I was incredibly nervous about Swimathon, more so than usual before a race. I’d chosen the 2.5km option to challenge myself, as I’d never swam this distance continuously. I usually cover 1800m-2000m in a typical swimming session with Havering Tri, but it is broken down into sets with rest periods and drills. It felt very daunting to swim 2.5km non-stop, in fact I was considering changing to the more manageable 1.5km distance.
I aimed to take it steady and treat it as a long training swim. The thought of the medal stopped me from pulling out of the challenge!
I chose a local sports centre to complete my Swimathon, where the lanes are 33.3m in length. Slightly longer than the 25m pool where I usually train, which meant that Swimathon distance would be 75 lengths.
Glen decided to join me for the challenge, as well as Lee, a friend from my triathlon club. We met in the sports centre foyer for our 12pm start, and were smoothly registered and given a coloured swimming cap. I’ve read a few reports saying how badly organised the event was for some people, fortunately I’m pleased to say that Hornchurch Sports Centre ran the Swimathon like clockwork.
I was assigned to a lane with 5 other ladies who were completing either the 2.5km or 5km challenge. We chatted amongst ourselves as we waited to start and wished each other luck. Everyone had a different coloured cap, so that the lap counter could keep tabs on our distance. I had a nice bright pink hat!
Music blasted out of the speakers around the pool, as we were counted down and set off in colour order. I focused on breathing bilaterally for the first 10 lengths, before I lost my rhythm and settled back into my usual two-stroke breathing to the right. I’ve strained by neck and shoulder recently as I tend to lift my head too high out of the water to breathe. I aimed to keep one goggle lens below the water-line and try to swim ‘downhill’ to position by body into a more flat position.
I have an annoying habit of swimming to close to the lane rope and catching my arm underneath with every stroke. I consciously tried to move further into the centre of the lane, to avoid getting rope-burn on my arm and shoulder.
Swimathon was also a great chance to use my new Garmin 920XT watch. I finally invested in a multi-sport watch after considering it for months, and this model came highly recommended. I’m pretty terrible at keeping count of my lengths, so it was good to have an accurate count of the distance on my wrist.
The time seemed to fly by- before I knew it my watch was displaying 1500m and I noticed it was a personal best for that distance- 33 minutes. With only 45 lengths to go, I realised I could definitely complete the Swimathon in under an hour.
I felt good, I was enjoying the swim and it was not as daunting as I expected. The other swimmers in my lane were all very courteous, I was able to easily overtake when I needed to, and also let other the faster ladies pass me.
With 15 lengths to go, I noticed Glen climbing out of the pool- he was the first person to finish the 2.5km distance in 44:16! I tried to grab his attention to ask him to take a few photographs of me, but it was difficult to speak and swim at the same time! He was worried that I was drowning!
The length counter informed me I had just 2 lengths to go, so I sped up and sprinted the final part. We waited for Lee to finish his swim, and collected our medals from reception. I guess it would have been nice to be presented with the medal in the pool, rather than waiting to collect it in the foyer. After the goggle marks had faded, Glen and I took a selfie with our new bling!
I was delighted to have completed the 2.5km- it was a huge confidence boost to realise that I could actually do this kind of distance. I felt comfortable and as though I could have carried on swimming further. I finished in 57:08, a time I was very happy with. My next swimming challenge is the Eton Swim next month, an open-water event to prepare for my Olympic distance triathlons in the summer. I’m hoping to complete the 1500m in around 30 minutes.
Did you take part in Swimathon this weekend? How did you get on?