I was at boarding school from year 10. The pool was my home away from home, I could be myself and and completely forget about any tough parts to boarding. I just focused on getting to the other end of the pool, as quick as I could. And then doing it again, but this time faster. Looking back I was so naive it makes me laugh. I’d been to a single county championships before joining the school, but the following year I was ready to take on the world. In fairness, I did what I was told and found myself at the British Championships two years later. It’s fair to say I had some world class coaches who knew exactly what they were talking about. But I genuinely wasn’t doing it for the medals or prizes, all I wanted to do was get faster. I just had a passion for improving and that’s what drove me. I enjoyed the sport, the people and the feeling I got when it all worked. As a full time swimmer, and I was at the pool most days. It literally was my second home.
But that all changed when I gave a two wheeled sport a try. I loved taking up the new sport, but it was weird no longer constantly being in and out the water. The regime and life I’d lived for so long. Within the first few weeks I’d already been back to nearest pool, and managed about 2k before I jumped out. It actually felt alright, just odd not being with all my team mates. Recently though I’ve managed to convince a few friends to join me in the local pool. We are using swimming as a new avenue for cardio but also a bit mental rest bite for me too. It’s nice to have a paddle down memory lane for bit. I can hand on heart say I love what I do, there’s no doubt about that. But in the pool, I’m instantly feeling safe; and in control. I know where I stand and what I’m doing. Feelings not always shared with cycling, still being so new to it all. Although I’ve found when the pedals are turning on the track, I’m now in a comfort zone too. A very new one, but I’m starting to trigger the same emotions. *
I used to keep swimming when the going got tough, for so many reasons. One being that feeling you get when everything clicks. You know your in exactly the right place, at exactly right time. I craved that after I hung up the hat and goggles. And for a while, I wasn’t sure if I would get that until I went back. But now I’ve felt it on the track. So I think… I’m officially falling for it. I know, it really is a scary but exciting time.
Since joining the Great Britain Cycling Team, I’ve gained muscle in my legs (I reached this conclusion after ripping all the jeans I owned- peak cyclist problems, but it could have been the mini eggs at Easter in fairness) Either way it’s all well and good, up until the point you realise how much harder it now is to keep your whole body horizontal. My legs literally drag when I don’t consciously think about bringing them up. It’s a genuine struggle, that really wasn’t an issue I’d come across before. Each time I’m at the pool I try to reach a kilometre, if I’ve done that I feel like I’ve not wasted my time. I know how little that sounds to swimmers because that use to be a warm up on a good day. When the coach was feeling generous, with a nice cup of coffee in their hand along with a decent biscuit. But now I’ve got a completely different fitness, 10x100s is actually a decent work out. We also see if we can still make 25m underwater- because obviously this is a true test of whether ‘you’ve still got it’. I’m happy to say, I can still make it.
Update on my swimming technique. My butterfly is absolutely majestic for around a length, but then slowly becomes more of dying whale motion as my arms begin to give up and legs can’t actually stay a float. Breast stroke is a no go. It uses all the muscles I don’t use any more so even a few lengths of it will bring on immense, unnecessary DOMS. I say this like I used to do breaststroke, I never really did. Freestyle is my classic go to and all is fine with it at the moment, thankfully no drastic changes there. Although, I find myself breathing every 2 more often now. Backstroke is my ‘I need to breathe more, I can’t hold free much longer’ stroke and is nice to resort to when I’m trying to finish my 1km.
In recent news, I’ve decided I want to get involved with baby and toddler swimming sessions. I’m not really sure where it has come from but I think it is something I would really enjoy and would love to be involved in. As much as I ride a bike everyday, I still love the sport of swimming and try to keep update with it all from the Commonwealth Games to my local county champs. But helping with swimming lessons allows me get back to the pool and also help others fall in love with a sport, in the same way I did.
Saying all this I recently stumbled across a quote about being in your comfort zone;
‘Don’t allow yourself to settle and live in your comfort zone, because that’s where dreams go to die’
As dramatic as that sounds, I actually love it. Because if I’d stayed in my comfort zone of swimming up and down a black line, I wouldn’t have the sky high ambitions and goals I carry around with me now. I was so comfortable in the pool, I didn’t have dreams to go to competitions like the World Championships and the Olympics. I’m sure people will say of course you did, why else did would you get up at 5am everyday? But genuinely, ask my coaches, I wasn’t swimming for the Olympics. That wasn’t a realistic aim. I was doing it because I wanted to get better.
Yes, I feel comfortable and happy when I’m cycling in a some kind of comfort zone. But believe me when I say there’s other times when I feel miles from it. It’s good to spend time in your comfort zone- but don’t live your life in it. It reminds you that, what your doing is something you enjoy- which is always nice. But it doesn’t allow you to grow and get better, and achieve what you want long term. So don’t settle for what holds you back from your goals, push yourself into what brings you closer to them.
1 thought on “Swimming down Memory Lane”
Well done Milly. You are showing a lot of maturity as well as all round talent
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