Monday, 21 March 2016

Event Review : Swimathon 2016

Spoiler alert.... I did it! I completed my 2.5km Swimathon for Sport Relief, all with front crawl, and if you don't mind I'm going to feel rather pleased with myself for a moment. January 2015 I could barely string six lengths of front crawl together and I certainly never thought I'd be able to tackle 100!

I'd signed up to to Swimathon as part of the Get Berkshire Active virtual Sport Relief / This Girl Can Team and enjoyed swapping training notes with Vicki and encouraging my other team mates in there disciplines. I was impressed with the pre-event organisation compared to the previous year. I received a pack through the post with information of what to expect in general and plenty of fundraising material. I'd chosen Bracknell Leisure Centre as my pool this year, having heard good things about it the previous year and having been rather unimpressed with the organisation at Carnival Pool. In the weeks leading up to the event I received an email from the pool asking me for some extra information about my pace, expected finishing time and whether I needed a lap counter, so that they could best plan the day to prevent over crowding. Then in the week beforehand I was emailed again to ask if I could start at 2pm rather than 12noon... not really! Neither was I sure that I could manage the 11am time but to their credit they were very accommodating and I promised I would arrive as early as I could.

I hadn't been feeling great in the lead up to the event, suddenly coming down with something that left me both congested and with a streaming nose around Thursday, but I took myself to Clubbercise on Friday evening instead of TVT swim training, had an early night and liberally sprinkled olbas oil around and about. I skipped running parkrun on Saturday morning in favour of marshalling, so was about as fresh as I could be. It was a landmark run for a few friends so there was cake and I did partake of some particularly sugary cheesecake which left me with the biggest sugar high I'd had in ages.
Pre-swim cheesecake... probably not the *best* choice.

On arrival I made my way to the changing rooms and was greeted by a very cheery girl who signed me on, checked if I needed a lap counter and gave me a swim cap. I was poolside by around 11:15am, shaking hands with Kathy, the organiser, and being introduced to me lap counter. There were six lanes of swimmers, a water/squash station and tables full of water bottles and medals, all labelled up  for finishers. Somewhat different to last year! I waited for the chap in my lane to finish his PB attempt and then set off. 
Getting ready to go poolside
I had the lane to myself for a while which helped me to set a good steady pace for the first 20 or 30 lengths. There were only ever three of us in my lane at any one time, and we were quite well matched for speed so I never felt rushed or frustrated with pace. The first half went fairly quickly, helped by the pop music coming over the speakers. At 50 lengths I stopped for a quick drink and a pause then ploughed on. 60, 72, 86 lengths... I was getting closer and my arms felt fine. I wasn't getting bored like I used to in training, probably because I was just getting on with things. I misheard my lap counter at one point and thought I had just ten lengths to go but it was more like 16... I'd sped up and was deflated when I realised I had more to do. But I got there, in 1:04:59! I could have swum quicker, I'm sure of it, but that was never the challenge for me, the distance was enough and I was so happy to have managed my challenge.
I thanked my lap counter profusely, shook hands with Kathy and thanked her again, collected my water bottle and medal and hit the showers.. The little handwritten tags on the bottle was a really sweet touch, and it was these little touches that made all the difference to the whole experience. Unfortunately I didn't see Vicki for her 5k swim(!) but I'm looking forward to hearing about it when I see her next. People were still arriving as I left, being greeted just as cheerily, and I was home in time for a (big & healthy) late lunch.
I had a great time at Swimathon this year and would recommend it as an event to anyone. There's a distance for all, no matter what your ability (there are team options) and it was only £12 to enter so very affordable too.

I want to thank Kirsty at Get Berkshire Active, Kathy at Bracknell Leisure centre and all the volunteers who helped to put the event on and made the day run so smoothly. And I'd like to congratulate everyone who completed a Sport Relief event at the weekend, whether it was a run, walk, cycle or swim, whatever the distance. You've challenged yourself and helped to raise money for a good cause. Please be suitably proud of yourself and stay active!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, well done! The lane was so crowded for my swim, so it's great that you had plenty of space in your lane. Cheesecake looks good!