People sometimes comment that I must be super fit given all the swimming I do. Hmm, I often say, you must be assuming all that time I spend around cold water is spent actually swimming.
Winter swimming is cold. You really can’t spend that long in the water. Even with many, many layers of neoprene we don’t last more than 20 minutes before the hand and feet pain puts a stop to any more adventurous plans.
So, if we’re not swimming loads when we go outside what are we actually doing with that time?
Talk to most open water swimmers and they’ll talk about the “faff”. That bit of extra time that needs to be spent both pre and post swim fiddling with kit, making sure you’ve got everything, making sure everyone else is OK. It can be a lengthy process. The Short One and I are no different and, for me, it’s an important part of any swim.
On Saturday I started the Swim England Level 2 Open Water Swimming Coaching course. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and, if I’m perfectly honest was the big reason I trained as a swimming teacher originally.
As part of the assessment process I have to provide a series of very detailed session plans. These include what happens in the session as well as a few other useful bits of info. We’ve been given a pro-forma to complete.
However, the session plan pro-formas are based on what you would use in a pool environment and suggest you would spend your entire one hour swim session in the water. For a novice open water swimmer I probably wouldn’t expect them to spend the whole hour in the water, even in summer they might get a bit tired and cold for a whole hour. There’d be other stuff I’d do with a complete novice around the swimmy bit to get them ready and learn how to deal with open water. So, in order to accommodate this I’m going to have to shoe-horn such a session into the format we’ve been given.
I need to practice doing just that so I figured I’d try and manipulate The Short One and I’s pretty typical swim this morning into it. We “swam” for an hour but how much swimming actually occurred in that hour? Below is a summary. Apologies for the format!
|Name of Venue:||Reser||Swim Area:||Big, it’s a reservoir|
|Start Time:||06:00 (maybe more like 10 past)||End Time:||07:00|
|Depth:||Deep||Water Temperature:||Cold enough to make stuff go numb|
|Kit required:||Wetsuit, gloves, socks, crocs, gimp mask, goggles, ear plugs, nose clip, hot drink, dryrobe, post swim gloves, hat, car keys, thermometer, any other crap that happens to be in the pocket of dryrobe
|Improve general mental wellbeing|
Get smacked in the face by waves
Lose all feeling in hands
Swim about 400m without drowning/getting hypothermia
|Entry & Acclimatisation||5-15 depending on lateness of participants||
As you can see we faff………..a lot. Our swims are the only chance The Short One and I get to catch up and they’re as much about that as the actual swimming itself. We could just go for a coffee but there’s something rather freeing about chatting in a car at dawn that puts me more at ease than sitting in a cafe where other people can overhear and judge.
As the water warms up we’ll want to swim a bit further so we’ll have to put paid to this amount of faffing. I’m looking forward to longer swims but I’m going to miss our early morning catch ups and the Short One’s heated seats. Of course, we could just set the alarms a bit earlier!