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My First Henley Mile

I’m Katie, I’m 33 years old and a fitness enthusiast, if I’m honest, I’m the jack of many ‘sports’ but the master of none. So, despite not being a regular swimmer, or having ever completed an open water swim before, I’ve entered the ‘Henley Mile’ – Whatever could go wrong?  


After I’d signed up, I felt it would be interesting to learn a little more about the event, after all isn’t Henley mainly used for rowing? Well, the concept of swimming in Henley only started in 2004, like all good things, It took some time to flourish and in 2008 it became an official event.


Due to the fact I’ve never taken part in an OWS (open water swim) before, or knowingly swam a mile, the natural choice for me was to opt for the half mile option. Being a complete novice, I had no idea how long this kind of distance would take me and what to expect. The last time I swam in open water was during an Obstacle Race. Which, in all honesty isn’t really a fair comparison.  Although, I will add I’m happy I won’t be wearing my trainers whilst swimming in Henley.


The only way I was going to make any progress and understand my limitations, was to head to the pool and see what I could manage.  Through the eyes of an experienced swimmer, this would be an easy and pleasurable experience, for me it was slightly different. I had to avoid snoozing my 6am alarm and charged out the house clutching a bag filled with goggles, towel and a swimming hat.



Upon arrival at the pool I readied myself, found a free space in the swim lane, started my watch in ‘Swim Mode’ (Yet another exciting new moment!).  And eased into the water and started to swim; I can’t deny that after 10 minutes I was becoming confident that I could conquer any OWS. After 15 minutes I was starting to think that swimming was rather hard work, and lots of practice would be needed.  As it was my first session, I was being gentle on myself and disregarded everyone else’s pace. When my 25mins was up, I felt energised and accomplished and ready for the day. Also, I realised that I have a long way to go.


With my new found mind-set, I returned to the pool with an objective of swimming for 50 minutes. Everything was going perfectly, until I realised only 20 minutes had passed. I needed a rest, plus I’d obliviously turned off my swimming tracker and inhaled more water than could be considered necessary.


Downhearted, I returned home and was reminded what a huge undertaking this was, my self-assured mind-set was fading, I knew I had to take this more seriously. My first objective was to incorporate more swimming into my week, due to my inexperience to build confidence and endurance in a limited amount of time I’m aiming for three 45 minute swims each week.


My second objective was to build an understanding on how to safely compete in this event, by making sure I’m hydrated to help avoid muscle cramp. I understand it’s recommended to keep a safe distance from other swimmers, I’m not entirely sure being kicked in the face will aid my confidence. I’m soon to become the proud owner of my first ever wetsuit and goggles so that I have suitable attire for the event. Finally, just that little factor of being able to swim 800m without taking a break, I’m going to file that under the ‘In progress’ section.



I also found out that there is an OWS centre within a 30 minute drive, what would be better than a trial swim before the big day. My goals;

- Swim 800m
- Get used to the colder outside waters.
- Remember that practice makes perfect



    I have three weeks to evolve into a more confident swimmer, learn how to remove a wetsuit and introduce myself to the glorious waters of Henley – Wish me luck!




    Author Bio

    Katie is a food, fitness, lifestyle & mental health blogger. You can find out more about her over at Cake Vs Scales.