Swimming has been something I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do ever since I was small and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to give my children that gift too
They’ve swum ever since they were 3 months old as I believe swimming is such an important thing to be able to do, it’s exercise and it’s so much more. It’s fun, it can be exciting and other times calming. It gives you the choice to be able to try all sorts of water based experiences. It’s light for your body in ways other exercise isn’t and it can be very very quiet as once your head is in the water you can’t hear much other than the sound of your breath! It’s also much safer to be around water and develop an understanding and appreciation of the beauty and dangers of water.
I want to point out that my dad taught me to swim and I’ve never been a member of a swimming club so everything I know either my dad taught me or as an adult I’ve taught myself and actually I think I’m reasonably good at front crawl, I enjoy backstroke, am awful at breaststroke and can’t do more than half a length of butterfly. A few years ago I taught myself to tumble turn and although it took a while for me to “get” it it really does make me feel like a swimmer instead of someone who swims reasonably well!!!
For me open water swimming is even more enriching than pool swimming because you’re outside in nature too and every time it’s different even if you swim in the same place. Generally it’s a much more peaceful and quiet environment for swimming and a less clock watching experience! The cold water is good for your head and heart and it soothes as you swim. When I first started open water swimming it was only because I needed to as I wanted to complete an Olympic or standard distance triathlon and anything above a sprint distance triathlon is open water for the swim part! Since then it has progressed and last year because of lockdown and my personal circumstances it became a real escape for me, so much so that most of my previous worries simply disappeared! I’m lucky that the only thythat really ever bothers me (except in a triathlon mass swim start) is the thought of the fish 🐠!
I’ve had mini panicks when open water swimming and freak out occasionally when something touches my hand or feet but overcoming those things has helped me to “get over myself” a bit and remind me of what I can do instead of what I can’t! Recently I even taken off the “protective” layer of my wetsuit and swam just in my Tri suit! (I’m not quite ready for swimming in a swimsuit especially as the place I swim has no changing facilities and the car park is a different world to the lake!) I only did that because my friend was brave enough to do it and she encouraged me. I’ve formed so many friendship’s through the sports I love to do and I can’t imagine my life without those people in it.
It’s amazing how much motivation signing up for an event gives you. I had been frightened of swimming pools because of the covid factor but when my open water swimming friend hasn’t been able to make it (I’m very safety first and won’t ever swim on my own!) I’ve braved the indoors and mostly really enjoyed being back in a pool. Up until November 2019 I’d swum pretty much three times a week since starting triathlon in 2014. Signing up for Swimathon has definitely pushed me to make sure I swim at least once a week again, indoors or outdoors! If I lived closer to an open water swim venue I’m sure I’d swim outdoors all year round as I’ve been having cold showers daily for over a year now and feel like the cold water gives not takes! Watching the Merthyr Mermaid is such an inspiration for open water swimming and that and the Wim Hof method have definitely changed my understanding and appreciation of cold water.
I’m looking forward to challenging myself by doing the Swimathon because I’ve never swum 5km continuously before. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a marathon (10km) open water swim and if I do decide to it’s a good place to start knowing I can swim 5km. It also gives me an opportunity to tell other people about it and hopefully encourage some of them to swim and try open water swimming for themselves!
Endurance challenges are also great the first time you do them because you always learn about yourself! Finding something that takes you out of your comfort zone and leaves you with a smile on your face and with a medal to prove your achievement is always worthwhile in my book.