Sunday, 28 October 2007

No Hassle @ Half Term

Half term school holidays generally result in a distinct lack of training, however this week has been very productive in terms of quality pool swims, including a very beneficial 7000 metre session. I understand it is pointless trying to attain targets with 'garbage yardage' hence I am swimming sets of sprints, pyramids, 200s, 400s, 800s etc all against the clock, as well as a number of drills for technique and breathing etc.. That said...this week did omit any outdoor swims due to other commitments (it is unsafe for me to swim at sea alone without a watchful eye, (its about 12 degrees at the moment) I am expecting to address that in the next few days prior to travelling to Dover. Still, 25,000 metres of quality pool work is right on schedule for the training plan at this stage.

Other things this week,, had a nice email from Freda Streeter regarding my plans for next year and training in Dover Harbour. Also had some positive feedback from AQUA SPHERE which I will expand upon in the next post... oh, and a local stainless steel fabricator (Caletrim Fabrications Ltd) has set to work on a prototype feeding pole for me, again further details to follow.

The Channel Swimming Association Annual dinner is taking place next weekend at Dover Town Hall Saturday 3rd November, we will be attending together with Loraine Verghese, Nicole Gallon and the. We are leaving immediately after the school run on Friday morning with the intention of swimming on arrival, 'round about 4pm either in The Harbour or maybe off Shakespeare Beach, and hopefully similar on Saturday morning.

I am sure we will have a lot to report on our return, as I am excited about getting back to Dover for what is sure to great weekend of discussion, planning, training and yes maybe a little socialising!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Windermere workouts..

Sunday 14th October 2007, just before noon, we attended Darlington Railway Station in order to collect Loraine Verghese (who we new had been on nights and was quite likely to sleep straight though the stop and awake in deepest Scotland), much to our surprise she was in fact awake and arrived bang on time, after brief intros, we grabbed coffee and headed for the A66 to drive around 100 miles cross Country. This passed uneventful, we quickly checked in to our house hotel (The Smallwood Ambleside where we stayed with Swim Trek).

No sooner had we ditched the bags, we motored off to Windermere only a stones throw away, the weather was fresh, not raining and the water was 13 degrees. We had decided to swim as soon as possible before dark to let Loraine check out the conditions on this her visit to the Lake District, we swam from the North End of Windermere in a kind triangular route.. out to Seamew Crag, the water was almost flat though it was cloudy with the amount of recent rain, however the weeds and underwater plant life sometimes reaching the surface were something completely new to Loraine, she was quite spooked at first but soon got over the initial shock....Honest!
We swam the same route back and were greeted by Kelly with the warm towels and hot chocolate drinks. Round about 45 minutes just short of 3km.

We more or less headed straight back to the Hotel, got changed once we had warmed through and spent the night talking about Loraine's Swim and My future Channel swim whilst re hydrating on the usual Irish beverage...Back to the hotel for more gossip and more socialising before hitting the pillow.

Saturday we awoke to the sound of heavy rain on the windows, a peep outside showed it to be typical Lakes weather, it was misty, rainy and cold. After breakfast we drove to a couple of nearby lakes (Rydal and Grassmere) but decided we would stick with 'Big W'. Kelly then hired a sit on Kayak and became our safety boat, which as it happened was just as well, the lake was as rough as the sea, with waves and big swells, let alone the wash created by the passing steamers. As Kelly battled the elements on the kayak we swam from the east side of the lake across to the crag again and returned via the same route, well..we tried to go the same route... but we were pushed well of course by the conditions. At the outset I had planned to swim for at least a couple of hours, but Loraine was sure that the mental gains and acclimatisation would be greater if we split the swim in two parts. Thus warming up after swim number 1. Once we more or less stopped shivering we headed back to the waters edge from the comfort of the Lakeside cafe, to do mental battle and force ourselves back into the water. By now the conditions were worse still, it was tough going and was definitely like being at sea but for the salt water in the mouth, we fought against the wind and currents again out to the crag and followed Kelly back to shore. Between us we had the temperature at 12.5 to 13 degrees. The prospect of returning for the second swim was not nice but once submerged the worst was over. I was glad we had done the swims this way and felt that I had won a psychological battle. Though I doubt either of would have returned without our safety kayaker.

Sunday morning after another late night of forced alcohol (Loraine you are a bad influence) we returned to Lake Windermere in what was quite the opposite conditions, yes the water was the same temperature but it was pan flat and the sun even began to shine, another swim out to the crag and back to shore, a really nice refreshing swim compared to that of yesterday.

To summarise we had four swims over a 48 hour period, in around 12 to 13 degrees in various conditions, had a great time with our guest, and seemed to laugh non stop for the whole duration. A very worthwhile trip indeed...Loraine was great company for us. To the point that on the journey home I asked Loraine if she would consider being my support swimmer next year. She was delighted to accept. We had big hugs at the station and headed or separate ways.

