Swimming – (hopefully) from Fatness to Fitness

After the hell that was 2013 and all the physical rehabilitation I had I’m very aware that I’ve got to maintain and improve my current level of fitness.

During the summer and into the autumn I would go on daily, long, fast-paced walks. Each week I would see an improvement in my time and my fitness. I’d noticed a reduction in the level of pain I was in and I felt good.

Autumn swung into winter and it became too parky for me and I stopped. A little bit of winter weight crept up and I started to miss my happy endorphins. So on the advice of my therapist I started swimming again.

As a child I was a brilliant competitive swimmer. I swam for several teams. I trained with people who went on to be Olympians and I was among the very best in the county. I usually swam backstroke or front crawl. I have strong, strong legs which made these the perfect strokes for me.

I stopped swimming when I hit puberty; I was very conscious of all my lady lumps and bumps and couldn’t face it anymore. In hindsight that was a massive shame because, you know, I could’ve been a contender.

So about a month or so ago I slipped into my swimming costume and literally took the plunge. I’d not swum properly for years but I found myself in a pool where I used to do some competitive swimming, Withington Baths. It’s an old Victorian pool, but the water is warm and it’s cheap and close by. I have clear and fond memories of swimming there and collecting my hard-swum for medals afterwards. Glory days.

The first time I swam, knowing how unfit I was I mentally set a target of 10 lengths. I’d bashed those out in no time so decided to continue, by the end of the session I’d done 25 lengths, but I was seriously sore and limping the next day. Undeterred I returned the following week and did another 25 lengths and I’ve been back every week since to do another 25 lengths each time. Each session I feel stronger and fitter and my time improves.

Over Christmas I went to Cheadle Baths a few times, another one of my competitive childhood haunts. Theirs is an Olympic size pool and a nice facility. I like that an area is roped off for those who want to swim lengths so it’s easier to swim without dodging people. There I swam 18 lengths, just short of a kilometre. I was pretty chuffed with that.

It’s too early to see how swimming weekly and now twice weekly is changing me. I feel stronger in my arms and shoulders. The bingo wings are fractionally less and there is more definition in my legs, the squishy middle bit could do with buggering off but it will do in time. But I feel better. I feel stronger and happier. It gives me a routine and a goal and I like it.

Next week I think I’ll up it to 30 lengths! Go me!

Withington baths

Withington Baths @lovewithybaths

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