The countdown to Christmas brings with it a range of fitness challenges which encourage participants to run daily (or stay active) throughout December. Personally, I know that a run streak wouldn’t benefit me as the impact would undoubtedly lead to injury. However, I did fancy setting myself a challenging yet achievable goal this month.
My goal was to swim every day for 7 days. Ideally the swims would also be at 7 different pools. My daily session would be a minimum of 20 minutes to count towards the challenge. Currently I swim 1-2 times a week, so I was interested to see how increasing my time in the pool would improve my fitness (even if only marginally). I’m taking some time off work before starting a new job in January, so this felt like the perfect time to dive in!
Here’s how my week of swimming looked:
December 9th- Basildon Sporting Village- 2600m
The 50m pool was open at Basildon so my challenge got off to the strong start with a early morning set.
December 10th- Abbs Cross Health & Fitness- 1100m
My challenge almost ended after only one day! Heavy snow overnight meant that it was difficult to get to the pool through traffic. Not deterred, I made it to a local gym just before closing and got in a short swim with the pool to myself.
December 11th- Abbs Cross Health & Fitness- 2000m
A pyramid set working on my speed and again I had half the pool to myself, it’s about choosing the right times to go!
December 12th- Becontree Heath Leisure Centre- 1500m
Another day, another pool. I alternated between 200s with pull-buoy and paddles and 100s without. My shoulders were starting to feel it after today’s session!
December 13th- Hornchurch Sports Centre- 3000m
Up at 5am to attend a session with Killer Whales Swim Club. The session plan is usually written out and we are left to get on with it- there were a lot of 400s in today’s session!
December 14th- Abbs Cross Health & Fitness- 1700m
The most frustrating session- my Garmin messed up so I had to restart my swim. I wasn’t feeling it today and wanted to get the week over with.
December 15th- Abbs Cross Health & Fitness- 2000m
Last day! I wanted to finish the week on 14km, so my goal was to squeeze in a quick 2km before going track runnning at the track. Again I did a pyramid set working on speed and managed to finish the week strong.
Swimming daily is pretty standard for those who have grown up as competitive swimmers, but for me this week was quite an achievement. It was by far my highest weekly mileage- I enjoying seeing the distance rack up on Strava. I did consider extending my challenge up to 10 or 14 days, but frankly I’d had enough after a week. I’ve got a lot of respect for swimmers who train daily or twice daily, it’s not easy!
One of the biggest challenges was the logistics. Unlike running I couldn’t just head out at any time, I had to consider pool opening times and tried to avoid peak hours. It’s stressful trying to swim in a crowded pool. There was the added problem of the snow and ice on the roads, which made it difficult to get to the different pools. I had hoped to get to my favourite pool- the Aquatic Centre at the Olympic Park but it didn’t happen. I managed 4 different pools over the 7 days.
I tried to plan my swim set and distance in advance, rather than just getting in the water and swimming. I get pretty bored just going up and down without any real structure.
I got used to the constant smell of chlorine and the goggle marks around my eyes. Usually I’m quite badly effected by chlorine, ie: lots of sneezing and a runny nose after swimming. However as the week went on, I found I wasn’t effected at all and almost became immune to the chlorine.
Throughout the week, I aimed to focus on my technique rather than getting sloppy and dragging myself through the water. The week was about quality, not just quantity. Sometimes it felt effortless and sometimes I felt fatigued. I generally average around 2:05/100m although I did dip down to 1:55 on some sessions which was a good improvement.
My 7 swims in 7 days challenge gave a boost to my fitness at a time of year when it’s easy to wind down and reduce activity.
Have you taken part in a festive fitness challenge? How often do you swim?