Thursday, 30 October 2014

CSPF 2014 Season Stats..a closer look

I have a day off work and thought it would be interesting to have a closer look at the 2014 swim details provided on the excellent Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation website. For the purpose of this post I am referring to successful solo swims though I may have a look at the relays at a later date. I do not have all the data from the CSA Ltd hence there is no reference to swims.

The basics from the CS&PF site show there was a total of 62 crossings including a 2 way by Dori Miller. (61 swims)

As expected the organisations highly respected pilots were all pretty much equally busy, with the following successes (remember this does not include relay figures)
Paul Foreman (Optimist) 10
Lance Oram (Sea Satin) 9
Mike Oram (Gallivant) 14
Eddie Spelling (Anastasia) 9
Neil Streeter (Suva) 16
James Willi (Gallivant) 3

In total successful solo swimmers spent over 921 hours in the waters of the English Channel.

The season opened with first crossing made by Marcy Macdonald from the USA on Friday 30 June escorted as usual by Mike O and the good ship Gallivant.
The quickest crossing (10hours 50minutes) was made by Bob Fernald escorted by Lance/Sea Satin on 22 July. Track below:

The longest crossing being Tony Bailey with a mammoth breast stroke swim (25 hours 56 minutes 51 seconds) escorted by Eddie/Anastasia on 7 September. Track below:

The average crossing time this year was 14 hours 51minutes and 25 seconds with most success achieved on 5 August by five individuals Nick Adams, Amanda Bell, Stuart Bowman, Georgina Halford and of course Dori Miller and her two way.

The last solo swim was completed on 2 October by Kate Todd escorted by Neil/Suva.

I hope this is of interest :-)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The cave of light and The cave of birds



Open water swimmer Sam Krohn created this moving film of my friend Donal Buckley aka LoneSwimmer swimming the caves of Irelands Copper Coast.

If you you feel stressed... relax, unwind and enjoy this lovely film.
It's 18 minutes long but well worth watching.

I trust Donal and Sam wont mind me sharing. All credit to them for creating this.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Lewis Pugh in London

Last week KGB and I had another whistle stop trip, this time to Kensington, London where we attended the Royal Geographic Society in order to listen to the swimmer and environmentalist that is Lewis Pugh.

Whilst I have already read 'Achieving The Impossible' and am part way through '21 Yaks and a Speedo' his talk remained enthralling and inspirational.


At the close of the talk Lewis was kind enough to chat, have photos taken and sign my books with a personal note. He was totally genuine and humble. We had previously communicated online though I must admit I was suspicious that his agent may be speaking on his behalf. Our conversation took away all such thoughts as he recalled the details of these messages, and thanked us for travelling so far to attend the event.


We then spent some time catching up (in the bar where else?!) with some friends including Graeme Schlachter and Audra Turner, then to our surprise we became aware of the presence of  Cliff Golding, we were both delighted to see Cliff again as he is one of the nicest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He speaks great sense and is himself an inspirational man who I have long since admired. You may be lucky enough to meet him on a Swim Trek LDTC in Mallorca.

If you ever have the opportunity to do so I highly recommend attending such an evening. Here is Lewis' excellent website 

Monday, 13 October 2014

Pool Punctuality and Planning

I cannot say in any certainty if my desire for punctuality stems from my upbringing or a military background, without wanting to sound like a total nerd, I do prefer to be Mr Punctual or better still 5 minutes early. This can lead to frustration for many men when waiting on the opposite sex to be ready, but how very dare I say such a thing when I am told its a lady's prerogative (so much for equal ops) (Don't shout at me Dr KT).

Anyway..getting to the point, Monday, after a weekend of parental duties I arranged to meet two swimmers. For the purpose of this tale they will be referred to as Billy and Mandy. ;-) The deal was to be at the pool ready to start in the water at 4:45pm. Being that we had only recently returned to anything like intense pool sessions the plan was to have a short interval session, max effort with plenty of rest.

I even sent Billy and Mandy a text message with the set.
It was simple enough, easily doable inside the hour and read like this

1 x 200 easy warm up
8x 100 max effort
4x 200 build to max effort
8x 100 max effort
1x 200 easy swim down
Total 2800m home for tea and medals.

I foolishly (I knew it was a mistake) arrived at the pool early, rather than the standard 5 minutes before, "that's ok" I thought, they will be here soon and proceeded to start a gentle longer warm up working on some drills to improve my hand entry.

900 metres later Billy arrives and we start the set.  By the time Mandy drags her sorry backside to poolside we had almost finished the 200s! She swims her warm up and joins in for the last 8 x 100 on max effort. Billy decides that's him finished, swims down and heads for the sauna, fair enough he worked hard and can leave.

Grinning (like a red faced Cheshire Cat) Mandy thinks (wrongly) that after 800m she is finished too!! Silly Girl.

I then have to commence the 4 x 200s AGAIN followed by another 8 x 100 just so she hits the yardage planned. She too then swims down and leaves with correct figures. Meanwhile Stupid Mark here has swam 5200m and has learnt a valuable lesson.

Don't be early YOU HAVE TO SWIM MORE
Don't let people be late YOU HAVE TO SWIM MORE
Be punctual at the pool

The names have been changed (kind of) to protect the innocent. No Cheshire Cats were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Pool Tests with The Suunto Ambit3

As you will be aware I am now in possession of this great new device, at present I have only performed tests in pool environment albeit I am aware of the capability and functions it has to offer.

