Swimming is one of the hardest disciplines to pick up, especially when coming from a non-swimming background. I learned to swim in school and knew the basics, but when I started my swim training I could not swim more than 25m at an excruciating slow pace without stopping. In effect my lack of clean technique, lack of arm strength and a complete absence of any kind of swimming endurance capacity meant a throughout suffering during any swim sessions described by my coach.
For the first month I felt constantly tired and I dreaded any swim session coming up, knowing that it would just be painful. After 6 weeks of training I did my first Triathlon Race that included a 1500m Open Water Swim. The most I had swam in training on constant basis was around 800m, yet there I was. I got round the course, and it included a panic attack and a time of around 29mins.
For the next 6 months I continued swim training that were based on 3 Sessions a week in a 25m pool. It was soul destroying at times seeing other swimmers cruising up and down the lanes making it look easy. How would I ever get that kind of endurance and speed!
The solution came through two-week swimming absence that meant that on my return, swimming felt even harder. After a poolside chat to a couple of endurance swimmers, they advised me with a simple ‘Swim more often and go longer. Strength and Endurance will come’. This resulted in me adding two to three extra swim sessions a week in the hope and belief that it must get better. Simple Logic.
Did it work? From a prior average of around 25km a month to an average of 40km a month in distance and a speed improvement of 20seconds over 100m I believe it did. This includes having swum a continuous 3.8km in the pool as well. Something I could not have imagined last year. Did it have any negative impact on my body? There were days when my arms were in pain, my shoulders were aching, and I felt like I was over-training.
To become better at something one has to do it more often. This approach does not work for everybody, but in this instant it worked for me.
Now I just need to solve my fear of open water swimming.