Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Roller Coaster

Little update....

As a result of a great forecast / prediction on Friday 17th August, I discussed the possibilities of swimming slightly early possibly on Tuesday being that the weather was looking so good.

After a chat with Neil we decided to head to Dover on Sunday afternoon.

I collected Amanda Bell and Dee Llewellyn and together we travelled south arriving in Dover at Kevin and Jane Murphy's flat around 6pm. The plan was to spend the next 24-36 hours resting before taking the opportunity to swim. As luck or bad luck would have have it, the wind speed and general conditions declined resulting in what Neil described as marginal conditions. I trust him and was more than happy to accept this decision. The last thing I wanted was to start my attempt under the wrong circumstances.

That brings us to the present situation. Dee has been keeping a close eye on the usual websites of windguru and xc weather etc for the sign of  a good window (with our limited knowledge) and I have been in daily contact with the only person who really knows that being Neil.

As it stands now..Wednesday was out of the question but Thursday night / Friday look more favourable...though as you all know the British weather can be very fickle..

This morning we drove around to Samphire Hoe one of the likely start locations, where the enormity of the task ahead hit me like a train...I was filled with doubt, nerves and fears. I am assured this is completely normal at this stage. I have had some very touching emails and messages of support some of which have brought me close to tears...those people know who they, I am very very grateful for your kinds words.

We will speak again this evening and hopefully have some good news.

If and when the swim goes ahead the spot tracker loaned to me by Kate and Steve Robarts will be available in real time here  

As promised there will be more frequent updates on twitter at @mncrobswim

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

prior planning and preparation

With little over one week until the beginning of my tide, I am starting to become somewhat anxious.
My crew is in place and most details are in the process of being finely tuned. I will hopefully arrive in Dover and have 24-48hours rest and mental preparation prior to the call from the pilot.

On the big day I will be accompanied by Neil Streeter (Skipper/Pilot of 'Suva') his crew mate, the official CS&PF observer (unknown as yet) and my own hand picked crew of Dee L, Sarah T, Amanda B and Joe Hunter.

All crew members will have a specific task on the day one of which will be updating my twitter @mncrobswim however you will obviously have to be a follower. You can also follow progress using the AiS tracker system using this link.

More news once we are settled in Dover...keep your fingers crossed please!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

4 years ago today.....

No need to say anything really
Just didn't want this anniversary to pass unnoticed
This is the original post here

Saturday, 21 July 2012

That's a first (and an Elephant)

On Friday 13th July, Rob and I made the arduous journey to Dover for what was planned to be our big training weekend. The aim being to complete the standard back to back or split Channel swim in the harbour, consisting of a 7 hour swim Saturday and 6 hours Sunday.

340 miles after leaving home we arrived at the Premier Inn on the sea front and checked in, ahead of a visit to Chapters Chinese buffet for what proved to be an MBS (maximum belly stretch) afterwards I played the two swimmers DVD to Rob and watched his face as the tragic events unfolded.

More food for supper then off to what should have been a good nights sleep, I say 'should have been' as it turns out that Rob snores like an elephant ....I was not happy and spent most of the night trying to wake him from the deep slumber only for him to produce even louder noises as the night wore on...I was basically waiting for daylight and time to get up.

I got out of bed feeling like I had had zero sleep and forced down some breakfast before heading to the was fantastic to see some old faces some of whom I hadn't seen since 2008, before too long I joined the queue to see Freda and was greeted with a massive hug. She winked and almost asked ..."7 today?"
I replied "yep no problem" and off I went to grease up.

On the stroke off 9am we entered the water, Rob and I swam more or less together, after only 45 minutes I had a bit of a blip and had a quick chat with Rob, we got a move on and swam til the first feed at 2 hours, the water was about 15c and the weather was getting worse as time went on. The rain soon started to fall eventually followed by and electrical storm. The four hour feed was maxim and a piece of milky way. This immediately made me feel sick, resulting in me staying out of the choppier waters in an effort to settle my belly, half an hour later and all was well. I swam in at 5 hours to see Barry waving his arms and blowing a blowing a whistle. He shouted 'Everyone out..its too dangerous'
 I didn't argue!! I have never known this ever happen...a first for certain

Rob wasn't too happy as he desperately wanted the seven hours. I reassured him that this was still a big step up from 6 hours at the lake.

