Reviewing my progress to become a marathon swimmer

Reviewing my progress to become a marathon swimmer

Now I have already done my first marathon swimming and got my name listed in the LongSwims Database, and everything about the trip has been settled, so it’s time for me to review what I have actually done in my progress from starting swimming to become a marathon swimmer now.

I tried to start doing OW swimming back in December 2014, but it was a struggle in the initial years which I nearly gave up, until I got myself enough speed to join the OW group in July 2018, then the IHP Triathlon squad in October 2018.

That was when I started to progress fast. I did up to 3.7 km race by the end of 2018, then set a very ambitious goal for myself – to complete marathon swimming (>= 10 km) by March 2020. When I said this to the marathon swimmers I knew in my triathlon club and OW groups, they didn’t think that I would be able to do it in 1 year, and they thought that I should allow at least 3 years for that. I didn’t believe in them as in the running world, 1 year is a reasonable time to train for a marathon (42.195 km), so I believed that this could also apply to marathon swimming as well. I planned to progress to 5 km first in spring, then 7 – 10 km in the summer, and finally the cold half (14 km) next year to complete my goal. Also, I thought that those 4 years between the end of 2014 and 2018 were totally wasted, so I wanted to catch up my progress as soon as possible if I was training since the end of 2014.

I ramped up my training starting from about 7 km / week by the end of 2018, then 11 – 15 km / week in early 2019, mainly consisting of 2 squad sessions, a weekend OW group swim, and also about 2 practices on my own each week.

However, in April 2019, when I planned my trip to Europe in July, I found out a 13 km race that was so tempting that I signed up for that, as I believe that I could complete it with enough training in 3 months, which was even more aggressive than my original plan (jumping from 5 to 13 km directly within 3 months). I then further increased my training to about 15 – 18 km / week in May and June, by doing both Saturday and Sunday OW groups consecutively and joining the 5 km group on Sunday if possible (which I couldn’t in the beginning of the year as I was too slow), and this eventually led me to complete my goal half a year earlier than I expected.

I’m very happy with my achievement now, knowing that my progression is so fast, from 5 to 13 km in only 3 months, and marathon swimming in only 1 year when I restarted my OW adventure.
Although I felt my back fatigued after doing the 13 km, it was not much different from the first time I did 5 km, which didn’t happen again afterwards for the same distance, so I am happy to do it again, and now looking for even longer races next year besides cold half, probably between 18 – 25 km in length, which seem even more insane than a marathon swimming of “just” 10 km.

Although I am happy, I also regret that I didn’t fully make use of my free time when I was still an undergraduate student at HKU to force myself to squad standard, e.g. getting some lessons even they are not at HKU, and now have to train a lot with a full-time office job, together with not studying Swedish and go on an exchange in Sweden even I loved orienteering, are my biggest regrets in my university life.

As I haven’t any experience in living overseas, I am considering to have a working holiday before I reach the age limit of 30 years old, so I won’t have many years remaining, and I will definitely want to enjoy cold water marathon swimming and also orienteering in Europe which Hong Kong isn’t a good place to do. Especially I want to do channel swimming there, which currently remains a dream only, so I need to make sure that I am channel ready before I go for a working holiday, and I won’t have much time left to train for that level. However I believe that if I dedicate to a goal and plan carefully, I will be able to do it even it is too ambitious, just like my jump from 5 km to 13 km within 3 months. I haven’t decided where and how ambitious my next goal is, but will do soon when race calendars for next year come out!

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