Posted on: 23 Aug 2019

Friday 9th August – Breakthrough!

There is an inherent problem with an after 4 pm starts to my training. Having breakfast at 07:00 each morning, I don’t normally eat anything else until the evening 12 hours later when Galia arrived back from work just after 19:00. This means that it would have been 9 hours without food, not ideal for long training sessions I know.

Previously when I started training in spring the 10:00 am start in the pool was ideal, some three hours after a muesli breakfast. The Serpentine event will replicate this timetable of eating three hours before the swim. Couldn’t ask for better timing on the day. So, what do I do in the meantime to evade hunger pangs and running out of energy late afternoon? Simple, nothing!

Why? Well, I want to lose weight as the wetsuit if I have to wear it would be easier to put on and not strangle me with the tightness. Besides which, I want to get rid of a little stomach anyway which I am working on with a little gym work on the side. This is also to get my core muscles stronger and reduce potential fatigue in the swim. This is where I use core muscles are to swivel my midriff making it more ecumenical on the energy needed with my arms. So, as you were….

One length breaststroke, two lengths front crawl and repeat throughout the session. This was the plan today. As you might have gathered, the idea is to get the front crawl to become a monopoly in swimming style and to be quite honest I was quite nervous building up this over the last few days. It was a restless day waiting for 16:00 to arrive, knowing that there would be stress knowing that the comfort zone of breaststroke was diminishing each session.

What all the fuss was about? As I pursued the plan it ended up ending after a swim for a period of 1 hour 5 minutes non-stop! Yes, there were occasions where I wanted breaststroke to kick in, but the freestyle was now becoming much easier due to thinking through all the tips I had read over the last six months. And yes it is still left only breathing every two strokes but that will do me for now. Relaxing, gliding with delayed strokes and working on body swivels without having to turn my heads to breath all came together on occasions. It is just a case of getting this more consistent. And I could have gone on longer.

It is now the thought of whether eventually I can get rid of the breaststroke altogether! Never thought that could happen up until now!

There is a view that the event in London is for me a once in a lifetime challenge and that the day should be enjoyed and taken in as much as possible. The atmosphere should be great with the event being one of the leading, high profile open water swims worldwide. The vision I had not so long ago was to just breaststroke the whole course which would take over three hours. The whole event would have been in my view with the breaststroke breathing patterns coming up for air every few seconds, viewing the scenes around me throughout the swim. This to me was a bonus of taking the slow track around the course and appealed. Now with the potential of freestyle being used, like most other swimmers, there will be no opportunity of the head out of the water looking around at the antic of other swimmers, crowds watching and cheering you on and landscapes and famous landmarks slowly passing by. This is the sacrifice of the faster, more efficient stroke.

For more competent swimmers using this, they may well not see anything other than muggy waters with the odd sighting for adjusting to the correct direction. But then, these are there for personal bests and the challenge of beating other competitors. The contrary applies to many others however and I’m sure many like me just want to complete the course as that is the challenge.

So, if freestyle is chosen as the main stroke there will certainly by many moments of breaks and sporadic breaststroke alternatives being used. The reason not just for a break and a breather, but to savour the atmosphere and probably communicate with other gangs of struggling swimmers towards the end. I’m sure this will be the case.

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