Monday, 28 December 2015

2015 Summary

It's been a tough year as my Facebook friends will be aware. I will however spare you the negative aspects from my personal/work life and focus on the ups and downs in the water.

As normal the year started with a gentle easing back into pool sessions with some work on technique, all sessions were recorded on, utilising the Suunto Ambit3. 

Although it was a year without a 'HUGE' swim, there were certainly several challenges ahead, some of which I had tackled previously.

2S4L Guilford Lido

I last entered this event in 2011 (post here) so, in theory, I knew exactly what it would take. It was always referred to as being 'brutally relentless'. For 2015 I had again opted for the solo effort of 1 mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. For one reason and another I was unsuccessful, completing only 10 miles. There was some positives to be had, in particular the support received from a few of the usual suspects. I was pretty much fed up after this event.
Not happy. 

BLDSA Wykeham

This is the event geographically closest to home. An almost annual occurrence as one of the first in the BLDSA calendar. 5 triangular 1000m laps in water around 15 degrees and success was in the bag, the time was exactly as expected. I then took the opportunity to swim the 1km event, as I thought it would be ideal prep for the next weekend. 2 swims totalling 6km = 2 successes. (post here)

BLDSA Champion of Champions

Notoriously tough event, the full compliment being: 5miles, 3 miles, 1 mile in Dover Harbour. The last visit for this event in 2011 was a mixed up day weather wise to the extent that the 3 mile swim was cancelled. 

2015 (post here) was no different. It was a very hard day at the office, after some frightening mental blips on the start of the 5 miler (10 laps) I eventually achieved success, the conditions deteriorated for the 3 miler but again after what seemed like an eternity success was gained. Everybody likes the 1 miler as the end is in sight. 
Overall 3 swims totalling 9 miles in salt water about 14.5 degrees. Happy.

Windermere #6
A month earlier than normal, I planned to swim Windermere on this occasion starting at Ambleside in the North. I might as well be honest..the objective was to swim to Fell Foot the back to Bowness, meaning a 15 mile swim. However as it turned out, I altered the plan before the 10 mile point and opted for just a one way. (post here) Technically speaking, unsuccessful though I was still content with 6 hours at 16 degrees. On reflection I had not trained sufficiently for 15 miles.
Still Happy!

BLDSA Ullswater
After a slight lay off in training after Windermere, the next event was soon here. Karen Throsby had kindly offered to kayak for me on this 7 mile swim in beautiful surroundings (full post here.) I was hoping for lovely conditions similar to the 2011 event.
It was in fact bloody awful! By and far the most difficult swimming event of the year. 3 hours 48 minutes in frigid water.
It was a success but I wasn't happy!

That was the last of my events, we did however go to support some others with 3 excellent One Way Windermere swims for:
Ian Adshead, Zoe Sadler and Ady Brown followed by a 10km for Amanda Bell. We also assisted at the BLDSA 2 Way Windermere.

Happy or Not Happy, Success or Not, the one consistency year on year are the individuals, in particular those of what I like to call the BLDSA family,  alongside the Dover beach crew, are like no other, the care, support, advice, unselfishness, and all round altruism of these people is a joy to be part of. You know who you are. 
Thank you.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

When you say you are a swimmer

Returning to 'The Pit' yesterday, first time this week due to life!

Further build up to the planned monster session in December, on this occasion it was 80 x 100, probably 10 reps too far if I am honest as I lost about 3-4 seconds per 100 metres towards the end.

I like this little video..enjoy, I am sure you can relate to some of the lines 

"When You Say You're a Swimmer" from Chris Shimojima on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Pit

It's that time of year again, when after a brief cessation following the close of the open water season, I have finally returned to the pool. The first few sessions were very short but felt very tough. Having been back to the chlorine pit about a month (only average 3 sessions a week) I already feel like I am making some improvements to technique and general fitness.

This last weekend inspired by Mark Sheridan I upped the distance slightly and bashed out a 50 x 100.

