It’s been a while since I last blogged, but I wanted to share my experiences of Swimathon 2018 with you.
I started this year with so much enthusiasm, but the last few months have been really tough. M has caught every illness going. She has had chicken pox, gastroenteritis and a kidney infection recently. This has been alongside her eczema and teething. She also has a general inability/refusal to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time, which is exhausting me (and Stu). Friends have reassured me that the battering that her immune system is getting will stand her in good stead for when she starts school, but three years is a long time to wait!
Swimathon 2018 goal
Anyway, back to Swimathon 2018. I chose to do the 2.5k distance this year as I knew it would be tough to try to get in enough training to swim 5k. However, I foolishly thought that I would be able to swim at least three times a week and that that would be enough for me to get stronger again and to be able to complete the distance in under an hour.
Obstacles were constantly in my way. I’ve spent a lot of my lunch breaks working just to keep on top of my job (and to make up for all of the hours that I’ve missed through M’s illness). There have also been a couple of weekends, where I’ve walked down to the swimming pool with Stuart and M only to find that the pool is closed because of snow. (The pool is on a University campus, so the whole campus was closed – I should have realised given that it’s where I work!)
Swimathon 2018 at David Lloyd in Ringwood
I’d chosen to do Swimathon at David Lloyd in Ringwood as it was the nearest pool that offered a Friday morning session. M is usually at nursery then, so it meant that I wouldn’t have to find a babysitter. However, it did make the morning a huge rush as the nursery doesn’t open until 8am and it’s about a 40-minute drive to Ringwood (or more if the traffic is bad).
Luckily, Stuart and I arrived on time and even had a bit of time to chat before the start of the event. It was lovely to see my friend Karen who I met whilst doing my fitness instructor course. She was also swimming 2.5k… but was in a much faster lane than me. She was slightly nervous as she’d never swum that distance before.
I realised that I had forgotten to pick up a water bottle. I told myself that I had swum further than this in the sea before where I hadn’t had a drink, so I would be fine and that it would save me time.
Sharing a lane
I was in a lane with two other women. They were both doing 5k, and although we were in the slowest lane they were considerably quicker than me. I think I would have been better off with the two people in the lane next to us who were going slower than me.
I was the middle of the three people to start in my lane and it didn’t take long for them to pass me. This happened repeatedly, which was a little frustrating. I had to wait at the wall which broke my rhythm and ‘wasted’ time, but that’s the nature of pool swimming.
Will I meet my goal?
I tried not to look at my watch too often but was pleased to see that I was almost exactly on target at the halfway point, which surprised me. My arms were tired from about the 4th length, but they didn’t seem to be getting any worse and I was taking care with my breathing.
Last year, I remember feeling triumphant when my Garmin told me that I had swum 5000m, only for the counter to tell me that I had another 6 lengths to go, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch. I decided that when I thought I had a couple of lengths to go, I would check with the person who was lap counting.
Sometime towards the end of my swim. Stuart came over to my lane. He gestured for me to stop and speak to him, so I did (whilst inwardly cursing him for adding to my swim time). He explained that he was off to work and was going to leave me his water.
Final 4 lengths
Eventually, I was heading towards the end of the pool when the lap counter held up 4 fingers at me and mouthed ‘4 lengths to go’. I decided to swim two lengths at a steady pace and then give it my all for the last two lengths. I pushed really hard and then collapsed, breathing heavily and exhausted at the end of the pool. Then the lap counter told me that she had made a mistake and that I had another two lengths to go. Aaaarrrggghhh!
I didn’t have my inhaler poolside and was gasping for breath, so I had to recover a little bit before setting off again. My real last two lengths were terrible. It was so hard for me to breathe, so I felt very frustrated. My official time was 1:05:10. I don’t think I would have made it in under an hour, but I would definitely have been closer if I hadn’t had to stop so much and hadn’t raced my penultimate two lengths.
The good news
The important thing is that I completed the swim (and that M is finally getting better). It’s also great to know that over £1.5million has been raised by Swimathon 2018 participants which will be divided between Marie Curie and Cancer Research UK – two charities that are close to my heart.
It’s already possible to register your interest for Swimathon 2019. With distances starting at 400m, there’s something for everyone in this great event.
How did the other ambassadors do?
Please check out the other blogs written by Swimathon Ambassadors.