I recently spoke with Loraine Verghese (see post below) and asked her if she would be kind enough to be interviewed for the blog, with a view to enlightening me and other readers on her preparations for her English Channel Swim, she agreed without hesitation, so without further delay here is the first instalment, with more to follow. It would be interesting if we can get others to answer the same questions for us to compare.
MR . “Loraine, some people are aware of your previous achievements in swimming but for those of us in the dark could you give a brief re run please.”
L.V. “Firstly thanks for such a chance to answer such in depth questions!
Well I began swimming at 6 and training seriously was at 8 and half years.
I loved the water, Trained 7 days a week with two three hour sessions each day except Sunday with only one ................between the ages of 8.5 and 22 years so some may say I wasted a lot of my life but I loved it .........................and made many friends.
Got my first bronze national medal at 9 in the junior National Championships
Became the Junior National Champion at 14 yrs(1985)until 18years(1989)
Became the Senior National Champion at 15 and a half (youngest ever)(1986) and remained until 22.
Received my first South Asian Federation Gold medal at 13 and half years in Nepal (KATHMANDU)1984 and my First Bronze medal for the Junior Asian Games In 1986. Was part of the Commonwealth Games team to Edinburgh Scotland in 1986.
Stopped competitive training in 1992
GOLD SAF GAMES MEDAL 1984
BRONZE JUNIOR ASIAN GAMES 1986
78GOLD NATIONAL MEDALS58SILVER NATIONAL MEDALS39BRONZE NATIONAL MEDALS
Joined a medical college in 1990 and completed my degree in general medicine in 1996 ......
Came to England in 1999 to do my post graduation but instead life’s journey .....got me a daughter Jodie and another dream began when I joined the MET in 2005 start.
In 1986 had a chance to either swim the channel (my dream then) or train in America.. I chose training as I wanted better times at my event 200m PB "2mins 04 sec" after a training camp in Fort Lauderdale where I won the coveted "Camper of the year award 1986"
Favourite event -200m
Favourite Stroke -Freestyle” although I always ended up swimming 10-12 events some times !!!
MR. "Excellent...when you first decided to swim the English Channel how long did you set aside to train, and what specific training were you doing, (distance times temperatures etc)?"
L.V. "Even before my training started I had the blessing of my mothers complete support to look after my lovely daughter Jodie whilst the training got long and tough it was a godsend ………..done with the passion any mother would feel as their daughter took up a challenge that most people in the world would think an impossible task The first of my practise for the Channel began in December 2006 and then a sequence of events started ...............a lot of cold water training down at HYDE PARK -The Serpentine as well as the cold waters of Fairlop .
The first time I dipped into the freezing water it was a shock to the system as no one really can explain what cold water actually feels like . I had such a head freeze with the water temperature being 6 degrees, the pain I endured was immense as we all know but I succeeded in staying in the water for 45mins ......................
I also realised at this point the enormity of the challenge and realised that I needed all the back up in regards to time to train from my Borough Commander who without a moment of hesitation ……….. Gave me all the backing I required and the time to train for the event which he felt was an awesome effort for a good cause.
At the same time started a lot of anaerobic training and cardiac /fat burn at the gym purely because as I stated earlier I wanted a layer of muscle before I could build up a good layer of fat . Resting pulse improved significantly each week literally.........
Flexibility after these strenuous workouts was paramount as I could feel the muscle contracting after each heavy workout. By Feb I was swimming five times a week and a distance of up to 10-15km a week. By March this increased to 15-20 and so on a gradual increase of 5- 10 km each week. Stroke technique was the most important part of this exercise as it is vital.
I got to know my stroke rate and knew how fast I was swimming at any given time. As the swimming increased the gym workouts decreased and more stretching was etched into my routine.
During May I started mentally preparing for my first dip down at Dover Harbour which was an awesome event, as although the temp. was only about 9 degrees I was so overwhelmed, after about 45 mins I knew I was getting hypothermic delusions and got out of the water ....I had only been given 15 minutes to do so I did pretty well in my eyes.
June July and August went in a blur...................at my peak of distance I was training over 40 kms in a week with my main workouts just being weekends at Dover and a mid week swim only. All gym workouts came to a halt and I found that this did me good as my body was able to recover and get me ready for the next weekends workout ..................
In addition I made sure I enjoyed my training time too and when I needed a break from the continuous training up and down I did give myself a break but with the knowledge that I had already done a good swim or would do one after a while, more so the latter .
I also had many meetings with my skipper and spoke of my swim times, my needs, learnt the tides and learnt my boat and most of all told my skipper what I wanted out of him. I made this event an enjoyable one as it was a challenge of a lifetime ...........................
All my visualisation exercises were full steam ahead during the days leading up to the event ...........I had swum the channel many times over before I had actually faced it in real time ...............................!
Two weeks before the actual swim in August I ended up doing a taper session from two 7-7 back to back weekends it gradually decreased to the final two hour session on the last weekend with a few hour swims down at the beach days before with no strenuous swims . By then the adrenalin and the acceptance of the fact that the swim is only days away ……………CARB RUSH each day I gained a few pounds on the days leading up to the event.
