Something I've got into over the past year and a half is long swimming. Well, actually the second event I did was described as a "Long swim" but that was a mere 3.8k. What I mean is swims of 10k (and plus), popularised since their introduction into the Olympics in 2008 and Britain's poster-girl Keri-Anne Payne who is currently favourite to win in a week or so's time in London. In 2011 I completed my first 10k swim in a very long 3h32 minutes (it felt like a long time that I was swimming for), and back in May I absolutely smashed that time with a 2:46 finish on the same distance.
Last year I saw a 14k swim advertised, and hot on the heels of my first 10k completion I wondered about taking part. But it clashed with my wedding. #priorities. But on a miserable day back in March I think, I saw it advertised again and decided to enter to cheer myself up. It's the "Bridge to Bridge Swim" from Henley to Marlow, so a river swim, hopefully aided a little bit by the current! With this year's 10k in the bag I was on track with my training, but shorter distance events in June and July changed my focus and it's only in the last couple of weeks that I've started focussing on longer endurance swims again.
Anyway, with three weeks to go, it was time to tank out a double session weekend. My pool of choice is currently Uxbridge lido for a number of reasons. It's unheated, so that means that it's less busy, and I can train in my wetsuit which is what I'll be wearing for the event. It's 50m so twice as few turns as a 25m pool. It's outside so I can get attractive tan lines based on my swimming hat and wetsuit legs (hmm). As it's a pool it's open at more sociable times than a lake, and it's chlorinated so I'm less likely to get ill from it. Oh and it has a cafe for a cup of tea afterwards. All good reasons why I'm prepared to drive 44 miles for a swim; the swimming venues in Oxford just don't compare (too short, too hot, too busy, too dirty).
So I drove down to Uxbridge on Saturday morning, aiming to do 7k or 8k, getting the majority of the swim under my belt. I read that Channel swimmers do double sessions so I hoped that applying this technique would help me too. I swam right through to 6k before having a quick 45s breather, doing another k, similar breather and then final k. I was super pleased with my times which were really consistent (16.26; 16.35; 16.45; 16.46; 16.32; 16.27; 16.40; 16.31) and not too slow, obviously wearing the wetsuit helps!
After a rest on Saturday afternoon and a good dinner, it was back to the lido on Sunday morning for some more swimming. 5k this time as Mr W had driven me and I didn't want to keep him waiting. Apart from a frustrating heavy rain storm where I was forced to exit the pool for 5 minutes in the middle of my 4th kilometre (lifeguards couldn't see the bottom of the pool), again I managed to tank out some consistent times (16.24; 16.38; 16.38; 16.39; 16.32), on average faster than the day before even though I was tired and my shoulders were sore.
Very pleased with myself; too bad that this double session seems to have wiped me out for the rest of the week!