The postal swim is a brilliant way to set yourself a personal challenge, and my own goal is to swim regularly and see if I can beat today's distance, by this time next year. The BLDSA Postal Swim was started by Roger and Valerie Parsons in 1981 and is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. To take part, you just need to download the form from the BLDSA website here, and then swim as many lengths of your local pool as you can within the hour in January or February. You'll need someone to verify that you've done your swim and how many lengths, this could be the pool lifeguard or a friend.
Then you send off your form before the 1st March, along with your badge fee (£4 if you are in the UK, $9 USA, $9.50 for Australia and Canada). Medals are awarded by age, gender, and disability categories, and everyone receives an embroidered badge. Then you take part again a year later and see if you've beaten your previous result.
For me as a relatively new distance swimmer, this is a great way to set myself a personal goal, and to have something to aim for when I'm training. I swim breaststroke and I'm not especially fast. Back in 2000 in developed a condition called Guillain Barre whilst undertaking medical research in maternal and child health in Tamil Nadu, India. I was paralysed and destroyed my immune system, and it took about 18 months before I was mobile again. This means that I find lane swimming especially hard as I'm not confident in judging swimmers around me, probably one of the reasons why I love wild swimming because then I have lots of space and freedom, without bumping into people who swim faster than me! So pool swimming is quite a mentally strenuous challenge as my brain works out where things are around me and tries to avoid them.
The first thing I noticed when I got into the swimming pool today, was how light I felt in the water. I've not been swimming in a pool for a very long time, and it was much warmer than I've been used to with my ice swimming. In the lake and during my wild swims I'm often swimming against waves, or having weed or little bits of debris floating into me, so I feel like I have some resistance, something to swim against. So this was really odd when swimming in a pool (apart from all the hair that kept getting stuck in my fingers, which was a bit grim!).
It took me a couple of minutes to get into the feel of the water, and I really missed the cool water of the lake! I've not swum this far in a long time, but one day I would love to swim an ice mile. Today felt like one step closer to achieving that goal, but I'll need to get a lot fitter and faster, especially swimming breaststroke and being in the water for the kind of time to complete that distance as it would be very dangerous in cold water. It would need a lot of careful training and preparation. For now, I'm planning to swim most mornings, not outdoors, but in the pool - aiming for distance rather than cold endurance. (Though we have snow and winter conditions forecast for the next few days, so I'd like to get some shorter ice swims in whilst I can)
My goal for today's BLDSA Postal Swim was to complete 66 lengths of the 25m pool as that would be equal a mile. I was delighted to discover from Jean that I'd actually swum 81 lengths in the hour, that's 2025m, or 1.25 miles. But more than just the swim, the exercise filled me with endorphins, and I had more energy for writing Bertram Bile stories for the rest of the day, so this could just be a habit that I'd like to develop on a regular basis!