Initially these sets feel mind numbing with the end seemingly out of sight. I was pleased to have maintained my timings throughout. Having concentrated on hand entry and rotation I was also delighted to exit the pool pain free and hungry for more.

Looking forward to more intensity in order to build a good base for 2016s massive swim.

All will be revealed....

Friday, 30 October 2015

2016 Escorted Swims

Recently I have received a few flattering enquires to escort swims next year (see the escorted swims tab) on Windermere both 1 Way (10.5 miles) and 2 Way (21 miles) there are in the region of 7 swims booked thus far for 2016, so, if you know me, and I know you, and you are thinking of asking for help next year please be quick. 

I only have a certain amount of annual leave and brownie points to use. 

In addition to that I also have a big swim to train for so time will be precious.

You know the drill

NB a giver not a taker 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Further 2012-2015 EC Data

Truly awesome data from Phillip Hodges to enlarge and analyse further..thanks Phil

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Amanda Bell.. A 'Cool' Windermere 10km

Amanda asked me some time ago if I would assist her with boat support for a swim on Windermere, on a date to be confirmed once the water temperature had dropped below 14 degrees. (it was nearer 12 today) I was very happy to assist on what turned out to be a 10km swim, the start of which was in far from ideal conditions. The strong wind from the south was sending waves over the front of the boat, it was more like swimming/boating in the sea than freshwater.

The plan prior to the start had been to head down from Bowness (South) to the large yellow buoy about a mile north of Fell Foot, where we would turn, however, very soon after the start, due to the poor conditions the route was altered in an effort to afford Amanda some protection from the worst of the weather. I took the boat into the flatter waters near to Ferry Nab where the water levelled out almost instantly. It was a different world, much nicer for everyone concerned.

Then the rain came.. in biblical fashion, this flattened the water further still and we had a pleasant tour behind Belle Isle and through the Lillies in the general direction of Wray Castle. 

By this time, the feeds had dropped to every 45 minutes, following the initial 2 at one hour intervals. It was however, too late. Amanda was already in depletion (she should have started on 30-40 minutes between feeds due to the colder water) and it would not be possible to fully recover/refuel. 10 miles would not be doable today.

She probably (hopefully) won't mind me saying that she was ready to quit at 7.8km, as a result of which she was given a portion of what we call 'advice'. I also asked Graeme to jump in and offer some morale support by swimming alongside. This definitely helped and there was a marked increase in speed (to the extent that Graeme had some difficulty keeping up). 

Having already made the turn we headed south to the jetty at Bass Rock where Graeme exited the water. As per the video we then adjusted the course to encompass a small loop simply to round up the distance to 10km and facilitate the return to the jetty in order to collect our support swimmer.

Great training swim in 'cool' water. Well done.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Sunday, 11 October 2015

CS&PF 2015 end of season stats.. a closer look.

At the close of the 2014 season I composed a post here reflecting on the CS&PF statistics regarding successful English Channel Solo swims. The post proved to be very popular, hence it was always my intention to more or less repeat the procedure with the 2015 figures.

In the same manner as last year, the information has been gathered from the most excellent Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation website.

At the outset it appears obvious that the weather gods have played their part in thwarting a lot of swims this year, you can see at a glance on the below graph (data from 2012-2015 only) how the figures have dipped this year. 

N.B. Solos only (there was an additional 47 relays.. see post script)

The skilled pilots have however still been busy amassing the following figures (43 solos)
Paul Foreman (Optimist) 9
Lance Oram (Sea Satin) 6
Mike Oram (West Winds/SeaFarer II) 3
Eddie Spelling (Anastasia) 11
Neil Streeter (Suva) 10
James Willi (Gallivant) 4

The season was opened by 2 Way EC legend Wendy Trehiou/Suva swimming on 25th June in preparation for her 24 hour St.Malo to Jersey swim with Matthew Clarke and Lionheart Pilotage !
(The record for the earliest swim is held by King of the Channel, Kevin Murphy 29th May in 1990)

