Swimathon 2017

When I took on Swimathon in 2015 and 2016, I made sure my time slot was nice and early. I do like to tackle my activities first thing, finding my energy levels are good and I can then float around in a fuzz of endorphins for the rest of the day. This year my Swimathon wasn’t until 3pm, so I was up on Hilly Fields, Run Directing junior parkrun and cheering on eager 4-14 year-olds around our 2k course. Once we had cajoled, hi-fived, timed and applauded our runners, I was free to head up to the Olympic Park with Edward and Hector, to enjoy a pre-swim lunch in the sunshine and to soak up the Swimathon atmosphere.

Like last year, I was swimming at the Aquatics Centre, my favourite pool and, when I arrived, it was tantalisingly empty!


I was signed in, handed a swimming cap (bright yellow) and wristband and asked to get changed and be ready at the poolside for the 3pm start. I had my usual numerous visits to the loo (totally unnecessary, but nerve-induced) and gathered at the edge with the rest of the swimmers. I was in lane 8, so made my way over to meet my lap-counter. Not all pools provide a lap-counter, so it’s best to check before you head over (in my first year, I was very lucky to have my friends Emma and Susan counting my 5k swim). I met the other swimmers in my lane, a mixture of 5k and relay groups, with my 2.5k seeming a little cheeky! As I mentioned previously, I had decided to ease back to the 2.5k this year due to the commitments of training for the London Marathon, which I think was a good decision, given that so much of time has been spent on the road, pounding the pavements!

As we chatted, Duncan Goodhew appeared and made his way round, shaking hands, being in selfies and giving people last-minute pep-talks. He wished me luck and we were soon gearing up to jump in. Yes, JUMP IN. Those of you who read my blog regularly will probably have gathered that I’m not a natural jumper-inner and certainly not a diver. My lap-counting assistant told me I was first in and, no, you’re not allowed to climb down the steps and duck under the lane divider. Oh dear. I surveyed the drop and considered the depth of the pool, stepped from one foot to the other and, at the last minute announced ‘I can’t jump in!’ He wasn’t impressed, but didn’t have much choice, as I skipped over to the steps, climbed in and ducked under. I know, I know, what a rebel! So, maybe there’s my next challenge, right there, get over my fear of the jump! Any advice/help/encouragement most welcome.

One good sign is that I wasn’t too flapped by my unconventional and slightly stressful start and quickly got into it, finding a nice rhythm, as my fellow swimmers caught up and overtook. The great thing about doing your Swimathon in a 50m pool is the space, you very quickly make your own path and everyone has enough room to stretch out and enjoy the water. I was definitely the slowest in my lane, with the others swimming at a very similar pace – this resulted in them bunching up and, every so often, catching up and overtaking me en masse! In previous years, I have been very methodical about my swim, breaking it up into manageable chunks, pausing every twenty lengths to take a sip of water. This time I just got on with it, reasoning that ‘it’s only 2.5k’. It certainly felt easier, swimming half the distance, but I still had to focus, readjust my form and think about my breathing.

At one point I lost count a bit, so it was great to know that my lap-counter (I’m sorry, I didn’t get his name) would be giving me a ‘two lap warning’. As I neared this point, I sensed a slick swimmer gliding through the water and up popped Duncan, giving me a few words of encouragement – there’s nothing like an Olympic swimmer easing up alongside you to make you kick your legs a little harder! One more length and I had finished! As my fellow swimmers continued, I felt a bit ‘lightweight’ climbing out at what was their halfway point! I think I will go back to the 5k distance next year, a real challenge for me. I picked up my lovely medal, gave others a cheer and got dressed, before meeting the boys, who were swimming in the training pool. I will definitely be back next year, with Swimathon now a big part of my training calendar, motivating me to get in the pool through the winter and try and beat my time. Don’t forget to read about the experiences of the other #blogsquad members too and maybe sign up next year…:)



Lane Love (or Hate)!

When you’re training hard for Swimathon, you get to spend many an hour carving up and down a lane. You also develop a very strong sense of the rights and wrongs of lane etiquette. I really do think there’s a place for everyone in the pool: back-strokers, side-gliders, freestylers, dry-hair-crews and duck and divers. This will only work though, if the pool has enough lanes to cater for everyone and if people think about those around them.

