I guess you could almost say that my first taste of sport was swimming. When I was little I was a member of the City of Southampton swim club, swimming god knows how many times a week. Weekends were filled with training and the odd gala, where butterfly would be the stroke of representation. Yes, like lots of other children I rode a bike; with bright pink tassels coming off the handlebars, and I ran around the garden in pure delight until my legs fell off, but swimming was the only consistent sport in my life right from a young age.
When I left swim training I remember it being a huge relief. It was my mum that had made the final decision, I was at the stage where I was moving up to the higher group which involved the 5:30am swims and mum told me she wasn’t prepared to commit to taking me. At the time I was a little dissapointed but looking back it was all becoming a bit of a chore rather than something I enjoyed.
I can honestly say that after that point I rarely swam, my kickboard and fins gathering dust in the garage. My fitness journey also ended there for quite sometime. This isn’t to say I didn’t do other things, I was part of the girls brigade, the band and air cadets. However over this time I had gained a somewhat significant amount of weight and became very used to being the chubby girl that was never noticed by boys. It was just life really.
My first proper venture into triathlon training was in June 2018. Funnily enough this was when I started swimming again. One thing I will say with swimming is that while the technique seems to stay with you, the stamina in the pool does not. There is a complete lack of cross over between the sports. This is what from my perspective what makes doing triathlon well such a challenging sport.
When I started IRONMAN training properly, going from not swimming to swimming at least 3 times a week was mentally hard, especially in the winter at 6:30 am in the pitch black.
So why do I think swimming is a love/ hate thing?
Everybody has a favourite discipline and I know for some people it is their favourite part of the triathlon. For example mine is cycling and it is very rare that I would miss a bike session, even in the pouring rain purely because I love it. For me with swimming I am stuck half way between the two. Motivation to get to the pool has to be drawn from much deeper places and it is not rare for me to stand at the edge of the pool for a few minutes thinking about getting in. Eventually I have to wait for the big red hand to get to the top of the clock and just make myself go. Otherwise I could be there all day. This is what I would call the hate part.
Once I am in the pool I actually really enjoy it. It doesn’t really take long to get warmed up and I really do revel in the challenge of a particularly hard session. This is the love part. Its even more enjoyable if there is someone else to chase in the lane.
Some days swimming can very much be a chore, especially if you go at a particularly busy time of day. Somebody doing their slowest breaststroke while you are wacking out 100m sprints is far from ideal. So if you are new to swimming, try out a few different times at the pool and find one that isn’t overcrowded it really does help with staying calm during the session. Everyone has their own motivations for training. Its important to remind yourself of them every now again to keep yourself centred and heading in the right direction towards your goals.
As always thanks for reading. Any top motivation swimming tips please leave a comment!