Wednesday 6 September 2023

One day one photo - 6: Swimming training

I was really glad to be able to to get an evening swimming slot at Crystal Palace Sports Centre on the hottest day of the year! Swimming is an activity I have done for many years, though it's something that I have tended to not talk about much or pay much attention to as a sport in the same way I do with cycling or running. While I will watch professional cycle races or running races, and discuss it with fellow fans, I never do the same with swimming. It's just been something that I get on with quietly in an unassuming way.

It's been more of a Cinderella activity for me. When I do triathlons, swimming is my weakest discipline, and is more like something to just get through before I do the "proper" sport of riding my bike and running. I have still stuck with swimming over the years though, because it is great for soothing sore legs after hard exercise - be it running, cycling. I even like to do it when I go skiing as it certainly helps my knees after a day on the pistes.

So it has tended to be a sport I did for functional reasons and I am sure it has benefited me. In more recent times I have come to really appreciate what swimming does for me. Not only are there the musculoskeletal benefits, but it's also an activity I can do for relaxation. Being in the water can help lower blood pressure too. 

With the significant growth in open water swimming I have found myself visiting lots of venues around the London area - Beckenham Place Park, Middle Dock at Canary Wharf, Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, Divers Cove, Royal Victoria Docks. I also enjoy visiting the lidos at Brockwell Park, London Fields, and Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath. I also like to do open water swimming whenever I travel out of town. Recently I swam in Loch Lomond and on Portobello Beach while on a visit to Scotland. I also swam in the Bassin de la Villette, and the Ourcq Canal when I visited Paris

According to the Strava app, for the first time ever, my stats showed that I spent more time swimming than cycling or running during the month of August. 

All this waterbaby activity has led me to actually work on my technique and do some proper training. I haven't joined a swimming club, but I have bought a few training aids which I use to incorporate drills when I swim at my local pool at Crystal Palace. The kickboard and the flippers have been great for improving my leg technique, the hand paddles have helped improve my arm pull through the water and strengthen my pectoral muscles, while the pull buoy is a nice swimming aid to put my legs in the best position in the water.

I definitely feel that my swimming has improved. I am not necessarily swimming much faster, but I find that for the same speed I don't feel as tired as I used to, and I feel a lot more relaxed during a race. Who knows, this may be the beginning of me channelling my inner Michael Phelps!  

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