In September 2013 I weighed 180 kilos. I had split trousers, broken a bed and was getting down. I needed to act, and act fast. I bit the bullet and took on a personal trainer in the form of Scott Hills and changed my whole lifestyle. Sounds simple if you say it fast enough but of course it was hard work. A good starting point for me though was swimming, having been a club swimmer 25 years ago, so I got back into pool swimming 3 times a week. This was a huge help and I progressed well, lost weight and also improved my technique. Then an old friend challenged me to enter the 2014 Great East Swim. The 2 mile event. Gulp. Then signing up made it official. I was – understandably - anxious with how it would go especially as I was still too big to find a decent wet suit for open water swimming! I had a short suit which was inadequate and I swam 1500m but couldn't really get used to the temperature so I just swam breaststroke, keeping my head above the water. It was obvious I needed to lose more weight to get into a good full wetsuit plus I needed to use ear plugs!

Having the goal of completing a 2 mile swim, with other people watching, really motivated me to train harder and I kept going, losing more weight and getting gradually fitter. Just before D Day, I bought an Aqua Sphere Challenger wetsuit in XXL which I had just about slimmed down enough to get into. I tried it out once in the pool and then, in May last year, there I was, doing my first Great Swim! I was very excited at the start but somehow managed to keep my cool and started near the back of the group as, like all newcomers, I didn't know my pace against everybody else. I wasn’t concerned about my time; I just wanted to finish as strongly as possible, so I made sure I didn't sprint off. Happily the atmosphere was amazing and the second mile felt great and amazingly I finished in 51m 51secs! I was secretly hoping to break the hour so I was delighted! In fact, I was so pumped and enjoyed the whole experience so much I signed up for the Great Manchester Swim and Great London Swim as soon as I got home! Now I’m back to loving my swimming and have also competed in various triathlons and am continuing to lose the weight. I feel great! The best advice I can give to anyone is - don’t worry about entering a Great Swim, just do it! You are amongst normal like minded people who are all feeling a bit nervous and they all just want to do their best and finish. The feeling of accomplishment when you do is really amazing! I’m looking forward to doing more Great Swims this year!

 

Simon Router is a music teacher from Luton. Open water swimmer, triathlete and accepter of challenges - he has lost an impressive 75kilos. Follow him @RouterST