Saturday evening after an initial meal at the premier inn (at 4pm) we visited an Italian restaurant (with Zoe Sadler who is due to swim The English Channel anytime from Monday 23rd !!) for MBS number two, a starter, two main meals and ice cream later and we were off to bed. Another night listening to the elephant and becoming more and more agitated!

Sunday morning we awoke to much better conditions, the harbour was near flat and the sun was even peeping out, the swim was fairly uneventful with no mental blips, 6 hours was comfortable and we danced up the beach on completion.

The battle with the motorway followed almost without delay, 7 hours later I was home tucking into an Indian, slightly wired from the maxim but feeling very satisfied with a great weekends training.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Evolution not Revolution

For one reason and another I have been rather slack with the site of late, partly because there was little or nothing to say. However now that the English Channel season has started I am finding myself on the laptop (rather than the iphone) more and more frequently checking trackers and general swim updates. I therefore thought I would give a bit of an update.

The weekend in Ireland came and went and more less left me feeling a bit down, the water temperatures were not quite what I had hoped for and there was no way I was going to be able to have a long swim in 11-12 degree water. My longest swim over there was 2 hours and 15 minutes on the TBBC day (total brain and body confusion) when we generally got messed around with directions, feeds and criticism. (all part of the game)

Returning home, training has continued in the step by step fashion I have become accustomed to and can cope with. I know from past errors and experience that I need to build up slowly towards the longer swims letting my body evolve in the process. It is crazy for me to try and match the almost elite swimmers around the world who are hitting some unbelievable distances and times in very cold water. An example of which is the incredible Lisa Cummins who recently swam ten hours around Sandycove in that same 11-12 degree water!!

The last ten days have been great training at home, together with Rob, I have moved incrementally up the timescale from 4 to 5 to 6 hours..its good to get some miles in the shoulders in readiness for our Dover Trip where we hope to complete two swims of 7 and 6 hours. That will be our next big test as our tides rapidly approach.

I will keep the site more up to date as we are now inside the last 50 days

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rant over

After my last rant regarding the temperature the whole of the UK underwent what can only be described as a heatwave, however this unfortunately coincided with the onset of a chest infection which developed around 20 May...I thought it was just a head cold though yesterday my GP confirmed the bad news and prescribed a course of antibiotics...This has left me flapping somewhat being that the tide for this years big swim is now less than 90 days away..still...better to be ill now than in August (I think)

Other news.... I have decided to dedicate the swim to my late mum who we lost in 2008 after being ravaged by Dementia with Lewy Bodies, as a result of which I have added a justgiving widget on the left, if you click the link you can see the full details, and, if you feel that way inclined can even donate by text/sms. No pressure as I know we are all feeling the pinch of the credit crunch.

Hoping to be fit for the long bank holiday weekend as I am desperate to get up to three hours

Monday, 7 May 2012

Global Warming NOT

I have retained by training records going back to 2007, they include such things as time in water, conditions, how I felt, who I was with and WATER TEMPERATURE.

It is a fact that this year we are way behind for this time an example, this weekend 2011 after a long cold winter the water at the Lake was 58f...this weekend it was 50f. The North Sea today 2011 was 51f today it was 48f.

I am getting sick and tired off waiting for the weather to improve and the water temperature to increase to allow  mortals like me more time in the water...and to top it all I am told that this is forecast to be the coldest May in 100 years..

I just don't get it

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Trapped... in The Tees

Since my last post training has been or rather was, progressing really well. Joe, Amanda and I have continued to train almost exclusively outside and quickly built up to the hour at 50f/10c at Ellerton Lake. We had been making more use of the River Tees due to the proximity and the fact that it is still cold and free!

