Swimming epiphany

Today I had a swimming epiphany. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I now love swimming again, but I’m feeling at least slightly more positive towards it!

Two things have happened in the past few days to change my mind:

1) I read a blog by a runner who mentioned (off-hand, it wasn’t the point of the post) that they had been swimming and were getting better, but that they still had to stop to catch a breath and recover at the end of every 20m length. And I thought that was me 18 months ago. Now I am complaining because I am swimming 400m a few seconds slower than I want to? Stop right there! I am swimming 400m without stopping. Hell, I can swim 1500m without stopping (and hopefully 1900m!) Isn’t that incredible?

When we start as a conplete beginner, we rapidly improve. It’s really easy then to forget what we were like just such a short time ago, to get caught up in all the minuscule improvements that may or may not be happening, and forget the HUGE improvement that’s already happened. It’s important to sit back and think about how awesome it is that we CAN swim 400m, rather than that we can’t swim it 10 seconds faster.

2) I read an article on Triathlon magazine about swimming to your CSS swim speed. This is something I used to concentrate on a lot and wrote a whole post on here. However recently I seem to have forgotten about it, and keep just trying and failing to swim faster and faster (but not sprinting), leading to decreased motivation.

Reading the post reminded me and I had a look back. Disregarding one super-fast swim test in June, my CSS speed at the beginning of the year was 2min 14 per 100m. That’s 4m28 for a 200m and 8m46 for 400m. I do regularly swim around that or faster – and that is what I should be aiming for.

So with all this positivity in mind, I got in the pool today. I’ve been sick for the past week so it was the first proper exercise I have done in 8 days(!!!!) I was fully rested and feeling better for the first time. I had a FANTASTIC swim. I felt strong, it didn’t feel like an effort, I went quickly. My 100m time was 2min01, my 200m with a pull buoy was 4min 24 (ie not using my legs) and my 400m was 8min 35. I then did a set of 50s with the pull buoy, all of which were around the 1 minute mark – and again, I wasn’t trying to go all out.

I know I started this post by saying that it’s silly to get caught up in the seconds, and it’s important to appreciate the overall ability to do those things. But I would just like to say that doing it quickly DID make a difference to my attitude. And even if I don’t hit those times when I get back in the pool, I know I CAN. And that makes all the difference.

The whole way through the swim I kept saying to myself this is how I will feel getting into that cold lake in 3 weeks time. This is how I will feel. Elbows high. Breeeeaaaaatthhhheeeee. This is how I will feel. Let’s just hope that’s true!

As I haven’t shared a swim workout in a while, here’s what I did today. I can strongly recommend telling yourself that you will just go swimming for 30 minutes if you are suffering a failure of motivation. 30 minutes will fly by, I promise.

Warm-up: it’s a long one, as I took this from a much longer work-out, but I kind of made the warm-up into my main set:

400m front crawl (easy)

200m front crawl with pull buoy (easy)

100m front crawl (easy or try faster if you feel like it)

Main set:

6 x 50m front crawl with pull buoy and 20 second rest intervals (fast-ish – tempo/Z3). (Except my first two turned into 100m as there was a really slow person behind me and I didn’t want to stop…)

50m front crawl (fast-ish – tempo/Z3)

Cool down:

50m breast stroke

So there you have it!



  1. Great job! I love this post because #1- I’m obsessed with swimming and #2- I just love your positive vibes! Way to go! I’ve been a swimmer for many many years, but it’s definitely a tough sport. You should be proud of yourself because it takes lots of effort and dedication to see improvement and your doing it! You’re swimming longer and stronger so excellent work! Have a fabulous rest of the week!! XOXO

    • Thank you Kirstin!! It is an incredibly tough sport but I will keep at it. I just love open water swimming too much – it means I have to spend the time in the pool so I’m capable of swimming in a lake!

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