As part of my plan for total liveability (a concept that’s a work in progress and will be expanded on later) I want to become a good swimmer. I used to swim a lot as a child – I was never anything noteworthy but I was strong enough to swim out of moderate rips and in general felt confident in the ocean as well as the pool.
Then I hit my teens and stopped swimming – sure I’d lark around in the family pool (which we only got when I was thirteen). But it was a small round above-ground – ideal for cooling off in, making whirlpools and just hanging around in for ages in the shade of a tree in summer, but not so ideal for maintaining swimming strength.
Fast-forward a few years and I could count up on one had how often I hit the water in about ten years. It seems breaststroke is like the apocryphal bicycle – I have no problem swimming for hours with that. Its freestyle that’s the problem. I feel awkward, I seem to be gasping for breath every stroke – and I’m pretty sure I’m pausing for the inbreath too. And I can barely make it 25 metres (British public pools tend to be small…).
The plan is that I will continue to try and swim about once a week. I’m sure I could get better more efficiently if I devoted more time to it, but this is part of a fit and healthy lifestyle which means it has to fit in with my life. My biggest concern is my feet cramping up while swimming. Even if I’d had the lung capacity to swim more (how can I be able to run 20km but not swim 25metres?) I pretty much had to stop each lap to stretch out my feet. I would have liked to have stayed another ten minutes or so but the cramping was starting to spread to my calves.
Why was this happening? I do have a bit of a family history of muscle cramps and restless leg, and I take a magnesium supplement daily and a potassium supplement after a workout. Should I be looking to do that a couple of hours before swimming? Is it something I’ll grow out of – it kind of felt like my muscles were tensing to swim, but they weren’t meeting and resistance so just kept going and cramped. Is this just something my body has to relearn after getting used to running over the last few years? Or have I completely made up this theory with no scientific basis at all?