I had a few ideas about how to complete the marathon swimming event but, in the end, it was just about making the time and doing it – in stages.
At the beginning of this year I’d never swum a stroke of front crawl but two local leisure centres came to the rescue and kindly arranged some lessons for me.
My front crawl is still a work in progress and I’ve been swimming regularly at Charlton Lido since April – trying to improve my technique and stamina in preparation for the triathlon that’s lurking in the Freyathlon calendar.
The outdoor pool at Charlton is heated to a balmy 25c and it’s quite something to see the mist rising from the water on the colder, early mornings. On a couple of my visits there’s only been two or three of us in the pool but that’s starting to change as the weather warms up. At the beginning of May, I took a week’s holiday from work to spend as much time as possible at the pool and get closer to the magical distance of 750m (the swim leg for a sprint distance triathlon).
Once I was able to swim 750-800m, using a combination of front crawl and breaststroke, I simplified my plans to complete the marathon swimming event and set a goal to swim 1000m a day for 10 days, starting on 1 June.
On the first day I drove to the pool, swam 1100m, then headed home for breakfast before travelling to NW London for a Heritage Crafts Association trustees meeting. The endorphins were fierce.
On day two I cycled to the pool, swam 1100m, then cycled to work in Welling. Apologies to my colleagues for my perky demeanour and mini-duathlon chat.
I managed 1400m on day three, then cycled to work in Abbey Wood, and 1050m on day four – before heading to Mountsfield Park for the modern pentathlon. After which I had an afternoon nap.
Day five involved a synchronised swimming rehearsal with the Dive-In Belles at Tooting Bec Lido and a lunch in NE London, and there was no way to fit a swim into the day. But the rehearsal went well and lunch was delicious.
After completing the mountain biking event at the VeloPark, I headed to SE London to plough up and down the pool for 1100m on day six. My legs were heavy and it was a tough session.
For day seven I got to the pool with enough time to crack through 1500m before taking a bus to a 10am work meeting in Woolwich. I slept well that night.
I managed two more mini-duathlons on days eight and nine – cycling to the pool, swimming 1000m and 1100m respectively, then cycling to work. Apologies to my colleagues for my near-constant eating and chirpy attitude.
Day 10 started at Tooting Bec Lido with a synchronised swimming rehearsal (our first practice in the pool) and finished with a glorious 1050m at Charlton Lido. If I’d remembered to take my purse I’d have treated myself to a celebratory lunch in the rooftop café.
Between 1 and 10 June I swam 10,400m – including 200m for the modern pentathlon.
Between Sunday (day five) and Friday (day 10) I covered 96.06km – on foot, on bike, and in the pool – and I was active for 20.30 hours. Which doesn’t include the time I spent at the VeloPark or the distance covered on the VeloPark’s MTB trails and velodrome track.
What I learned about swimming every day
- I prefer swimming first thing in the morning
- I can cycle, swim, cycle – good brick training for a triathlon
- You’ll sleep a lot
- You’ll eat, and want to eat, a lot
- Planning your food is really important – and it’s a great help if someone does this for you (thank you Trace!)
- It’s worth packing your bag the evening before so there’s less chance of you changing your mind
- You’ll start admiring other swimmers’ swimsuits and swim caps
- You’ll have some great conversations with other swimmers
- You’ll need more than one swimsuit
And I have a new obsession – my collection of swim wear and accessories is starting to rival my cycling attire collection.
Marathon swimming. 10k. 1-10 June 2016
Cost: Without membership, £5 for adults, £3 for children