Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Spring Swimming Update

We are now into April and I have continued a steady swimming training schedule over the last couple of months; swimming 1-2 times per week. For a while, I continued to swim for a pre-determined amount of time, rather than counting lengths, to try to avoid the boredom I used to feel as the laps added up and also to try to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the number of lengths still left to swim.

I have been aiming to swim for at least 30 minutes per session for a few weeks now. I also changed my strategy slightly, for avoiding the length-counting boredom (because I can't avoid the fact that I have to be able to swim 64 lengths!) and aimed to swim 10 lengths of breaststroke and then change to freestyle for as long as I can manage, before switching back to another 10 lengths of breaststroke. It was this that pushed me to slow down my freestyle and think about the principles of the Shaw Method.

About 4 weeks ago I realised I could swim 10 consecutive lengths of freestyle (with a few breathers in between lengths!) if I really slowed it down and concentrated on hip rotation and keeping the leading arm in the water to stabilise my body while I breathe. Over more recent weeks I have aimed to swim 10 lengths breaststroke, 10 lengths freestyle, 10 lengths breaststroke, 10 lengths freestyle etc..... and this has worked REALLY well. No boredom (small goals), no fatigue (s-l-o-w-e-d down the stroke) and I am swimming more freestyle than I ever dared hope I could.

I had an amazing swim last night at the Aquatics centre in Leeds. I swam my 10 lengths per stroke, until I had swam 60 lengths, then I added 4 lengths in breaststroke at the end to cool down. 64 lengths of a 25m pool = 1 mile! I swam 1 mile :-D First time I have done the distance since the GNS last June. And even better than that, 30 lengths of this were using freestyle....AND I enjoyed it!

I swam the distance in approximately 50 minutes (must keep a closer eye on the clock!) and had a few rests (never more than about 15 seconds). I maintained bi-lateral breathing during freestyle and noticed I am slightly weaker when breathing on the right (possibly because I am right-handed and using my left hand to stabilise while I breathe is harder)... so I will be working on this until I feel completely comfortable on both sides.

So my goals now are to keep this up, twice per week until the GNS, and hopefully I will get faster and my rest breaks will lessen. I may start dropping the breaststroke reps to 8 lengths and increasing freestyle to 12 lengths, though this might take a while to achieve.

I have decided to review the goals I set myself in my blog in September:

  • To complete the Great Salford Swim
  • To complete the Great North Swim
  • To complete the Monster Swim at Loch Ness
  • To complete the Great Scottish Swim
  • To finish all of the above in a time of 45 minutes or less.
  • To swim all of the above events using front crawl/freestyle for at least half of the distances.
  • Enter the 2.5k Swimathon in April

I have entered the Great Salford Swim (re-named this year, Great Manchester Swim - I bet the people of Salford are not too pleased about this!) and will take part in this on the 1st July.

I will be swimming in the Great North Swim in Windermere on 23rd June (11 weeks - eeeep!)

I have entered and will be swimming in the Monster Swim at Loch Ness on 18th August.

Unfortunately I won't be entering the Great Scottish Swim. It is taking part one week after the Monster Swim and travelling back up to Scotland for a second weekend just isn't practically possible. NEXT year perhaps :-)

And to swim them all in under 45 minutes? Absolutely! I am still up for this challenge, in fact I secretly want to complete one of them in less than 40 minutes....!

As for swimming half the distance in freestyle....bring it on! I am pretty much *there* in the pool. I am capable of doing the distance using freestyle, I just need to adapt this to the open water. I am under no illusions - I know this will be hard because I won't be able to see where I am going as easily, and freestyle in open water is disorienting, but it feels achievable - dare I even think that I might swim the majority of the distance using freestyle?

And Swimathon. Hmmm. Would like to do Swimathon, but it is in 2 weeks at my local pool and we already have plans for the day (which could be altered). I don't feel a huge pull to do Swimathon his year. Last year it was a good mini-goal in my training, ensuring I could manage the distance in a pool. I have already achieved this, this year. So, unsure of this. I did set the goal to do the 2.5k, not the 1.5k..... but still. Swimathon remains a maybe.