Above: that is infact Loraines head not a lettuce or a football next to me at the end of our final swim.

Saturday, 13 October 2007


Had an easy week in the pool by way of recovery for not only for the shoulders but also the ear..which seems to be fine, last day at work today before we drive across to Ambleside tomorrow for three days training in probably Windermere, Grassmere and maybe one other lake. We are collecting Loraine at Darlington Train Station Sunday midday, then we will have the drive across country to the hotel.
The plan is to have a little swim Sunday afternoon...easy night with not too much Guinness, then up to eat early Monday and hopefully a good swim (anything more than 90 mins will be good but all depends on conditions )followed by a swim down Monday evening before a little more socialising !!

Another swim Tuesday morning if timings and weather permit... then home to drop Loraine for the train again. We are expecting the water to be 13 or 14 degrees (if we are lucky). I have some advice too from Ned Denison of Cork Masters of what to try to achieve for a data gathering point of view, so I will update on our return hopefully with plenty of photos and a tale to tell.

Monday, 8 October 2007

What do we have 'ear'

About two weeks before attending Austria to take part in the Ironman in July 2007, I was blessed with a very painful ear infection in the right ear. I had a series of ear drops prescribed after having a wick soaked in tar packed into the canal for a week (not nice). Eventually the inflammation eased and the drops could reach the source of the pain. I was told no swimming and that the only prevention was to never ever let the ear get wet. Great…some advice that was to a Channel Aspirant. Anyway, I used the setback to begin my swim taper for the event and swam through it albeit keeping the sessions very brief so as not to loose the feel of the water.

I mentioned at the end of the last post that I had been getting some grief from the left ear, well on Friday (05.10.07) I visited my GP and received some drops, but as usual it didn’t help due to the swelling and the canal being more or less closed, so today I popped to the ENT at hospital where again I had them suctioned and guess what …they told me the only cure was not to swim. Some help that is. I do have some moulded swim plugs that cost me a small fortune, but I have also learnt that the hospital will provide me with a set free of charge !! Well that’s got to be a result.

I can still swim, though it is kind of fortunate that I had planned a easy recovery week before a tough weekend in the Lake District. I have another appointment next week when hopefully I will get the all clear. I know swimmers ears can be very problematic so I just wanted to sort early this time and continue to take as much prevention measures as possible.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Typical students !!!!

On Sunday 30th September, as previously mentioned we were planning to meet Becky Lewis (Eng-France 9hours 35 mins) in order to have swim chat and rack her brains. It seemed silly not to grasp the opportunity to speak with her being that she is living so close whilst she studies at Teesside University. We communicated initially via sms and arranged to meet at Lloyd's (that's David Lloyd's gym after a pool session). Kelly, Charlie and I arrived in good time, the RV time came and went.... then I received a text! crossed wires meant she was in Lloyd's wine bar in Middlesbrough.. typical student heading straight for the alcohol !! Not something you would ever catch me doing I hasten to add.

Becky and her boyfriend eventually arrived at the gym where we had a very informal chat about her swim, feeding, training and future hopes. She has been swimming open water for about five years and before her Channel Swim this August had been to Gozo with Swim Trek and had also completed a Windermere 2 Way swim through the night. She obviously has huge talent and I expect her to have a crack at the British ladies Channel record in 2009. She was very helpful and I wish her luck. Thanks for your time Becky.

Another nice action shot by KGB.

As you can see from the training diary below I didn't quite manage the 20km last week but that's not a worry at all, I was more content that we had made a trip to the beach for an outdoor swim. This week has been all go as usual, today is my first day off work after a full seven day rota of shifts (days, nights and afternoons). Training is ticking along nicely and will easy get the 20k in this week.

Bi-lateral practice at sea

We went to Seaton again yesterday (Thursday 4th October) for another dip at 13.5 degrees, oh how refreshing! we were kind of limited time wise what with work etc so only had time for a 45 minute swim, it was much calmer than it has been for a long long time, the swim was at a good speed and there were no safety issues due to the good conditions. It seems that sometimes on the morning of a sea/lake swim that I get quite anxious, this is always much worse than the act itself, yes, getting into the water can still take my breath away but after that initial entry I seem fine and wonder what all the nerves were about. I also find myself desperate to go again the next day once its all over. That said I know by next week it will be the same story all over again. I think the secret is just more of the same and come next May we can be there much more frequently.

When I think about how many hours I spent riding last spring and early summer it should be easy enough to get to the sea at least three times a week, whilst still working on drills and sets etc at the pool.

The only negative is that my right ear has been playing up a little this week, I had an infection in the left ear the week before Austria and it has been fine since having obtained some moulded plugs, I am going to get it checked shortly so fingers crossed its nothing to worry about.

Before I forget Happy Birthday to Loraine for today (Friday 5th October) from the both us. See you next week in Ambleside for what is sure to be a chilly experience!

The pictures are from yesterdays trip to Seaton as usual courtesy of KGB. Thanks Kell x.