17 Jul

The Running Swimmer's Big Race

Man swimming in the pool

Maybe swimming isn’t so bad after all? A few weeks ago, I blogged for runABC on attempting an open water swim for the first time ever (writes Chris Broadbent).

I struggled with the training, struggled getting to grips with the technique and struggled with the fear of swimming 1.9k in the sea.

Right to race day, I never really conquered any of them. But race day came in sunny Bournemouth and do you know what? It wasn’t so bad after all - in fact it was fun.

I set myself the goal of front crawling the whole way. Around five minutes into the race, I felt an unexpected surge of confidence. I felt good. I knew I was going to do it.

I was breathing every second stroke, as per training. But such was my confidence surge, I switched to breathing every three strokes - verging on the cocky.

I was thinking about all the advice I had been given about my kick, my head position, my reach. But also I was completely relaxed that even if couldn’t put any of this advice into practice it was okay.

I didn’t have a great time target and that eased the pressure somewhat, but what helped me more than anything else was my old friend running.

It was only on race day where I felt on familiar territory. Suddenly I was back in a pack, on a start line, surrounded by nervy, twitchy participants.

As the race unfolded, I thought of the half marathons and marathons I had taken part in for the best part of the last 20 years and I felt comfortable. I had been through the struggle before and had overcome. Here I was again and I knew I could do it.

Running has hardwired a level of resilience into me. I have never quit any race yet and I wasn’t about to start now, no matter if it’s on water or land.

Sure I broke no records. But I met my goal of front crawling the whole way and felt strong throughout, working my way down the coastline landmark by landmark. Running has toughened me up physically, but I often underestimate how much it has toughen d me mentally. Sunday was a timely reminder.