Tuesday, 31 May 2011

H2Open in WHSmiths

From June 13th UK residents will be able to purchase H2Open in selected branches of WHSmiths..the participating branches are nationwide, subscriptions are still available too.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

More Vocalising

Following on from the post 'Aiming High' I am pleased to say on Thursday I managed the 2 hour swim at Ellerton, I was joined after about fifty minutes by Jo and Amanda, the water was a steady 58f /14.4c it was glassy flat in comparison to recent conditions, but for a brief downpour when the heavens opened it was a great swim, reaching the time target for the month of May. 

And so, to vocalise the next targets, I am aiming for three hours this Thursday....there I have said it! Last year I didn't swim for that long until July so it will be excellent news to be this far ahead, much needed being that the major goal is double that of 2010.

Some pics of the lake prior to the rain last week

12 Way Windermere World Record Relay Attempt

Thomas Noblett, Liane Llewellyn, Keith Bartolo, Michelle Lefton, Michelle Sharples and Dee Llewellyn are well on their way to set the world's longest non-stop relay record in Lake Windermere, the record for actual for lengths of the lake was seven laps, however the team are now into the eighth cycle, in any event the new record is set. They are however heading and aiming for the world record distance for an open water relay, I have been in touch with Thomas, Dee and Liane, updates are being posted around the internet world one of which can be viewed here on the Daily News of Open Water Swimming

UPDATE: around 2250 Monday 30 May, the world record was set at 126 miles having completed 12 full laps of Britains longest lake in far from ideal conditions..congratulations to all swimmers and crews, overall time approx 75.5 hours in water temperatures of 9-11c...awesome job.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


The Buttermere swim came and went in the usual blink of an eye, I drove across country on Sunday the 15th May in what seemed like constant rain and low cloud. We had arranged to meet at the ideally located Dalegarth Guesthouse situated a matter of yards from the waters edge, half way up the Lake on the east side, most of the other swimmers were already in attendance having spent the night camping, they looked pretty fed up after cold hours of torrential rain. We gathered at lakeside, had a brief safety chat and eased into ourselves into the water. There was about 15 swimmers with me being the only fool without a wetsuit, which was pointed out to me by a horrified bystander as I entered the water! Did he really think I had forgotten!? Here's where we started from, Charlie had told me about this tunnel/cave on our last trip to Buttermere for the GLG Challenge.
As expected the water was somewhat colder than Ellerton, I swam two lengths of the Lake as the mist descended making visibility rather testing in my already fogged up goggles, not quite the hour and half required, however I was still happy with 80 minutes at 53f 11C in poor weather. The arm held up fine for the first hour with just moderate discomfort from this point.

Recovery was going well and I was taking the rest advised by the medical experts, (not swimming everyday) with just the occasional swim in an attempt to maintain some level of acclimatisation, that was until I aggravated the injury dealing with something unexpected at work last Monday, swelling and crepitus returned with a vengeance, causing me to worry about long term impacts. I therefore made an appointment to see Dr Ishtiaq Rehman who had previously helped me with some rotar cuff issues, he is a GP but has made sports injury his specialism. Without going into details he confirmed what we already know but has pointed me in the right direction for some quality treatment at Body2Fit. The future looks bright as they say!

I don't remember if I mentioned Joe Hunter ? he is a local swimmer with a slot booked to attempt the English Channel this September, he lives even closer than Pete Windridge-France, he is an absolutely ideal training partner for the build up to my 2 Way Windermere Swim. We have had three swims at Seaton Carew in the last two weeks in some quite hideous conditions due to the recent high winds, the temperature has dropped at the coast to 50f give or take 1 degree, therefore we have been particularly pleased with ourselves to complete our 60 minute sessions. On the temperature front, the lake has steadied off at 58f (14.4C) Last Saturday I swam there with Joe for 90 minutes. Fingers crossed  I will manage a two hour effort before the end of the month...well, maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Aiming High ?

I am pleased to say the crepitus in my right forearm is now easing off at last after two weeks and swelling appears to be under control. I had a brief test swim at the grotty Total Fitness pool yesterday (Friday 13th) it was quite strange, not only being in the the warm chlorinated water, but also actually swimming a full stroke rather than just kick. My arms felt like they belonged to someone else, you know... one of those sessions where you feel like you have almost forgotten how to swim with coordination and technique being virtually non existent. Any discomfort was mild stemming from the thumb which I attempted (with difficulty) to keep in alignment.

