My six tips for getting ready for Swim22 – by Kate Halsall

Kate Halsall, a personal trainer shares her preparation for swimming the equivalent of the English Channel in her local pool.

When I first decided to enter Swim22, I’ll be honest – I thought it would be easy! 12 weeks seems quite a long time to cover just 22 miles. I mean, 22 miles isn’t really that far is it? But then I googled “how many lengths in 22 miles” and it came back with 1,416 (25m pool) – which means 118 lengths per week! Yikes!!

That definitely goes beyond my 20 lengths every once in a while. There’s going to have to be some training involved to succeed with this challenge and it needs to start pretty pronto.

I signed up to Swim22 for three reasons:

  • I wanted a new physical challenge (I did a 60 mile cycle last year).
  • As personal trainers we try to educate our clients on lifestyle choices which could help to reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes.
  • My mum has Type 2, and some of my friends have family members with diabetes – it’s scary how increasingly common it is.

Below is a list of what I’ve been doing to get ready for this challenge – you could say that these are top tips for anyone who considers themselves a recreational swimmer who wants to give Swim22 a go.

Start now

If like me, you’re an intermittent swimmer ie, you enjoy it but probably only hit the pool a couple of times a month and simply smash out 20 lengths – your swimming needs to become more regular and you need to be doing more lengths. I’m now hitting the pool twice a week and I’m slowly ramping up the number of lengths I’m doing each time. When the challenge is on, I’m aiming for 3 swims a week, 40 lengths each time. Today I swam 30 lengths – BOOM.

Get a Swimming Buddy

I love exercising with other people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy in the pool for 20 lengths by myself, but anything more than that I’m worried I’d get bored and won’t hit my goals. I’ve grabbed my buddy and we’re swimming this together – it’s great! We swim 10 lengths, have a natter and then swim 10 more. We agree a number of lengths at the start of the session and we make sure we stick to it. It doesn’t matter that she’s a faster swimmer than me, to be honest it’s nice following someone, it makes sure I keep going. We just get in our lane and do our thing. It also means we don’t back out of training as we’re relying on each other.

Don’t worry about what you can’t do

I can only sensibly swim breast stroke. I learnt front crawl when I qualified as a lifeguard about 20 years ago – 40 lengths with your head out of the water is not great for your neck! As I’m limited to one stroke, it’s not going to be easy, but I can’t do any others properly so I can’t worry about that – I’ve just got to knuckle down and get on with it!

Take your time

Unless you’re squeezing your swim session in a lunch break or before the school run, don’t rush. The only time limit is 12 weeks – you can be in the pool for as long as you want. If you’re competitive then sure, set a target of X amount of lengths in X amount of minutes; if you’re looking for fitness gains, then sure time yourself one week and then again 4 weeks later and see if there’s improvement. But honestly, I’m just going to take my time and enjoy it. I have no idea how long it took us to do 30 lengths today.

Treat Yourself

Set yourself some milestones and when you hit them, treat yourself. By this I don’t mean grab a piece of cake! As a personal trainer I can’t promote that kind of treat, and as we’re doing this for diabetes I’m sure they’ll agree! I’m lucky enough that where we swim, there is a steam room and Jacuzzi. So at the end of our swim we go and sit in those like we’re on holiday or in a spa and relax. But you should pick your own healthy reward – sometimes a high-5 is enough!

Have Fun!

Get more information

Register or find out more about Swim22
Check how many lengths will you need to swim in your local pool
See our full list of fundraising events

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