Swimming in Madrid!

It has been a while since my last swimming post. It’s been a while since I was swimming regularly.My new year’s resolution of swimming twice a week every week is going to have to be met by lots of three swim weeks I fear…..

My last week in London I managed one swim amid all the stress of packing for Madrid. It was awful. For the first time in ages, my legs felt like lead sinking to the bottom of the pool, and my elbows felt like they had lead weights attached to them every time I lifted my arm out of the water. I quickly sacked off my planned swim and managed to eke out around 1000m with lots of rest intervals. I have never been so glad to get out of the pool!

I managed one swim my first week in Madrid due to settling in and finding a swimming pool. I wanted to keep it short as (a) I was tired, and (b) it was a beautiful sunny day and I wanted to get to the park.

So I did 2 x 500m – the first 500m front crawl and the second with a pull buoy. I’m pretty sure I then did some other lengths but stupidly didn’t keep track at all so I cannot tell you…….

Marathon week I planned two swims, managed one. The week after the marathon I firstly couldn’t move and then had a horrendous cold. I don’t know if people do swim when they need to blow their nose every two seconds but it doesn’t seem particularly hygenic to me so I tried to maximise my rest instead! I’m now finally getting back on track. So far this year I have missed 8 swims. It doesn’t sound like a huge amount… but then you consider that I will need two months of swimming 3 times a week, every week in order to make up for that.

Here’s a little run down of my new pool and the swims I’ve been doing.

Swim 1:

I arrived at my new pool at sunrise. It is in Chueca, the Soho of Madrid, and I quite enjoyed walking through the streets so early in the morning, the bars and clubs all shut up, the sky blue and the air fresh. And a little puddle of sick on the ground.

The pool was crazy busy, the busiest pool I’ve ever swam in. I am used to my nearly empty pool at work! But it was beautiful, on the top floor overlooking the rooftops of Madrid so filled with natural light. It is really enjoyable to swim in.


I had taken a swim from a TriRadar plan and adapted it, so my total was about 1400m. The swim looked like this:

Warm-up: 100m front crawl, 50m one-arm drill. 100m front crawl, 50m fists.

Main set: 2 x (4 x 100m build – at Z2, Z3, Z4 and Z5 where Z are perceived effort zones and 5 is all-out)

50m easy between each set (i.e. breast stroke)

Cool down: another few hundred metres slow front crawl, 50m fist drill.

And here I have a slight bone of contention with TriRadar. Admittedly this wasn’t from a “beginner” training programme – I think it was intermediate. BUT they had a 600m warm-up for the first swim on the plan AND it required four 100m swim speeds. I just don’t have four 100m swim gears. And I don’t think I am a beginner swimmer anymore, with a sub 30-min 1500m and comfort in the water. I am by no means experienced, or fast at all, but I just do not have four gears I can click into. I think I have just about managed three. Is this just me?!

Swim 2

This was my first swim post marathon after a full week of doing pretty much nothing and so I wanted to take it easy. I went for 6 x 200m with 30 seconds rest intervals in between. My 200s were not fast. 4:35, 4:21, 4:23, 4:30, 4:32, 4:28. Or consistent. However, in my defence, some of my slowest times were as a result of other slow people in the pool. I was in the fast lane and there were men swimming breast stroke. They were swimming the stroke pretty fast but I think they should have moved down to the middle lane. Also, some of them had no idea about pool etiquette, i.e. if there is someone behind you and you are touched on the feet, or even if you just notice they are close behind you when you reach the edge of the pool, pause a moment, let them go first! You will only have to wait a second while they swim off. On the other hand, whenever I do overtake someone like that, my next length is always quite fast as I’m worried they will catch me up and I’ll feel bad about overtaking!

The busyness of the pool in the morning does mean I need to think about doing sprints etc at the weekend rather than mid-week.

Swim 3

The second swim of this week was at 5pm on a Sunday afternoon. I’ve decided this is the perfect time to swim – Sunday evening. The pool was much quieter and I had no time constraints like having to get to work. I had gone for a drills session focussing on body rotation. I blogged about this particular swim back in the winter – Swimming with fins and body rotation


I can’t believe I haven’t done it since, I love it! It is the perfect mix of focussing on the stroke and short high energy efforts, so it is not too intimidating (is there anything more intimidating than facing a session of 10 x 100m sprints for example?! Well yes … 100 x 100m sprints I suppose)

1)Warm-up: 2 x 200m front crawl – although, because I can’t count, I did 2 x 250m front crawl (10 lengths). I wore the fins for the first rep to get used to how they felt and warm up my leg muscles, and then no fins for the second rep. Note: fins are slippy on the bottom of the pool and pushing off is hard when you’re wearing them!

2) 4 x 100m with 10-30secs RI. Each 100m went as follows:
– 25m front crawl
– 25m on my side, with the bottom arm outstretched in front of me and the top arm lying across my body. My head is facing the bottom of the pool so my eyes are staring right at the bottom and I am looking past my shoulder.
– 25m with both arms relaxed lying back along my body. Start on one side, with your head facing the bottom of the pool. Without moving your head, use your back and side muscles to roll your body from lying on the right side to lying on the left. Repeat throughout the length (rolling up more to breathe when needed).
– 25m front crawl – I couldn’t believe how much I was rotating and how easy it was on this length!

3) 4 x 100m with 10-30secs RI. Wearing fins, each 100m as follows:
– 50m holding onto a float in front of me, kicking as hard as I can
– 50m front crawl

4) Warm-down: whatever you like! My warm-down involved 50m breast stroke, 50m front crawl, 50m backstroke (all without fins), 100m slow front crawl with fins to finish.

The post itself also has details about why its good to swim with fins occasionally. Personally I love it. Even aside from concentrating on my body rotation today, taking the thought and effort out of my legs meant I was able to think about my arms more than I usually do. I noticed that I am really gliding forward, leaving my front arm out for far too long before I begin the stroke. Using the fins gave me the chance to notice that and start changing it.

More regular swimming posts coming from now on….



  1. […] – a post about what its like to pack up all your things and move to a completely new country to live – Moving to Madrid. – Various posts about Madrid including my first weekend in the city and a 40 mile bike ride on the Anillo Verde – The marathon recap! (of course),a pre-marathon mental motivation check and then a post about the aftermath – One swimming post […]

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