Sunday, June 19, 2016

Open Water Swimming Series: Training Update

It feels like it was months ago that I first posted about the Breakwater swim that I'm taking part in in August. Fast forward to June and its now just over 2 months until the event, now that really is a scary thought. The 2.2 mile across the Plymouth sound is slowly looming, the good news is I've come a long way since the start of the year and have already done a few sessions in the sea to get a feel for it. Contrary to what it comes across like on social media, as expected it has not been easy. When your first thought when you enter the sea for the first time is 'what have I let myself in for' you can imagine how tough this challenge has been for myself so far, both physically and mentally. Underneath the surface my life really isn't all pretty outfits, lush baths and delicious food, there's really nothing glamorous about wild swimming, but it's an escape from reality that I find so compelling about it. Despite the hurdles I've faced so far, I'm taking baby steps and seeing progression each week, so do you know what? I think I'll be okay. 
I literally couldn't have made the initial plunge without finding the Devon Wild Swimmers group on Facebook. They meet every Thursday night at 6pm in Plymouth (as well as many other days/times to suit), which is ideal for me, but it does means I spend my whole Thursday at work feeling sick with nerves. Wild swimming is something I have never tried before because it fills me with so many fears (polluted water, SHARKS, the cold to name a few), but the group are SO friendly and some of these wild swimmers have swum the channel, ice lakes and the like so they come armed with a lot of information that made my first step into wild swimming an easy one. I was so numb with cold the first time that I did a sea swim (without a wet suit might I add, I know, what was I thinking?) that I didn't have a chance to think about anything else, and I also didn't give myself a chance to try front crawl because I was too scared to put my head in the water. The thought that I'd have to do the whole 2.2 miles swim as breastroke filled me with horror, luckily I've persisted and have tried a bit more each week.
Wearing a wetsuit has dramatically improved my time in the sea, as I literally don't feel the cold anymore, and I don't feel so exposed to the elements and whatever else is lurking in the sea (*gulps*). Although, I still need to invest in a swimming wetsuit as it feels like resistance training in my current surfing wetsuit! I've been doing one sea swim a week, with a couple of long pool swims each week too. Whilst having to juggle this with work, blogging and a life, it's really not been easy. But the end goal is in sight, and the thought of how I'm going to feel after the swim is keeping me going. Although I can't say I love it just yet, there is something about wild swimming that fills me with excitement, and there's never a time I don't feel proud when I get out.
5 Things I've Learnt from Wild Swimming so far:

#1. Training in the pool does NOT prepare you for swimming in the sea.
#2. The sea is cold, really cold!
#3. If you don't get changed within 10 minutes of getting out of the sea you're heading for dangerous territory (hypothermia!)
#4. You can feel sea sick from swimming in the sea (urgh)
#5. Wild swimming isn't actually that bad.

Like I always say to myself, what's the worst thing that could actually happen when I'm swimming in the sea? The most important thing for me over the next 2 months is to gain more confidence in the sea and keep my mind from wandering off from the task ahead. I'll probably do one more training update before the big event to let you all know how I'm getting on. Like I mentioned in my initial post, the Breakwater Swim is a charity event to help raise money for the Chestnut Appeal which supports men with prostate cancer, it's a great cause and any donations would be greatly appreciated. If you'd like to donate to this great cause you can find my Just Giving page here

Would you want to try wild swimming? Are you a wild swimmer? Are you training for any challenges at the moment?

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