Early one morning I (Katie) received a text from Brian which broadly said “sooooo David, Nils and I were chatting and we are planning to do 100 x 100m soon. Are you keen?” Challenging though it is, I love doing 100 x 100m so I was definitely in.
The negotiations then started. The first point of order was where and when. We quickly agreed on 5 February 2017 at the Charlton Lido. While it is a bit of a drive away Charlton is a no brainer for big sets. Not only it is a heated 50m outdoor pool but it is also a real swimmers pool. Everyone there has good swim etiquette which makes for a much less stressful experience.
The second point was a bit harder to resolve – what time were we going to swim off? Nils and David are much faster than the rest of us and wanted to go off 100 secs. Whenever I have done the set in the past I have always swum it off 1 min 50s i.e. 110 secs. 100 x 100m off 100 secs does have a nice ring to it though and I thought, provided I maintained a steady speed, it should be okay.
The day before the swim there was lots of whatsapp chat about nutrition – Adrian offering to bring David gin kind of bants – and nerves. There was also a last minute panic as the website said the pool was only open form 9am – 12pm. Now the set would take nearly that amount of time so everyone was instructed to arrive dressed to swim with garmins pre-set to a 50m pool length.
Everyone obeyed instructions and we managed to get in the water for 9.02am. Nils led the first 10 reps and after the obligatory first rep keenness everything went smoothly. I was typically coming in around 1.32 pace giving me around 8 seconds rest. David led the second block of 10 and everything went a bit crazy with the leading four doing well under 1.30 pace. I was like hang on a moment guys, there are 80 more to go let’s not go crazy here so Manda and I stuck to the 1.31 / 1.32 pace. This meant that I didn’t have as much draft as the others were so far ahead but on the whole I think it was better to keep a steady pace. Brian and Adrian led blocks 30 to 40 at a much more reasonable pace and Nils led the final 10 before the chat / toilet break. So far so good with Manda and I holding a steady pace at the back and we were feeling good.
Again there was the obligatory post break keenness coming in at 1.26 before settling back down into the 1.31 / 1.32 pace again. We were much closer to the group now so were getting the benefit of draft so the combination of the pace and rest was very comfortable. The early fast pace was starting to tell up front over the last 20 – 25 reps and I moved up behind Nils who was now leading. I did feel a bit bad after spending 80 reps drafting to go in front but hopefully the others didn’t mind and they had some draft in return! I was then effectively leading the pack as Nils was so far head. This and trying to hit a slightly faster pace made the final 15 tough going but it was good to have a bit of a challenge at the end.
And then we were done! I was a bit disgruntled that I wasn’t allowed to do the last 2 as swim down and had to do EXTRA swim down after the end. A combination of the short rest and discipline around the start and breaks meant that we finished in 2h 45 minutes in total only to find out afterwards that the pool was actually open until 5pm so there was no need to rush.
Afterwards there were six very tired and wrinkly swimmers in reception with some terrible goggle marks. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the swim and it feels like a really achievement afterwards to have finished.