2015 gave us 4 mammoth swims in excess of 20 hours, the longest being Sigrun Thuridur Geirsdottir with a  22 hours 34 minutes crossing with pilot James Willi/Gallivant. Track below:

The fastest swim this year was Sebastion Karas in only 8 hours 48 minutes with Pilot Eddie Spelling/Anastasia. Track below:

The 17th August proved to be the most successful day this year, with a total of four successful crossings. (Kristian O'Donavan, Phil Yorke, Lisa Williams and Volker Koch)

Other swims of note (IMHO) that should not go unmentioned:

Mr 'Big Love' (President) Nick Adams swam his 11th crossing on 8th August with Neil and the Suva crew.

Phil Yorke became only the 12 person to make a breaststroke crossing on the aforementioned most successful date in 18 hours and 2 minutes. (Neil/Suva) track below:

My mate Mark 'Shezza' Sheridan completed his second successful crossing on a big spring tide on 2nd September. (Neil/Suva)

Liz Fry swam her 6th crossing on 28th August with Eddie/Anastasia.

The season closed with Sue Croft completing the swim on her 4th attempt on Thursday 8 October in 15 hours 59 minutes with Neil and Team Suva.
(The record for the latest swim is 29 October in 1979)

The Solo Heroes this year spent a total of 651 hours 30 minutes and 13 seconds in the Water.

Equating to an average crossing time of 15 hours 09 minutes and 4 seconds.

Congratulations to all swimmers, pilots and crews. 

Post Script ...


Total time for relay teams in the water this year 713 hours 23 minutes and 10 seconds

The average time for a relay crossing this year was 15 hours 10 minutes 42 seconds 

Fastest relay 10:36:39 Auckland Grammar (6) 10th July with James / Gallivant
Longest relay 20:04:00 Sisters of Swim (4) 24th June with Paul / Optimist 

There has obviously been a number of successful crossings recorded by The CSA including Chloe Macs. 3 Way ! however I do not have access to their data in full. 


The below data is kindly provided by Michelle Hardy 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Ady Brown 1 Way Windermere

I first met Adrian at the BLDSA Champion of Champions Event in June this year. We had previously communicated on social media, where it became apparent we have similar occupations. Having ascertained his ambitions to swim the English Channel, I suggested he complete a Windermere swim as a learning experience, especially for the benefits of deep water feeding and dealing with water disturbed by passing vessels.

To that end, today 2 Sept 2015, for the third time in third time in 5 days I departed home at 4am (with Charlie)  to escort Ady on his 10.5 mile swim..the data below provides the basic details..videos of this Gent of a man to follow within 24 hours.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Monday, 31 August 2015

Zoe Sadler 1 Way Windermere

When Zoe Sadler asked if I was available to crew for her Loch Lomond swim I obviously jumped at the chance and offered to help. The reasons were multiple, I have long since admired Zoe as an accomplished marathon swimmer, It would be an ideal opportunity to 'recce' the Loch and perhaps the biggest reason..she is a such a nice individual to be around and she makes me laugh!

Sadly due to circumstances beyond her control the Loch Lomond swim never happened (mainly weather) so, when she asked for a last minute escorted swim on Windermere I was delighted to assist and to be honest, flattered to be asked.

For the second time in 3 days I (Charlie and I) left home at 4am to drive across Country for todays (31 August 2015) swim.

The details are below with actual footage videos to follow

We took a slightly different route to normal but only appear to have saved 14 metres on Saturdays swim !

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Ian Adshead 1 Way Windermere

At 0400hours on Saturday 29 August 2015, I left home to visit Windermere in order to escort another swimmer, on this occasion it was to be Ian Adshead (a friend of a friend) on a One Way Windermere attempt.

The usual electric boat from Shepherds was collected around 6am and we (Jason Ian and Myself) headed for the start at Fell Foot in far from ideal conditions.

