As I write this blog (the second in my series for Bluewater) am I in serious recovery mode. I’ve just spent one of the most intense weeks of my swimming career competing in the European Swim Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Fierce and competitive is one way to explain what went on as I came face to face with some of the very best swimmers in the world with one ambition - to keep me off their medal pedestals. Well, in one way they succeeded. I didn’t get the times or medals I wanted. But I did make it into my first ever final in a top European swim meet, got an eighth place, and that was, frankly, just … AWESOME!
Swimming is awesome fun, whether you’re doing it for leisure or competition. For me, nothing beats the pleasure of feeling supported by water. I cannot think of any better medium for people to get fit and stay in shape. Swimming is pretty much injury free. It rarely over-strains muscles or ligaments. And, in fact, for anyone who is recovering from an injury or suffering from a chronic complaint like arthritis, swimming enables a full body workout. Yes, for sure, there is a big difference between competitive strokes designed to move you fast and efficiently through water and swimming for pleasure. But there’s a shared magic just about being in the water, which is available to everyone, including me, despite my intense training program.
A common mistake I notice among among many recreational swimmers is that they forget that any exercise makes you sweat and risk dehydration. So I really advise people to take a water bottle to the pool, leave it somewhere safe poolside and drink plenty of water before, during and after each swim session. There’s also research indicating that when in the water our brain is often tricked into believing that because we are surrounded by fluid we don’t need to rehydrate so much. The reality is that dehydration reduces performance by limiting the ability of our kidneys to produce the red blood cells that improve oxygen efficiency. So, my advice is to drink lots of water when swimming, but make sure it’s out of an environment-friendly bottle rather than the pool, sea or river :-)
Thank you for reading this blog, I’ll be back with more insights into the wonderful world of competitive and recreational swimming in late January.
Happy 2018 to one and all,