1(ish) month to go: winter pool challenge

The winter pool challenge is coming to an end in a month’s time. I’m (Manda) pleased we did it but I am not going to be sorry to see the back of it to be honest. Schlepping around pools has been mentally and physically exhausting and while we’ve discovered some amazing pools (Marshall St Baths), which we probably would never have gone to if we hadn’t started this challenge, we’ve also had the displeasure of swimming in some less than amazing pools.

The end of the winter pool challenge will also signify the return to open water. Woo h2ooooooooooo!

We are going to review the pools but in the meantime here are some of things I have learnt from this challenge:

Pool crawling is hard work.

We have discovered that pool binging, aka pool crawling, is harder than first imagined. Yes swimming multiple kms is hard work and tiring but the real challenges come out of the water. It takes a lot of preparation to juggle visits to coincide with ‘lane swimming’ sessions, sort out parking (where we travelled by car) and the hardest task of them all is ensuring you maintain nutrition, whilst adhering to Mama Foley’s and Mum Tannahill’s strict rule of no swimming for 1 hour after eating*.

I hate chlorine.

My skin hates me. It sees a pool and it starts flaking. If I have been for a swim pre work, had a shower, I will sit at work and all I can smell is chlorine. You might think it is a necessary evil but there are alternatives and if everyone wore a cap and showered before a swim we might need less.

I need light!

I have realised that what I like in a home and office, I like in a pool. I want light. As much as I possibly can. I want my swim to be saturated in day light, I want to see the colours of the water and most importantly I want to feel like a mermaid.

Every pool I visit in the darkness I decide I hate. A recent whatsapp to the group after visiting a pool in darkness was “well that was a skankfest”. Afterwards I felt I had judged the pool too quickly and I’m thinking of returning in day light as I am sure it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Although the ear buds mangled into the hair balls on the changing room floor will probably still be as skanky in day light!

Carry lots of 20ps

“What do the lockers take?” is the most overused phrase of the challenge. I spent 20 minutes begging people to change my £1 to 1 x 20p at Crystal Palace one weekend so as to avoid having to redress and go back to reception for change. Lesson learnt.

I like distance

I don’t want to stop and start. Turn and tumble. Flip and flop. I want to swim. Distance also means more time to overtake those people who probably shouldn’t be in the fast lane.

I don’t like pools with a tinge of yellow on the bottom

I mean who would?!?! Latchmere and Arches in Greenwich… Why?!?

A change is as good as a rest

Pool swimming can be monotonous, staring at the same tiles for length after length, especially if you are doing 2+ hour sets. We mix this up by doing various sets, but training in different pools has also brought a fresh lease of life to winter training. We tend to stick to doing our longer sets in 50m pools, specifically Crystal Palace, but next winter I will be more inclined to do some of these at London Fields or the Aquatic centre. Also it will encourage me to add more variety to my mid-week pool sessions when only a shorter session is needed.

Ultimately all the above does is summarise why I will always be an open water swimmer over a pool swimmer but to all those pool swimmers out there, thanks for letting us share your pools for this time and see you next winter… maybe.


*bananas don’t count

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