When I signed up for the London Marathon one week after the Swimathon (I’m doing 2.5k at London Fields) I was a bit worried, but it turns out that training for the 2.5km swimathon at the same time as the 42.2km marathon has actually been really fun.
My swim sessions have been more relaxing than anything. I’m not looking to get any specific time in the swimathon, just swim further than ever before so I’ve been getting in the pool with the slow & steady aim of relaxing and ticking off laps.
The time spent swimming just feels nice on my tired running body. Floating face down in the water gives my body a bit of weightlessness time and the controlled breathing gives my mind a bit of a break and a chance to almost meditate for a while.
A few weeks ago the other Swimathon bloggers and I were invited to the Pancras Leisure Centre to do a bit of training with Swimathon president & gold medal legend Duncan Goodhew. We got straight down to business at the beginning and took a bunch of pictures with his gold medal. Which I am confident has helped my swimming more than any drill.
He went through why swimming is so popular and should be more popular (not sure I’d agree with him when trying to find some space in the 1 lane on Tuesday night in my evening pool) and then went over each of our goals for the swimathon. The first drill we did were tumble turns, which aren’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. I did a few and while really useful in making up ground while swimming the lengths, I found it hard to hold my breath for so long at the end of each length. I use the “side-pool-shimmy-time” to catch my breath even if just touching and pushing off again.
We then did a few drills on focusing on different parts of our front-crawl strokes. I really enjoyed the one where we had to “flick” our fingers up at the back of each stroke when our fingers are by our butt. I never think of the follow through of my stroke and definitely felt a bit of extra power by doing that every few strokes. We then had to swim a few lengths with our armpits. Duncan explained that focusing on pushing the armpit into the water at each stroke it helps your shoulders turn, your chest open (and be more streamline in the water) and give each arm that much more power to push through your stroke with. All made sense and all was pretty tough to keep up for the prescribed lengths. But that was the point, giving us some ideas to use once in a while, not a whole session.
We ended the training by putting Sophie in a swim cap – if you don’t believe me ask her.