Following some tightness in the upper back (a regular problem) I went for a sports massage with a therapist used by Joe. Usually after such a session I feel great and virtually pain free. However the only thing to report after this uncomfortable visit was nerve entrapment and extreme discomfort, to the extent that I was unable to sleep, drive or swim.

After some forced rest and alternative treatment I eventually returned to training. This last week we have had 5 swims in the River Tees, the temperatures have ranged from 47f/8.3c to 50f/10c. Sunday 22 April Amanda and I decided to swim to the 'pipe bridge' from our start location at Preston Park a distance just short of a mile, we made it to the bridge in around 27 minutes and were happy with the step up to an estimated 55 minutes at this lower than normal temperature. We turned at the bridge and then the problem became apparent, we had failed to notice the flow as a result of which we had a tough time getting back to the start. After 70 minutes and well over due, we crawled out of the water in a bit of a state. We had certainly pushed the boundaries. Amanda drove us directly to the gym where we had a great recovery in the steam room and sauna. Our teeth chattering whilst everyone else was sweating. We had some strange looks that for sure.

We now make a point of checking the strength of the river flow and direction and plan accordingly...better late than never. All but one session since has found the river almost still. That said, yesterday was one of the days where the river had more characteristics of an endless pool. Limited for time we swam for half an hour and hardly covered much more than 150metres.

Charlie walked the river bank and took the picture below

To summarise this weeks outside swims:
21 April River Wharfe Wetherby 35 minutes at 49f
22 April River Tees 70 minutes at 47f
24 April River Tees 57 minutes at 50f
25 April River Tees 55 minutes at 49f
27 April River Tees 25 minutes at 47f

The plan is to hit the two hour mark as soon as possible. Location to be confirmed.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Busy Busy

Its been a little while since I blogged and updated my training for a number of reasons, one of which was advice from an unnamed party who told me "more training less typing"
March was a busy month on the social front with the CS&PF Annual Dinner in Dover closely followed the next weekend by the BLDSA dinner at Langdale Chase. These two events were my last two evenings of drinking alcohol. I am really feeling the benefit of staying off the booze and am even more pleased to say it was easy to do so.

Training wise March was more of the boring pool sessions, the highlights being a 14km set on March 6th alone at Total Fitness and a much tougher 10km session at Leeds 50m pool together with Robin (EC aspirant 2012) and Joe Hunter (EC 2011).

This week saw my return proper to the open water, I had not swam outside (other than a ten minute dip after the CS&PF dinner) since December 28th. Looking back on my 2011 records, it was actually the same date I started last year which is a great omen.

So this week has been:
Monday April 2 North Sea 27 mins at 48f
Tuesday April 3 North Sea 35 mins at 47F
Wednesday April 4 River Tees 25 mins at 44f
Friday April 5 Ellerton Lake 60mins at 50f

Monday, 12 March 2012

Beneath the Surface with Rebecca Adlington

Worth a watch for Rebecca Adlingtons awesome technique..I dont have a BMW !!

Thursday, 1 March 2012



updated with Donal Buckleys consent........The Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, one of only two ratifying organisations for English Channel swimming launches its new website later today, at 6pm GMT (11 am EST, 2 am AUS). (If you follow the link before then, you won’t get the new website).

CS&PF President Nick Adams, himself a multiple Channel soloist, two-way Solo and more relays than he can remember, and Triple Crown swimmer, and a migration team have helped to bring to life this new website which will inherit the place held by the venerable but dated

There’s a very nice new CS&PF logo, I look forward to seeing it on some Soloist swim caps in the future. It stresses the necessary and absolute partnership between  swimmer and pilot.

There a few things I especially like, such as putting Captain Webb‘s (possibly apocryphal) comment right up front. It’s a motto that means an awful lot for some of us. The more difficult your Channel swim, the more you will embrace it. 