The following videos and data explain the swim in detail.

Suffice to say, great swim, zero complaints, success all round.
Congratulations Ian and thanks Jason for your assistance as always

Sunday, 16 August 2015

BLDSA Ullswater

When the entries were opened on the BLDSA website for this years Ullswater swim, I recall thinking back to 2011 when I had previously swam with Dave Neal kayaking. I distinctly remembered the water being very warm at 20 degrees C (almost too warm) and the conditions being perfect, it was like a millpond. I therefore had no hesitation entering this year and fully expected a lovely swim once more after all in was mid August and the height of the British summer !

So, an early start on Saturday 15 August 2015 for what was possibly my last BLDSA event of the season, I headed across the A66 for the relatively short trip at 85 miles to Glenridding, where I had arranged to meet Karen Throsby who had kindly offered to be my kayak support.

I had arrived in good time and had over an hour to spare before the predicted start time of 0945, the usual suspects arrived and before too long I had managed to eat some breakfast (a cold tin of rice pudding and a banana) after which it was time to be counted into the water.

I was soon brought to reality I walked waist deep, it was nowhere near the 2011 temperature and felt quite fresh!

The start was uneventful, I planned on taking the first km easy and feeding every 45 minutes. I was trying to maintain some good form after some video analysis of the latest Windermere swim back in July which showed some failings in my technique.

The first 45 minutes soon passed, the water still felt fresh with anticipations of suffering as the day went on. As soon as we reached the first land bark after about 1400m the wind picked up, maintaining a good route became a challenge for both myself and Karen. 

My feeds continued at 45 minutes and were delivered in the form of cold sports drink and a gel on a line, I was missing the warm feeds but this wasn't possible with just a kayak for support.

Karen was keeping me updated with information and was happy with our progress at each feed stop.

It was going well, though I was starting to suffer with the wind and the cold. After about 8km I was pretty much spent, I felt like we were making no forward progress at all, this remained the case until I swam through some shallows and finally had some visual confirmation of making headway.

The last mile was brutal for me. The toughest swim this year by far, way harder than the CofC or the latest Windermere.

Eventually I touched the yellow pencil indicating the end of the swim
3hours 48 minutes for just over 7 miles. 8 minutes down on 2011 but pleased to finish. One of those swims I will put in the bank and recount next time I am suffering.

As I exited the water Jean asked "did you enjoy that?" and my reply was quite simple. "No not one bit!" soon after the this for some reason I had a five minute bout of not being able to speak correctly, I had developed a severe lisp and was unable to swallow. 

This soon passed. I presume it was just a symptom of after drop. 

Having warmed up it was off to the pub for the presentations and the subsequent drive home.

Thanks as always to the BLDSA for organising this event and and providing safety cover and of course to Karen for listening to my moans and groans !

Monday, 27 July 2015

The week that was and will be (Man or Machine?)

I was doing some research into an unsung hero when I came across an impressive anniversary occurring around this time. I am pretty sure the person who forms the subject matter will not see this, as far as I can gather he does not use social media, he is however still involved in open water swimming circles and has recently been assisting today's birthday girl Erin Hope, in preparation for her 2 Way Windermere swim this coming weekend (BLDSA 1st August) 

In my humble opinion David Morgan does not look like the stereotypical athletic record breaker, he is, what I would describe as 'A normal person who has achieved extraordinary things'

42 years ago this week, The 1st August 1973 the then nine-year-old David became the youngest person ever to do the swim from Scalby Mills to the Scarborough Spa in a time of 2hours 4 minutes 40 seconds. 

On 26 July 1977 at the tender age of 13, Dave became the youngest person to swim The English Channel in a time of 11 hours 9 minutes. The footage of him on the old King of The Channel films starring Des Renford and Kevin Murphy is quite shall I put it?...cute !

