Getting the training in for Waiheke

In March I’m planning to swim 20km from Waiheke Island to Auckland. This is a fundraiser swim for the rescue helicopter which Westpac are getting alongside and supporting. I haven’t done a fundraiser swim before so it’s great to be using my swimming to not only challenge myself but to get others behind what is a great cause.

Despite swimming this distance before at Rottnest, I’m not going to underestimate the challenge. Many of the swimmers did not complete the distance last year with conditions making it tough for both kayakers and the swimmers. This means my next month needs to be focused on training.

After my last blog, it was suggested I share more about how I train and achieve my goals. I haven’t done this much, partly because I’m not sure I’m the best person to learn from. A lot of the time I feel like I’m just feeling my way along. I’ve tried before to stick to training plans but you don’t need much to derail these.

My training however isn’t completely directionless and if I think about it there are a few guiding principles that normally work well for me. They might work for others too.

Get in the water: Always a good place to start. I’ll be trying to get in the water 5-6 days a week. These aren’t necessarily long swims. If you google it, there’s a bit of commentary out there about swimming often vs swimming big. I’m not sure there is a perfect formula though.

Out of the water activities help too: When I was in London the pool I went to only opened at 7am which didn’t allow for very long in the water but outside the pool I was walking approximately 50 mins everyday. Every bit helps when you need the fitness and endurance to be in the water a long time. In Wellington I’m now incorporating about 30 mins of cycling during the work week – not part of my swim training but still helpful.

Weekly mileage goals: I roughly track weekly mileage to gauge whether I’m doing enough. For a 20km swim I try to keep my weekly mileage above 20km a week. I’ve been comfortably sitting at or above this lately as I’ve been making the most of summer and getting the longer swims in. I might try a week or two up close to 30km but I’ll see how I go. Keeping to weekly mileage goals is always harder in winter.

Get your long swims in: As aluded to above, some will swear against doing too many long training swims while on the other hand you’ll find swimmers in Dover over a UK summer consistently fitting 6 hour swims in. For me long weekend swims can be good if you aren’t getting the mileage you’d like during the work week. But most importantly, they help you prepare mentally for the distance. (They can also be quite fun with others – 4 of us swam 9km on Saturday out from Freyberg).

Allow recovery: Sometimes you just need a sleep in. Resting up is particularly important before the big event (tapering).

Don’t freak out: Your training could always have gone better. In the end of the day you just need to jump in and trust youself to swim the distance.

I haven’t mentioned nutrition. I don’t really pay too much attention to this even though I should. At the moment, my guiding principle is probably ‘enjoy eating’. There is probably something to say about what you’re eating. I think I’m ok on this front but maybe I should think about it more.

After Waiheke I might look at other bodies of water I can conquer. The distances quickly escalate and look scary. I will probably need to pay a bit more attention to my training and refine this a bit. I’m sure the basics will remain the same though. But for now, let’s conquer Waitemata Harbour.

Final note: Don’t forget to support my swim in March. Link to donate is here:

Perfect conditions for Saturday’s 9km Freyberg to Hataitai return.

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An ocean swimmer from Wellington, New Zealand who loves getting out and into the ocean. It's not just about the swimming but also the personal challenge, the travel and the awesome people.

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