The Aspire Channel Swim challenges people of all ages to swim the length of the English Channel (22 miles) over a 12-week period starting from 10th September and finishing on 3rd December 2018.
The challenge may have begun, but there are still over 2 months left, so it’s not too late to sign up!
It’s free to enter and you can take part as an individual or as part of a team. You don’t even have to get in the sea! You can complete the 22-mile challenge at your local swimming pool, at your own pace, across as many sessions as you need.
If you’re reading this and feeling like you want to sign up, but you’re not sure whether you could take on the challenge, read on, because I’ve got a load of tips to help you! I’m not an expert wimmer by any means, but these are the things that have helped me.
Fit to go?
Swimming is so beneficial. It’s a low-impact exercise and great for burning calories, building muscle and cardio-respiratory fitness but if you have any known health conditions or if you haven’t worked out or swum for some time, it’s best to consult your doctor and/or personal trainer before embarking on the challenge.
Do some stretching and warm-up exercises before each swim
Do some simple arm and leg stretches either at the side of the pool or in the water. This will help to increase body temperature and blood flow to the muscles.
Nearly all of our muscles are exercised during a swim and if you warm up and stretch before your set off, you should reduce the risk of straining any muscles.
Little and often
Very, very few of us are fit enough to swim the equivalent of the English Channel in one stint, but that’s the beauty of this challenge, you can schedule in a swim a few times a week and swim as much as you can, counting you lengths as you go until you reach your goal.
It’s honestly much more achievable than 35 miles sounds!
There’s no need to rush!
Start swimming slowly and then you can build over time.
Try to concentrate on keeping a nice streamlined body position instead of worrying about covering a certain distance. If you make efficient movements as you swim, you should be able to keep a slow heart rate, which will help with your stamina.
Change things up
You can often maintain the impetus to keep going by varying your strokes.
Whichever swimming stroke is your preference (I definitely prefer breaststroke as I find it far less tiring) you could try to swim a combination of crawl and then breaststroke or backstroke.
This is an especially useful approach if you tend to find yourself getting a bit bored!
It might be tempting to try to complete each length as quickly as possible but when we hurry, we can become less efficient and the more strokes you do, the more tired you’ll get.
It’s a good idea to count your strokes and not the number of lengths or widths you complete, that way you’ll make steady progress without getting too hung up on the distance each stroke covers.
Have fun with it
Just because you’re taking on a challenge, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
On some days, I take the kids and Mark with me while I swim and it keeps me motivated and makes for a refreshing break in the routine.
Take a break if you need to
It’s very important to listen to what your body is telling you.
If you begin to feel that you need to rest or stop at any point, then do so – you’ll have been using virtually every muscle!
Don’t forget to warm down – either in or out of the water – after your swim.
Gentle exercise will help bring your breathing and heart rate steadily back to normal. Stretch your calf and foot muscles then your hands, arms and back – speak to a trainer at your local leisure centre if you need advice on how to do this safely.
Hydration is just as important in the water as out of it – you’re not drinking the pool water after all. Take a refillable bottle with you, make sure you’re hydrated before you get in and again when you get out. You’ll probably also want to eat a healthy snack within about an hour of finishing your swim to replenish your carbohydrate and protein stores.
So, does the challenge sound like something you’d like to do. Well, there’s another reason you might like to take up the Aspire Channel Swim challenge?
Well, every eight hours someone in the UK is paralysed by a spinal cord injury. Aspire provides practical help to the 40,000 people living with a spinal cord injury in the UK,
so they can lead fulfilled and independent lives in their homes, with their families.
Aspire receives no statutory Government funding, so the Aspire Channel Swim is crucial for helping to raise the funds required to support those people living with spinal cord injuries
This year, Aspire is aiming to recruit 7,000 people for the Aspire Channel Swim. Are you going to join in? If you are, please do let me know!
You can sign up here.
This is a commissioned post for Aspire.