(Photo credit: Atwell Martin Plymouth)
After I watched 200 swimmers do a grueling 2.2 miles swim across the Plymouth sound last year I knew it had to be my challenge for 2016. I love to push and challenge myself in life, and I firmly believe that amazing things happen when you get out of your comfort zone, and I will truly be doing that with my open water swimming journey. A few weeks ago I set things in stone, and I'm now officially signed up for the 2.2 miles breakwater swim (roughly 160 lengths of a 25m pool) which takes place in August, so there really is no going back now *gulps*. So you can grasp just how far that is, the above picture shows the breakwater at the far right in the distance (a short line), and I will be swimming in to the shoreline on the left - so basically straight across. Pretty far huh? I'm also setting myself a personal target of finishing it in under an hour, so the pressure really is on! Whilst I'm never gong to lose my competitive streak, the breakwater swim is in aid of The Chesnut Appeal who run this event and many other sporting events like this in the South West to raise lots of money for prostate cancer. So it's a great opportunity to give to such a good cause, and to also achieve something for myself at the same time!
Whilst I've been a competitive swimmer for most of my life, the sea has been one territory that I have always been too scared to venture in for more than a paddle - the sea truly does terrify me. It's a mixture of fearing the unknown, the thought of what's beneath me, and undoubtedly from watching too many shark films! The sea opens you up to all of the elements, and it's the unpredictability that scares me, as even the strongest swimmer can't compete with the power that the sea can hold over you. It's a massive understatement that it will be a huge difference from the tame environment of a chlorinated swimming pool and the warm poolside. Realistically I have 6 months to train for this, and as they say there's nothing to fear apart from fear itself. It's definitely a mind over matter thing, and it's going to be a pretty big thing for me to overcome.
I train in the pool a few times a week anyway doing a long distance, so my training programme is going to be more about sustaining that, and of course challenging myself to start training in the sea... Due to my stint of crossfit I've unfortunately been laid up with a shoulder injury since the start of the year now, it's so frustrating when you finally start getting into a good routine and an injury strikes. Shoulders are the integral driving force when you're swimming so I'm trying to take it easy at the moment and I'm still undergoing physio, so I will hopefully be back to proper training in a couple of weeks time!
Because this is going to be such a huge challenge for myself I've decided to document this through an open water swimming series, my way of showing people what open water swimming is really like, and as something for myself to look back over, and hopefully to see how far I have come! I'm also part of a Devon wild swimming group on Facebook which is a pool full of information and motivation about open water swimming, some of these hardy swimmers have been braving the sea all winter, even during the height of the storms! Whilst I definitely won't be going in the sea until the weather starts heading in the right direction, I will be updating my series monthly starting with training updates, the trials and tribulations of open water swimming, all leading up to the event. I hope you'll all stick around and join me on this terrifying journey. I'm filled with trepidation, fear and dread, but who knows, I might actually enjoy it?
Have you tried open water swimming before?