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A SWIMMING EVENT
Next weekend, I shall be taking part in my first competitive sporting event since tasting humiliation in a race at school. No doubt my team will be the slowest ever to take part in the Swimathon, but it won't matter. The point is to get my children away from their computer screens and into our local pool. During its 20-year history, I have regarded the Swimathon — a four-day event, open to all, taking place in 500 pools across the nation — as one might the sales shops when you are broke: interesting, but not this time. It was only recently, while watching two people stagger out on to the beach, having rowed across the Atlantic, that I began to see why anyone would want to take part in a formalised endurance race.
I would like to say my children immediately agreed, but that would be a lie. ‘No way.’ said my teenage daughter, whom I had tipped as one of the most useful members of the team. `Sorry, mum,’ said the 12-year-old who swims for her school. However, just occasionally the rule that in a large family everyone likes to hold opposing views has its uses. So I pulled together a team for our attempt to swim 5 kilometres, consisting of our eldest, who can’t quite believe he has agreed, and the two youngest, who are still at the happy stage when a parent’s ideas aren’t yet automatically dismissed.
Five kilometres amounts to 200 lengths of a 25-metre pool. Even divided between us, we need all the encouragement we can get. For that, I turned to Duncan Goodhew, the former Olympic gold medallist, who is the president of Swimathon. He will also be swimming the course twice this year, once on his own and once with his children, who are, he says, ‘still keen to do things with him’. Lucky man.
I wondered how he would have made my kids take part. ‘The secret is to let them own the experience,’ he says. ‘It might be the fitness element that gets them going, or raising sponsorship, or competing against a team of their friends.’ I’ll remember that next time, but first we have to manage this year’s 5 kilometres. I reckon it will take us the best part of three hours. It will take Goodhew rather less. Even at the age of 48, he is likely to outpace most competitors.
He sees Swimathon as an opportunity to boost the sport outside Olympic glory moments. ‘Twelve million sensible people in this country swim regularly. It’s the only sport that families can enjoy together because you don’t have to be of similar ability.’ He’s been involved almost since Swimathon’s inception in 1986, when the success of the London Marathon inspired a similar event (though spread out across the country — after all, you can only get eight people in one swimming lane at a time). Since then, it has raised £20 million for charity.
So how to get my team through the weekend’s ordeal? We’ve done some training, but not as much as be advises. That's because swimming can be so boring. ‘Swim against the clock,’ Goodhew advises. ‘Time a length and then try to swim the next one faster. Count how many strokes per length and see if you can do one less next time. Look on it as an efficiency exercise. That will keep your mind busy.’
A15The writer says that she decided to take part in the Swimathon this year because
1) she suddenly realised what the event actually involved.
2) she was inspired by the achievements of other people.
3) she wanted to experience being part of a team in a sports event.
4) she felt that it was something her children would enjoy.
A16 When the writer asked her children to take part in the event,
1) there was an argument between all of them.
2) the best swimmers wanted to take part but couldn’t.
3) it was not difficult for her to get the youngest to agree.
4) one of them agreed at first and then refused.
A17In the third paragraph, the writer suggests that
1) she is envious of Duncan Goodhew’s relationship with his children.
2) she does not expect her family to swim the whole 5 kilometres.
3) Duncan Goodhew may not be the right person to ask for advice.
4) the Swimathon is more appealing to adults than to children.
A18 When Duncan Goodhew gives the writer advice,
1) she feels that his advice would be unlikely to work with her children.
2) he tells her that many children are initially not keen to take part.
3) he tells her that children need to feel there is a definite reason to take part.
4) she feels that his advice is most appropriate for very good swimmers.
A19One reason why Duncan Goodhew supports the Swimathon is that
1) he wants people to increase their ability at swimming.
2) swimming is regarded as rather boring by many people.
3) he wants it to become as big an event as the London Marathon.
4) swimming does not get publicity for long periods of time.
A20What does Duncan Goodhew advise the writer about swimming in the Swimathon?
1) Set personal targets while taking part in the event.
2) Accept that some team members swim faster than others.
3) Encourage other team members to do a bit better.
4) Do intensive training just before the event.
A21Which of the following titles best summarises the text as a whole?
1) Join the Team
2) A Family Affair
3) A Swimming Hero
4) Only Once
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