I spent the weekend checking in on my fellow Ambassadors, all of whom inspired with their strength and determination, the challenge meaning different things for all of them. I had opted to take part in the “My Swimathon” challenge due to no pools near me taking part in the event and yesterday I took to the water, with the aim to complete my 400m swim.
This is a distance that I have only managed to cover twice as an adult and I hoped to make it hat trick. Many would say that once you’ve done it once, you can do it again and while that is true of many things, swimming anxiety means that every time I enter the water, I’m overcome with fear.
So, I entered the water and went through my normal routine of submerging myself in the shallow end and then putting my face into the water and blowing bubbles. A deep breath, a push and a glide and off I went. I completed the first two lengths very quickly for me and subsequently paid for it. Was it nerves? Quite possibly. No one else knew what I was doing, but the added pressure of doing this for a purpose only contributed to my anxiety. A rest to get my breath back and off I went again, with a short rest between lengths. 8 lengths (200m) gone and I was feeling tired. I started to question whether I could do it, or whether I’d need to come back another day.
It’s difficult in the pool, seeing so many people seemingly effortlessly ripple through the water, length after length, whilst you cling to the end fighting to get your breath back. So many people had said to me “it’s okay, do breast stroke if you need to.” Great advice, except I can’t bloody do breast stroke. I can do front crawl and I can do back stroke, but I was determined to finish this thing on my front.
My front crawl isn’t terrible. It’s not great, but it isn’t terrible. But I need a lot more practice and I need to become more efficient to try to stop myself from becoming too exhausted early on. Yesterday, my legs were screaming because they’d had enough.
I took a couple of minutes to rest and set off for lengths 9 & 10. Mentally, I knew if I could make it to 10 lengths, I would be able to find a way of pushing to 16, even if it took me the whole swim session. 9 hurt. I could feel my legs sinking in the water and it was a real effort to reach the end of the pool. Length 10 was better. I realised that I’d been lifting my head out of the water at a side angle to breathe and hadn’t been rotating my body. I focused on rotating – the reality was that I probably over-rotated, but breathing was much easier, the length was quicker and I didn’t feel so tired.
Soon, it was time for the penultimate length, length 15. It hurt. My legs were burning and I kept swallowing water. I knew by this point I was tired, I’d had enough and that was why my technique was really starting to s(t)ink. A quick breather again and I set off for 16, once again focusing on looking down into the water and rotating my body. Soon enough, I spotted the end of the pool and that was my 400m Swimathon done.
How did I feel? Elated? Not really. I felt relief that it was done more than anything else. But then something happened. A little something in the back of my mind started to pick at me. Despite my legs burning, despite feeling tired, did I have it in me to swim 500m?
Only one way to find out! I pulled my goggles on again and set off.
Four lengths later, I was climbing out of the pool, with jelly legs. But I had swum 500m for the first time ever!
Will I carry on swimming? I don’t know. I think I will as it’s such an important life skill and I would love to be able to swim 1500m. The health benefits from the whole body workout will only help with my running, but it’s definitely something that I’ll be taking at my own pace (splash).
Did you take part in Swimathon? How did you get on?