Over the Easter weekend I took part in the 2Swim4Life 24hr swim at Guilford Lido in a team of 5 awesome swimmers. This is a special swimming event which involves swimming 1 mile every hour, on the hour for 24hrs. It takes place in an outdoor pool which is heated and 50metres long.

The Team

The event attracts a wide range of swimmers of all abilities from people swimming a mile in under 25minutes to people swimming in 45minutes.  It’s a great opportunity to take part in a marathon swimming event and be part of the swimming community without breaking the bank.

There are people completing the event as solo swimmers and in pairs as well as teams of 3, 4 and 5! We took part in a team of 5 people so that we could experience a swimming event without having to do masses of training. And to be honest swimming 5 miles and staying up all night was hard enough.

This event is a challenge rather than a race so it doesn’t matter how long it takes to swim the mile. There are no clocks, finishing positions or prizes. This makes for a really friendly event.  Of course the faster you swim, the more recovery time you get.

The weekend that we took part was the hottest day of the year with glorious summer sunshine throughout which meant that sitting around on poolside in between swims, talking about swimming, eating cake, and catching up on all the gossip was a real treat. That was until the sun went down when it started to get a bit more challenging.  

Apart from the distance the main things that make this event challenging are

  • Swimming through the night: The pool is heated so the actual water was quite nice but at night the air temperature dropped to between 4 and 8C which really makes it difficult for swimmers and supporters. This year the weather was incredible and the night temperatures were quite mild compared to previous years when it’s been below zero.
  • Lack of sleep: Swimming in the middle of the night is insane! I definitely couldn’t co-ordinate myself properly and was certainly slower at 4am! So total respect to all the solo swimmers.
  • Getting cold in between swims and having to get back in again before warming up properly. Getting in at 4am in the morning was the hardest thing for me and I had 4 hours off in between swims.
  • Psychologically getting out and getting in again was hard for me (even with my 4hrs off) so I can’t begin to imagine how solo swimmers deal with it. 
  • Nutrition:  In any endurance event gastric problems can ruin your event and make for a very unpleasant experience and this event is no different. We all had gastric problems for our night time swims (but we did have fish and chips for tea!)
  • Injury: After so much swimming any poor movement patterns, muscular inbalances and minor injuries can start to become larger problems. And I saw various swimmers struggling with painful backs, necks and shoulders later in the event.   

Thank you to Susan Cheshire, Pam Hardy, Mel Smith and Emma O’Brien for being such amazing team mates!

If you’ve done it before then do get in touch to let us know your experiences and tips, or if you’re thinking about doing it next year then read Part 2 of this blog for some tips.