My Swimathon 2016 challenge

Last week’s appointment with the Trauma and Orthopaedics consultant at my local hospital was not very positive. I’ve finally accepted that I won’t be running again for quite some time. Although x-rays confirmed that structurally my right knee is fine, the continual pain limits what I can do.

After sulking for a couple of days I realised that although I can’t run, there are plenty of other sports out there. Last week I discovered that a close friend will have to deal with a painful, debilitating illness for the rest of her life. I’m healthy and incredibly lucky. My injury is minor and fixable, after talking to my friend I felt like a fraud.

Yesterday an email from the organisers of Swimathon grabbed my attention. For one day only, registration into Swimathon 2016 was half price. Although the consultant was negative about my short-term running prospects, swimming had been recommended as a low impact alternative.

But I’m a runner not a swimmer!

In typical Emma style I had some doubts about my ability to swim the minimum 1.5 km distance. I even shared my concerns on social media.

Although I learnt to swim at junior school and became an obsessive ASA badge collector, as soon as I reached senior school I switched my attention to athletics and cross country. Between the ages of 11 and 16 I was far too self conscious to be seen in public in a swimming costume. Avoiding swimming meant that I was avoiding the bullies. After demonstrating to the PE teacher that I could swim 100m, I managed to avoid every single swimming lesson.

I avoided swimming pools throughout university. The last time I swam* was during a holiday in Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia


I find it hard to believe that it has been 10 years since I last jumped into a swimming pool. I’m 36; it’s time for me to forget about the school bullies. If I want to complete a triathlon in the future, I need to return to the swimming pool. Although I know that I’ll find Swimathon a challenge, I need challenges in my life.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” – Fred Devito

I’m incredibly lucky to live less than 15 minutes away from Wyndley swimming baths. Some people have to travel miles to get to their ‘local’ swimming pool. Wyndley organise adult swimming lessons, I’m going to see if I can afford a few individual lessons.

I then need to create a training plan so that I can complete the 1.5k (60 lengths) distance in March.

Hopefully it really is just like riding a bike…

The first stage of the Swimathon challenge will be buying myself a suitable swimming costume, hat and goggles. As I’m tall and have broad shoulders, I suspect that finding a swimming costume that fits may be one of the biggest challenges.

*more like floated around the pool trying to avoid getting my hair wet.