Thursday, 28 April 2016

Drag Appreciation Drills

There are some interesting points here, some of which may have an impact on your fatigue / energy levels particularly on a long swim. Worth a watch. 

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


We have been working quite hard in the grotty chlorine pit over the winter, the benefits of having regular training partners in Bill and Ben are massive, we constantly race each other during our interval sessions then put the world to rights in the sauna afterwards which is always funny and a great way to unwind.

With the arrival of April, it was time to make the dreaded return to open water, as always it would be mentally and physically tough getting back into the cool water. Last year I was late (mid May) starting outside and paid for it throughout the season.

Whilst the air temperature is fluctuating and the water remains below 11º, the plan as usual is restrict training to our local river, it's only about 2 miles from home and it's free. 

After this we venture further afield as the time in the water increases. 

The target and general benchmark for this time of year is 60 minutes at 10ºc. 

I've included a little map showing our normal start point of the Jetty at Preston Park and some markers we use as sessions increase.

Thus far we (combinations of Ben, Amanda and Bill) have 

8th 11minutes @ 8ºc 326m around the jetty area 
10th 21 minutes @ 9ºc 989m around the boats+
18th 17 minutes @ 8ºc 718m around the boats
20th 34 minutes @ 10ºc 1690m to first boat
21st 34 minutes @ 11º 1910m to tennis courts
25th 50 minutes @ 10ºc 2620 second corner and boats
27th 33 minutes @ 8ºc 1700m around boats and first corner 
30th 36 minutes @ 8ºc 1900m boats almost second corner left

I am yet to hit the benchmark, BUT, it isn't too far off (providing the sleet and snow stop!)

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Oldest Goat

This is a heart warming inspiring story of Walt Schneebeli, who, at 90 years of age is still swimming around Aquatic Park San Francisco, and has been doing so since 1948 ! Like he says .. Everybody wants to be the old goat !!

Can't wait to visit this place next year.

Enjoy this lovely video..

Friday, 8 April 2016

We are good to go

On Wednesday this week I completed my swim medical for the J2F Swim, that little tick from Dr Ish. indicates that all systems are go!!

Camp Eton 2016

Good Friday 2016 and time to drive to the delightful town of Eton where I was pleased to be attending the annual 'Camp Eton' training weekend organised and hosted by Nick and Sakura Adams.

The drive was pain free and I was soon checked into The Christopher Hotel ideally situated within walking distance of the pool and classrooms for the forthcoming activities. Nick then gave myself and a couple of others including swimmer extraordinaire and all-round lovely lady Suzie Dodds a whistle stop tour of some of the Eton grounds including the beautiful chapel and gardens.

The format was basically lots of pool based swimming against the clock interspersed with classroom presentations on all manner of subjects related to open water marathon swimming.

Around 24 swimmers (mainly London based) were in attendance. The first item on the timetable was a pool swim at 7am Saturday Morning, the session lasted a couple of hours, the details of which were delivered by Nick from poolside. I was obviously looking too comfortable as a result of which Mr Adams moved me into a lane with two very talented swimmers Deirdre Ward and Marcus Wadsworth, in this lane I was well and truly beasted.

After 5300m and several helpings of maxim the time had come to exit the water and rush to the classroom for informal introductions, snacks and the first of several excellent power point inputs.

Following lunch and another speaker it was back to the pool for another swim and yes, more maxim. (I was working hard and probably drinking more than normal due to effort and perhaps a little over heating.) This was another intense set against the clock during which we clocked up another 5000m.

Back to class for the remainder of the day where the after effects of maxim began to take hold. (enough said for now)

At the close of the day and in an effort to be well enough to attend the evening meal, it was necessary to attend the pharmacy for some much needed medication (you get the picture)

Early to bed for an early rise thanks to the start of British Summer Time. I didn't sleep too well for some reason, as normal as soon as it was time to get out of bed I suddenly had the urge to snooze. Alas, no such luxury, the schedule insisted we be in the water, warmed up and ready to start the 10km set of 100 x100 at 6am ( which in my world was 5am thanks to the clocks going forward)

photo Sam Mould.

As a result of the previous days abdominal issues I made the decision to 1. stay off the maxim 2. swim without a swim cap in an effort to stay cooler.

The 10k set was soon over, we were fed and watered throughout by Nick, Chris and JCR. I felt good and was delighted to have another good session in the bank. The best news being that my belly had stabilised and I was good to go for the classroom.

More speakers including video analysis from Ray Gibbs (Swim Canary Wharf) then off to the pool for some stroke correction and drills.

An excellent weekend with about 21km of work, a great if tough kick up the rear and and much inspiration from both speakers and swimmers alike.

Many thanks to Nick and his team for their hospitality and efforts.

