Get Swimming, Week Five: Where will I get the staying power?

To tackle the boredom, I count things on the pool floor – ear plugs, chewing gum

Orna (in awe) Mulcahy

Now well into my quest to complete the Swim for a Mmile challenge with Swim Ireland, I can swim up and down the 25m pool once – with gulps and gasps at the end – and feel pretty good about it. But the idea of keeping up that level of effort until I reach the mile mark? It's a fantasy.

But then I met Rosita. Rosita did this very same challenge last year and recently she joined our group for a session, just to get herself going again. What a beautiful swimmer. She barely disturbs the water. Her arms dip in and out, her legs move just below the surface, not on top, splashing everyone in sight. She moves fast and she can swim 25m on one breath. We’re all in awe, and yet Peter, our Swim Ireland coach, insists that Rosita started out just like the rest of us 12 months ago. So there’s real hope.

But in the meantime it’s back to the business of angling arms into the water as if into a sleeve, of moving the body from side to side, of keeping the chest down and the feet up and, above all, of remembering to do it all at the same time.


And then coping with the boredom.

I fit in a couple of extra swims in a different pool where, to pass the time, I count the number of things that have drifted to the pool floor – mostly cotton-wool ear plugs but also, I think, chewing gum. Away from the training sessions it’s easy to get lazy and to quit mid-length, to doss around in the water, reverting to bad habits.

At one of these swims I’m alone in the changing room with an older woman. She goes into the pool before me and starts swimming up and down, up and down, without a break. I try to match her, and this goes on for about 40 minutes, after which I give up and have a go at the steam room and a nice long shower.

Later, when I’m dressed and leaving, I see the woman through the window still swimming up and down, up and down. Where am I going to get that staying power?

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