Just as well really considering Sunday is an arranged swim at Buttermere in the Lake District.

The plan for Sunday was always to swim laps of the 2km lake, depending on the water temperature which I anticipate to be in the region of 52f 11c. Looking back on training records from 2010, I kind of know in my own head how long I want/need to manage. Though I wasn't going to be telling anyone else regardless of who questioned me.

Now, as some of you will be aware, I am friends with Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, she is very motivational, articulate and knowledgeable, yet, like her husband Ian, so very laid back, friendly and approachable. That said, dont get lulled into a false sense of security as she is also fiercely competitve!

Getting back to the subject of goals and training plans, specifically for this weekend, reminded me of a paragraph in one of Tannis books "Aim High" where she states the following:
"You should tell the world about your goals. This is definitely one of the things that has contributed to my success. If you have a dream and share it with others, it puts pressure on you to try and achieve. It also makes that dream more real. While dreams remain in your head, they may never progress; but vocalising them brings them alive and moves them forward. Just writing dreams down doesn't do the job. You have to vocalise. Its about making things happen"

So.. after re-visiting the book I was happy enough to tell the other swimmers attending that I needed to be doing at least 90 minutes in the frigid waters of Buttermere in order for my plans to continue developing ahead of the next stepping stone of 9 miles in Dover Harbour in only five weeks time. 

There you have it...if you have a goal..don't be shy...tell the world...

(Tanni...note how I have not defaced the above image unlike some individuals !!)

Monday, 9 May 2011

After effects and "Magic Cups" !

I remember sitting with Sarah Tunnicliffe before the 24 mile swim, she asked how I felt about the coming event and was I nervous/excited, I explained I was looking forward to it, that it was all part of the journey to bigger things with my only concern being injury in particular aggravating rotar cuff problems purely from over use.

Other than the cold, some mild soreness and fatigue, my body seemed to be holding up under the strain, (the mind is a different story!) only when I returned home did I feel and comment about some discomfort in the right forearm/wrist, as well as the disturbing creaking sounds of crepitus, Further examination diagnosed me with INTERSECTION SYNDROME this is a brief explanation of the condition:

The pain from intersection syndrome is usually felt on the top of the forearm, about three inches above the wrist. At this spot, two muscles that connect to the thumb cross over (or intersect) the two underlying wrist tendons (tendons connect muscles to bones). The two muscles that cross over the wrist tendons control the thumb. They are the extensor pollicis brevis and the abductor pollicis longus. These two muscles start on the forearm, cross over the two wrist tendons, and connect on the back part of the thumb. When these muscles work, they pull the thumb out and back.

The extensor carpi radialis brevis and the extensor carpi radialis longus muscles run lengthwise along the back of the forearm. The tendons of these two muscles attach on the back of the hand. The action of these two wrist tendons pulls the wrist back, into extension. Most of the tendons around the wrist are covered with a thin tissue called tenosynovium. Tenosynovium is very slippery. It allows tendons to glide against one another and the surrounding muscles, fat, and skin with very little friction.

If you overuse the wrist extensor tendons, the slippery tenosynovial lining may become inflamed from the constant rubbing against the two thumb muscles. As the tenosynovium becomes more irritated and inflamed, it swells and thickens. You feel pain when you move your wrist because the swollen tendons are rubbing against the thumb muscles.

As a result of this ailment I am taking NSAIDs, pain killers and wearing a brace in an attempt to keep the wrist in alignment, that together with ICE ICE BABY and Donal Buckley's "magic cups" hopefully this is a short term problem I can overcome soon enough.
The magic ice cup above, keep it moving over the relevant area, hands are warm and insulated by the styrene, direct application unlike the regular bag of frozen peas, cheap and reliable. See Donals page for more details.

The injury has prevented any swimming in full however yesterday I could bear it no longer and accompanied Joe Hunter to Ellerton Lake, he was doing three hours in his Channel build up which made me very envious (and impressed) I needed to get back into the water so as not to loose all of my acclimatisation so took the decision to kick with fins for an hour. It was mighty boring but a must if I am to be serious about the looming events, that said I did see the lake in a whole new dimension. Afterwards I hung around to feed and encourage Joe as he eased to the three hour point. Well done Joe.

