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Tuesday, 07 July 2015

Week 10: The Final Lap

AFTER nearly three months of training and blogging my Swimathon mission was almost at an end.

But I had one last challenge that I had not anticipated.

I had been invited to the official Swimathon launch at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, where I was to swim with the some of the country’s finest aquatic athletes,a mong them Duncan Goodhew and Keri-Anne Payne.

I was delighted to have been asked along to the launch event and while I was excited to meet the swimming stars, I was nervous about swimming in front of them.

I had visions of me struggling to complete the designated number of lengths in the 50 metre pool while they sped past me, wondering what a novice like myself was doing in a pool with them.

But it turned out to be an all-encompassing event that swimathonners of all abilities had been invited along to for the first ever Swimathon launch event.

I was placed in the celebrity team alongside the impossibly glamorous former Blue Peter presenter and Miss Northern Ireland veteran, Zoe Salmon.

Zoe and I were to swim in a team with Duncan Goodhew and two other swimmers who had been asked along for the day.

It was an exciting day with no pressure on us as swimmers and I surprised myself at how easily and quickly I completed my ten lengths of the dauntingly long 50 metre pool.

To have an Olympic Gold medallist interview me on the poolside and pat me on the back as I got out of the water to congratulate me on my swim, was like something out of a dream.

But Duncan is such a personable and approachable man that it is easy to see why, with his personality and swimming background, he has been appointed Swimathon president.

The London swim was a lot of fun and it was inspiring to hear the stories of those swimmers around me, some of whom took up the challenge to get fit, others who wanted an event they could all enter as a family from grandma to grandson and others because the charity, Marie Curie, meant something personal to them.

One man said: “Swimathon is like therapy for me. When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, there was nothing I could do; the doctors and Marie Curie nurses took care of her and they were wonderful but my role as carer and protector had been taken away from me as her dad and I needed to feel like I was doing something to help.

“Swimathon gave me that feeling back because knowing that I was putting myself through the biggest fitness challenge I had ever faced and that I was raising money to keep Marie Curie doing their wonderful work, made me feel that in some way I was contributing to my daughter’s care.”

Stories like this one, were the inspirational moments I took away with me from London and brought to the pool in Hexham as motivation for the moment when I knew my limbs would start flagging.

That moment almost never came, when on the Saturday morning I got so nervous about my swim that I was looking for any excuse I could find not to get to the pool.

Gentle coercion from my swim partner and boyfriend Ed eventually brought me round and I made it to the pool side with only slightly trembling hands.
But once you get in the water, it’s almost like all those worries are soothed away.

Excited children were desperate to have their turn in the water in the family team swims and energetic music pounded through the speakers, creating a fun, party atmosphere.

While there were some very serious swimmers there to set records and personal bests, most of us were there to have a good time and prove something to ourselves and those who had been kind enough to sponsor us.

In the end, the swim for me was much easier than I thought it would be.
I had prepared well for the event and although I didn’t swim my 60 lengths all in one go, which I would loved to have done, I was still thrilled with my time of just over 46 minutes.

I was more energised than exhausted when I got out of the pool and I fully intend to sign up for the Swimathon again next year.

I hope I’ll be able to up the challenge to 2.5 km and also improve on my time for the next swim, maybe fewer stops to chat to the kids in the neighbouring teams will knock a few seconds off.

But for now I’m off to reward myself with that massage I promised myself if I finished in one piece - challenge over, reward won!

Have your say

A belated well done! How's it going this year? I'm doing the 5km challenge. Very busy training. Plenty of swimming plus dry land exercise with classes like Body Balance (for flexibility) and Body Jam and Body Combat for a good aerobic workout. Such a great cause to swim for and it's helping me keep my 'must get fitter' new year's resolution!

Posted by Louise on 13 February 2011 at 08:54

Brilliant blog post, lots of helpful knowledge.

Posted by christmas songs lyrics on 20 January 2011 at 07:19

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