Highly recommended

Sunday, 7 February 2016

J2F briefly

If my research is correct, only 38 individuals have successfully completed the challenge I have set this to swim from Jersey to France.

A few people have asked me about tidal influence and is it the same as England to France. Yes, it is influenced by the tide as per the photo below, it is similar in that it is a salt water swim, there will be jellies a plenty, the water temperature will be similar, there will however be considerably less in the way of shipping. 

It will be tough, that said I am genuinely excited about the swim.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Asha Allen Roth...5 Ways My Marathon Swim Training Is Different This Time

This article appears here with the kind permission of Asha, I certainly thought it was worthy of sharing with my readers..enjoy

"I did some big swims last year. I swam the length of Tahoe (21 miles) and Catalina Channel (20.2 miles) At that time, my mind-set was simply that I wanted to understand what it would be like to train for something huge.  In other words, "How the hell is it done?" I've learned some things since then and I'm making some adjustments. While I'm sure I will continue to tweak my training plan, here are a few significant changes from last year's training I am making as I prepare for the English Channel (21 miles).

1) Recovery Swims
Last year, after a long swim, I rested out-of-water, the following day. That is to say, I did nothing - maybe a little stretching. This year, on the day following a very long swim, I am making sure I get in the water and swim no matter what. It doesn't have to be fast, it doesn't have to be long, but I'm getting in the water and moving.  The intention is to recover the same muscles that worked so hard the day before. This is a small change that I am already feeling a big difference with.  I'm sending my body a message that, "Yes, we are really doing this again. Let's endure and it's okay."

2) Mindful Resting
When I knew I had a long swim day last year (multiple practices or just hours in the bay), I turned on my "go-go-go" mode. It was a type of hyper-vigilence.  It was a super-hero syndrome. Not only did I swim like a maniac, I also did all normal errands and chores, family care and work demands.  I also had a few panic attacks while driving last year.  I attribute this to my "hard-driving" training program which didn't allow for restful pauses. This year, I'm resting after or in-between swims.   For example, when I swam five practices in one day a few weeks ago, when I had a short break, I gave myself a 10 -20 minute Savasana.   I allowed myself to completly sink into a restful state and let go completely.  This deeply restorative pose is now a part of my new training regimine. I set myself up with a bolster under my knees, a blanket and an eye pillow. Man, does it feel amazing. I can usually find 10-20 extra minutes after a long swim day.  It makes a world of difference. I'm doing it today after my 3-hour swim. It's just part of the plan.

3) Double (or Triple) Distance Days
The days of a single long swim day are gone, my friends.  It's time to build tenacious sustainable endurance. With the inspiration of S.C.A.R. coming up (4 lakes, 4days, 40 miles), I am incorporating some consecutive multiple days of distance swimming to this year's training.  In addition to planning this at home, I've reserved some weekends at Donner Lake in June and July so I can simply camp and swim - two (or three) long training swim days in a row.

4) Counting the Hours (not Distance)
I was counting every yard, meter and mile last year.  It gets to be a little much, fixating on the distance, as if the numbers are God.  This year, my focus is time in the water. Time in the water. I swam 4 hours on Sunday, an hour yesterday and today it's 3 hours.  I'm not counting the distance or wearing my Garmin. I know what the approximate distance is and that's good enough. After all, my goal is to finish no matter what. At 15 or 20 miles, the numbers are irrelevant, but my comfort level with time in the water, needs to be infallible.

5) Stroke Quality

I'm not sure why, but last year, I just wanted a stroke that would keep going forever.  I didn't care if it was slow. I just wanted to know I could finish. I didn't put much focus on quality and efficiency of my stroke technique. This year, I want every edge possible for the specific endurance event at hand.  So for example,  I'm getting comfortable with not only bi-lateral breathing but breathing only-left and only-right for extended times. I'm removing any cross over of my hands in front and kicking more consistently.  I'm working getting the full push-through and increasing momentum in my underwater pull. I'm swimming more butterfly because 1) I like it and 2) I like the idea of strong deltoids, trapezoids, rhomboids and lats - I could use the help!"

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Whats Happening ?

I will tell you exactly whats happening...well, the plan at least

I have been looking at a few events for 2016

as it stands this is the list of targets

26/27 March ..Camp Eton 
4 June.. BLDSA Wykeham 5km night swim
5 June.. BLDSA Wykeham 5km + 1km

18 June.. BLDSA Champion of Champions 5 miles + 3 miles + 1 mile

10 July..Windermere 10.5 miles

17 July..Dover Harbour 6 hour date TBC

 2-6 Aug.. Jersey to France

That my friends is the plan for this year, in pool, fresh and salt water.

I will also escort a few friends on both one and two way Windermere swims 

stay tuned ...

