Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Got that lead-arms feeling at swimming last night

Written by Fiona January 12 2011

So I’ve had a few weeks away from the swimming pool over the Christmas period. And I know that in the early part of the year the number of lengths completed in one Glasgow Triathlon Club pool session begins to rise as we prepare aerobically for the start of the race season. But it took me a while to work out why my arms suddenly turned to lead during the last few lengths of last night’s swimming session. Last year I was swimming in Lane 1 and this year I’ve managed to make it into Lane 2.

The difference between lanes 1 and 2 is ability, fitness, practice etc. I have spent years in Lane 1 learning the technique for the freestyle (crawl) stroke. For many months at a time I’d give up on the swimming in preference for a sport I prefer (like running or cycling). Then I’d return to the pool less swim-fit and having forgotten most of the technique. In 2010, however, I was determined to improve my swimming and so I’ve been a fairly regular attender at the Tuesday night Tri Club session since the middle of the year.

My progression to Lane 2 could simply be due to the fact that more beginner swimmers have started in Lane 1, thus pushing the numbers up and forcing me into the tougher Lane 2. Or, as I’m hoping is the case, I’ve actually become a better swimmer.

And so, each week, I now swim in Lane 2. (Looking across to the amazing swimmers in Lane 3 I doubt I’ll ever make another Lane progression, but who knows?!) The thing about Lane 2, as I discovered for the first time last night, is that when the number of lengths starts to mount the amount of recovery between each begins to decrease. And in Lane 2 the general pace is faster than Lane 1 and so I have to really try to keep up. I’d place myself near the back of the swimmers in Lane 2 in terms of speed but I still need to complete the session.

As well as all the drills (these are aimed at improving the very hard-to-learn technique of front crawl) we complete sets of swimming lengths. Last night’s aerobic sets began with four X 100m swims (that’s fine I thought), then three X 200ms (not so fine) and then three X 150ms (definitely not so fine). When you take into account my session of Ashtanga yoga in the morning plus a load of arms-only swimming drills it’s no wonder my arms suddenly turned to lead in the final set of lengths.

I hope it gets easier. I will need to pull off the equivalent of 60 lengths of our 25metre pool (1500m) when I take part in my first standard distance open-water triathlon in London at the end of July. I confess I’m scared about this! I’m taking part in the 2011 London Triathlon as part of a team of 30 triathlon rookies (most are doing the sprint while I’m doing the Olympic distance for the first time) and to raise money for a very important charity called Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

You’ll see my fundraiser link on the right of this blog or go to my justgiving page . Please do sponsor me to give me the motivation that I will need in the coming months to train and then to complete the 2011 London Triathlon.

And, of course, it’s not just the swimming that I am worrying about. There’s the 24 mile cycle and the 10k run to complete, too! I’ll be posting about my progress. It would be good to hear your tips, advice and what your goals are for 2011.

More Like This


3 GB Ultras wins in a row for Scott Brown


Isle of arran Corbetts: Cir Mhòr and Beinn Tarsuinn


Explore hidden treasures with South Ayrshire snorkel trail


Review: Vango Alpha 300 tent 


Romantic getaways in Florida: Perfect spots for couples


Sunny Corbetts and a claggy Graham on the Isle of Arran