My favourite place to swim is in the sea, but at this time of year it is a little cold for me! To get my water fix and keep up my swimming fitness, the only option is the swimming pool and depending on where you live, this can be quite difficult. Local authority pools can be really busy and have restricting times available for public swimming. If you are lucky enough to belong to a private gym, then the swimming pool is likely to be only a short 20 meters. I long for more outdoor pools which are open year round so that I can feel the fresh air as I swim.
I find my local swimming pool challenging. Being surrounded by people trying to maintain a sense of personal space and even confronting each other in a noisy, chlorinated environment. This is far from my idea of swimming as a natural, relaxing activity.
I cannot wait to get back into the sea and feel the fresh, salty water on my skin. No chemicals in there, just minerals in a constantly refreshing pool. You feel free in the sea, which stretches out into the horizon and there is no stress of trying to keep out of others way, of being too fast or too slow.
I use the swimming pool as motivation for swimming in the sea and have had to develop techniques to cope with the swimming pool, so that it works for me, when I want to swim to relax or swim for fitness. Here is my advice:
Check the swimming timetable online for the week ahead
There is nothing more frustrating when planning to go swimming and arriving to find that it is closed for a competition or private hire. Double check the timetable and choose a time that you think will be least stressful. This means avoiding busy times when possible and aiming for a weekday afternoon or going later on in the evening when the after work chaos hour has passed.
When you get to the pool, take time getting changed and allow yourself to settle into a more relaxed state of mind.
Choose your moment
Exercise is cumulative, so it doesn’t matter if you do a couple of lengths and wait a moment at the end before you carry on. By taking a moment before you start the next length, you can be mindful of others pace in the pool and continue your swim when there is space.
Think of your favourite swimming spot, for me it is in Cornwall in the sea on a beautifully calm day. You might remember a lovely pool on holiday. Hold that image in your mind. Close your eyes briefly and visualise what it feels like when you are there.
Focus on your breathing throughout your strokes so that you have an even cycle of breath. If you need to, take a break to catch your breath so that you can continue breathing and visualising.