It was just before Christmas 2015, and I was applying for some product sponsorship to help with upcoming adventures, the thing is, I didn’t have an adventure planned. So, on a bit of a whim I decided my next challenge would be to swim the Thames River. The thought of it scared me, and I fancied doing something other than running for a change.
I thought I was pretty good at swimming, I mean, I could swim breast stroke, crawl and backstroke confidently. I had swam at a local level till I was about 12, but not much on a regular basis since then, other than holidays or the odd trip to the pool.
Turns out I’m not as good at swimming as I thought. I have been training for over a month now, between 2 to 5 times a week. Each Thursday I also attend the Cranleigh swimming club, where Kevin is helping me to improve my stroke. Since having the lessons I have learnt that I have a long way to go at improving my stroke before swimming the Thames.
Fortunately, as each week goes by, Kevin’s advice is slowly seeping into my muscles and my mind and I can feel my stroke getting more fluid, my stamina improving and my body getting stronger.
Training is essential for me to complete this swim, and for the first week or two, I went in too hard. In a typical way I jumped in and started training long and hard almost immediately, without building up to it. I didn’t injure myself badly, but did get a small niggle in my left shoulder. A gentle reminder from my body to take it slow and gradually build up to this challenge. I chose to take a week off and let the shoulder heal, which felt like I was cheating myself, by not being in the pool and training.
If (and I hope I dont’) get injured during the swim, I can push through it and take pain killers if need be. But, if I do that during the training, I am just wearing my body down, and lowering the chances of me being able to complete the challenge.
I have time to get fit, and still have approximately 5 months to improve the stroke and increase the strength and stamina. Even though it’s hard to resist the urge to train, understanding when to take a step back and listen to your body is essential in the long run (swim).