Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

I have been a keen swimmer for most of my life – although my mum does like to tell me tales of how it was difficult to get me in the water as a really young child. At some point, longer ago than I can remember, I must have decided that I did like to be in the water after all…

Through primary school I had weekly (term time) swimming lessons, although I’m not sure I ever got further than my 100m badge. Possibly I made it to 200m? 400m? (I wonder if those badges and swimming certificates are still around at my parents’ house…) Although I stopped those lessons when I reached a certain level, I still used to go swimming for fun with friends sometimes – most notably after violin classes on a Saturday morning. Violin I did not keep up, but swimming I did.

In my second year of university, after only swimming sporadically in the first year, I had an annual membership to use a hotel’s gym and pool facilities. I only used the gym a handful of times but often I would swim maybe 3 or 4 times a week. The hotel was less than five minutes walk from where I lived so that helped – and being a student, apparently, meant lots of free time! Unfortunately the pool was tiny – only 12 metres in length, at the longest point (it wasn’t rectangular either) – so I’m not sure how much distance I actually covered.

PHOTO: Alice Douglas-Deane, fellow graphic designer and sea swimmer. (I’m second from the left.)

Then there was sea swimming. I didn’t start properly swimming in the sea until the end of second year – when I presumed the water to have warmed up a bit. By third year, I was an avid sea swimmer. I swam every Sunday without hesitation as part of the CSM Sea Swimming Club. But it was more of a social thing and an invigorating ‘makes you feel good about yourself for running into the freezing cold water on a Sunday lunchtime like a crazy person’ kind of thing. I’m going back to Falmouth in just over a week (I can’t wait!) and I’m planning on fitting in at least one dip in the sea. My body will need to do some serious re-acclimatising to the cold.

Before I moved from Milton Keynes, I used to swim at Middleton Pool in Newport Pagnell. It was conveniently on my way home from work and I used to try to go once a week – although more often than not, that didn’t work out. That’s when I started using an app on my iPhone called Splash Path so that I could keep track of how much I was swimming each time (yes, I count lengths as I swim) and try to consistently improve.

It’s only now that I’ve moved to Bedford, properly signed up for a gym/swimming pool (Robinson Pool – also 33.3m in length, like Middleton, which is handy) and have been going consistently once or twice a week, that I am starting to really appreciate being able to visualise my swims. It’s encouraging to see my swim streak weeks figure going up, as well as my general distance improving. I started swimming in Bedford doing a measly 20 lengths, or 666m, but now…

My swim this evening – 40 lengths of 33m.

Splash Path – now known as Speedo Fit (I assume because Speedo give them funding to make the app) but I still think of it as Splash Path anyway – at its most basic level gives you the function to record how many lengths you swim at a certain pool, at a certain time and therefore how far that is. But it does other things too:
  • Set your goals, track your swims and keep motivated with virtual swim challenges.

  • Track every swim, monitor your progress and personal statistics.
  • Keep motivated by setting yourself a virtual challenge like Escape from Alcatraz.
  • Join the swimming community – share and compare your progress with friends or swimmers at your local pool.
  • Find pools wherever you are with the UK’s most comprehensive source of local swimming pools (including Ireland).
  • Check pool opening hours, swim timetables.

I’m currently ‘swimming’ across the Irish sea. It is a long way but I have completed all the short challenges.

Hopefully I’ll be upping my days swim streak from 1 to 2 tomorrow, by going two days in a row. I usually tend to go Mondays and Thursday but the bank holiday threw me off this week. Plus I didn’t go until Sunday last week (my one and only swim of the week, but it was a good one) due to not wanting my freshly henna’d hair to turn the pool water green prior to that.

You can get Speedo Fit from the Apple app store here, for free.

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