The front page, in what are perfect choices, has photographs of Roz Hardiman and Freda Streeter. For anyone who’s visited Swimmer’s Beach in Dover, especially when the locals are around, Roz will be familiar. She is a legend in Dover, a successful Soloist, who swam without the use of her legs, AND as Kevin Murphy pointed out, without any compensating aid.

And Freda of course is integral to the whole world of English Channel swimming. One sentence or paragraph is hardly sufficient, but there are probably as many Freda anecdotes as there are Channel swimmers.

But there’s more than just bling. The site has everything you need for your first encounter with the ridiculous, insane and obsessive world of English Channel swimming. The pilot and their boats and contact details, training and nutrition advice, the CS&PF Committee and contact details for those also, the venerated 136 year old Channel Swimming rules, (which are the worldwide standard for marathon swimmers), the 2011 swim lists, a couple of Swimmer’s Stories, with more to come updated current Sandettie Lightship weather reading over on my links also) and more. It’s a veritable cornucopia of delight. And with updated news and event, reason for the old hands and Channel Alumni to visit as well as the Aspirants and the dreamers.

And what is very important, is the unfortunate list of the Channel swimming fatalities. Too many people approach the Channel with overconfidence or lack of necessary humility and fear  (something that greatly annoys many Channel swimmers). Those six people gave their lives in pursuit of the dream and it is correct they should be honoured.

As it says, buried deep in a page, Welcome to our world.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Abacus Training

The end of half term school holidays brought the return to pool training. The initial session of the week was a tentative check on the back/side issue I experienced just before the break. All seemed to be well and my motivization was certainly strong enough.

As the week progressed so did the difficulty and intensity of the sets. During the planning stage for the weekend I happened to speak with Mark Bayliss (EC solo 2007) he mentioned that he and his wife Lucinda (both of whom have EC solo swims booked for 2012) were planning a long session for the Saturday. Mark was kind enough to forward me the finer details on email so I had no excuses.

Arriving at the pool Sunday lunchtime armed with lots of fluids and the regulation skittles, I commenced the session with Amanda moaning in the adjacent lane as she was only kicking due to shoulder injury. It was one of those days when you just feel like all is going to plan, you feel strong, your stroke seems to glide without effort, the breathing is under control and even the chlorine levels seem ok and not burning the face for a change!

I tend not to count lengths in the pool rather use the clock, as I know more or less how long each repetition should take. The problem for me is actually remembering the number of reps completed. I swim with my eyes closed most of the time and tend to just drift off thinking of nothing in particular, so the last thing I wanted to do was struggle with the maths.
After a few reps the bright idea of breaking down the floats on the grotty lane rope and using them as an abacus came to mind, this made life so much easier mentally and I could get on with swimming and nothing else. Just over three and half hours later I was all done and felt remarkably good. No shoulder issues to talk of and plenty of energy remaining.

Lucinda posted the set elsewhere so there should be no issues with sharing it here on the off chance you fancy completing yourself. 
Thanks To Amanda for taking the snaps of the new in pool tool

Friday, 24 February 2012

Beckoning Silence

Regular readers/visitors will be aware of my interest in the written word, I find it an escape and often long for one of those cannot put it down type books, you know, the sort that you want to read cover to cover without interuption. The obvious Dover Solo(Marcia Cleveland) Nothing Great is Easy (Des Renford) and Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know (Ran Fiennes) spring to mind, though the list in full is quite extensive. (Newcomers can find my recommended reading list on the side bar of this site).

Time being such  a precious commodity.. and lives being so very busy, I find it almost as rewarding to watch something thrilling on the big or small screen. I have mentioned several times my pleasure at watching Two Swimmers. However having recently loaned out Touching The Void on DVD to a swimmer friend, I set about purchasing 'The Beckoning Silence' a drama documentary based on the book by Joe Simpson.

Simpson and another give the narrative on the gripping film, during which Simpson reflects on his childhood dreams and the fascination of climbing the North Face of The Eiger, as is often the case there are so many parallels I can draw from this film and relate them all to swimming at length in cold lonely water. In particular  the references to Endurance and Psychological battles. The following two excerpts spoken by Joe Simpson give a feel of the sort of thing I am referring to.

