Mia and Monika - racing 10 km in swimming!
We are two twin sisters named Maria Olsson and Monika Olsson born -67.
We have trained alongside our work all the time because we feel good about it, training has always been a big part of our lives, but without being so competitive. Of course it is fun to compete once in a while, but mostly training is a great well-being in life, like a friend who is always there.
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We have worked all our lives in kitchens on the cold side, and we have had the privilege of working in beautiful environments, such as in the archipelago on Utö, at Cirkus on Djurgården and now at Ulla Winbladh on Djurgården.
Training de-dramatizes work and vice versa. It feels like life gets easier with training, everything becomes more manageable when you have had your dose for the day... It is important for us that we enjoy both worlds of training and work. We often have a high pace during the day without stressing too much, but we are also good at relaxing and we do that by listening to podcasts, watching movies, watching TV, coffee, yoga, eating, health, makeup, clothes, animals (dogs and cats). Whatever we do, we try to stay focused on what we do.
Your swimming background, why did you start swimming and when?
We have lived in Stockholm for over 30 years and the last 16 years we have lived in Gamla Stan. We grew up in Filipstad, Värmland and that's where we started swimming in the Filipstad swimming club, which we still have contact with. We liked water so that's probably why we started swimming at the age of 8. We have never been stars in the pool but the big win was that we learned the crawl and that we have taken with us through life... It is such a gift to have with you through life. Swimming means everything to us, and we always have a craving for swimming. It is also important that we get the chance to mix our training because swimming is at its best when we alternate with gym, running, yoga etc.
Swimming varies during the year, we swim a lot in a pool in a meter 50 course. As we work uneven working hours, we have the opportunity to swim before 3 pm many days, then the pool is at its quietest. We vary the length between 3000- 8000m so there are a lot of distance sessions and not so many intervals. We swim the least in December because of work and in October after the outdoor season because then we are a little tired. From June we swim a lot in the lake with wetsuits. Now we are swimming for the 10 k race in Vansbro so we are trying to get used to long distance swimming as often as we can. With a little planning, we can do it reasonably well.
Swimming is different from other training, first of all, you lie horizontally which you do not do in any other sport, it can be very nice to have the body in a horizontal position, you become relaxing in some way. Then the water makes it very meditative and it is nice to be disconnected from the rest around you. We also love running as a form of exercise and would not be able to choose any of them, but swimming is probably the most beautiful sport of them all, like a friend (even running is there too) but who is always with us in life.
Open water and pool are different sports.
In a pool you are in the same place in warm water with no external influences. Swimming in a lake is different, the water is dark, it can be wavy, you have to stay on course and it makes swimming more adventurous. You are at one with nature, the feeling of freedom is total! We only have a little experience of sea swimming, we feel safer in the lake. We always have a safety buoy on our back and always swim together. WE LOVE TO SWIM OUTSIDE!
The advantage of a pool is the feeling of security, the sauna afterwards, the warm water, etc. The disadvantage is the crowding at certain times, but you have to try to find the best times that fit into your life and when there are the least people in the pool.
The advantage of outdoor swimming is the sense of freedom and adventure and the disadvantage is that it can be cold and wavy and a little scary, but we have got used to it slowly but surely and so we often drive in a wetsuit.
Water means a lot, we feel good just looking at water, it gives such a calm and we feel harmony.
We do long sessions in the pool from time to time, it's special just to clear your mind, they come and go freely and you can think about everything from rearranging a room, recipes, work stuff, dog breeds, music lyrics...to thinking about a dream trip and planning it. When we swim outside, it's harder to think, the focus takes over.
A word that describes swimming for us is "happiness" because swimming always puts us in a good mood and what feels a bit heavy feels lighter afterwards.
You teach swimming, can you give any advice?
There is not much difference between teaching children or adults to swim. Children learn a little faster than adults but otherwise it's pretty much the same.
The hardest part is breathing - at any age.
Our advice is to start in shallow water, learn the breathing technique so you feel safe, be close to something so you can reach in case of uncertainty, such as a bridge, beach, rock and always have someone with you. A safe on your back can feel safe and try to create a safe situation and environment before you start swimming because it is important that you feel safe. Take it in small steps and don't rush.
