Marathon Swim Plans

I have dreamt about doing a marathon swim (10 km) for several years now. I have done a few 8 km swims and they were fun. But in late July two years ago I broke my arm, so no serious swimming for quite a while. Then COVID hit, which put training on hold for last year. At first it was fear of potentially adding to the health care burden. Then it was the difficulty of getting to my usual lake to train. I did manage a 5 km swim in the Ottawa River, but that was it.

This is going to be my year! I turned 60 on my last birthday, so I zcan make this a birthday goal of sorts. Many swimmers do 100 M for each year of life for their birthday. That’s a mere 6 km, a reasonable training distance for later this summer.

Instead of simply swimming lots, I’m going to try following an actual training program. I’m going to aim for a mid-late August swim date, which gives me about 14 weeks to get ready. My first two weeks will be about establishing consistency, with two or three swim sessions per week (average swim distance 2.5-3 km each time). I’m not quite up to 3 km per swim yet, but I know I can do that pretty easily this week, if the weather holds up and I can get into the water.

My challenge will be getting the training done before the water starts getting cold. One training plan suggests 13 weeks, with at least one 8 km swim before the big day. The other suggests 20 weeks, with more frequent but shorter swims.

My friend Aimee has agreed to be my support, in a kayak or on her SUP so she can carry a phone and my snacks, watch out for boats, and help me keep going in a straight line. I’ll need to figure out feeds and water. The swim will likely take me 5 hours (maybe a little more). What does 0.8 to 1.0g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight per hour translate to in snacks or gels? 500 to 800 ml of fluid per hour is on top of that, but at least I can do the calculations.

Now that I have written it all down, I feel a little intimidated. No matter. I will enjoy the swimming. Whether I actually complete a marathon swim is almost irrelevant. It would be a nice accomplishment, but I swim for fun.

Diane in a blue swim cap and dark goggles, surrounded by water and with trees in the background

Diane Harper lives and swims in Ottawa.

One thought on “Marathon Swim Plans

  1. Have fun! My partner used to say that getting to the starting line was THE achievement. I think just undertaking the training is cause for celebration. Good luck.

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