It’s been a couple of months since I started the swim scheme and have seen the benefits in my recent races.
I began a strong swimmer with good stamina, able to complete the 1.2 mile swims in the triathlons I had done in summer 2013, albeit using breaststroke to labour along behind the pack to finish in around 55 minutes.
To me front crawl had always been a sprint stroke, and I never had the technique to use it in endurance swimming.
Under the tutelage of West Suffolk Swimming Club star Danny Proffitt and retired champion veteran triathlete Barbara Leverett, I have been among those attending Haverhill Leisure Centre on Sundays for the swimming lessons.
They soon taught me how to master front crawl, the art of exhaling underwater then tilting my head to the side to inhale every other stroke.
Once I had the hang of it and it felt natural - assisted by earplugs to stop leakages into my head - I felt comfortable doing the stroke and able to do so for long periods.
Entering my first triathlon of 2014 at Outlaw at the start of June I was ready to put this technique to practice.
It was very different to being in the pool - the wet suit made me much more buoyant, but I also found it difficult to adjust to the cold water on my face.
Once I got going I felt fine, and was my first open water swim where I had been overtaking people.
I also had to get used to being in the cluster rather than at the back, and clattering into the 300 swimmers in my wave.
I managed to completed the swim in 40 minutes - faster than my pool time and a considerable improvement on previous years.
I swam at Grafham Water in the Grafman Triathlon on Sunday (8), finishing the same distance in 41 minutes.
I went to my final class of the swim scheme later that day to help my wearied muscles relax, picking up a few more pointers.
I’m grateful for the tutelage of Barbara and Danny, and will look forward to seeing to rest of the class at the Great East Swim at Alton Water on June 21.
The swim scheme is part of a subsidised initiative this year being run in Haverhill and Newmarket (for young people) aiming to participate in the Great East Swim on June 21.
The subsidised offer is worth over £200 but costs £25 and is available for those aged 12 to 25 in Haverhill and Newmarket, with training at both leisure centres culminating in the Great East Swim.
Those under 16 need parental/guardian’s permission and can only do the half mile swim.
The young person’s Sportivate programme is funded by Sport England’s Sportive initiative and delivered in partnership with Suffolk Sport and Suffolk County Council.