Sharon’s Festival Challenge Blog: The Reluctant Open Water Swimmer

Reluctant Open Water Swimmer blog. Swimming at night

I am Sharon Lock, ASA Masters Officer and a relative newbie to, and slightly reluctant open water swimmer!

I currently swim and train with Melton Mowbray Swimming Club, happily in a pool, up to four times a week. These sessions last between one and two hours where I just about manage to drag myself through varying distances between 2,000m and 5,000m per session.

I’ve competed regularly in Masters pool-based events for many years and I’m very content in these competitions. However, I now find myself in the odd situation of being involved in the organisation of the ASA National Open Water Festival and 1,500m Challenge, having never competed in a big open water event before.

“I had to participate this year. I couldn’t talk the talk without swimming the swim!”

Therefore, my wonderful colleagues at the ASA and fellow Masters swimmers all said I had to participate this year… I couldn’t talk the talk without swimming the swim!

I will be entering the 1,500m challenge and will be looking forward to wearing a wetsuit to complete it. I know some of my friends will say this is cheating and it’s nothing more than a float around but I want to be comfortable and enjoy finishing the race.

It will be my third open water event. I competed in the 2015 Midlands ASA Masters Open Water Championships without a wetsuit and just had a little swim around the lake.

Apparently I was supposed to be racing hard rather than enjoying the sunshine on my back, the view and wondering if I was getting a tan.

“Apparently I was supposed to be racing rather than enjoying the sunshine on my back and wondering if I was getting a tan.”

After that I said I’d done one race and wouldn’t do one again. That soon changed when I found a night swim which involved wearing a glow stick and a wetsuit. Being a child of the 80s and 90s the glow stick was too much to resist and again I had a little swim around a lake at night, glowing bright green and enjoying watch green heads bobbing up and down.

Buying a wetsuit. Reluctant open water swimmer blogThe night swim was in October and meant I had to buy a wetsuit (I’m too much a wimp to do it without at that time of year) which was an adventure in itself.

My advice for anyone wanting to buy one is go to your nearest shop (a bit of internet searching and you’ll find one quite easily) and ask them for advice about which ones are best for you.

I tried on lots of differing prices and makes. As I’m tall, I didn’t have a lot to choose from because it’s important to make sure it fits snugly but comfortably.

If it’s too big it will fill up slightly with water and become heavy. If it’s too small you’ll get chafing and make it harder to move your arms. After borrowing a couple during some practice swims I now know the difference!

My aim for February is to make at least three training sessions per week but I’m failing terribly at the moment. Working for the ASA means I’m around pools quite a lot but not in them much.

Just like most adults I’m sure, I have to balance work and personal life, fitting training in where ever I can. I’ve also entered a 800m event in the Welsh National Masters in March in preparation for the 1,500m challenge so I need to practice this distance towards the end of February.

Fingers crossed everything goes to plan but I’ll let you know in my next blog.

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