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Macmillan All Out Swim challenge – update June 2016

Back in May we interviewed Samantha Brett, who’s training for the 5k Macmillan All Out Swim challenge. Last year, Sam completed the 2k challenge so 5k is a big step up. However, she’s been finding it hard to dedicate the time to do much training and, as she’s self-taught, she’s struggling with some technique issues. We caught up with her to find out how things are going before we get her in the pool to evaluate her stroke and set her a training programme to follow.

You can read Sam’s first interview here.

What were your times for your previous two 2km swims?

My first took 48 mins 25 seconds, which felt pretty comfortable. My second was 45 mins 47 seconds but that was out of pressure of being in the fast lane. I was pretty exhausted after that one.

Do you have a specific goal for the 5k?

I’m not sure about my goal time for the 5k yet. I think around 1hr 40/45 mins is a good starting point but I am only guessing at the moment. I know I will be able to do the distance without a doubt but have no idea in what time.

Have you started swimming more since our previous conversation? How are you feeling now about the challenge and the training?

I have been able to fit in a few sessions over May which felt great. I have also invested in training gear (pull buoy, kick board, fins and hand paddles) to up my resistance training which has really helped my feel of fluency in the water. However, at the moment, finding time to train is really difficult. Once I complete my teacher training I plan on training four to five times a week (three short weekday sessions in the evening, and two longer sessions at the weekend).

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Where do you train?

I train at my local indoor pool in the weekday sessions and plan on training at the lido at least once every weekend. Although I love Tooting Bec, I will probably train at Brockwell Lido as it is closer to home and also where I will be swimming for Macmillan.

How long are your usual training sessions?

My shorter evening sessions last about an hour overall and my longer weekend session last about 2 hours to include specific resistance training which is working really well.

Are you a member of a swimming club? Would you consider attending group training sessions?

No. I have only ever trained alone and have never had a trainer so the idea of group training is quite nerve-wracking. I am up for anything to improve my skill but know I will be incredibly self-conscious at first! 

Can you swim all four strokes?

No. I’ve never tried butterfly and it’s only since starting these Macmillan challenges that I taught myself freestyle!

Can you use a pace clock?

No. Never tried.

Thinking about technique, is there any part of your stroke that you feel needs particular work?

As I am completely self-taught I have never thought of ‘parts of strokes’ before so that’s something I need to study up on! But I know my hand position overall needs some work, particularly in entering the water. My head also needs improvement as I still look back on myself (bad habit!) instead of keeping in line with my neck and spine.

Sign up to the Macmillan All Out Swim challenge

Go all out for people affected by cancer and join Team Macmillan for this unique outdoor swim. Held in four outdoor pools across the UK, you can take on a 2k or 5k challenge as an individual or relay team. Whether you’re tackling the distance or you aim to smash your PB, you’ll be helping us to ensure no one faces cancer alone.

  • Brockwell Lido, London: 08 October
  • Pells Pool, Lewes: 17 September
  • Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham: 02 October
  • Letchworth Outdoor Pool, Herts: 10 September

Use promo code H2OPEN30 to receive 30% off the registration fee.

Sign up at

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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.