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1Life Blog

Swimming Challenges

Posted by Paul Rayner on 05-Apr-2019 07:00:00
Paul Rayner


Setting yourself a challenge can be a great way to motivate yourself, improve your performance in the pool and gain a sense of accomplishment while having fun along the way.

Whether you’ve just learnt to swim or are a competitive swimmer, everyone can benefit from setting themselves challenges which will push your boundaries both physically and mentally.

Get motivated

Sometimes, it’s hard to get into gear, or perhaps you’ve lost your way a bit with swimming, and you’ve fallen into the same old routine of swimming for half an hour or completing so many lengths each session. Do you leave the pool wondering if you could have given a little bit more or pushed yourself that bit harder? If this is you, then a challenge could be just what you need to shake up your watery workouts.  

Setting a realistic target can act as a great incentive to push yourself that little bit further. Whether you sign up for one of the many organised swimming challenges, or set your own challenge, you’re sure to be spurred on towards reaching your target.

Setting goals

When setting yourself a swimming challenge, it’s important to first decide on your ultimate SMART goal. This could be to improve your fitness level, get to grips with a new stroke or increase your pace in the water. Whatever it is you’re looking to achieve, be realistic and write your goal down. Once on paper, it will serve as a regular reminder, and you’ll be much more likely to work towards achieving it. After all, out of sight, out of mind!

To make your challenge achievable, aim to make one small change each week. For example, if you swim three times a week and your challenge is to achieve a personal best length time, try to focus on a common goal each week which will work towards this. This could be something along the lines of firstly focusing on improving your fitness, then working on refining your technique to maximise the distance travelled with each stroke. All of these small goals work towards achieving the challenge you have set for yourself while mixing up the focus of your swimming sessions to maintain your interest.

Don’t forget, a challenge doesn’t always have to be something fast and exhausting, it just needs to be specific to you. So, it could be something as simple as challenging yourself to go swimming a certain number of times each month. Anything that gives a focus to your workout and pushes the boundaries of your time in the pool can be considered a challenge.  

Mix things up

Sometimes a change can be just what you need to put yourself through your paces and push your fitness to the next level, so it’s worth looking into ways you can mix up your time spent swimming.

How about switching the indoor pool for the great outdoors? This could be at your local outdoor pool, or if you’re feeling adventurous and are a strong, confident and competent swimmer, why not try some of the recognised wild swimming/open water locations across the UK? Obviously, if you are trying wild swimming for the first time, then you need to invest in some gear such as a wetsuit. We would also advise that you only swim in the recommended locations and ideally with a swimming partner. Have a look at The Outdoor Swimming Society’s website for some top tips.

Alternatively, if you’re used to swimming alone, joining a swimming club or signing up for a swimming challenge can be a great way to gain a training partner. Signing up and training for an organised challenge can give you a common goal with other swimmers and make you feel part of a strong swimming community, which has been proven to act as a great motivator and improve your performance. Knowing that you’re not the only one striving to complete the challenge when you’re starting to flag can be just what you need to spur yourself on. The same effect can also be achieved by swimming with a training partner; not only is it a great social opportunity to regularly meet up with a friend or group, but you’ll also get more enjoyment from your swim through encouraging each other to take your swimming to new lengths!

Challenge suggestions

If you’ve racked your brain and still can’t think of a suitable swimming challenge to set yourself, here are a few suggestions which might work for you.

- Challenge yourself to swim a certain distance over the course of a week/month

- Challenge yourself to swim at least 3 times a week for a month

- Challenge yourself to swim a mile each day for however many years old you are

- Challenge yourself to master a new stroke

- Challenge yourself to set a new personal best


Organised swimming challenges….

- Marie Curie Swimathon, various locations

- Great North Swim, Cumbria

- Swim Rutland, East Midlands

- Swim a Memory Mile, Alzheimer’s Society  

- Swim Serpentine, London

- Swim the Distance – any location, virtual swimming challenges

For more information about swimming at your local 1Life centre, find out more here.