In The Swim - Part 5

There's just three months to go until our 16 swimmers head off to Malta for their gruelling swim challenge. Richard Flook picks up the blog mantle...
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Blogs, biogs, head shots, etc. It's all a bit new to me, so please bear with me for this first attempt. How was I roped into this I hear you ask? A year ago, during a career break, swimming was a regular pastime and my preferred method of getting fit to lose those few extra pounds that good living had put on over several years.

I would usually be able to get in at least three sessions of 60 lengths (a mile) a week, however, the start of a new job in February 2007 put a stop to this. I had read about Swim Trek in a Saturday travel supplement – but didn’t really seriously consider it as a holiday option until I had a 'swift half' last summer with fellow tourist and business friend, Ian Down, who 'sowed the seed'. A brief chat with my wife, Ali, and I was signed up for the challenge.

Well – the decision having been made a while ago now, those easily and oft repeated lines, used several times in the course of the last few months of “…there’s plenty of time…” or “…I’ll start properly next week…” simply aren’t good enough anymore.

As time cracks on and the excuses start to dry up, the necessity of doing some proper training has finally kicked in. An embarrassing and revelatory personal performance at the first open air meeting of 2008, seeing the concerted and apparently effortless performances of my fellow participants at Hampton Court, has finally spurred me into getting my act into gear.

I realise that however optimistic one might be that this is never going to be achieved without some consistent effort being put in. So, I’ve started heading back to my local Esporta in Wandsworth, with a 25m indoor pool; realistically bearing absolutely no resemblance to what we’ll be facing in May, but a good start.

Previously, my swims would be a mix of freestyle and breast stroke, usually taking half an hour to do the mile. Greater distances than this had not been attempted as the regularity of the sessions seemed more important than distance. Now, I’m trying to concentrate on freestyle only – with the plan to build up the distance in line with guidance from the Swim Trek training plan as we get closer to the actual event.

The other aspect of my training (now that it has actually started) has been to try and vary my breathing to alternate sides. Initially, the change was difficult – but as time goes on, whilst it gets easier – it is still an effort and feels unnatural. It is also seems less efficient as the number of strokes to complete a length of the pool is higher when breathing on the opposite side. I’m sure with continued practice – it’ll get easier!

That’s it – first blog over with and training started in earnest. A quick thanks to Stephen Gould for his organisational efforts – stick with it, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

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