Swim, friends, cupcakes, pub. What else do you need for a good Sunday?
I signed Alex and I up for the Swimathon at London Fields Lido again this year after such a great experience at the event last year. Entries were only £6 when it opened so pretty much the same cost of going to the lido anyway. This year the swim fell on Alex’s birthday so I spent a lot of time planning what cupcakes to make and what pub to book, and sort of forgot to go swimming.
I swam the channel in Channuary with friends which set up a good swim fitness base but then didn’t make it out to the pool as much as I would have liked in February. March has gone by like a flash and suddenly it was Swimathon week so I was obviously tapering.
2.5k of swimming seemed like a big challenge to attempt on so little training. With nothing to prove to myself I went into the Swimathon thinking it would be OK to drop down to the 1.5k distance if I wasn’t feeling great.
I met up with fellow swimmers Claire, Emily, Alex, Phil, and Josie pool side and we waited until 10 seconds after the last moment possible to strip down into our cozzies. The 2016 swimathon caps were teeny tiny and an awful type of plastic so I just wore my 2015 version (also being pink – lucky me) and didn’t have to throw it off mid swim like Lucy!
Most swims start the same for me. The first length is awesome. I feel great, love the feeling of swimming and the different sensations of moving through the water. Then I come back to reality and my breathing is off, I’m kicking off beat, the pool seems 999m longer than possible, and it’s all-in-all a spluttery inefficient experience. It’s an annoying transition time and around 400m I always snap out of it and get into the groove, but each time I’m not sure I will come out the other side alive (or floating).
I was in the slowest lane and it was perfect. I had about 6 other swimmers in my lane and 5 of them were children under 12. That meant there were lots of parents on the side of the pool cheering us (??) on and it was pretty funny to see how proud they were to pass me. Glad I could help their confidence, someone give me an England Athletics development bursary!
I counted what I thought was 1.5k (30 lengths) and got to the end and told the volunteer counter I was dropping down and happy with 1.5k swam. He looked confused and told me I was at 2k (40 lengths) and had either overswam 10 lengths or had 10 more to go. Well, bonus miles are great but I figured I could do 10 more easily as I was in the gliding groove so set off to finish the 2.5k. I was out in time to catch the last of Emily & Josie’s epic 5k swim and meet up with all the other swimmers and swim fans on the Hackney Riviera pool deck (which was getting a bit warmer…)
Eating Alex’s chocolate Guinness cupcakes and discussing how each of our lanes had interesting people with interesting swim etiquette, we all dried off and layered up and then headed off to the Pub on the Park to warm up with pies, roasts and pints. I ended up swimming the 2.5k faster than last year without as much training at all. I put it down to switching to a 3-stroke breathing pattern on both sides. It’s evened out my stroke a bit more and once I catch my breath and settle into the swim it feels so much more smooth. The birthday cupcakes I made on the other hand, didn’t have such a smooth ride.