When it comes to triathlon it’s the swimming that’s intimidating for a beginner.
Especially if, like me, you’ve never progressed beyond slow breast stroke with your face kept well out of the water.
I love swimming in the sea – provided it’s warm, sunny and clear. Think Australia, the Med, Malaysia. Swimming pools bring back horrible memories of freezing cold school lessons and nasty changing rooms with unknown substances lurking in the corners.
But I got myself down to my local pool and amazed myself by really enjoying it. However, although I could swim the 400m required for the triathlon, I was so slow it was embarrassing. And all the tri forums say that breast stroke is a definite no-no. So I decided it was time to to learn front crawl.
I definitely needed some help with this part. After various attempts to find swimming lessons (why do so many small businesses not reply to emails & phone messages?) I finally found Alistair Mills.
Meeting Alistair for the first time was scary. He’s swum nationally so what was he going to make of my puny efforts combined with limited natural ability and lack of fitness? I needn’t have worried. He was the perfect gentleman – patient and encouraging. My first attempts at front crawl were dire – I was gasping for air every few seconds and swallowed several litres of pool water. By the end of my first lesson I had just about got to grips with the arms, the legs and the breathing – unfortunately not all at the same time.
Clearly this was going to be a long term project.
Since my first lesson in January, I’ve been swimming 3 times a week with a lesson every fortnight – and I absolutely love it.
Slowly, but steadily my technique and fitness have improved. I’m not quite there yet – I can manage 200m front crawl non-stop but I’m confident that by July I’ll be able to manage the 400m swim comfortably.
Of course, swimming in the pool is one thing, but triathlon swims tend to be in open water – lakes and other less enticing places (like Salford Quays).
Next step will be to get some open water practice – and that’s going to be really scary!