Ready, set, swim for a mile: race day preparations

Swim Ireland coach Bethany Carson offers advice for all those who are taking on the Swim for a Mile challenge this month

Enjoy your swim and let Swim Ireland keep a count of your laps. Photograph: Getty Images

Enjoy your swim and let Swim Ireland keep a count of your laps. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ahead of race day, former competitive swimmer for Ireland and Swim Ireland coach Bethany Carson offers advice for all those who are taking on the Swim for a Mile challenge this month.

To take part in the challenge, you can register at your local pool up to 24 hours before the designated challenge day. Pick your pool at: swimforamile.com

Taper off your training Taper entails easing off your training as you approach the event. We would recommend that you take the seven days prior to the event easier in the pool. Still get into the water once or twice beforehand. You want to keep the feel of the water but just for a paddle.

Eat Make sure you have taken on a sufficient amount of food before your swim. Try to give enough time for your food to digest before you dive in for your swim. Drink There will be plenty of opportunity to stop and take a quick sip of your bottle during the event, take fluids little but often during the swim. Keep in mind that you should be drinking about 200-300ml every 20 minutes during exercise.

Water with a pinch of salt will suffice, but you could also add some fruit slices such as lemon and lime and/or some mint leaves. If you need that extra kick of energy, put a dash of dilute juice in there for a sugar kick towards the end of your swim. Warm-up There will not be allocated warm- up time in the pool, so if you do not want to sacrifice too much of your mile to warming up, try doing a good land warm-up beforehand; this will take only about 10 minutes.

You could involve some light skipping (or pretend skipping without the rope) for about three to five minutes. This will get your blood pumping and start to loosen out your muscles.

Follow this up with some dynamic stretches and mobilisation exercises. This could involve a few arm and leg swings and some light core exercises to get your muscles engaged and ready for all those twisty movements we use in swimming.

A few swimming favourites involve the caterpillar walk out, which involves standing, with feet hip width apart, bending at the hips and placing your palms on the ground, then proceed to walk your hands out in front of you, while your feet stay stationary. Once you have gone out as far as you can, walk your feet towards your hands.

This will actively stretch your hamstrings, while also switching on our core stability and shoulder muscles.

Just keep swimming During your swim you will be excited and nervous in the beginning. You will dive in and feel like you are on top of the world. After a couple of hundred metres you will start to feel the fatigue setting in (as you have probably already noticed during your training, you do indeed talk to yourself a lot in the pool, so make sure it is constructive talking).

This is where you will, against all odds in your tired brain, push through the barrier and come out the other side feeling on top of the world again.

So enjoy the swim and do not worry, Swim Ireland will be there to cheer you on and keep count of your laps during the event.

The 12-week Irish Times Get Swimming programmes, in association with Swim Ireland, will remain online for anyone who is inspired by the Swim for a Mile events this month but who has not dipped their toes in the pool yet.

You can access them at: irishtimes.com/getswimming

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