Swim Experiment – Box End 5km
Matthew Spillman

Swim Experiment – Box End 5km

Event : Box End 5k

An interesting contrast of training, volume/style, in weird times. Well for me anyway! 
With virtually no winter swimming then going into lockdown I bit the bullet and bought a giant paddling pool for the garden in an attempt to keep up some swim fitness. I tethered myself to a tree by my feet with a bungee and swam to nowhere from mid June. It's actually hard work and I found it gave a great workout in a short time. I guess it's like running on a treadmill which I detest but needs must! I got in a habit of cycling home from work and jumping in the pool for 20 minutes as a cool down/stretch. For strength and variety I used paddles and a forward face snorkel to stop me swallowing gallons of water that swished about with nowhere to go. 
Most sessions I averaged 30 minutes before I froze or got bored. I supplemented this with one beach swim a week, once lockdown was lifted. (averaged 2 sometimes 3 short paddling pool sessions and 1 x beach swim per week) I also did strength work with TRX and kettlebells. 
The comparison. 
I last swam 5km at the Great East Swim 2018.
I had done much more volume prior to that race with regular lake swims at Whitlingham and normal pool stuff with many 60 minute plus sessions. Finish time was 1hr 24m 13s, with loads of people to draft. 
On 12/09/20 myself and Dave Block, fellow Tri-Anglian and beach swimmer, entered The Covid Cup 5km swim at Box End Park. 4 laps of a lovely clean lake. No spectators and a small field due to restrictions. No drafting opportunities. Time for me 1:25:09 Dave 1:34:07. 
I swam 56 secs slower this year and won the 50 plus age group (can't actually recall anyone older than me at the start!). I actually felt stronger and more comfortable which leads me to question the need for lots of volume as we are often told in the swim mags? I think good swim fitness can be maintained with strength work and short consistent workouts with a good battering in the sea for endurance!!
I also think the time saved in getting to a public pool is massive, it's so convenient and no swim rage. 
I definitely recommend it and my 7 year old loved it. Best training/fun investment I have made. I will use it next season for sure. 
My neighbours think I'm weird!!

Published on 24th September 2020

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