I arrived at Letterkenny Aura Leisure Complex recently after a two week break thinking I would ease back into my lessons with a couple of simple lengths of the pool. I was in for a rude awakening.
Gavin, my coach, asked me to ‘do a couple of quick laps before we start’. I looked at him with an expression of unease on my face thinking ‘before we start what?’.
And because I have no filter and usually say exactly what I am thinking I said ‘before we start what?’, to which he replied; ‘Your challenge of course’.
Oh yes of course, how silly of me for not realising!
Once I was warmed up I got ready to do the first of my 60 lengths. The challenge was to do 60 without stopping.
We didn’t set a time limit but I was hoping to keep a steady pace throughout. I have learned so much about swimming thanks to Gavin and have grown to appreciate the complexity of the sport.
I rather naively thought swimming was just about keeping your head above the water and moving your arms in such a way that you moved forward eventually.
I now know there is so much more to it. Where once I would have simply plunged my arms into the water without a second thought I now control my arms to do a specific movement which pushes you through the water more quickly.
The downside to knowing more about swimming is that your head is full of information that you must remember.
I believe each swimmer reaches a point where they no longer think about how they move in the water, similar to driving, you eventually just ‘know’. I was not at that point.
To continue with the driving analogy, my swimming skills could be compared to someone on their 4th or 5th driving lesson.
They are out of the danger zone where they could plough into a building but they are still more than capable of stalling on a roundabout, or on the hill beside the courthouse (or the hill beside the Tin Tai.
Hey, we have all been there). So to sum up, my swimming skills are minimal but they are improving.
Getting Down to Business
I took a deep breath, looked straight ahead and kicked off from the wall and into the first of 60 lengths.
I tried not to think too much about how many lengths were ahead and instead concentrated on the music pumping out over the speakers.
There was an aerobics class happening two lanes over so the noise was enough to distract me as I got through the first third.
I decided to break the challenge into three mini challenges each consisting of 20 lap sets to make it more manageable.
Once I crossed into the 21st lap I relaxed a little knowing I had one down. I felt myself slow down a little during the second round of laps.
I wasn’t tired or out of breath which was surprising, I simply could not swim faster, it was like I was stuck on autopilot.
I ploughed through and reached the final leg where I got my second wind as they call it. Gavin began the lap countdown when we had 14 to go.
Unfortunately for me my leg started cramping around that time. I couldn’t use it properly so it basically did nothing while the rest of body did all the work.
Nothing new there then.That leg is a real slacker.
Without pre-planning, I found myself thinking about my world record attempt during the last few laps.
I visualised the track and the guys shouting encouragement and I couldn’t believe how much it helped.
The swim challenge is the first repetitive activity I have done since the 5k so I guess it would make sense for it to pop into my mind.
I am happy to have that as a motivator and I know I will continue to use it for other upcoming challenges.
I completed my 0-60 swim in 43 minutes which I have been told is a respectable time.
I know it may seem slow to many a seasoned swimmer but I think for an amateur it’s not too shabby.
I would like to thank Janice and Louise from Aura Leisure Complex for their help over the past few weeks.
A special thanks goes to my coach Gavin Doran. He really is an excellent teacher and I would recommend him highly.