Thankyous and lessons

Before my mind becomes a complete blur with regards to last weekends 2S4L event I wanted to thank lots of people, hopefully I will not forget too many, my apologies in advance if that's the case.
To all the individuals who offered their dedications on a very personal and emotional level to motivate me throughout the day especially Charlie, KGB, Enda, Nick, Chris B, Tanni GT and my beloved parents, Sally Goble for kicking my butt pre event to get some training done, to Lesley Zimmerman for her excellent organisational skills as well as hot sweet tea through the wee small hours, my employers for the use of the vehicle and loan of the water boiler, Kate and Lisa for equipment space in their tent, Kieron Taylor, Mark Bayliss, Lucinda Pollington, for dragging me up and down lane 3 in their wake, Sarah T, Tom R and Bryn for your motivational praise, Claire for the muffins, Don for ruining my night with the dreaded 5 minute warnings, Lisa for the loan of the dry towel and hat, Nicola Latty for support and reassurance, The OSS for the life saving hot tub, Tom Sarah and Ruth for some top notch photographs, everyone who shouted encouragement. The Lido team and lifeguards, the group on OWSNEE for encouragment praise and sponsorship...The list goes on...thank you all.

Lessons...if you enter this event in the future my advice would be, take more than 6 towels... its not nice trying to dry yourself with a sopping wet rag especially in the cold dark night air, take at least 12 swimsuits for changing when the sun disappears, include savoury food in your feed plan, I was pining for a sandwich or similar after a few hours, remember its your swim not a race and finally arrange to stay over post event as the drive afterwards can be a killer.

Last but not least thankyou so much for all the comments on the previous post, I really appreciatte your time and effort for leaving your thoughts in the written word, it does actually drive me onwards knowing I have your support and that people are reading the blog..thanks again...speak soon.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

2 Swim 4 Life

It seemed like a great idea however many months ago it was when I entered the event 2S4L11, I am sure you are aware but just in case, it was a charity swim for Help the Heroes, held at Guildford Lido, the challenge being, to swim 1 mile, on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours......easy?? swimming at 1mph...surely that would be doable.

The day after celebrating KGBs birthday on the 28th at the fantastic Whinestone View (and in doing so breaking all my promises regarding alcohol, late nights, warm water) I departed from home, alone, to drive the 280 or so my miles to Guildford where I had reserved a room. The journey was uneventful except maybe for the activation of a speed camera! Damn.

Prior to arrival at the Travelodge I attended the beautiful setting of Guildford Lido where several swimmers were already in attendance erecting tents, it was every bit as nice as it looked on photographs.
I met the organisor Lesley for the first time and was kindly offered some space in Kate and Lisa's tent providing I helped with the setting up. This was ideal as I would now have space to store my kit and food in the event of rain, a bit of a weight off my mind.
Back to the accommodation for my customary two main courses before heading to a seperate location for intros to lots of entrants, I had barely entered the building when I was greeted by the motivator aka Sarah Tunnicliffe, hugs and smiles all round as I said hello to some faces old and new, it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere with the prospect of the event already starting to form bonds as we confirmed starting lanes and times. I allowed myself one pint of Guinness before heading back for an early night.

In the final weeks of build up to the swim for life I had announced my intention to swim each mile dedicated to someone or something, the reason being to keep me mentally intact and motivated, all but one or two miles were taken with some very personal, emotional, reasons associated with their selection. I will refrain from listing them all suffice to say loved and lost family and friends featured highly.

And so to Saturday morning, regular readers will know I don't do breakfast willingly, however, I managed to gulp down some muller rice, coffee and sports drinks prior to packing up and heading for registration, more hellos to Sally Goble, Colin Hill etal and final briefings. Before I knew it the swimmers for the first mile lined up, a little discussion regarding which racing snakes would lead the lane and we were off. I had every intention of recording the times for each mile as well as my thoughts as the day progressed. As per my entry form, I anticipated/hoped to be swimming each mile in around 28 minutes at least at the start of the day.

The first four miles seemed to fly by with the following times: 26:35, 26:46, 26:50, and then a crazy for me 25:45 swimming on the heels of swimmer extraordinaire Mark Bayliss, a routine was starting to develop of swim, shower, dry, dress, eat, drink, stretch, toilet and rest before the verbal "5 minutes" warning was called and we headed off back to poolside. We were informed the water was around 21c though it felt way colder on the parts of the body exposed to the wind. Out of the water the sun was shining to the extent that everyone was applying sun block...it was going well, I felt good, with the weather helping for sure.

