A big charity swim can be every bit as demanding and rewarding as a marathon, writes timeoutdoors' Challenges Editor Elaine Aronson.
Perhaps because so much attention is paid to the big races on land, swimming does not often enter a lot of people’s heads when they are tempted to take on a challenge for charity. Yet not everyone has an aptitude for running and, for some, dropping into a pool or river and exercising horizontally has far more appeal. You'll need to be in good shape, though: as anyone who has done the Great North Swim, the Great London Swim or the ultimate challenge of the Cross Channel Swim - will tell you, these events are not to be sniffed at.
If you’re a strong swimmer, you’ll be good at a Great Swim, right? Wrong - at least, not without training you won’t. The Great Manchester Swim, for example, is hard. But then, ask yourself, is something easy to do really worth doing? Pushing and testing yourself brings both tangible and intrinsic rewards that simply cannot be achieved without effort.
Indoor pools are fine for training, but it is best to get some experience in outdoor waters before the big day. Competitors in the Great East Swim, for instance, may fancy a dip in the Alton reservoir before the masses pile in.
CHOOSE YOUR STROKE
When it comes to the swim, what you do really depends on your goals. If you’re after quick times and impressive performance, then you need to stick with front crawl. If it’s more of a personal mission where records don’t mean a whole lot, pick whatever stroke you are most comfortable with.
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