Meet one of our Swimathon Ambassadors - Esther Chambers, and read about her experience at this year's Ambassador Day hosted by Olympic Gold Medalist and Swimathon President Duncan Goodhew!
Stepping Outside my Comfort Zone
A few hours after I’d signed up for Swimathon last December, I received a call to say I’d made a mistake with my entry – I’d accidentally registered for twenty 5k swims. Slightly embarrassed, I explained to the caller it wasn’t a slip of the keyboard - I did actually intend to swim 100k (two 5k swims a day for 10 consecutive days). Trying to gauge if I was of sane mind, they tentatively asked if I knew what I was doing – I must have said enough to reassure them because that conversation led to me being invited to be a Swimathon 2019 Ambassador!
Having participated in Swimathon for the last twenty years, I was extremely honoured to be asked to be an Ambassador. I was also quite apprehensive. I love swimming for many, many reasons…but talking and blogging about it are definitely well outside my comfort zone.
Ambassadors meet up
It was therefore with a great deal of trepidation that I arrived at the Castle Swimming Pool in London for the Swimathon Ambassadors meet up in late January. I’d been told the day would include the chance to meet my fellow Ambassadors, get expert advice from Duncan Goodhew and join in a swimming session.
As soon as I started chatting to the other Ambassadors, I began to feel more at ease. The day officially kicked off with an introduction from Duncan, Swimathon’s President, which was followed by an insight into the amazing support that Marie Curie provide.
We all introduced ourselves and shared our swimming ‘story’. It was really inspiring to hear how everyone was challenging themselves: some were relatively new to swimming having only learnt to swim in the last few years; others had signed up as a way to get fitter or improve their swimming technique; many had loved ones who had been affected by cancer and wanted to do something to raise money for Marie Curie and Cancer Research.
What I love about Swimathon is it gives everyone the opportunity to set themselves a personal challenge, whatever that might be – distances start at 400m (16 lengths) and range up to 5k (200 lengths). You can enter as an individual, or get together with friends and family to sign up as a team.
As we continued to get to know each other over lunch, we were taken in turn down to poolside for photos and to record a short video. Everyone was very friendly, and the atmosphere was really laid back so this part wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be.
Learning from the best
After some swimming tips and advice from Duncan, and a quick change into our swimming gear, we made our way to the pool for our swimming session. This consisted of various drills to get us thinking about the different elements of our stroke. Duncan did a great job of ensuring we all came away with something to work on. Some of the drills were harder to master than others – we were all hilariously bad at the ‘one legged ballet dancer’ drill – it might be a while before I pluck up the courage to work on that one at my local swimming pool!
The time flew by and before we knew it, we were heading back upstairs. As he wrapped up the day, Duncan challenged us all to set ourselves an additional target for encouraging others to participate in Swimathon.
My main motivation for signing up to be a Swimathon ambassador is to inspire others to challenge themselves. You’ll be surprised by what you can achieve - what may seem like an impossible goal, whether it’s 400m or 100k, will become a reality if you put your mind to it, have a plan and chip away at it.
I’ve set myself the target of matching the 100k distance I’m swimming with the total distance swum by the people I encourage to sign up for a Swimathon – that could be 250 people signing up for 400m, or 20 signing up for 5k. If you use the code SWIM19ESTHER when you register, you’ll get 50% off the entry fee and it will mean I can track how I’m progressing towards this target.
I came away from the Swimathon Ambassadors meet up with some really useful swimming tips, some new swimming friends and bucket loads of inspiration to spur me on in my training. All in all, a pretty memorable day!
Swimathon 2019 Ambassador