Training Blog: To Great Lengths (Part 2)

So, given my clear lack of prowess in the world of open water swimming, why am I embarking upon this adventure?  Well, mostly it’s because I have the opportunity to take part and I like a challenge. As previously alluded to I’ve harboured dreams of being able to swim properly for years and there’s nothing like a mile in open water to sharpen one’s resolve and motivation. I also run a lot and I’m hoping that swimming properly will not only give my legs a break, but will improve my core strength and cardiovascular fitness, which in turn will benefit my running.
There’s more to it than that though. The thought of swimming a mile in a swimming pool doesn’t really do that much for me; it’s the open water aspect that appeals. No chlorine, no lanes, no hair tumbleweed populated with plasters and scabs. There’s something very instinctive about taking to the open water and engaging with the elements. Plus it sounds like fun.
I’m pretty sure I’ll never be one of those hardened souls who heads out for the shores of France armed with a tub of Vaseline and a lot of ambition, but a mile in the carefully controlled environment of a Great Swim? Bring it on!
If I’m going to get anywhere with my front crawl it’s clear I’m going to need a bit of expert tuition. At the moment I can probably manage half the length of a pool doing something that vaguely resembles front crawl. The problem is it also resembles other things, including someone drowning. I’m incredibly dense, I sink with astounding ease. As soon as I’ve run out of my first lungful of air my legs start to plummet to the bottom, dragging the rest of me down just as I try and take a gulp of air. It’s not cool, not attractive and it seems to perturb the lifeguards somewhat.
Google "swimming instructors" and you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of choice, there’s a LOT of teachers out there. I’m led to understand that swimming in the great outdoors requires a few extra skills that might not be covered in pool swimming technique, so to help filter my search I focused on people that also teach open water and triathlon skills.
And that’s how I ended up with Robert Dart of Premier Swim. As well as teaching open water techniques and being an open water swimmer himself, Rob also teaches at a very nice private spa close to my house. I figure that if the spirit is weak, the thought of an après-swim sauna will be the carrot that I’ll need. So, with a course of five one-to-one sessions booked, I’m ready to start the adventure.


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