Swimmers will understand how tough the past 3 months have been. Of course, lockdown has brought many challenges and it has been difficult for all of us, but for those of us who not only use swimming as a main way to keep fit, but also rely on swimming to maintain their sanity, Maintaining lockdown and health No access to swimming pools has made things extremely difficult as there is no alternative at home to turn to.
I missed the water so much that I dreamed of going swimming. During the nights when I had difficulty sleeping, I imagined I was in the pool in my gym or just floating on my back in the sea.
Swimming is something physically and mentally that I consider important for my well-being. Those of you who know me will already know that swimming after my accident has played a major role in my rehabilitation and continues to play a key role in stabilizing my mood.
Although I swam wild in some places; When camping on the coast in the sea, when camping in the Lake District in a lake, I am absolutely not a wild swimmer and I do not have the confidence to tip over and jump into a river or lake, even if I have read it is safe / legal to do so.
Discover Uswim Open Water Swimming
My time out of the water became too long. A little over a week ago I googled in the open water and met Uswim, who organizes open water swimming courses here in the northwest, at Salford Quays and at Boundary Water Park in Cheshire.
The Boundary Water Park happens to be less than 15 minutes' drive from my home on a lake that I had no idea of until now. When I saw a beginner coaching session coming up, I booked it without hesitation.
The day before my morning coaching session, I ventured to the attic to get my wetsuit and stuff sacks, and gathered my changing gown, swim cap, and goggles. I was extremely excited that my body would soon remember what swimming felt like.
I arrived 15 minutes before the session started to give myself time to put my wetsuit on next to my car before heading to the place where everyone seemed to be gathering. I was struck off a list and found out where to find the rest of the workshop group.
Everyone was nice and friendly, and our instructor, a passionate and dedicated man who had swum the English Channel, spent time with us ashore and guided us through some basics, including some great engineering advice that I found very helpful.
It wasn't long before I went into the water and I was surprised by the temperature. It felt good in my wetsuit to go straight in, and I didn't feel cold at all during my time in the water.
We were directed to one side of the main course, out of the way of the more competent (and I have to be honest, a little intimidating!) Swimmers and swam out a little before swimming back into the shallows, helping us gradually build our confidence strengthen.
After a few confidence-building short swimmers, we had the opportunity to get out, swim the entire course, or swim a smaller portion of it. Most of us decided to swim in and out of the first buoy, a distance of only 400 meters and much less than after 60 lengths in the pool, but it was a completely different experience, which makes me very happy. The first time I did not trying to complete the entire course!
My funky new Uswim hat and bag!
After not swimming for more than 3 months, it felt heavy at first. I was breathing heavily and could not decide whether to keep my head under or less for the usual 3-arm moves I would do in a pool.
In the end I swam my head down for two arm strokes, but didn't find much to see with my head under a little unsettling, so I did a good bit of it with my head out of the water, which was strange!
I haven't swam with my head sticking out of the water in a few years, but swimming in the open water felt surprisingly different and challenging and I wanted to focus on tackling the mental side of what was going on in my head and what was going on all before you think too much about speed or technique.
A mental rather than a physical challenge
Halfway to the first buoy, my brain did a sabotage that I'm quite familiar with as an anxiety patient. It tried to panic me. A little voice said to me: "You will be too tired to come back, you cannot touch the floor, you cannot do that, turn around."
Fortunately, I had a bigger and more persistent voice of reason that said to me: "You can swim much further than that, you can do it easily, just slow down and concentrate, you have it!"
Warm up with a brew after swimming
I listened to the voice of reason and continued to swim, concentrating on controlling my brain and ignoring the panic that I wanted to take on, and trusting in my body's ability to continue swimming. When I came back I felt a real sense of achievement.
After the session, tightly wrapped in my robe, I took my bottle out of the car and sat next to the water for a 15-minute breather before heading home.
Swimming in open water is very different from my experience in swimming in the pool. Although I'm not sure I am a real convert, I decided to sign up as a Uswim member as soon as I got home to swim in water for next weekend and I look forward to challenging myself to swim further out.
Would you like to try it yourself?
The beginner's open water workshop I did cost £ 35, including wetsuit rentals, swimming cap, bag, and tuition. Annual membership starts at £ 10 and each swim costs from £ 6 for an hour.
Find out more about open water swimming in Uswim here.
Shell loves all things traveling and outdoors and is a nature loving, comfortable camping girl. Shell started the Camping with Style blog after a serious snowboard accident that left her with a broken back. Still, she used nature and the healing power of nature to relax, and she continues to spend time outdoors whenever she can.
From snowboarding and kayaking to mountain hikes to meditation, Shell shares her travels and micro adventures here on the blog and in various publications for which she has written, Shell has a particular interest in promoting the well-being and the many advantages of natural therapy.
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