5km Swimming Challenge – 29 December 2015

After having to cancel the Men’s Health Survival of the fittest in November following my altercation with a door and then the weeks of illness that followed, it hasn’t left much time for the remaining challenges. After all of the great work done by Cath & Ben Rhodes, Barry & Brenda Rhodes, Mary Potter and Zara McEwan with their sponsored swims it seemed like a good idea to do a swimming challenge.
When I started learning to swim I used to love it and went on to do some of the swimming awards and the survival awards. Once I had finished all of those something must have happened that put me off as it was many years before I took it up again. Since I started swimming again I’ve never got very far with it and would class myself as a fairly poor swimmer. Whenever I go swimming it’s just breast stroke as I can’t really do front crawl so to take on a swimming challenge would be hard going. Initially I thought about swimming the distance of the English Channel but when I worked how long it would take me, I didn’t have enough time when the gym was open so I had to reduce the distance and came up with the idea of swimming 5km. The distance was going to be a challenge given my swimming skills and after only getting back to training a few weeks before my stamina was going to be tested as I thought it would take around 4 ½ hours to complete.

When the day of the challenge arrived the only swimming connection that I had was a resemblance to a whale but thankfully as it is a members only gym the chances of being harpooned were low. It was an early start so that I could get going and I was just coming around when I got in the pool at 7 am. I had set my watch to record the time and distance as keeping count to 250 (it’s a 20m pool) would have been too taxing along with the physical efforts. I put on my goggles, submerged myself and pressed start on my watch and then it was time to get swimming.
It only took a couple of lengths before my shoulders starts to ache. The previous day I had done some outdoor ‘exercise’ as there was a flood risk in the village so I had been out digging ditches to divert the water and moving sandbags. After a mornings work my arms, shoulders and back were aching as I wasn’t used to such physical activity! Those efforts were starting to show as the swim started to get going. It felt like it was going to be a long morning as the ache seemed to be growing faster than the lap count. I soon settled into a rhythm and after a while the pain was forgotten.


When I first checked to see how far I had gone, after the first half hour, I was pleasantly surprised as I had covered 960m. I was going much faster than I thought I would but couldn’t decide whether that was a good thing or not. I was starting to regret not having breakfast before I set off as I was starving but the empty stomach was just one thing to contend with.

Time seemed to be moving slowly as I continued to plough up and down as it was fairly quiet in the pool and I only had my own thoughts to occupy myself. I started thinking about the strangest things as I swam up and down and even started singing in my own head to try and keep the rhythm going.

When the hour mark came I had covered 1840m so had slowed slightly but was still making good time. The next half hour seemed to pass fairly quickly as I tried to focus on getting to the end and keeping going as it was starting to get more and more difficult. When I made it to the two hour point I was well ahead of schedule and the end was starting to get in sight.

It was becoming more and more difficult to keep going as I was aching but the more it ached, the more determined I was to get to the finish. When I made it to 200 lengths the countdown started and each length was another one closer to the finish. I cut it into 10 length segments to make it more manageable.

When I got to the last 10 lengths the end was in sight and I had a second wind. The last section seemed to fly by and then it was over – I had finished the 5km! It had taken 2:42:56 which was much better than I had predicted or expected. It had been a struggle at points but I had kept going and focuses on the finish. I was pleased to have another challenge completed so now it’s time to move on to the next one which is already less than a week away.

If you can help with the fundraising why not have a look at my sponsor page as every little helps. Two more challenges to go and then the year of challenges is over but there is more to come when that is done.

Onwards and upwards

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