Training for a long distance, outdoor and English Channel swim can be a daunting experience. I've been doing this now since I was 14 years old, but until 3 years ago, I'd always had to venture to some outdoor stretch of water to acclimatise to the wonderful 'cold' water conditions of the British climate. Living in a part of England that is 'landlocked' makes life difficult for a swimmer who loves the outdoor waters. It was with this in mind, that in 2004, I bought my wonderful Endless Pool.
My problems of driving many miles to find 'some' outdoor water were solved. It was becoming increasingly harder considering I'm not a funded athlete and have to work for a living! Time was of the essence. Purchasing my Endless Pool WAS the right decision! I had 'control' of my time and swimming...in my back garden! My neighbours are used to seeing me 'scantily' clad, regularly entering into my pool.
So what about my training regime? Beginning in September, I will continue to train 3 or 4 times a week in my pool (bearing in mind the outdoor swim season over here is just finishing). A lot does depend on my work and the timings associated with it, but to give you an idea, a typical week would be 'early' morning swims in the local Olympic size pool (our GB swimmers train there) of around an hour to two, followed in the evening by a 'cooler' session in my Endless Pool of about 2-3km. Sometimes, I swap my sessions around and even just do my 'outdoor stuff'. I find this works well, as I can do laps in the morning, use hand paddles and do shorter rep sets, followed in the evening by continuous swimming. I find that if I do aerobic all the time, my times slow down. Although I use mostly endurance/stamina in my events, it is good for me to keep 'alert' and 'quick', emphasise the other muscles and fast twitch fibres of my muscular system.
Although my pool is uncovered, I do heat it in the winter months, but it never gets above a temperature of 62 degrees F. I love to swim with no one getting in my way, unlike what happens in a public swimming pool!! All I have to do is keep pressing the button on my Endless Pool and there I go continually again for about 35 minutes until the safety cut off switch takes effect! I may not swim twice everyday... but I get some exercise each and every day in the water.
Every month when I am training for a solo, I do one long swim, and when I am training for relay events, I try to create the situation of swim for an hour, five off, then swim an hour again. Incidentally, if I am training for a butterfly swim, allot of my distance will be on that stroke, so it is stroke specific. However, I do 'mix and match', as to do all my swimming on one stroke would not only be very monotonous, but could leave to injury from the repetitive action, especially on the hardest stroke, the butterfly. 'Variety is the spice of life' as the saying goes!!
By the time May has arrived, I have got my distance time up to about 6, 7, 8 hours. The great thing about my Endless Pool, is that when April arrives, I turn the temperature down, so that it simulates the temperature that I would get in a lake or sea. When it is 'cold' I obviously don't spend as long in it, but it is a great way of acclimatising, until my body can deal with whatever conditions are thrown at it. At the 'cold water acclimatisation' period, I would typically do about 20 minutes, building it up. A typical weekly mileage would be 40km, though I must stress that this DOES vary according to my commitments outside of swimming...such as work!! I find, however, the whole system is really effective and would highly recommend the Endless Pool to anyone, especially to someone, like myself, who wants cold water conditions, is 'stuck' for time and wants a fantastic way to enhance their swimming and training associated with it.