Initially, on first usage I utilised little more then the stopwatch and distance/lap counter. This proved to be a little frustrating with the occasional length of the 25m pool missed or rather a turn was missed, resulting in inaccurate totals for metres covered. This was addressed by the simple procedure of teaching the Ambit my stroke. (just a case of pressing a couple of buttons, selecting the appropriate stroke and swimming 25m.) Once I had gone through the 'teach phase' the device worked perfectly and never missed a beat.

The first real session was this weekend when we swam multiple 100s ie repeats of 4 lengths. It was as easy as selecting your exercise (openwater/poolswimming/running etc) and hitting the start button, the display clearly indicates the distance covered (saving me the hassle of trying to remember how many repeats, see Abacus Training!) The next line displaying the total time of the session, followed finally on the third line by the time per 100m. (It is personal preference as to what you have displayed and where). The device recognises when the swimming stops and rest periods begin and does the maths accordingly. It also counts the strokes per length and calculates your efficiency as a SWOLF number. (stroke rate plus time per length).

On conclusion of the set, the pause button is hit and the data is stored, immediately after doing so all of the figures can be viewed prior to even leaving the water. Once in proximity of your tablet or smart phone you pair the device and the data is downloaded almost instantly via bluetooth transfer.
Further analysis can then be performed, breaking down every length if you so desire, with multiple graphs and tables.

The only negative being the heart rate monitor on a standard belt style fitting slips down from the chest as one pushes off the wall. This will not be an issue outdoors and the monitor is able to store information until such times as it is in close proximity to your Ambit device.

Today I opted for the hour continuous swim, I use this set as a bench mark to measure my general fitness. I am quite pleased to not have lost too much pace over the summer (this is only my 5th pool session since April.)

Here is just one part of a screen shot whilst viewing your 'moves' via the 'movescount app' on your smart phone or tablet. As you can see, the vital stats are visible at a glance (average pace per 100m / average speed per hour, total time/distance, temperature and swolf.
There are all manner of comparables and analytic functions. Each length can be viewed as per below as can heart rate etc

Overall for pool swimming it is an absolute joy, frees my mind from troublesome mathematics, the display can be easily read on the move (at the turn) it is no more noticeable on the wrist than any other watch, it is simple to use and even motivates !


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR

Last week I was extremely fortunate to receive the very latest in GPS wrist mounted gadgets in the form of the Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR. I was vaguely familiar with the Ambit2s (the previous model) due to Gav Wild using one to the record the data on my 5th Windermere. His device was also used as part of his challenge, so it was ideal to compare stats.

I will write a full review shortly suffice to say it is very impressive. The main upgrade from the Ambit2 is the ability to upload sessions via blue tooth paring no matter where you may be. No need to wait to view information as it is transferred in a matter of seconds.


In brief..it records times, distances, locations, intervals, temperature, stroke rate, heart rate, altitude,cadence, It includes compass, mapping, animations etc etc the list goes on and on.

Full review soon.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Are you a Giver or a Taker ?

That's the swim season pretty much over, except for a trip to Buttermere later this year to swim once more where it all began. (Amanda you are coming too!)

At times it feels like we have virtually never been away from The Lake District. At the outset I should take this opportunity to thank Charlie who has never complained, not even once when asked if he was happy to help others achieve their dreams or support other peoples business interests. Despite having had my fingers burnt, on the most part it has been entirely satisfying, fulfilling even emotional at times.

Windermere with Charlie to pilot for one of Amanda's 6 hour swims (kick start her EC Solo prep.)
Coniston with Charlie for my BLDSA 5 miler
Ullswater with Charlie to paddle a 7 mile BLDSA event (for Phil Yorke)
Derwentwater with Charlie to paddle a 5 mile BLDSA event (for Phil Yorke)
Windermere with Charlie to Pilot for Kathryn's One Way
Windermere with Charlie for my latest One Way
Windermere with Jason to Pilot for Gavin's One Way

I am a firm believer regarding the importance of giving back to the sport whenever we can. Swims at all ends of the spectrum are officially recorded as 'Solo' however they are without doubt always a team effort. Not just the main events but our build up and training, which can sometimes be years in the making.

We should never lose sight of, nor neglect to be grateful for the unsung volunteers who give their time to support, be it in, on or around the water. Financially assisting us to achieve our dreams or remaining at home taking care of loved ones.

Personally speaking I get a real buzz witnessing like minded people achieve what they once considered the impossible.

So if you can, give a little back. It feels good.... I promise. and above all......

Gavin Wild 1WW 160914



On Tuesday 16 September 2014 I was delighted to support Gav Wild during his 'Swim Long, Climb High, Ride Far Challenge. I piloted the swim returning the favour together with Jason from Vision K9 Security Services Ltd (Gavins principal sponsor and all round great bloke) We headed down to Fell Foot at first light and began the swim at 0739am.  The start was ok weather wise however visibility soon dropped to around 20m, so poor that I had to resort to compass bearings for navigation purposes, by 95 minutes or so the sun began to shine and we blessed with perfect conditions thereafter.

A mammoth effort from Gav who suffered from mile 6 onwards. Jason was ace with his motivational techniques and feeding. We were both over joyed and rather emotional to share in the relief on completion of part 1 of the big Charity challenge for Birmingham Childrens Hospital.