'You want to test yourself more and more. You want to go and do a first ascent. That's how you live. I didn't realise how obsessive I had become.....Perhaps you have to become obsessive to do something to that degree.

'It wasn't just luck that I survived. I made an effort. All I had to do once I had found a way out was endure. It wasn't easy, but it was all I had to do. I know what strength of mind it takes to keep death away'
If you have not yet seen it, get it and TTV on your must see list

Friday, 17 February 2012

‘Through pain, we are able to experience life' Darren Miller

As a follow up to the previous post I would like to say thanks to freelance writer Eric Murtaugh for permission to repost the interview in full:

Darren, 28, of Pennsylvania, is currently training to be the first swimmer to complete the “Ocean’s Seven” challenge by 2013, a series of swims that will take him across seven of the world’s most difficult channels. He has already completed swims across the English, Catalina and Molokai channels.

The best part about Darren’s goal to complete the “Ocean’s Seven”? He does it all for charity.

ERIC MURTAUGH: Why did you decide to take on the “Ocean’s Seven” challenge?

DARREN MILLER: Since I ran my first marathon in 2008, I have been progressively giving myself more difficult challenges to complete. During this time frame, I have also been inspired by others who have fund-raised significant money to help those less fortunate.

I was blessed to have my English Channel swim privately funded, and be able to establish the Forever Fund at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with my good friend Cathy Cartieri Mehl. Since late 2009, Team Forever has been able to raise almost $40,000 for the children and families who need it the most.

Our money goes to help families during their time of financial need, by helping pay for the costs associated with a hospital stay: gas for travel, food and lodging costs as well as prescription drug costs. This money goes a long way to help the families who cannot afford to stay with their child during this difficult time.

I put my name in the hat of a dozen or so channel swimmers who are looking to accomplish the Ocean’s Seven, we were blessed to land a full-sponsor (each swim is an average of about $10,000) and a desire to push myself as far as possible.

The primary reason is that I want to push the youth of the country to stay close to God and family, as well as understanding that volunteerism should be a focal point of their lives. We have all been blessed with so much, yet we are all guilty of taking this for granted.

EM: Describe your training regimen.

DM: During the season, I start the heavy training after the first of the year. From there, I progress up to around 60-75,000 yards/week average, to as high as 100,000 yards, prior to tapering down before a channel swim.

Along with swimming, I focus on physical therapy to keep my shoulders going strong, and will supplement training with the occasional weights, running and cycling. I try to get in three long swims (6-24 hours in length, depending on the challenge) before I complete the “main” swim. For example, prior to the English Channel I did the 7.5M Potomac River Swim, the 24M Tampa Bay Marathon Swim and a 24-hour pool fundraiser swim.

These three long swims gave me the confidence, and the mental toughness to know I was ready for England. In the off-season, I do weights, long distance running and cycling to keep my endurance base strong.

EM: You definitely have a “never say quit” mentality. How did you achieve this state of mind?

DM: My mental training has been hardened over several years of endurance athletics. Through pain, we are able to experience life, so by putting myself in some of the most difficult challenges, I am able to develop the confidence to know I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.

As a man of faith, I feel as though I have been blessed with the gift of pushing myself long distances, so in turn I should be using this gift to help inspire and motivate others.

Most people do not associate stubbornness with being a gift; however, when it is used in an effective manner, it is the most powerful tool you can possess. When you set your mind, and your word to accomplish something, you have no choice but to follow through with it—no matter the consequence.

I would rather die doing something I love, than to live my life in fear of risk. It is pretty simple really, when you won’t quit, how can you fail?

EM: Is there ever a moment during your channel swims when you doubt your abilities? Are you ever scared?

DM: In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we do not have an ocean to train. I do 95% of my training for an ocean swim in a pool, lake or river—the other small amount I do when I travel to change up the scenery.