Monday, 28 December 2015

2015 Summary

It's been a tough year as my Facebook friends will be aware. I will however spare you the negative aspects from my personal/work life and focus on the ups and downs in the water.

As normal the year started with a gentle easing back into pool sessions with some work on technique, all sessions were recorded on, utilising the Suunto Ambit3. 

Although it was a year without a 'HUGE' swim, there were certainly several challenges ahead, some of which I had tackled previously.

2S4L Guilford Lido

I last entered this event in 2011 (post here) so, in theory, I knew exactly what it would take. It was always referred to as being 'brutally relentless'. For 2015 I had again opted for the solo effort of 1 mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. For one reason and another I was unsuccessful, completing only 10 miles. There was some positives to be had, in particular the support received from a few of the usual suspects. I was pretty much fed up after this event.
Not happy. 

BLDSA Wykeham

This is the event geographically closest to home. An almost annual occurrence as one of the first in the BLDSA calendar. 5 triangular 1000m laps in water around 15 degrees and success was in the bag, the time was exactly as expected. I then took the opportunity to swim the 1km event, as I thought it would be ideal prep for the next weekend. 2 swims totalling 6km = 2 successes. (post here)

BLDSA Champion of Champions

Notoriously tough event, the full compliment being: 5miles, 3 miles, 1 mile in Dover Harbour. The last visit for this event in 2011 was a mixed up day weather wise to the extent that the 3 mile swim was cancelled. 

2015 (post here) was no different. It was a very hard day at the office, after some frightening mental blips on the start of the 5 miler (10 laps) I eventually achieved success, the conditions deteriorated for the 3 miler but again after what seemed like an eternity success was gained. Everybody likes the 1 miler as the end is in sight. 
Overall 3 swims totalling 9 miles in salt water about 14.5 degrees. Happy.

Windermere #6
A month earlier than normal, I planned to swim Windermere on this occasion starting at Ambleside in the North. I might as well be honest..the objective was to swim to Fell Foot the back to Bowness, meaning a 15 mile swim. However as it turned out, I altered the plan before the 10 mile point and opted for just a one way. (post here) Technically speaking, unsuccessful though I was still content with 6 hours at 16 degrees. On reflection I had not trained sufficiently for 15 miles.
Still Happy!

BLDSA Ullswater
After a slight lay off in training after Windermere, the next event was soon here. Karen Throsby had kindly offered to kayak for me on this 7 mile swim in beautiful surroundings (full post here.) I was hoping for lovely conditions similar to the 2011 event.
It was in fact bloody awful! By and far the most difficult swimming event of the year. 3 hours 48 minutes in frigid water.
It was a success but I wasn't happy!

That was the last of my events, we did however go to support some others with 3 excellent One Way Windermere swims for:
Ian Adshead, Zoe Sadler and Ady Brown followed by a 10km for Amanda Bell. We also assisted at the BLDSA 2 Way Windermere.

Happy or Not Happy, Success or Not, the one consistency year on year are the individuals, in particular those of what I like to call the BLDSA family,  alongside the Dover beach crew, are like no other, the care, support, advice, unselfishness, and all round altruism of these people is a joy to be part of. You know who you are. 
Thank you.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

When you say you are a swimmer

Returning to 'The Pit' yesterday, first time this week due to life!

Further build up to the planned monster session in December, on this occasion it was 80 x 100, probably 10 reps too far if I am honest as I lost about 3-4 seconds per 100 metres towards the end.

I like this little video..enjoy, I am sure you can relate to some of the lines 

"When You Say You're a Swimmer" from Chris Shimojima on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Pit

It's that time of year again, when after a brief cessation following the close of the open water season, I have finally returned to the pool. The first few sessions were very short but felt very tough. Having been back to the chlorine pit about a month (only average 3 sessions a week) I already feel like I am making some improvements to technique and general fitness.

This last weekend inspired by Mark Sheridan I upped the distance slightly and bashed out a 50 x 100.

Initially these sets feel mind numbing with the end seemingly out of sight. I was pleased to have maintained my timings throughout. Having concentrated on hand entry and rotation I was also delighted to exit the pool pain free and hungry for more.

Looking forward to more intensity in order to build a good base for 2016s massive swim.

All will be revealed....

Friday, 30 October 2015

2016 Escorted Swims

Recently I have received a few flattering enquires to escort swims next year (see the escorted swims tab) on Windermere both 1 Way (10.5 miles) and 2 Way (21 miles) there are in the region of 7 swims booked thus far for 2016, so, if you know me, and I know you, and you are thinking of asking for help next year please be quick. 

I only have a certain amount of annual leave and brownie points to use. 

In addition to that I also have a big swim to train for so time will be precious.

You know the drill

NB a giver not a taker