As the hours passed the bond between swimmers in each lane began to grow, there was some seriously talented swimmers leading lanes with Lucinda Pollington (Marks better half) Mark Bayliss and Kieron Taylor taking turns to drag the rest of us up and down the 50m pool.

By mile 7, timing each 1600m was binned, I was still showering at this point but that too was soon to be forgotten. I needed every minute possible to rest and attend to other matters, I managed to call home and tweet once or twice, I was aware the Donal Buckley and Lisa Cummins were swimming the same sort of thing in Ireland we therefore passed an occasional update with our status.

The sun dropped in the sky taking with it the warmth of the day, fastskins and wetsuits were beginning to appear as well as abandonment's, several swimmers called it a day after 12 miles by which time it was cold and I was spending each rest period shivering. It was going to be a long night. I was trying to maintain a routine of drying, feeding and resting doing my best to keep warm, all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep. Despite being half way through the end felt no closer and I was starting to suffer mentally.
Swim and rest periods become a bit of a blur, I forget how many miles we have swam and need to ask others for confirmation, Simon the editor of H2open came to see me and lifted my spirits, I remember him ask how I was coping, which reminded me of all the individuals to which I had dedicated my efforts. A short time later I noticed Colin Hill taking down his tent, we spoke briefly, he had called it a day, this shocked me into reality, bloody hell.... if Colin was going home to see his kids this must be tough.
By this point we were down to just three in the lane, Lucinda, Kieron and myself..it was silent but for the splash of arms in the cool water,  a flood light lit most of the area but did nothing to lift the air temperature, it was definitely warmer under water than at poolside or indeed in my sleeping bag. Brief panic set in as spots of rain began to fall about 17 miles in, I dashed around, soaking wet in the dark, doing my best to gather some dry kit into the marquette, hot sweet tea became the drink of choice accompanied by all manner of treats, I had been eating jelly babies, rice, gels, maxim bars, maxim, wine gums, galaxy chocolate...I was desperate for something savoury, but even more in need of sleep.
Curled up in a ball with the sleeping bag I would hear the dreaded 5 minute warning, I recall seriously considering..I could easily pretend I didn't hear it and get myself off to sleep and out of this misery. Other swimmers together with their helpers (Lucinda and Mark) would rustle out of their warm cocoon's and limp off to poolside...one extra minute and I was off running to join them, jumping in to the frigid water and sprinting the first 100m to get warm.
A couple of times during the wee small hours I spent 15 minutes of so in the OSS hot tub as Lesley fetched me more hot sweet tea, it was heavenly..that said it was a killer getting back into the pool after being almost cooked in that tub!

Around 5am one of the most welcome sights was the sky filling ever so slowly with natural light, it was  a massive boost, I was allowing myself to believe that this was looking like a possibility. In my tired sleep depraved, hungry state, calculating we had four miles to swim on the one hand sounded great, on the other...that was 6400m! that in itself would be a good session on it own for any normal day. However, this was no normal day by any stretch of the imagination.

As the sun rose higher, so did the activity on poolside, retired swimmers, helpers and families were all returning to the lido, with just two miles remaining things began to get emotional, mile 23 was for Brendan Kennedy RIP with mile 24 being dedicated to my late mum. My mind was drifting whilst swimming and I was having to talk to myself out loud under water to get a grip. Two extra visits to the blissful hot tub and this was it...the final mile.
Gathered at the start, with much clapping and cheering Kieron lead us out on the final effort, 8 lengths later and Lucinda took the lead, only to pull over after another 400m and tell me to take the lead, they had slowed down so that we could swim in a train, I was getting choked at both this and for thoughts of mum and how pleased she would be for me. Laps 25 to 31 was Kieron again leading the lane pausing briefly to wave and splash kids on the deck, with 50 metres remaining we all stopped, took the lane three abreast and swam in together in total synchronisation. I was totally flattered and very nearly an emotional wreck. Touching as one, to the receipt of much applause, we had done it, 24 miles in 24 hours, we hugged and congratulated each other....it was, at long last, over.
It was brutally relentless, the most difficult event to date. Without further ado, I collected my certificate, packed the car said my goodbyes and headed off for a tiresome 280 mile drive home.
I have lots more to say regarding reflections, lessons learnt, people to thank etc...I will therefore post again soon

Thankyou one and all for your support