(The open top car and police escort to Civic Reception at Scarborough Town hall after his first EC Swim)

He put up the fastest time for a single crossing of Loch Lomond in 9hr 57min, which knocked more than 40 minutes off the previous record back in the day.

The Scarborough born long distance swimmer set a crop of new records when he achieved the first two-way swim of Loch Ness 32 years ago. The then 19-year-old accomplished the 45-mile feat in 23 hours 5 minutes.

David successfully swam the Channel again in 1983 in 9 hours and 37 minutes, 1986 in 10 hours and 49 minutes and again in 1988 in 11 hours and 35 minutes.

I have done my best to keep these figures accurate. 

It's a term used all to often, but, he is a bit of a legend who deserves recognition.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A change of direction (Windermere #6)

2015 is one of those years with no major swimming goals as such, I had entered a few events but I just more or less wanted to keep involved and not let slip too much. The BLDSA Champion of Champions was the biggest training day so far this year and the 10km at Ellerton the largest session.

Therefore a Windermere swim would be a reasonable challenge.

With the exception of the 2 Way Windermere swim, all my other encounters with the lake have started at Fell Foot at the South end of the lake, as is standard with the BLDSA event, part of the reason being the prevalent winds for the UK being southwesterly.

Having completed 4 previous one ways and piloted/escorted several more from the same location, I decided on this occasion to start at The North. This would provide slightly more of a mental challenge. That said, I generally find the crossover in the northern basin from Bass Rock to Ambleside the toughest part of each swim, partly due to fatigue, partly due to conditions later in the day. So physically it may or may not be easier. I would soon know.

There would be one more additional change to the tried and tested routine. At 5:45am two of the crew (Gavin and Charlie) would head to Bowness, load the boat (we always us Electric day hire boat from Shepherds) and get ready to set sail. The final crew member (Jason) would taxi me to Ambleside where I would begin the swim alone, after an hour or so the boat should have located me around two miles into the swim.

I appreciate some would say that is a silly idea, however, I am relatively well experienced, there is zero boat traffic this early on a morning, I was using a tow float to aid their locating of me, and as stated I am very familiar with the lake.

The plan worked like a dream, bang on the hour I was joined by the boat at 7:08am, took the first feed (maxim/cnp and summer fruits) right on schedule and started the routine of swim-feed-swim-feed.

The water felt ok, I was still wearing my Suunto watch despite intending to hand it to the crew at the first feed, initially this was a good thing as being a bit of a control freak, at a mid stroke glance or at a feed I could keep myself up to date with progress. I found this information quite inspiring up to a point which I will come to soon.

From Jason's notes I can see I had a stroke rate of 62spm, I opted to go straight to 30 minute feeds after the first hour.

This went well for a few hours I had a combination of coffee and maxim with an occasional solid (jelly babies/half a croissant). Though as usual the maxim/cnp did not really agree with my stomach.

At 9:22 mid stroke in single word per breath conversation I requested some pain killers due to a blinding headache, I was suffering some nasty pain above my right eye, which kind of took me out of the groove. I took the meds at the next feed (6th) and tried to swam on. I then stopped to adjust my cap and goggles attempting to get some relief from the now distracting painful headache.

Around 10:40 I took the 8th feed and also complained of pain in the hip flexors and quads (a regular problem in fresh water!) I had fully expected this. I was still keeping an eye on the distance covered via the Suunto watch which at this feed was reading 13.6km.

I was happy in the knowledge that I had a mere 3km give or take and the one way would be 'in the bag', it has been said many times that ('mentally you only put enough fuel in the tank for the journey)  meaning for example if you plan to swim 10km by 9 you will be flagging and at 10 you have given all you have got.

By 11:38 and the 11th feed I noticed the watch at 16.4km and commented to the crew words to the effect of " we should be there by now"

Suffice to say from here to Fell Foot slipway felt like an age ! The final reading being 17.68km. I am not sure if this is the route (which looks excellent in my opinion) or more likely a GPS error/blip which has been known previously in training. Whatever it is, I have learnt to hand over the watch in future.

