Date: 25th April 2013
Location: Basildon Sports Park
Rules: Swimmers start in the water and hold on the side or top bars of the diving platform awaiting the start. On the whistle, swimmers launch backwards and dolphin kick underwater until the arms break the surface. Backstroke is swum with alternating arm strokes and fast up-and-down kicks. When swimmers reach the end of the pool, they may turn onto their stomach for one arm pull and then perform a tumble-turn. They then swim to the other end of the pool. At the end of the race, swimmers stay on their backs until they touch the wall with one hand.
Olympic Gold Medal London 2012: 0.58.33, Missy Franklin, USA.
Sarah: It turns out that our nearest 50m Olympic sized pool is in Basildon; an hour away from where we live. Our commitment to the challenge was clear as we set our alarms for 5.30am on a day off work and made the drive. It was more than worth it, as the pool and the facilities are brilliant. It was time to put our swimming lessons with Colchester Swimming Club to the test. We've been practicing a lot- especially on our tumble-turns, and although we've both swam in pools 50m+ before, the 50m is hard when you're swimming flat out! We had to judge our timed attempts to avoid as many people in our lane as possible, but both found that we ended up hitting our arms into the lane dividers on the return leg. We each did three timed attempts, with our best times posted above.
Ellie: It’s 7am. We’ve been driving for an hour. Well, Sarah’s been driving… I’ve been ‘entertaining’, DJ’ing and navigating (badly). I’m not sure what Basildon did to get such an amazing facility as the Sports Park but it is beautiful. There is a climbing wall at the front of the building with a glass surround so that people can see in. It has a massive athletics track with stands and lights. And it has a 50m pool. The only 50m pool in Essex.
50m is much, much further than 25m. It felt epic… as I swam along on my back I kept thinking ‘I’m nearly at the flags; they’re coming up; keep focused - those flags will be here any second…’ but they never seemed to arrive! The other thing that struck me as I pushed and pulled myself up and down the lane is how difficult it is to stay in a straight line. I swerved around, caught my hands in the lane dividers, nearly clattered other swimmers and generally got in a big, exhausted muddle!
I’m pleased that my fastest swim was under the 3 minute mark and although I felt properly sick when I finished, I think I could keep practicing and decrease that time. I guess that is another interesting thing about this project – we can repeat events and track our improvement.