A table and chairs really helps to set up your spot and for your team to get comfortable.
We were lucky with the weather but if it had rained umbrellas and other things might have been useful on poolside.
Have a swimming costume and towel for every. I was so relieved I had a dry one for the night time swim but almost cried when I realised my towel was wet.
You can pitch a tent the night before in the Lido grounds and it’s a good idea to get their early so that you can choose a good spot. The tent is for supporters and team members to sleep in, shelter in and for somewhere to stay warm and dry. Some teams also had a room at the Premier Inn over the road. The downside of this is it takes you away from the fun and the suffering! The upside is you get warm, dry and have some kip!
Have a sense of humour and make it fun – comedy glasses, fancy dress, dancing, fairy lights, and an inflatable unicorn all help. We had fairy lights to our table and chairs at the end of the lane which several swimmers commented on.
Be positive and encouraging. When a swimmer gets in or out of the pool give them some words of encouragement!! I’m a fairly experienced swimmer and triathlete – but I’m still surprised about the power of some positive words of encouragement from someone else to lift my spirits!
Swimming Buddy: The buddie’s job is to look after the swimmer in the pool and make sure they’re OK from a health and safety point of view. In our team of 5 we buddied each other but for smaller teams you definitely need additional people for buddy duties.
Counting Lengths: A buddy’s job is to count lengths and we were a bit laid back about this! And in the middle of the night is surprising how hard it is to count!
At a minimum a pen and paper and a clip board helps with this. For a more organised approach a printed out lane counting grid helps! Professional supporters where taking 100m splits and stroke counts which is all information that helps a swimmer but also helps to keep supporters engaged. (We were too busy stopping for a chat at the end of each length to worry about times).
Dinner: We wanted a real meal so one of our supporters popped out to the chippy to get fish and chips. But lots of people went out for pizza. (In a smaller team or as a solo swimmer I’m sure your nutrition requirements would be different).
Make the swimming fun! We added in a length of fly or a handstand. Or stopped at the end of the length to watch the rest of the team do the time warp. I saw some supporters walking along poolside dancing and flashing to make their swimmers smile. And yes I did see at least one proper Moonie!
Do not underestimate the cold! And take a lot of warm clothes including blankets and sleeping bags. A dry robe is a great bit of kit!
Swimming Order: In our team of 5 we kept the same order throughout. But lots of teams were doing different things throughout the 24hours in order to give a bigger break through the night.
Make friends with the other swimmers and supporters in your lane.
It might help to have a team of swimmers of roughly the same speed so that you can all swim in the same lane and get to know the other swimmers and supporters. As there was space we all ended up swimming in different lanes to suit our speed which made for a better swim.
Other strokes: Particularly for solo swimmers doing a little bit of back stroke or breast stroke during every mile would really help to unwind your shoulders and give your body a break from the repetitive movement of front crawl.
Team work: There were some great examples of swimmers working together to get the miles done – by taking in turns to pace or lead the lane out, swapping at an agreed set distance and inserting back stroke at an agreed point in the mile.
As a TI swimmer every swim is an opportunity for learning! Our agreed goal was to try and finish the 24 hours as a better swimmer! So we used each swim to work through some stroke focal points, and give each other some technical feedback after each swim. This helped to make the miles pass and was a great opportunity to think about our swimming. We even took the time to do some video analysis! And yes when you’re passionate about coaching and swimming it’s hard to switch off!
Also our team member and artist Emma Jane O’Brien has left us with some amazing drawings to remember the swim with.
If you’ve done it then do get in touch to share your tips. If you’re thinking about doing it then get in touch to see how I can help.