fitness · Guest Post · swimming

My fitness journal, Part 1: Swimming

I want to focus on some swimming goals. My past performances are going to help me shape my swimming goals for 2023. 

I track my workouts and activities on an online fitness app. I’ve been doing this for a while, and it’s interesting to see the trends, especially in my swimming activities from year to year. Here are the data for total number of swims from 2012-2016:

  • 2012: 79
  • 2013: 80
  • 2014: 75
  • 2015: 78
  • 2016: 85 (wow!)

From 2012-2016, it was a pretty steady routine, averaging 80 swims per year. I included practices and competitions. Then it dramatically dropped from 2017-2019. I’m trying to remember why. Perhaps I was taking a break; I had been swimming with our Masters team, the London Silver Dolphins, since 2002 and started to ramp up my swimming once I started to go to meets. Maybe I wanted to try other fitness activities. And then it was March 2020, and our swimming seasons got disrupted until September 2022.

So what about my swimming goals for 2023? 

I want to get back to what I did from 2012-16. I was averaging 80 swims per year (rounding up). What about the distance? The average mileage was 140.8 km/year. That’s 1760 m per swim.

Ok, so now I have my goal for 2023: 80 swims, 141 km.

So far? 19 swims, 37.8 km: 1989 m per swim. Awesome! 

BUT: are numbers all that matter?? 

Of course not. They’re an easy benchmark, and provide a concrete goal. And, as a scientist by training, it’s easy for me to compile and analysis numerical data. But there’s other types of data that can be collected and analysed. Emotional data. Because that’s the primary driver of going to the pool. 

The smell of chlorine is familiar and comforting. It tells me that I’m in a good place and that I’m about to get into the pool. There are times where my motivation wanes; it’s late at night and maybe I’m really NOT in the mood. But lately, that has not been an issue, likely because this is the first full season since the beginning of the pandemic. On the pool deck, I do some warm-up exercises and look at the workout to plan my gear (pull buoys, fins, etc). 

That initial dive is exhilarating. I go into autopilot as I find my pace, and focus on my technique. I love an endurance workout because it allows for getting into a rhythm. The sound of my deep breathing, the rush of the water. I love a speed workout because of the feel of slicing through the water. My body feels powerful and coordinated and I love the feel of the water wash over me. I’m always thinking about technique: the alignment of my body; the reach, catch and pull of my arms and upper body; rotation around the long axis; the 3-beat kick of my legs. 

After getting out of the pool and changing back into my clothes, I feel pleasantly relaxed. My skin smells like chlorine. I’m thirsty (even though I’ve been drinking water throughout the workout)! I swim late at night, so after I get home, I have a shower and a snack and then relax by playing word games before going to bed. And I SLEEP. 

The physical feelings extend into the next day. I feel light and loose and my breathing is relaxed. My brain feels activated. And I’m still thirsty (can’t drink too much at night, because I’ll need to get up to pee)!

How does your favourite exercise make YOU feel? Do you keep a journal? It’s a new experience for me, so any advice is welcome!

A beautiful blue outdoor swimming pool on a sunny day

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