I loved being a part of a swimming club when I was younger. I swam for Connah's Quay Swimming Club from around 7 to 14 years of age and enjoyed every second of it. I loved going to galas, the coach journey, feeling part of a team and the poolside banter (not that the word banter had been "invented" yet) so much that even though I was completely football mad, on the rare occasions that a swimming gala clashed with a football match - I chose swimming every time!
As I mentioned above: I stopped swimming competitively at around 14. Which is more than 14 years and therefore more than half my life ago - scary! But maybe it's time that I started again? Not so I can relive my youth and travel to galas by coach and enjoy the poolside banter. Here's the thing.
In training for my big swim, I am currently swimming 4 or 5 times a week. I swim 128 lengths of a 25m pool as often as possible, with 72 and 100 length plans for when my time in the pool is limited for some reason. But it just isn't enough at this stage. It's a reasonable amount in terms of volume but I need to get out of the pool feeling exhausted and at the moment I'm just not doing that.
Why? It's currently too easy to plod along - not that that's really a fair way to describe my swimming - because I have no one to push me. I time myself to try and give myself motivation. Currently while swimming 8 lengths front-crawl (with kick buoy) for example I aim to swim each set in under 3mins. This works as motivation to a certain extent. However, what I find is that if somebody swims up against me in the lane next to me - determined to keep up with me or beat me in a one length sprint - I always and quite easily find another gear to make sure that I beat them to the wall. It's exactly the same as finding a little bit of extra energy to over take someone in my lane or while trying to keep ahead of fast swimmers coming up behind me in the lane. I can always find that little bit of extra energy required.
I'm also not completely exhausted when I get out. Which I think I should be after a good swim? What these two things show me is that I can work harder and I know that if I am to complete this swim and complete it well, then I need to up my game a little. I can do that in one of two ways. I either need a swimming partner of similar or slightly better ability to train with or I need to join a club where I will be surrounded by fast swimmers, giving me the motivation to swim fast in order to keep up with them. Pride is a good tool in these situations!
So all I need now is to find a local - affordable - swimming club. There is also the "small" matter of making sure that I force myself to go to the training sessions because the thing about the swimming that I'm already doing on my own is that although I could be training harder because I work as a lifeguard: I swim for free and I am already at the pool 4 or 5 times a week and can therefore swim before or after a shift. If I start swimming at a club, I will have to purposely leave my house and travel to - although I love swimming - essentially punish myself. If only there was a club at the swimming pool I work at!