As you know, I am part of the official #BlogSquad for the Sport Relief Swimathon 2016, which means come Saturday 19th March I will need to be able to swim 60 lengths of my pool without stopping.

When you first hear ’60 lengths’ dropped into a conversation, it sounds a lot. But the more I train for this event, the less daunting that seems. In fact, in my training at the moment I am quite regularly swimming 40 lengths…albeit slowly. I feel like I could probably swim the 60 lengths already, but as I am choosing to fit in my swimming sessions before work I have to keep an eye on the clock to ensure I’m back in my office on campus by 8.30am. The prospect of a morning workout can be a little nauseating at first too…between setting my alarm for 5.30am, eating a very quick bowl of Weetabix, and then hearing my husband in his sleep-like state mumble ‘you’re a hero, it’s too early’ as I leave the house, I really do question my sanity. But everything falls into place as soon as I am in my warm pool and have the first glimpse of the sunrise through the floor to ceiling windows as I make my way up and down the lanes.

Now, lane swimming can be a love-hate thing, and my fellow #BlogSquad member, Adele, has summed this up rather well, here. On the whole, I love swimming in lanes as I enjoy the structure and routine of it all (quelle surprise!), but I do find that it reinforces how much I hate being around people (#onlychildsyndrome). For the past two Mondays I have shared a lane with the world’s most splashiest swimmer – he’s a fairly tall chap, with a somewhat unrefined technique, and I fear for my life every time we pass each other as it resembles something of a tsunami. That being said, I still find myself admiring him as I am fairly certain he’s aware of how much of an unrefined splasher he is but he still goes at it with unrelenting enthusiasm. And that’s what swimming is all about – enthusiasm, and not caring what others think!

I am also not completely innocent in the ‘causing problems in the lane’ debacle…because I am one of those abnormally long-limbed creatures. And long limbs generally equate to accidentally touching or kicking someone when swimming, which is a bit creepy. Or kicking the sides if you’re in an outside lane. My breast stroke really suffers when I’m sharing a lane with someone because I am trying to reign myself in and be a little self-aware of my shortcomings (or should that be ‘ridiculously long-comings’). Backstroke is really where I excel in swimming, but unfortunately we’re not allowed to swim backstroke in Swimathon – this is probably a good thing though as I wouldn’t be allowed to swim backstroke in a triathlon either so it really is forcing me into good habits from the start.

But back to the main point of this post – passing the time with all those lengths (and I really must take my hat off to some of the other #BlogSquad members who are tackling the 2.5 and 5K distances – you heroes!). Inside my head I am always overthinking things, and I have found that when I am swimming I can fall into the trap of becoming far too consumed by thoughts that really don’t belong in the pool – for me, the pool should be about channelling all of my energy into getting that little bit further or that little bit quicker, which is why I generally need something mundane and unimportant to think about. So, what am I now thinking about on each length? The alphabet!

I know other people who also incorporate the alphabet into their training but we all seem to have a different take on the game. I have different variations depending on what mood I’m in and how creative I want to be – if I’m sticking to the english alphabet I tend to set myself a theme like car parts, animals, or bones in the body and try to think of as many words within the theme for the particular letter that I’m swimming. I also switch up the language too and sometimes have an all-French training session where I focus on nouns or adjectives, and very occasionally I’ll switch to Spanish (I’m always proud of myself if I actually manage to make it to ‘zapatos’). Depending on how far you actually want to swim you can just keep repeating the alphabet over and over again – I generally get to 1 and a half rounds, but that will be increasing as I cover more distance in my February training. Either way, it’s a fairly easy way of making the time pass without letting other more important thoughts weigh you down.

Do you have any tips on getting through your swim sessions?




8 thoughts on “Swimathon Training: Passing The Time

  1. When I did the Aspire channel swim length last year I did 60 lengths a time and found counting the lengths back from 60 really helped it go faster than starting counting at one! Know it wasn’t any faster but it helped me!


  2. How much are you going to train before the event? I’m doing 200 lengths, 5km and not sure if I should do the whole thing before or just maybe work myself up to 4km and a mini one the day before?


    1. Well, I’m no expert but I doubt I’ll complete the full 60 lengths in training (or perhaps I will just the once). I always let the ‘marathon approach’ take over of not quite doing your full distance in the lead up to race day, but doing enough training to ensure you have a solid fitness foundation – that way the adrenaline can take over on the day. That being said, my technique wouldn’t necessarily suit everyone. Good luck with the 5K, that’s an epic achievement!


  3. I always swim the distance beforehand as a time trial.
    If I am doing a distance swim in training I follow the pace clock & count lengths in sets of 20. Don’t think about anything really, Just count & zone out. If doing drills I am concentrating on stroke technique etc.
    Btw some pools let you swim backstroke. At my pool they put the flags up especially. Good luck to all and enjoy! 🙂


    1. That’s a very sensible approach to take with it all – I find it fascinating hearing how everyone approaches their training and distance. You’re so lucky that your pool offers the chance to swim backstroke, very envious indeed. Good luck with your Swimathon challenge, I’m so excited now that it’s getting nearer!


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