Training For a Swim Event in the Summer of 2021 (Part 1)

How did we end up here?

We've been in and out of lockdowns, up and down tiers, unable to train consistently and yet in a few short months, Alfie, Mark, Kane, Butch and I (Lizzie) will be swimming the length of Windermere. We will be braving all 10.5 miles of her icy cold waters to raise money for the Emily Ash Trust to help children with cancer and their families.

I have swum competitively most of my life, however, after an injury I fell out of love with swimming. Moving to Australia in 2018, everything changed. Keen to try ocean swimming, I joined a squad where I met an amazing group of people (my Aussie family) who helped me overcome my fear of the open water and encouraged me to enter some ocean swim races. Before I knew it, I was training 4 times a week and racing both days of the weekend - I was completely hooked!
I love how training in the pool makes you feel faster in open water and training in open water makes you stronger in the pool. It’s the perfect combination and makes me feel so strong, happy and healthy.
The same year, Alfie and I met - I think he thought I was a little crazy at first, 'swimming with sharks' ! As a keen rugby player and athlete himself, Alfie knew how beneficial swimming was for both fitness and recovery and when we returned to the UK from down under, he wanted to give swimming a proper go. (There’s no sharks in England apparently). After watching me compete in the Henley Swim Festival 2019, we both entered the Henley Club to Pub 2020 and aimed for that to be Alfie’s first open water swim race. (The promise of beer at the finish proved a very good incentive)
Bojo and Covid quickly thwarted any pool training we had planned, but luckily some open water swim venues were still open. We started going to a lake in Windsor every Sunday and it quickly became a bit of a ritual! The same group of us (nutters) would meet at 6am and swim together before putting the world to rights and tuck into some cakes. The group grew and even took on some younger members! I looked after one of the parent's children while they got their laps in. The tow float gave them so much confidence as we did star floats and played games in the lake.
The group quickly surpassed the 1.6km Club to Pub distance Alfie and I had aimed for as we began swimming further and further each week. We were flying up and down lakes swimming 2-4 km a couple of times a week! This was no mean feat for Alfie who had previously only been able to swim 50m without stopping. We smashed (covid) Henley Club to Pub 2020 armed with our trusty Swim Secure tow floats.
We quickly began looking for our next big challenge. That's when Mark, Alfie's Dad, suggested the group swim Windermere. Why not swim the UK's longest lake?
So in September 2020, we went up to Windermere for a practice swim to test the waters! (pun intended) The group was nervous about the lower temperature, greater distance and the completely different conditions Windermere offered. However, after a summer of swimming we were strong and confident. We flew through the 5km swim in an hour and a half leaving us chomping at the bit and hungry for more. Everyone left the water euphoric! We were so ecstatic with how it went, how we coped with the distance and how we coped with the temperature (14°C). After some careful deliberation over some more cake and a few Ross Edgley videos later, we decided to swim the full length of Windermere in July 2021. To enter this swim we booked with Chillswim.
Lockdown round 3 has taken us all by surprise! All the pools and open water swim venues we had hoped to train in are now closed and the 10km races we had planned to compete in before July may now be cancelled or postponed. Despite the challenge we face, we intend to take the bull by the horns and make it work.
At the moment, we're doing plenty of running and walking to maintain and improve our mental and physical endurance (and keep us sane!). Alfie's bought himself a bin to improve his cold water acclimatisation and is dipping regularly in 1°C water aided by his super cozy Swim Secure Luxury Bobble Hat!

If we can train to swim 5km during a pandemic, we can train to swim 16.5km during a pandemic! We really hope you enjoy following our journey!

Alfie and Lizzie
You can read their Second and Third Blogs too to get some top tips on training for a swim event. 

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