Yesterday we headed over to the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford for some mega Extreme Aquasplash fun. While Edward and Hector threw themselves and each other off this:

Extreme Fun

Extreme Fun

I got a long swim in, with the odd pause to smile as they flipped each other into the air. As the majority of the pool was given over to inflatable craziness, there was just the one lane for swimming. At first it was crowded, with all sorts of paces and styles vying for space. Over the course of the one-and-a-half hours, people came and went and things thinned out a bit. I do find that, over a fifty-meter pool, it is easier to spread yourself out and not encounter too much jostling, as long as people are in the ‘right’ lane. This was different, of course, but a little bit of patience and a bit of understanding and everyone can enjoy their swim.

Once a week, I pop into the pool while Hector has his lesson and encounter the same ‘challenge’, with lanes being used for teaching and everyone else piling into one mixed-up channel of grumpiness. It also happens when I visit on a weekday morning, as schools pile in for lessons. So basically, this kind of thing happens a lot, so why can’t people get the hang of negotiating a bit of space through a polite nod and the odd bit of overtaking? Sometimes everything clicks into place: you find yourself in the lane with someone who will happily pause at one end, allowing enough space between you to avoid slipstreaming or water-treading. At other times, you are huffing and puffing at the end of the lane, as a ‘lane knob’, as I call them under my breath, squeezes past impatiently, tumble-turning so close to your face that you fear for the safety of your teeth and then slows down in front of you, causing a tailback of tutting swimmers. If someone is constantly catching up with me, fine, I will pause for them to pass every so often. If I find myself constantly catching up with someone, I might politely overtake where space allows. It doesn’t take much for everyone to have an enjoyable swim!

Adele’s Lane ‘Rules’

– look at the sign at the end, slow, medium, fast, but also look at the people in those lanes, are they your sort of slow, medium or fast?
– look at the arrows on the sign, clockwise or anti-clockwise, swim in that direction (really)!
– if you constantly catch up with someone, gently tap them on the foot, so they know to let you pass at the end of the lane. Bear in mind they might not know this signal and could kick you in the teeth for stroking their ankle
– if you start off in the fast lane, then decide to do a slow back-stroke, move lanes, it is allowed!
– if you’re going to tumble turn (go you!) be nice about it and don’t plant your feet anywhere near me, thanks
– just because you’re the fastest person in the lane one day, it might not be the case on another day. It’s OK to be overtaken by a woman, get over it (some) men!

Minor rant over. I love swimming and I love seeing all sorts of people taking to the pool and, when you get chatting, it can be a wonderful part of your day. Let’s share the space and let everyone do their thing.

It’s that time again! Swimathon 2016 is happening!

Do you remember last year, when I swam 5k for Swimathon? Well, I’m doing it all over again and this time, I’m part of the Swimathon 16 BlogSquad πŸ™‚ Expect lots of swim-related blog-posts, lots of attempts to overcome my open-water ‘thing’ and lots of pictures like this:

Swim stuff

Swim stuff

That’s only a bit of my swim stuff, there’s also the fins and the drink (which I stupidly left on the side in the kitchen, instead of stashing for yesterday’s 2,300m swim, doh). I have been given a lovely new swimming costume and goggles by Zoggs, so feel quite the pro, carving up and down the lanes. I’ve been wearing my Zoggs Predator goggles for the past year, so these little tiny ones feel a bit odd, but don’t leave as much of a mark when I exit the pool, yay!

I started my training in earnest last week, realising I had about ten weeks to go until the big day. You might remember I followed the training plans on the Swimathon website last year and found them really useful. I liked the way I was able to build up my distance steadily and take breaks, not something I was used to doing previously. I’ve still got my slightly tatty print-out and will be following it closely again – yesterday was 2300m and I will do another swim of 3000m later in the week, so I’m already surprising myself at how far I can go!

Being part of the Blog Squad is great. I feel like I’m part of a team and know that I can count on the other swimmers for support. You can check out the other Blog Squad members here (I didn’t recognise myself in that photo!) and follow their progress on their blogs over the next couple of months. If you feel inspired to join in yourself (remember, I hadn’t swum further than a mile last year and went on to swim 5k!), you can sign up here. You don’t have to swim 5k, there are other distances: 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k and the Simply Swim option, which allows you to pick your pool and distance and complete your swim between March 9 and 20. I found entering Swimathon has been very motivating and following the training plan has kept me on track to have an enjoyable and fun swim on the day.

Keep reading to watch my progress πŸ™‚