Learn to Swim

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LadyXsize conquers her biggest swimming challenge so far

Radio and TV presenter, LadyXsize is half way through her 12-week swimming journey with the Swim London 2016 project. In this blog, LadyXsize gives us a glimpse of her progress so far and what it’s like swimming 500m for the first time.

It was another ordinary Sunday morning and week six of Swim London. For reasons that I won’t go into, that morning I had fire in my belly.

We started the session with a bit of obligatory floating but, for the first time, I felt restless. I didn’t want to do floating anymore or perfect my stroke with the kick board. Instead, I had this urge to let rip and see how many lengths I could actually swim. I asked Danielle, our coach, if I could be left to swim as many lengths as possible.

Click here to find out more about the Swim London 2016 project.

I had mastered the front crawl stroke. How to do the stroke had never been the issue, it was more not knowing what to do after my four strokes – that’s all I could do previously.

Now that I had the breathing sorted; I had worked out fairly early on that if I breathed out in the water, rather than holding my breath, I wouldn’t run out of air; I felt ready to take on the water.

Danielle was very encouraging and she told me to toss aside my float and go for it. After each 25 metre length, I was instructed to take a one-minute break before swimming another. I dutifully obeyed.

The first few lengths were a bit of a struggle, but then I remembered something one of the helpers had said: “Don’t wait to take a breath when you are gasping for air, take your breaths every few strokes and get into a rhythm.”

I relaxed into it and the lengths just started flowing. I combined everything I had been taught: start fully submerged, when ready push off against the wall, breath out under the water, ripple like a mermaid, float, kick your feet, a few strokes then breath. After that you should be at least 12 metres away from the wall and that’s half the work done.

After thirty-five minutes, Danielle asked me how many lengths I had done. I told her I had swum 14, all with one-minute breaks in between. She pointed out that if I managed twenty lengths that would be 500 metres – the same length they swim in a mini triathlon.

She then told me to reduce my rest time to forty-five seconds and encouraged me to go for the next six lengths.

I was feeling tired by now, but not exhausted. There was just 15 minutes left of the session and the final six lengths were definitely doable. After all, I had just swum 14 and I always love a challenge. So I went for it!

The last six lengths felt the hardest, not because I was tired. It was more the pressure and the possibility that if I completed it, I would have swum 500 metres and that my goal was in sight. I hate failing at anything and I was not prepared to fail at this.

The 45 second rest break felt more natural. In fact, I was so determined to accomplish the challenge that I started to go at 30 seconds. Before long, I was down to my final two lengths. Danielle encouraged me to go for it. Then my last length. I was so eager to finish, I totally ignored the 45 second recovery time. Determined to make it to the end, I swam my socks off, I just wanted to finish.

The last few metres were the hardest, I didn’t want to mess up on the final stretch. Then suddenly I could see the wall. I was so excited, I held my breath, which is a no-no in the water. It didn’t matter anyway, I didn’t need it, the wall was within my grasp. Then I was there! Woohoo!

Just six weeks ago, I could swim four strokes. Now I, Nana Akua aka LadyXsize, had swum 20 lengths / 500m for the first time!

Now I can’t wait to get into the deep water pool and do some of those forward roll things against the wall to join up the dots.

Thank you #SwimLondon2016, I no longer hate swimming, I love it!