Friday, 31 January 2014

I will swim a mile

Tomorrow a real milestone on my swimming adventure. I will swim my first mile in a competition. This is called the Mountain Mill Mile.

On Wednesday I wanted to know how far I can swim in 30 minutes. I swam 4 times around the dam in 33 minutes. That is about 1400 m depending on how close to dam walls I swam. So I expect to swim the mile in 38 minutes or less.

I swam with the tempo trainer yesterday swimming 150 m at a setting. I started at 1.15 and went down to 1.11. I am still focused on my style of swimming, making sure that I rotate sufficiently, not pulling with my hands but rather trying to hold the water. I do however want to stroke a bit faster without losing the correct technique. This is what competitive swimming do to one. Your attention are shifting to the time it took to swim.

I try to keep a balance between swimming faster but still stay efficient. What is most important is that I enjoy every swim session and get out wishing to keep on swimming.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Second Competition

My second competition at Eikenhof dam was a glorious day. We could not ask for a lovelier day and all the families enjoyed the day next to the beautiful dam. My brother from Canada swam the 1 km and we finished together in 22 minutes 26 seconds. He swam without practicing. Another young woman(who did not practice and decide at the swim to take part) who also swam the 1 km did it in 18 minutes. I want to be jealous of them to swim so well without hours of practice but when I thought about how much I enjoyed my swimming practice- I actually feel sorry for them for what they missed out on.
My Brother and Brother in Law and the rest of my "team" resting under the trees
The dam is in a beautiful location. The life savers were on duty and it is really comforting to have them nearby. The water was clear and when I got into rythm again (after sighting that broke this) I was seeing how the bottom was "fleeing" below me. It is still difficult for me to swim straight and I had difficulty with sighting. I need to practice this in the next week.

When I look back over the year since I started swimming regularly I can see and are amazed about the progress I made. When I start I could barely completed 40 lengths (1 km) in 40 minutes. At the end of the summer in April 2013, I could swim 60 lengths in 40 minutes. Middle December 2013 I could complete 100 lengths (2,5 km) in just over and hour.

More pictures of the beautiful dam and festive atmosphere at the Open water swim at Eikenhof dam

On Saturday 1 February I will swim my first mile in a competition. After the mile I hope to swim in a 3 km race before the Open water swimming season end. Then it will be over to swimming in the cold see water, if I can manage that.

Friday, 17 January 2014

My Audience

I swim for an audience. They do not cheer me along the way although some times it does sound like that. When I get ready for my swim, my swim companions take to the water and make sure that I know it is actually there dam and not mine.
It is not only the wild geese that claim the dam but whenever I turn my head to breath the birds are also staring

My audience is very disciplined and none of them scratch in my bag. They do keep their eyes on me to make sure I don't do anything I should not.

When I get out they stand nearby making sure I am not taking one of there little ones with me.
The only companions at the dam that do not like me is the insects. I am full of sting or bite marks that itch a lot. Everyday I can count on a new sting.

Then I leave and the dam is theirs to enjoy further.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Peace of Mind

One of the reasons I have enjoyed swimming since I started last year, was the mindfulness I experienced. I focus on my technique, concentrating every stroke on the execution of it. This brought me a peace of mind and feeling one with the water. After every training session I felt sorry I had to get out of the pool- Life was waiting and not always something I looked forward too. Swimming was like a safe place for me.

Then I lost it. In the last couple of weeks I was so focused on trying to swim faster. Yes I was still concentrating not to loose the proper technique but the tempo trainer was chasing me, my disappointment in the times I swim fluctuate between happiness of getting my time for 50 m from 60 seconds to 50 seconds (on the pace clock- yes I have learned to read it, just). (I know it is still very slow) My new hydro tracker (which give me a lot of problems) though, show that my time over the distance around the dam is on average 70 seconds per 50 m.

Then I read Lone swimmers' blog this morning. His very reassuring advice made me think. Last year when I started swimming it was a milestone when I could swim 20 laps of 25 meter  (still, when I first went to swim in a 50 m pool I could barely swim 2 lengths). Later it was a victory to complete 40 lengths (25 meter) in 40 minutes. At the end of the season I could swim 50 lengths in 40 minutes and now I can swim 100 lengths in an hour rest times included.

When I read Coach Emmett Hines

Be Part of Your Personal Coaching Team

I realised that if I kept my training diary as my intention was- it is in my swimming bag but I never wrote in it, I would have realised what was busy happening. I was throwing my own peace away by being frustrated by the lack of instant results. I looked back and saw I have already made a lot of progress. When I read about other swimmers who swam 6 km in an hour it feel like it will forever be impossible for me- and it will, lets face it I am 56 but it does not mean I will never improve.

At the moment I feel that I am already swimming to fast for me to "enjoy" it. I realise I will not become fitter and better if I don't do interval training. I must stretch myself and accept that every swim cannot be a relaxing stroll around the dam. Even so it is not necessary to destroy my peace and the enjoyment I have experienced with my swimming.

I am claiming my joy back. Tomorrow I will swim with the purpose to make every stroke as good as I can without rushing it but neither be leisurely. I will strive to find a balance between swimming effortlessly and stroking at a moderate pace. I will write about my swim afterwards so that I can read it the next day. If I have done that I would have seen how my "competitiveness" was leading me to an unhappy place destroying the enjoyment I got from my swimming.

(Coach Emmett Hines has a lot of good advice in this article and other articles on his website. I have ordered his book Fitness swimming. It seems this is the book that I need now. )