Back in February I signed up to the Swimathon, initially wondering if I had it in me to swim 5k…well, yesterday I did it! My training had gone well, following the schedules on the Swimathon website, with just a little gap during the Easter holidays, where I simply couldn’t make it to the pool more than a couple of times. This didn’t harm my progress at all and I felt strong as I gathered together my kit yesterday and cycled over to my local pool.
I had been in a few times last week and had asked about the event whilst passing through reception, only to be met with blank faces. I wasn’t entirely surprised yesterday then, when a group of slightly nervous-looking swimmers gathered in the foyer whilst the staff tried to work out what we were going on about 😦 Eventually, the Swimathon kit was located and we were handed swimming caps and ‘a sheet to keep track of your laps’, gulp. I was one of the lucky few who had enlisted the help of some friends to count my laps, but some people had to hope that the pool-side staff would do this for them. I had also devised a counting system so I had a sense of how long I had left to swim:
I would only ever be counting to twenty, removing a piece of tape every twenty lengths and taking a sip of drink – this worked really, really well and it felt like a ‘refresh’ each time I started back at one.
With a lot of faffing and polite eviction of swimmers from the pool(!!), we were granted lanes to swim in and I managed to snaffle my ‘favourite lane’ along with another 5k swimmer called Liz. There was a sad lack of ceremony as people started unannounced, so Liz and I gave a little cheer as we both set off from the side. For a few lengths we swam alongside each other, then a young boy joined our lane and we took to swimming in an anti-clockwise loop. I felt strong, but daunted by the distance I was undertaking and had a few moments in the first couple of lengths where I felt my breath shorten and nervousness creeping in. Some big deep out breaths and the thought of lengthening through the water sorted this out and I kept it steady all the way.
It was amazing how quickly time passed, with thoughts of how immense this task was being dashed by the simple act of counting to twenty. I would bob up each twenty lengths, get some encouragement from my friends, take a drink and set off again. Before I knew it, I had passed half way, was approaching 3k, then 4k and now I was into unknown territory, having floated past my longest distance yet. I had to double take when I took off the 4k sticker on my bottle – did I really only have forty lengths to go?! Now two more friends appeared and Edward and Hector strolled in wearing their swimming kit. I felt a surge of energy from this support, seeing their smiling faces as I turned to swim towards them. With the end in sight and an audience willing me on, I was able to pick up the pace and felt as strong in those last few lengths as I had at the beginning. Two more lengths and I would be finishing my 5k swim! Pushing hard through the water I reached for the wall, surfaced and heard my friends cheering and clapping 🙂 Hector jumped in to give me a hug and I enjoyed the moment while I got my breath back.
Climbing out, I thanked my friends and told Hector that no, I wouldn’t be joining him in the children’s pool(!) and received my medal (for swimming?!!) from my lovely friend Emma.
I totally overlooked stretching and gave Liz a little wave of encouragement as I hobbled off to get dressed. I may have forgotten to undertake part of my post-exercise routine, but I was catered for fully in the refuel department with this amazing cake that Susan had made:
Thank you to Susan, Emma, Laura and Hugh for counting, cheering and baking and, of course, thank you to Edward and Hector for letting me disappear to the pool all the time over the past few months 🙂 Oh, and I did it in 1 hour 55 minutes, faster than I had imagined…