I cannot replicate a channel swim where I live, but it is through my experiences in life that I can push myself to never quit. I do not doubt my ability to achieve because I believe in myself.

There were times during my Catalina or Molokai swims where I thought about sharks, or box jellyfish, but it would usually pass. What could I do it a Great White attacked me? Nothing.

I can only control how I think and perform, as there is no point in worrying because it is out of my hands. I just apply the “don’t think, just do it” mentality before I start any of my swims.

EM: Describe the challenges associated with accomplishing a channel swim.

DM: The toughest challenge is to overcome the anxiety associated with looking across a large body of water, sometimes not being able to see the other side, and believing you can make the crossing.

The physical side is the heavy mileage, but many more swimmers have been defeated in a channel swim due to their inability to overcome their mental fears. Don’t get me wrong, as some just do not take the challenge seriously and under-train, but I would say the vast majority of defeated channel swimmers come down to their mental tenacity.

When you worry, and create a negative outlook, it is simple to feel how quickly your body can go downhill. You have to have a lifestyle which supports training for such an adventure. Your family and friends have to be there for support when you are feeling exhausted (as you will throughout the training) as well as providing support during your crossing.

The financial means are also a challenge, as most people cannot afford the cost of a $10,000 channel swim, especially if you are traveling half-way around the world to accomplish your goal.

Overcoming the fear of swimming with sharks and deadly jellyfish in the middle of the night is a tricky one as well.

EM: Do you have a support crew with you during your channel swims?


1. Pilot and crew

2. 1-2 marathon swimming observers (might come from a federation or association)

3. 2-3 personal crew members to help with feedings and basic needs of the swimmer

4. 1-2 kayakers if your swim requires the assistance in the water with you

For example, on my Catalina Channel swim, there were 4 boat crew members, 4 crew members, 2 kayakers and 2 observers—12 in total during my crossing. This is not normal, however I would guess an average of 6-8 people are needed to complete a crossing safely.

EM: Suppose someone is considering doing something big in life, but they hold back for whatever reason. Do you have any advice for them to get over that hump and just do it?

DM: Quit thinking so much. The longer you ponder “what if,” the less of a chance you are going to want to take the risk. What do you have to lose by bettering your lifestyle through exercise, and strengthening your will and desire to achieve?

If you are a parent, what better example of pursuing and accomplishing your goal could you give your child? Teach them to believe in themselves, and not let the outside world influence what they should become.

If you are role model for youth, then again, inspire and motivate them to want to achieve their dreams. Marathon swimming is a phenomenal way to teach others that anything is possible. If you are having doubts, then start small and work your way up to the top. Not everyone will jump into this sport the way some have, so it is OK to start smaller, just never loose sight of the goal!

Once you have the confidence necessary to attempt a channel crossing, it will be the most rewarding experience of your life, because you will accomplish something you at one point might have believed impossible. So exciting…

EM: How did people react when you told them you were taking on the “Ocean’s Seven” challenge?

DM: Most people find what I do as crazy, which I can understand, but my biggest challenge is getting the media to focus on the important point—this is being done to help others.

I could care less about having my name in the papers, but I know it is necessary if I want to attract the necessary attention to get my story in front of the mass public. We cannot make changes if we sit on the sidelines and watch life pass us by.

The family and friends are supportive yet cautious due to the danger. The public is very supportive and always want to know what is new with my next swim.

EM: What is it like swimming long distances, both physically and mentally?

DM: It takes a special breed of person to want to swim for many hours, through some of the most difficult waterways in the world, all while in the constant presence of potentially dangerous wildlife.

I always get the, “I could not swim a mile to save my life!” to which I respond, “You could if you believed it to be possible!”

Ultra distance athletics are all the same, as you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Just because you were a Division I swimmer in college, does not mean you should you be able to complete a channel, and just the same if you were not a Division I swimmer, should you ever count yourself out.

