Tuesday, 22 November 2011

eau de chlorine

Its that time of year when the open water swims are drawing short if not to a close, with it the unwilling re attendance at the grotty swimming pool with the hideous chemicals and associated tedium. Whilst we are attempting to maintain a weekly swim in the sea, the pool will slowly take over and the distances increased on a weekly basis probably til around April/May next year.

Actually last week I managed to squeeze in three swims at Seaton Carew, twice with Channel Swimmer Joe, and once with the girls all of whom made it to the buoy...congratulations and welcome to our little club!!
The water is holding steady around 11-12c though the sea state changes by the day.

My first real pool session was last Thursday (17 Nov) with the familiar 5500m descending ladder, ie 1000, 900, 800 etc. down to 100. I like to use this session as a gauge or benchmark as to my fitness level. I was pleased to see I haven't lost too much yet this year. I just need to be sensible on the build up in order to avoid any overuse injuries. Other than that Charlie and I have been getting in the school pool each Sunday for some drills with Chris Pearson (he swam Windermere 1 way with me back in 2010) hopefully we can continue this til at least Christmas.

There you have the latest update...Im off to meet Batman at Seaton today in the fog...should be fun..brrrrr

Monday, 14 November 2011

Guest Post ..Donal Buckley (Today is The Channel)

Contradictorily, I'm not a great person for motivational aphorisms, but at the same time I love reading and have a large collection of quotations I like. Many relate to the sea or swimming somehow, and I have a few that I've used a few times on my site.

With the English Channel or any other epic marathon swim, you will be asked "why". Many times this question is asked in a "what is wrong with you that you need to do this kind thing" way. There is rarely an answer that works for those particular people.

We all have both similar, and different answers though. I eventually found an answer that worked for 99% of people. That 99% of people are those who don't do what we do, and the other 1% are endurance athletes, who will not even ask the question, because they already understand. I don't need to ask you why you might be thinking of a marathon swim. You don't need my reasons. So my simple answer became a quotation:

No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.- Socrates

After all, who is going to argue with Socrates?

But that wasn't my motivation.

Another that I use, and have used in advising people about the English Channel is:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Usually incorrectly attributed to Goethe by W.H Murray. You can feel something in those words. You can feel the urge to sprinkle fairy dust over your life, to step outside.

But the English Channel is not just about dreams, it's far more about grind. About swimming day in and day out, on frosty mornings and when you are sore, hungry and tired, and have lost the love of swimming you had.

And on those days, when there was just me, when the rest of the Magnificent Seven were all training down in Cork, when I had no-one to swim with, when my local pool was treating me like dirt, I needed something else. I really did need motivational help. So on my training log and inside my locker I wrote:

This Is the Channel.

Today. Every day. Every metre. Every stroke. And it helped. The reminder was always there. Everyday when I opened the locker and when I entered my metres into the spreadsheet. It is still there on my ongoing training logs. It became part of my swimming ethos. I began to value the bad days more, to enjoy the good days.

And when I was done with the Channel, I fell back on another quotation, written by Philip Larkin and used incorrectly by me, but to me the only way I can really describe the English Channel and  my own feelings about it.

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ullswater in November

Having swam The 7 mile BLDSA Ullswater event on 30 July this year in near perfect sunny warm conditions I thought it would be a good idea to re visit once the water temperatures had started to drop..with that in mind I invited a few swimmy mates to a planned swim, to take place Sunday 6 November, the plan was a civilised start time of 12 noon and as much or as little effort as each individual wished for.

Despite lots of initial interest we ended up with just four swimmers in attendance, Amanda Bell and Jo Charlton for the girls and Dave Neal and I for the boys, creeping into the inky water just beyond the Ferry at Glenridding we swam around the first Island and up the lake for a few minutes, the sun was shining and the lake was glass like in appearance, it was somewhat cooler than the sea  but not nearly as cool as we had anticipated, 55 minutes later we returned to shore refreshed and buzzing from a pleasant swim with amazing scenery.

After much hot chocolate and cake, Jo (and her Bear Grylls boyfriend Rich) Dave (and his gaffer Sarah) left us and headed home. Amanda and I warmed up a little more before we took the plunge for a second dip, it was really tough to leave the warm clothes behind and to creep into back into the lake, much to the consternation of onlookers who openly questioned our sanity.. 35 minutes later we were back again, fully revitalised and glowing like red lobsters..

It was funny to see and feel the familiar lack of coordination and shakes return, it seems like a long time since we were experiencing these post swim symptoms of cold water back in April...overall a great day with great company..we must do it again soon. Water 51f 10.5c 90 minutes total.