Thursday, 18 August 2011


Back last November I started going to the swimming pool on doctor orders, as a way to manage the pain I've been getting from a repetitive strain injury in my right hand. The doctor was adamant that it would help: he's suggested it to scores of violinist and concert pianists, he said, and sure enough it worked for me too. Just to show how a little bit of exercise, here and there, not very arduous, can be both pleasurable and positive for your health.

I found swimming nice and relaxing, perhaps too relaxing. I was struggling to make my sessions in the water anything more than a wind-down after work, with a lengthy session in the sauna added on for good measure. Then one evening in March, I accidentally stumbled on the local Triathlon club swimming session. The pool was meant to be closed for non-members, but the club encouraged me to stay and try it out. And, oh my God, it was hard work!! A sea-change from my usually sedated gentle soaks.

Ever since then I've been going to their Monday night swimming sessions. I also joined the Triathlon Club with the view of doing an Olympic distance Triathlon in due time as part of my challenge. As with all the sports, I've soon found out that a lot of training is going to be needed to get me there!

To get up to speed with the rest of the (very athletic) club-members, I needed to improve my stamina and tempo, and a tool I've found very useful is a webpage set up by British Swimming in partnership with British Gas as part of the Big Splash initiative. It's called Swimfit, developed by swimming experts at the ASA, it's a FREE online and pool-side club that provides a gym style work-out programme for the pool. You get 32 expertly crafted pool sessions heaped with loads of extra tips and advice, geared at your level of swimming.

There are different levels catering for a wide range of expertise and motivation, from the casual swimmer to the competitive athlete. The website provides:
  • Free online coaching tools
  • Tailored swim training programmes
  • Plenty of support and advice
  • A series of distance challenges to set your goals and provide motivation
  • A personalised dashboard to track your effort
Once you sign up, you have to option to log your sessions, and I find this to be a great motivator. You can chose a distance challenge, like for instance "swim the length of the Thames" (wopping 215 miles) and keep track of your progress on a map. Here is how I am faring after 2 of the 32 sessions:

A long way to go, it seems...

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