My body structure was meant for being a linebacker, not a swimmer. It is my mental tenacity that allows me to accomplish what I do, and just enjoy the adventure along the way!

Physically, marathon swimming can be quite painful, but it is the mental side that allows you to carry on through the pain, or quit because you don’t believe it can be done. It is the challenge that drives us, and the love for the water which keeps me going through the journey! It is an awesome sport where you meet some of the greatest people in the world.

I like words.....

I recently read an interview with Darren Miller an Oceans 7 aspirant and particularly liked this response:

What do you have to lose by bettering your lifestyle through exercise, and strengthening your will and desire to achieve?
If you are a parent, what better example of pursuing and accomplishing your goal could you give your child? Teach them to believe in themselves, and not let the outside world influence what they should become.
If you are role model for youth, then again, inspire and motivate them to want to achieve their dreams. Marathon swimming is a phenomenal way to teach others that anything is possible. If you are having doubts, then start small and work your way up to the top. Not everyone will jump into this sport the way some have, so it is OK to start smaller, just never loose sight of the goal!
Once you have the confidence necessary to attempt a channel crossing, it will be the most rewarding experience of your life, because you will accomplish something you at one point might have believed impossible.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Building up

Had a great week of interval sessions last week which is just as well now that half term is with us, the forced rest has coincided with a slight injury/strain to my right side in the rib/lat/back area. Nothing too serious, though I cannot pin it down to a particular incident.

Other news...I bumped into the awesome Dr Ishtiaq Rehman in the gym the other day and had a great chat about nutrition, stretching, and general sports training/ was great to know I have his full support.

He recommended the book below, which at first glance is very impressive

Fingers crossed I will be back to normal this weekend just as Charlie prepares to return to school

Last week 31km consisting of the following:
6 Feb 10,000m (500s)
8 Feb 5250m
9 Feb 8000m
10 Feb 3750m
11 Feb 4400m

Monday, 6 February 2012

Guest Post ..Jack Bright

When I found my way to the wintery waters in 2008 I felt like I had arrived in the world. No exhaggeration I experienced a feeling of well being and closeness to nature that I still find hard to describe.

Autumn was closing in and it seemed that I would be confined to the pool when I met Tomas Prokop, a Prague lawyer and president of the winter swimming club 1.PKO. On telling me of a cave swim and the impending winter swimming seasson I was instantly fascinated although I declined his immediate offer to visit the club as I didn’t feel ready. I was a regular summer swimmer in open water and visitor to the swimming pool but the prospect of turning up at a winter swimming club unprepared was not something I was about to entertain. Luckily the pool I was swimming in had an outside unheated pool so I started training in this. After 8 weeks it was mid december and I was swimming 800m in the pool. I felt ready to try winter swimming and attended a training session. 

As I left the club house shivering I was also giggling as I got a real kick out of the swim and felt physcially and mentally better than I had for some time. That first season was interesteing and I will always remember my second race in the partially frozen Bolevak pond near Plzen in the west of the Czech Republic. The water was 1.5c and I was limited by the rules to the 250m distance. At this point I will say that for a new winter swimmer, who has a little experience with water ofa round 4c the drop to 1.5c is quite something. I set off quite quickly but after 70m I seemed to just freeze, I swallowed a bit of water, I was on the ropes and somewhere in front of me I could see the safety boat, at that split I couldn’t move and a voice inside me said „ok, help, get me on that boat I am not a winter swimmer.“ Then another voice said „get on with it and get the job done“ Needles to say I chose the latter option without question. This happenend in a split second but I remeber it vividly. I made it to the finish and back in the changing rooms I felt an incredible pain in my hands that I hadn’t felt since I was a 10 year old boy doing Rugby drills on a freezing Sunday morning when my hands turned blue and at the end of the training session myself and the other boys ran back to the changing rooms crying. 

Back to the swimming and after a short recovery I was elated that I had managed to swim 250m in 1.5c water. Later that day I told many people about it as I was proud but also a little amazed at my achievement. I think this is another example of the power that extremely cold water wields. Little did I know that just over a year later I would be able to swim 1km in 0.8c water!

