I HATED swimming when I was growing up. If you have severe asthma the pool is NOT your friend. Doctors forced you to go to improve but often the chlorine and the anxiety would make everything worse. So I stopped attending the classes at 10 years old and never looked back.

That is, until I started running and felt it might be useful to get these lungs a “stretch”.

So Rob Dart offered to give me some advice which I will share here with you.

He runs a  swim school called Premier Swim in Bury, North Manchester who cater for swimmers of all ages and abilities. All sessions are 1:1 so the entire session can be tailored to work on  specific needs.

If you want to find out more about Premier Swim you can go to www.premierswim.co.uk.

  1. What is your advice for someone who does not love swimming to get back to the pool?

Learn to love it!! Little and often is good too to help acclimatise to the unfamiliar environment. If you struggle with fear of the water and don’t like submerging in the water start off slowly. Get used to breathing around the water and practice your aquatic breathing – inhale through your mouth out of the water and exhale through your nose under the water.

  1. What are some typical training plans? Do you do interval training in the pool as well?

It’s difficult to provide a one size fits all training plan. I always write my training plans specific to the needs of an individual. Everybody’s goal is different; everybody has a different starting point. Just to give you an example I am meeting with someone tomorrow to help plan out his training for a continuous deca ironman (A 24-mile swim, followed by 1120-mile bike ride, followed by a 262 mile run!). Obviously his training is going to look a lot different to someone who is entering into their first sprint triathlon and looking to build their stamina up to manage 400m!!

I use a variety of different types of training in the pool. Drills to help focus on technique, intervals to help build speed, tempo type work to help to build endurance. Any type of training you would do for running can be replicated in the pool.

  1. Could you give us a few tips to improve technique?

The first thing is to slow down! Quite often people come to me saying they are out of breath after just one length of the pool and when they swim they are swimming as fast as they can. You wouldn’t run a marathon at 10k pace so you’re not going to be able to swim 400m when you’re swimming flat out!

  1. I remember that swimming was very demanding for me as an asthmatic kid. Any special tips on how to deal with asthma in the pool?

I have asthma and have done since a very young age. It never really hindered my progress, I competed at national level at 100m butterfly. In fact, swimming helped me to deal with my asthma. Swimming is all about controlling your breathing when your body is under stress. The ability to do this is a great aid when dealing with asthma. The key thing is to relax and focus on your breathing. Things like tai chi or ashtanga yoga are also good to help breathing and breathe control.

  1. What are some of the benefits of incorporating swimming to a runner’s training plan?

The benefits are great. I no longer really compete in swimming events as I have found a real passion for ultra-running. Unfortunately, a busy work and family life don’t allow me to train for both! So, I have spent the last 2 or 3 years really focusing on my running. However, my sessions in the pool are invaluable as a tool for aiding recovery. Also, they help to build my CV endurance – my heart and lungs don’t know the difference whether I’m running or swimming as long as they’re working hard they’ll be getting stronger and more efficient.


  1. For those attempting to go toward triathlons or just swimming in open waters, how to make the transition? What are the main things to keep in mind when swimming on open waters?

Open water swimming is a completely different beast to pool swimming. There are a lot more things to think about. From which wetsuit to buy to sighting. I’d recommend finding a local open water session that offers introduction sessions. I certainly wouldn’t advocate going out and jumping in on your own until you’ve got a lot of experience. Even then it’s always a good idea to have someone with you on the shore just in case anything does go wrong.


  1. Finally, what should one look for when finding a swimming trainer?

Someone who is going to listen to you. There’s no point in having a coach who doesn’t listen to what your race goals are or how you are feeling about your swimming. Like I said previously an off the shelf plan isn’t really the best way to go. A coach should be tailoring a bespoke plan specific to your needs.


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