There is a lot of technique in swimming, but the basis is to lie on the surface of the water and learn to float.
Keep your head, hip and heel at the surface of the water, bend your chin in towards your chest, keep a high elbow in the underwater stroke (so you get the water and don't lose it) and learn to rotate. One hip is pressed down and the other up. Breathing comes with the rotation, think that the neck is an extension of the spine. The hand should reach down far ahead and grab the water, think of putting the hand in a mitten just below the surface of the water further ahead.
Take one thing at a time, think small first, not everything at once, then the crawl will come gradually. The legs are like an engine that keeps the balance. Swim and practice often in the beginning!
We never use a watch or anything else when we swim. Sometimes we look at the hand on the big timer at the pool when resting, like rest 10 seconds. We run a lot on feeling.
Is there any negative aspect of swimming?
The only negative thing about swimming as a sport is that you have to find a good pool / lake that is possible to swim in, otherwise it is only good. It also fits incredibly well as an alternative training if you do another sport or are injured. What stops us is time, if we have little time due to work / social, it is easier to run a turn.
Do you race?
There is an competition every year, like the "Riddarfjärdssimningen" and this year it will be Vansbro 10k. We have swum Vansbro 3K many times through life, it is a good challenge!
10k feels like an exciting adventurous challenge for us, the length above all and see how we react to swimming so far in open water. The nature experience will be incredibly cool, swimming in a river with different currents is unique, Sweden is unique with its waters.
So we want to inspire other women of our age to dare to try such an experience, you don't have to be elite to do it!
Can you tell us how you plan the race?
We will set up the competition as in 4×2500m. First 2.5 km we will just swim through and swim relaxed and not think about what we have in front of us. Second 2.5 km try to get into a comfortable pace that we will be able to keep and on the third 2.5 km and the last 2.5 we will see how much power is left - then we will just go to the finish. The goal is for it to be a nice challenging adventurous experience that will make us wonderfully tired. Then you have to be filled with positive energy .so we will have a week off before and be at concerts in Gothenburg and in Värmland where we do a last swim in the lake before the race, then there will be around 6k training and it is important to prioritize sleep all week.
We will eat as usual the days before, we generally eat a lot of carbohydrates, then eat a late dinner the day before and a little light before the start. Quick intakes during the race at the hydration stations
We go to Vansbro in Power Woman clothes, in long tights, sports bra, tank top, long sleeve shirt and possibly a thick jacket. We have of course PW swimsuit and short tights under the wetsuit. We also bring an extra thick sweater and hat if we are cold afterwards.
It is important to stay on the course, it takes some practice to feel comfortable with navigating outdoors. Important to have good googles, look up like a crocodile sometimes and take aim far ahead. Temperature is another factor that affects waves, because even small waves affect swimming, which is important to understand so you don't get scared.
You have to be prepared for a long swim, you have to be prepared, see the goal far ahead, because then you can divide it into sub-goals. To start calmly and enter the race slowly and safely. You have to be trained to swim long distances, otherwise you won't be able to get your arms around at the end and psychologically you won't be able to cope.
A wetsuit must not be too thick, it must be made for swimming and not for surfing. Soft edges and not too tight over the shoulders, it should feel like an extra skin.
Tell us about your relation to Power Woman clothes?
PW's swimwear is incredible. We have been swimming all our lives and had a few different swimsuits but when we discovered PW's clothes and swimwear we found home ❤️💯 We will never buy anything else. The swimwear fits like a second skin, it has the little details that make swimwear perfect. They fit so comfortably over the bust and hips and over the back. What's more, all swimwear is so stylish! We are always energized when we put on a PW swimsuit. We are energized by all of Power Woman's clothes.
It's also unifying, because we always greet others with PW clothes and many people contact us and ask about them.
Whats your favourite?
We can't possibly pick a favorite, it's all good! The training bras are the best ever, the tights are absolutely gorgeous, all the shorts are amazing and the tops are super good and the jackets, we won't even talk about! Best ever, and the long-sleeved shirts as well. The clothes raise the status of the fitness life. We would recommend that all women treat themselves with Power Woman ❤️