Just keep swimming, just keep swimming


A little while back, I announced that I’m excited to be taking part in Swimathon as one of their Ambassadors for this year’s event. I have chosen to take on the 1500m distance, which is a big challenge for me. For the unaware, Swimathon is the world’s largest (annual) fundraising swimming event and I hope to raise funds for Marie Curie, one of this year’s fundraising partners.




I may have hair like a mermaid, but a mermaid in the pool, I am not.


mermaid hair
Hair like a mermaid, swimming ability not so much


Since making the announcement that I am taking part, I have been suffering a nasty cold and then I went on a short break. Needless to say, I hadn’t been in the pool, although I have been watching lots of tutorials and reading about swimming. Last week marked twelve weeks to get myself swimming fit and so I took the plunge into the pool.

I have a bit of a mental block with swimming. I had some private swimming lessons in 2016 and they were really useful. I felt like I learned a lot and although I was slow, I felt like the start of being a swimmer. Then I did an aquathon, had a panic attack (although I completed it, yay me) and didn’t get back in the water again. So for me, Swimathon is the perfect opportunity to try to overcome the fear.

How do you overcome fear of swimming in the pool?

I can’t be the only person who fears swimming in the pool. It feels irrational. I can swim. I LOVED my diving lesson in summer 2016. I actually like swimming pools. Yet there is something about lane swimming and open swimming sessions that suddenly strike fear into me.

Last week, I attended a lane swimming session, thinking that it would be good for focus and that I could count the lengths to know my distance. The lanes were clearly signed “slow, medium and fast” and I warmed up in the open shallow end, before nipping into the slow lane.

The fear of lane swimming is real

There were only two other people in the slow lane when I got in. However, after the first length, it was clear that I was too slow for even the slow lane. I moved aside when two swimmers who got in after me came steaming past.

To be fair, they weren’t *that* fast, I was just really slow and I could feel the anxiety building. I swam my second length and promptly got out and back into the open pool section instead. By this point there were probably eight other people in the slow lane and although no one was doing anything to make anyone else feel out of their depth (pun intended) and it was clearly indicated to go clockwise and not overtake, I wasn’t relishing the thought of holding up the whole lane and my heart rate was up.

How can swimming up and down in a lane invoke so much fear?

Swimming in the open pool

I wanted to lane swim, I really did. I didn’t want to have to worry about getting in the way of people jumping in, avoiding people swimming under water and generally trying to stay out of the way of people having fun. Yet the fact remains that lane swimming terrifies me. I tried to relax by practising putting my face in the water, blowing bubbles, leg kicking, all the relaxation and warm up techniques I learned when having swimming lessons before.

Then I swam a few half lengths, trying to remember the front crawl tips I was taught before.

Finally, I finished up with another two lengths of the pool, to try to give myself the mental boost of finishing well.

In total for my session, I only did about 250-300m. 1500m feels like a long way. But tomorrow is another day and hopefully the lanes will be quieter on weekdays.


helen in swimsuit and swimming cap


How do you cope with swimming pool anxiety? Will you be joining me in the pool for Swimathon? If so, don’t forget to join me on Twitter and tweet your progress on the #SwimForAll hashtag.

2 thoughts on “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

  1. I’ve signed up to do 2.5k, on grounds that (many years ago) I used to regularly swim 80 lengths (2k). Although probably at least 50% breast stroke, and in 2017 I swam a total of 8.5k so more training is definitely required!

  2. I’ve signed up to fro 5k for the second year in a row, with the aim of getting under 2 hours. I dislike lane swimming immensely but I make myself do it. I flit between lanes depending on who’s there. If a fast lane is free, I’ll use it, despite not being “fast” and move to the medium lane if someone significantly faster gets in. I’m worried about holding people up, but sometimes it helps me to swim more quickly. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it!

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