I feel everyone is probably a bit fed up hearing me moan about swimming this year. I started the year with such good intentions, planning on swimming twice a week, EVERY week and blogging about my swim training. I quickly got bored of the blogging. I felt posts about training sessions, x number of lengths followed by y number of lengths would be interesting to absolutely nobody – if doing it wasn’t interesting to me, I don’t know how reading about it would be interesting to anyone else!
And my enthusiasm for the actual swimming didn’t last too long either. Thrown off track after two months by a move to Madrid and then a marathon, it took me some time to find my feet in a new city and find a swimming pool. I couldn’t believe how busy Madrid pools were – it was a bit of a shock to the system. Sharing a narrow lane with more than 2 people?! I was not used to that at all and found myself getting increasingly frustrated by slow swimmers who seemed to think they belonged in the fast lane.
I missed open water swimming – I was surprised to find out that it was impossible to swim in a lake anywhere within the city limits of Madrid and I would have to have a car and a long drive every weekend to do so. As I didn’t have a car, that was out. So it was just ploughing up and down the busy lanes. And as I began training for my first half Ironman, the distances and time spent in the pool started to increase. 2000km, or near enough, twice a week, by myself, keeping myself motivated. It was mentally tiring. Finally, I was plateau-ing. I think it happens to most people – you start something new and improve rapidly at first. Then you stop improving so rapidly, you begin to plateau, and you might even get slightly slower as you get demotivated… All no good!
But all that negativity is just an introduction because the fact is that I am starting to enjoy swimming again. I made the executive decision to have some lessons – half an hour, every second Monday. I also decided that, while I wasn’t training for any swim event in particular, I would keep my swims to just half an hour, with no pressure to swim any longer.
The lessons have been great even if I’ve had just two so far (they are £20 for half an hour one-on-one so very reasonable!). One little change to the way I kick my legs, and being forced to bilateral breathe has made some huge differences to the way swimming feels. I have kept my rep distances short while I adapt to and focus on the changes, sticking to 100m, a max of 200m, but the first time I went swimming by myself after having a lesson I was astonished when I looked at my watch.
ALL my 100m reps were below 2mins and mostly less than 1min55. And I wasn’t sprinting. I was going hard, sure, but certainly not sprinting. At the height of my summer training, my 100m times at that sort of effort were never lower than 1min55 and closer to 2mins. And I managed a 200m time of 3min54 – the second fastest all year.
So – I have a (slightly) renewed love for chlorine and turning up to work with damp hair and goggle marks (the best is when I’ve cycled in and have a mark in the middle of my forehead from my bike helmet AND goggle marks – very professional!). And I am now slightly excited to see what continues to happen with a little more money invested into swimming – more lessons and some group swim sessions. Numbers going down = hugely growing enthusiasm.
So if you are feeling a bit demoralised with your swimming…. Try a few lessons! Even just a few can make a big difference not just to times but to attitude 🙂