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The Henley Swim Festival Blogs 2019: Emily (Part 2)

The Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival takes place on 14 July. It’s going to be a fabulous day of river fun with a range of activities and retailers celebrating the best of a British summer Sunday by and in the water. In advance of this year’s event, we’re following the preparations of three swimmers as they get ready to take on one of the Festival challenges, and offer them advice to make the best of the day.

Find out more about the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival

Emily's training update

Read Part 1 of Emily’s journey to taking on the 4-mile challenge at the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival

Hi, Emily again!

Here’s an update on my training so far which, I have to admit, hasn’t changed much.

At the moment I’m on holiday. When I get back the lakes will FINALLY be open. It’s been forever since I’ve swam more than 400m continuously, let alone 4 miles! I’m also looking forward to trying out my Poolmate swimming watch. The reason it stood out is because it’s the only watch, in a reasonable price range, that can measure your open water distance. However, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet for open water.

On holiday I always find it harder to train as the facilities aren’t as specialised. So far, I’ve been swimming in a 20m pool that’s shaped like a kidney bean. I always feel a bit self-conscience when putting on my swimming hat and swimming with a fountain on one side of me and little children splashing on the other. I also went on a swim in the sea without goggles and a hat (it was spur-of-the moment) and it was surprisingly difficult! Overall, my training is mostly the same, but I’ll change when I get home, so more on that next time.

Here are the answers to Simon’s comments of my first blog:

  • I always make sure to back my bag before race day. I have one pair of goggles so will buy a new pair so I have spare. In races, I normally walk to the start in flip-flops and I have HUUB anti-chafing wax which I cover myself in (It smells like coconut). I’ve also got a DryRobe.
  • When the lakes open, they do practice mass starts so I’m going to do them. When I do open water triathlons, I also have to do mass starts so I have some practice.
  • I feel like pacing is an important thing I need to practice when I train as I’ve never swam 4 miles!
  • I’ll bring some fast-energy foods such as gel, as well as oats to give me some long-lasting energy.
  • I am also going to have to practice running / walking the four miles back: have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Simon says:

When you say your training hasn’t changed much, that sounds like a good thing to me. Consistency in training is the best way to make long term progress. Well done for finding a way to keep up your training while on holiday. Sometimes we have to train in less than ideal conditions and make the best of it. It also shows resilience and flexibility, which will be useful if things don’t go exactly to plan on race day.

We’re interested to hear how you get on with the Poolmate swimming watch in open water. I don’t know exactly which model you’ve got, but I think it might be the one that counts your strokes and from that uses your stroke length to estimate how far you’ve swum. You may have to experiment to ensure it’s calibrated correctly. You will possibly need to use a different stroke length setting for wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimming. However, don’t worry too much about times and distances in open water.

Your preparation is going well, you’ve already experienced the joys of a mass participation start in triathlon and you sound like you’re organised and have thought through your nutrition and kit requirements for the day.

The key thing now is to maintain consistency through June with perhaps some steady but measured increases in distance. Avoid any radical changes or sudden increases in distances that might put you at risk of an injury.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.