• Fri24January 2014
  • Challenge 2014: #Swimathon – jumping in at the deep end

    It was going to be a pretty easy January. Take it slow and steady, work up my mileage, throw in a few cross country races and then I’ll be able to ace that Paris Marathon (or so the theory goes). But then again, I never like to take it easy. Marathons, duathlons, yoga in The London Eye, you name it and I’m pretty much up for it (within reason). So when the team behind the #Swimathon (the UK’s fundraising swim for Sport Relief) invited me to take part in this year’s event, I accepted (with slight hesitation) to take the plunge. Here’s why:

    Swimming costume

    My gear is ready but am I?

    1. It will motivate me to jump right in

    I love the water, I love swimming, my only concern is that I’m not that good at it. I’m not an expert cyclist either but I do it so regularly that I know what to expect. Even when I was in training for the London Duathlon in 2013, I didn’t think that the challenge was beyond my capabilities. Some people may say that you have the engine for it, and yes, running distance does help with building up your stamina. On the other hand, swimming is a completely new discipline and as much as I’d love to be a graceful butterfly in the water, I’m much more of a doggy paddler. That being said, I’m game. Bring on the Swimathon 2014.

    2. It’s all about the timing…as in finding the time to train You say ‘junk miles’, I say ‘my time to think’. I admit it, I’m a bit of a running junkie and that may not be the best for me in terms of performance. Not only will this #Swimathon get me used to a brand new discipline, it has also had an affect on my training schedule. If I’m aiming to complete 2.5k in the pool, I need to be training seriously at least once, if not twice a week. Time to swap my running shoes (once or twice a week) for goggles, a swimming costume and cap.

    3. And a pool to train in

    Unlike cycling or running, where you use your own equipment, one of the key ingredients to swimming is the pool. Where to train? How to get there? The cost implications and timing to get there? In terms of logistics, swimming is the most difficult discipline to train for unless you live near a beach or lake or are lucky and rich enough to own your own pool.  I do live near Hampstead Heath, which is famous for its Ladies’ pond but the thought of swimming in sub-10 degrees centigrade really does not appeal at this moment in time. Instead of jumping into freezing cold water outdoors (I really admire those brave enough to swim outdoors at this time of year) I’ve been using the Swimathon site to find pools near me and close to my work, so I know where to go to get the lengths in.

    4. Faff, what faff?

    As I said before, I enjoy being in the water but the whole routine around going swimming has, up until now, put me off massively. Not only do you have to find a pool and get there, you have to ensure you have a change of clothes with you, goggles (for contact lens wearers), change for the locker, a towel, swimming cap if necessary…and then there’s the aftermath. Yes, the thought that you have to carry a sodden costume around with you all day when swimming before work. No matter what you do, you always seem to whiff ever so slightly of chlorine. Need I go on? It’s these thoughts that have prevented me from swimming regularly and I have to say that the majority of them are wrong. You do need to be slightly more organised and you may whiff a little of chlorine but there are now machines at the swimming baths that squeeze your swimming costume dry. The goggles are not a huge problem and  swimming before work sets you up for the day. All in all, sometimes the faff is worth it. 5.

    5. A new goal and a great cause

    Let’s not forget that the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon is a fantastic cause to be involved in. The fact that it has been running since 1986 is testament to the success of the event and all the charities who have benefited. Sport Relief helps disadvantaged and vulnerable people turn their lives around and I’m so pleased to be able to talk about it. And I’m only one of thousands of people who will be jumping in the pool during the weekend of 21 to 23 March 2014 to complete the distance of 2.5k. It’s a different type of goal for me and that’s what makes the Swimathon so special. Why don’t you join me and everyone else?

    Get involved: There’s still time to sign up for the Swimathon. You can choose to do 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k or just swim – remember it’s all about taking part. You can also enter a relay team and make a day of it with your mates or work colleagues. For more info, head to the Swimathon site here. And your tips are always welcome to this newbie swimmer who is about to take the plunge.

    The Swimathon 2014 is just one of the events that I am training for as part of my Challenge 2014. I am also hellbent on beating my marathon PB at Paris in April and breaking sub-42 in a 10k. Oh and then there’s the Thunder Run….It’s going to be a Challenge 2014. Suggestions welcome, as long as they’re not along the lines of you’re crazy, as I kind of know that already.

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