My ethos” No guts No glory" is closely followed by “Amor est vitae essentia” and “carpe diem”
MR. "What about rest and nutrition not while swimming but to adjust weight etc, I know I need to gain a gain a lot and this is a concern of mine?"
L.V. “Yes this question posed a great concern to me to and in all I had to put on just under two stone but I am aware that as a result I found that the cold did NOT get to me at all. I usually weigh 11.10 and have gone up to 13.6 and of course am now on a MAJOR DIET!!
With Nutrition I played around with Protein drinks for over four months trying to get my body build that strong muscle layer before I started piling on the pounds to provide insulation, this formula worked miracles and now losing it wisely I should be left with my muscle layer .......I found it easy to put on weight eating high carbs and many meals a day.
I never stopped the workouts though through this period so I never let my body have to feel any drastic change ...............also continuous regular massages kept my muscles supple and able to cope with a lot of lactic acid build up..........alongside was my visual training techniques which as well as rest and nutrition , were some of the most important skills taught in the early years of my career and helped me an immense amount. IE goal setting, relaxation, visualization, self talk, awareness, control, concentration ,using rituals, attribution training and periodization ...so very very important.
M.R. "What were your needs, fears and expectations? "
L.V. “Well going back in my earlier years as a swimmer .I always found life with a challenge and it has followed me through. I love testing myself and the thrill of the unknown beckons me to push myself to new limits .....by way of comments throughout the swim and the whiteboard was the best way to stay focused and take my mind away from the actual pain so all the scrawled messages were set out to keep me entertained and as I wanted to know the truth along the swim ....my skipper Andy kept the promise and I never felt like I was in unknown territory .
I knew that I loved positive reinforcement..............and the attention so I made sure that everyone knew that .
Having Richard (JACKS DAD ) was the most powerful motivator as he was the most important person to me as I watched him revel in his own mental world which seemed so full of solemn thoughts .at one point in the swim I felt the connection it was as if there was only him and me fighting the same cause ............JACK!!!
Failure was never an option and I, as I always have, pushed my body beyond what I would call the comfort zone the pain is almost a HIGH as one could and would call it. I knew that I needed a group of people that would keep my morale up and keep my spirits going! most of all I knew I needed friends who cared .............cared enough to want me to go past the finish line ....
I needed a support swimmer that would get me through the difficult times and push me beyond the pain zone. Paul although our friendship was still new was a kind man who only ever had words of support whenever I spoke to him so I knew he would be perfect for my psyche ................
My expectations through all my visual training exercises had no space for a failed swim ..........I could not fathom the feeling of or thought of not being able to complete the challenge ahead .
I know that my journey is not over and there will be many more challenges along the way I will look out for them and for be grateful for all the friends. "
MR. “How did you choose your crew for the actual swim albeit you have kind of answered that in a previous question?”
L.V. “Well .......For starters high on my list, the main aim .............to get people on the boat with a high level of morale and enthusiasm.
RICHARD BROWN - Jacks Dad to remind me of the reason to drive me across the Channel
my support swimmer.......who had the faith in me to encourage him across the Channel .......likewise I could recognise the fact that he was backing me 100percent .I had total faith in him...........NEVER A DOUBT even though I did not require him to enter the water and to give me any pace support whilst swimming as I decided to take another challenge up whilst swimming and that was …………swim alone -SOLO .Thank you Paul for all your support
ANDY ..........My pilot whom I spent a lot of time allowing him to get to know the drive in me .............. to realise my dream and ambition.
to know how I face hardship and pain
TO KNOW WHAT I NEEDED FOR ENCOURAGEMENT
TO KNOW WHAT I WANTED TO KNOW WHILST I SWAM
TO KNOW HOW I WANTED TO BE ENTERTAINED DURING MY SWIM
TO KNOW WHEN I HAD ENOUGH OF FUN
TO KNOW I NEEDED CONSTANT SUPPORT THROUGHOUT
TO KNOW I COULD DO IT
TO KNOW I DEPENDED ON HIS EXPERTISE
TO KNOW I NEEDED HIM TO GUIDE ME ASHORE
TO KNOW THAT HE HAD NO DOUBT IN HIS MIND THAT I COULD DO ITNICOLE GALLON ................... A friend who knew my spirit and ambition and who was fun and ready for a laugh as well as hard work.
TERRY BARRON...................who showed so much enthusiasm when he knew I was doing it ...... I knew he would be a good crew member.
DARREN ELLIOT ............................. a friend whose wife I had just recently befriended and when she knew I needed good support she offered her husbands support on the boat for me to help with documenting it all.
And lastly have to say I loved the white board most of all as it helped me stay in close contact with all the crew as I knew constantly what was going on with the crew and this allowed me to take my mind off the swim for many hours .........................”
That's all for part one, Loraine has the second installment of questions which will appear soonest.