowed loads of water. It was a scary reminder of the day I got into difficulties in the same pool as a child. I had another panic attack the next time I attempted to swim. I felt fine for the first few lengths and then started to panic.

Just thinking about going swimming and writing this post is making me feel anxious. Stupid I know! The weekend of Swimathon 2017 is now rapidly approaching and I don’t think I’ll be able to complete my personal challenge.

Does anyone have any tips for overcoming swim-related anxiety? I don’t want to let the organisers of Swimathon and the BlogSquad down a second time.

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