As it’s now less than a month *panic* until the Swimathon #BlogSquad team take on the Swimathon 2016 challenge, I’ve decided it’s time for an update. Personally, I have found training for Swimathon 2016 a positive experience. Swimming on a regular basis has improved my fitness levels and stamina. I now have the confidence to tackle a triathlon. Training for Swimathon 2016 has also taught me some new skills and has had a number of other benefits.
1. Improved time management. Although I successfully completed my PhD, I have never been very good at planning what I should be doing on a day-to-day basis. In addition, my time management skills have been pretty non-existent. As I don’t have access to my own private swimming pool (wishful thinking), my training for Swimathon 2016 has involved me looking at the timetable for the local swimming baths, and working out when I can safely complete my swimming sessions.
2. Organisational skills. Running is easy. I get up, put on my running kit, go through my warm-up routine, head out the front door and then run. Simple! Swimming, however, takes a lot more planning and preparation. After forgetting vital pieces of kit including my swimming costume (it’s generally impossible to swim without one!) and goggles, I’m now far more organised. My swimming kit checklist has been a lifesaver.
3. It’s never too late to learn a new skill. After a couple of lessons with a very patient instructor (I’m a slow learner), I’ve now progressed from breaststroke to front crawl. I’ve also overcome my fear of putting my face in the water. This has enabled me to more or less master the art of breathing correctly. My 50p charity bookshop find Swimming without stress: Lessons for Land Lovers has been invaluable. Next on the swimming skills list are
4. Technique matters. Although I was taught how to swim as a young child, after years of not swimming I was aware that my technique was poor. Since signing up for Swimathon 2016 I’ve had swimming lessons, read some really useful books, and spent far too much time watching swimming videos on YouTube. I’ll never be a fast swimmer but I’m now feeling more confident that I can swim 1,500m.
Hopefully I’ve improved since December!
5. It’s important to relax. To start with, I found going swimming quite a stressful experience. Whenever I got into the water I immediately felt tense and found it hard to relax. As a result my swimming suffered. Now that I’m more confident in the water, I feel more relaxed and my swimming has improved. Now I just need to learn to stay relaxed when I start to feel fatigued.
6. I’m not very good at multitasking. Keeping track of how far I have run is easy. I have a GPS watch that does all of the hard work for me. Simple! I’ve found that keeping track of the number of lengths (laps) I’ve covered during my swimming sessions slightly more challenging. I thought I was quite good at counting but it turns out that I’m not. I’ve added a swimming lap counter to my list of things I need to buy.
7. It’s okay to be slow. I have accepted that I’m a slow swimmer. A really slow swimmer. To start with, as I found myself being overtaken by everyone I got really frustrated and stopped enjoying my swimming sessions. Why wasn’t my swimming improving? Why was I so slow? Why wasn’t getting faster? After a while I realised that it is okay to be slow and enjoyed my swimming again.
8. Swimming pool etiquette. I could write a blog post dedicated to the initially confusing (to a runner) world of swimming pool etiquette. There are designated lanes for “slow”, “medium” and “fast” swimmers at my local pool. Swim in the wrong lane at your peril. If someone taps your foot it means that they want to overtake you, let them. Don’t freak out if someone accidentally touches you, it happens.
9. The smell of chlorine lingers. Chlorine is used to keep swimming pools free of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans. This is a good thing. Chlorine has a very distinctive smell that a lot of people on public transport seem to find unpleasant. This is also a good thing. Unfortunately, the smell of chlorine seems to linger with intent with each swimming session topping up the smell.
10. Post swimming hunger. I’m always really hungry after I’ve been swimming and have to eat something within an hour of going swimming. Apparently although no one knows why swimming makes people feel so hungry, it is completely normal.
*You can find out more about the other members of the Swimathon #BlogSquad here and can follow their progress on their blogs over the next couple of months. If you would like to take part in Swimathon 2016, please visit the Swimathon website to find your nearest participating swimming baths*