This first season of winter swimming was an eye opener for me and I reccommended it to anyone. We can all be winter swimmers if we have a healthy heart and the will to do it. Step by step is the best way, respect your body and respect nature.

 As that first season ened and thoughts turned to summer activities and longer, warmer swims it suddenly hit me that I should revist one of the dreams of my teens and become a film maker. Almost 3 years after the initial idea and I released „winter swimming“ the film, an almost completely independent production. I funded 50% of the production from my own pocket and the rest came through crowdfunding along with a donation from the swimming club invloved.

In the 29 minute film we get a good overview of a season of winter swimming in the Czech Republic, complete with training, races and even a wedding in icy cold water. The swimmers speak about why they do it and the health benefits and there is a lot of information conveyed through the images combined with the voice over.

Anyone interested in open water swimming, nature or endurance sports willl surely find this fascinating viewing. It is slowly doing the rounds in festivals and will premier in the UK at in March. 

If you can’t wait for that the DVD is available through my blog

As for me, I am still winter swimming and I just seem to enjoy it more and more as I discover new things about myself, other people and our world throught this activity. I am always open to talk about winter swimming and I believe that it can have a postive impact on our lives in many ways, both directly and indirectly. Enjoy the cold water!

Sunday, 5 February 2012


January was a bit of a non starter for a number of reasons. I did actually make a great start, only to succumb to the dreaded 'manflu'. This together with a two week work related course demanding greater than usual travelling time, and then a weeks holiday in Egypt with KGB.

We both expected me to swim everyday either in the unheated pool or the Red Sea, however my chest and associated 'manflu' put a stop to that. I did get into the jellyfish soup aka The Red Sea, though I did not swim, not even once..

After a great week we returned home, thankfully I was well enough to return to the pool and kick start the training plan. However after an 11 shift I commented to KGB via text message that I wasn't sure if I could be bothered to swim and received this brilliant reply which will stay with me throughout the season: "YOU HAVE A BIG CHALLENGE AHEAD, THE DAYS YOU WANT TO SWIM AND CAN'T SHOULD BE RECTIFIED BY THE DAYS YOU DON'T WANT TO BUT CAN" Suffice to say I went to the pool!

A few people have asked what sets I have been doing so I will include some details at the end of the post. Whilst I am no where near the level of the Sandycove Swimmers ie Lisa, Ned, Donal etc I am still pleased with how things are going.

Obviously I am  training between shifts (which is also about to change but more on that later) and am increasing on more or less a 10% per week basis. In addition I have taken the advice of Dee Llewellyn and have commenced some strengthening exercises for my neck back and shoulders. My diet is also having a revamp, I am off the beer! and trying to remember to consume protein after each swim, both of which are having a positive effect. (Or is it all in the mind)

Without further ado, the last few pool swims have been:
27 Jan 10,000m. 29 Jan 5650m. 1 Feb 5250m. 2 Feb (1) 4000m. 2 Feb (2) 4200m. 3 Feb 7400m.

Should have time for a ten km swim tomorrow before work.....roll on the open water season

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

2012 Main Events

The dates for the years BLDSA events have been published and in some cases adjusted, I have had a look at my work patterns and child care plans and hope to enter some if not all of the following selected events, some may be replaced with swims at Seaton Carew or similar depending on commitments nearer the time...a tough year ahead

16 June Cork Distance Camp (TBBC Day) @Sandycove
17 June Cork Distance Camp 6 hour swim  @Sandycove
24 June BLDSA Wykeham Lake 5000 m

7 July BLDSA Torbay 8 miles
14 July Dover Harbour Training 7 hours
15 July Dover Harbour Training 6 hours
22 July BLDSA Coniston 5 or 10 miles
29 July BLDSA Ullswater 7 miles

18 August BLDSA DerwentWater 5 miles
25-29 August You guessed it

Mike Ball EC Aug 17 2009