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How to count laps ...

Now we all know that counting is a basic skill and one that we learn at a very young age. But we also know that, as an adult, it can be very challenging… when swimming!

We designed Marathon Swims to get away from counting endless laps of the same lane, but you will still need to count your course loops, albeit only up to a maximum of ten. There is no need to count the 200 laps of a Marathon 10k or the 100 laps of a Half Marathon 5k. All you need to do is count the course loops (one complete loop of the course from getting into the water in lane 1 to getting out in lane 10, which is 20 laps of the 50m pool or 1k swum).

If you’re in the 1k Challenge you don’t even need to count at all, as you only do one course loop (1k).

Counting to ten can’t be too hard can it? Well yes it can, especially when you throw in the thrill of racing in an Olympic venue, the crowd cheering and your main focus on a PB or beating your friend.

Why is it important? Well, complete one too few laps and you’re DQ’d. One too many and you can kiss good bye to any PB, qualifying time or bragging rights. We’ve all been there mid-race, saying to yourself, “So, have I done three laps or am I on my third lap?” The questions will continue to rattle around in your head for the reminder of that leg. “Never again” you say to yourself. Next event I’m going to have a fool proof plan for counting laps!

In Marathon Swims help is at hand. Here’s a few ways that can help you count those course loops:

Techniques to help you count your Marathon Swims course loops:

1. Ask – We’ll have a marshal on hand with a iPad and they will be able to look up your number and tell you how many loops you have done so far whilst you’re in Transition. But it is probably much better to know yourself, rather than wait for the answer …

2. Bands – We can supply you with an elastic band. You have five fingers on each hand and ten fingers in total. Simply move the elastic band up a finger after each lap. When on your final finger, you’ll know it is time to cross the finish line next time you pass the finish

3. Water bottle – as above, but mark on your water bottle with the 1k’s you intend to do and place a band around the water bottle. Move the band up after each 1k. This will mean you need to find your water bottle and move the band up after each 1k. However, you could always do it every other one and move the band up two at a time.

4. Team work – Ask a friend or partner to count for you. Warning: this strategy can lead to relationship breakdown! There are a couple of things you’ll need to do though: a. Make sure you have an agreed system of communication b. Make sure they are easily recognised in a crowd (a sign to write on is a great tool to have)

5. Jelly babies – similar to “Water bottle” you could always tape sweets to your water bottle, eating one after each lap!

6. Watch the time – Use a watch that records swim distance or use time - you know how long it will take you to swim a kilometre, so as long as you know how long you have been swimming for, this should tell you how far you’ve done. This is for experienced swimmers only and you’ll need to factor in time for the Transition.

Whatever your strategy – good luck counting!

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