Swimathon success

ELLE completes the Sport Relief Swimathon

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So… I did it. After 10 weeks of getting up at the crack of dawn to train for an hour – sometimes two – before work, it was the big day: the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon.

 
I was excited, but I was also nervous. I’d never taken part in a sporting event before, so I had no idea what to expect come race day.
 
Well, turning up at the right time would have been a bonus. As a production editor, deadlines are my thing, so I should have at least thought to double-check the start time. I was convinced it kicked off at 3.30pm, and rocked up to my local lido at 3.05pm, envisaging myself sitting nervously at the edge of the pool waiting for the start gun. What actually happened was a mad dash to rip off my clothes and dive in. Not ideal race conditions in anyone’s book.
 
For the next 20 lengths (I had to do a total of 100 in a 50m pool) I thrashed up and down my lane, manically overtaking those slower than me and panicking to make up the time. The result? I swam my fastest ever kilometre, in just over 15 mins. But I knew that swimming at such a pace would only tire me out quickly, and that I needed to calm down.
 
I established a steady pace and got into a rhythm. I can honestly say I have no idea what I was thinking about during those 86-and-a-half minutes, only that I had to keep swimming. It was a hypnotic, meditative state.
 
I didn’t even feel the pain in my arms until lap 90. I’d done so much training – and carb loading the day before – that they just held steady. I didn’t even feel anything when I got out of the pool. I downed a protein shake, had a shower and, later, went out for dinner with my friends.
 
Yes, I was pleased I made my time, and delighted that I raised loads for charity (£500 and counting – you can sponsor me here), but I think because I knew I’d done all the training and really committed to it, I expected, deep down, to do well. I’d envisaged myself getting the time I wanted beforehand, and achieved it.
 
So what have I learned from all my swimming. Well, in a nutshell:
 
1. I definitely don’t want to stop
2. That my body suits long distance, endurance sports
3. Swimming lots gives you mega buff arms (I can now do one – yes, one – chin-up)
4. You can eat whatever you want when you’re burning 1,000-plus calories a session (win)
5. That you can achieve anything you put your mind to
 
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a swimming club I can join. And you should too.