To summarise I was and am happy with another Windermere swim in 5hours 58 minutes, not a PB, but over 10 miles is a good training swim all the same.

Thankyou as always to my awesome team, Gav for piloting again, Charlie for feeding all day and Jason (Mr Reliable) for updating social media and never taking his eye off me for the entire swim.

I fancy something longer before the season is out!?

P.S. I also need to sort those fingers out (photo above) wonder it aches today

Windermere No.6 (preview)

More of a write up once I receive the details from the crew.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Zoe Sadler (RJ)

Congratulations to my mate Zoe Sadler on yet another marathon swim, yesterday she swam around the island of Jersey, piloted by Matthew Clarke on the boat Lionheart, in a time of 11hours 55 minutes. She adds this to a long list of huge swims including EC (July 2012) 2WW (Aug 2013).

This one is absolutely on my must do list when I retire..

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Tracks of my Tees

Did you see what I did there with the title ! 
Never mind you are probably too young to know Smokey Robinson. 

Almost a year on from contracting Leptospirosis in the River, (RELATED POST) I retuned to its murky brown waters this week, its very close to home and I needed a swim after a over a week without.

The Yarm swim was alone today, with The 'Pipey' swim being with Belly on Thursday, aside from a couple of GPS blips when swimming under trees the course seems ok. (best viewed full screen if you cannot get rid of the ad) Enjoy

Next Friday I plan my longest swim of the year..all being well

Monday, 6 July 2015

New Shores

Regular readers will be aware that most of my swimming at sea takes place in The North Sea at 'The Mecca' Seaton Carew near Hartlepool, situated to the North of the River Tees Estuary.

The Mecca as we jokingly call it has its pros and cons.

Positives: it's only about 10 miles from the house with major roads to and from, free parking is never a problem and there is an abundance of fish and chip shops for post swim scoffing!

Negatives: It's damn boring, swim too far North and there is no place to exit the water if difficulty is encountered, swim too far south and you come across the effluent outlet from the power station, (nasty stuff) therefore lengthy swims are restricted to a stretch of beach measuring about 1200m in length, yes, one can swim out to sea in triangular circuits, but thats far from the ideal especially when alone.

So, last week when I came across a social media post by Amanda Bell mentioning swimming at Saltburn I was sceptical but decided to accompany her, if nothing else then by way of a reconnaissance mission.

Saltburn-by-the-sea to give it the full title is situated on the South side of the Tees Estuary slightly south of (see photo above)

I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised, there is a long stretch of sandy beach, several land marks for sighting and gauging progress, offering a far better place for longer efforts. Typically swims take place in the area of the pier (its over 100 years old)

However, another alternative, if you are feeling adventurous is to swim either to or from Marske, a distance of around two miles each way. Now, in my limited experience the tide and prevailing wind almost always pushes the water from South to North, hence swimming to Marske is easy, quick and very assisted. Swimming the reverse is tough, akin to swimming in an endless pool with little forward motion without concentrated effort.

Last Tuesday I swam part way to Marske and part way of the return journey, the water was fresh, however it was a glorious day and I actually caught the sun on my back after just over an hour.

Yesterday (Sunday 5th July) a few swimmers arranged to attempt the tougher of the two two milers from Marske heading south and into the wind/waves.

Saltburn is almost out of sight, but t is definitely there somewhere, it is just a matter of getting beyond the breakers and swimming parallel to the shore, eventually you will (should) get there.

The start location (not my photo) the first pic shows the initial land marks of the house on the cliff followed by the church steeple, after this there is little else until the pier comes into view exactly as per the second pic.

I enjoyed the swim though it was demanding, it was certainly tougher to complete 2 miles here than 10km last Friday at Ellerton. I am sure to use this venue lots more in the future and will have to stomach the greater distance at around 25 miles from home, a journey that can take 45 mins with traffic and minor roads. That said the benefits of training on these new shores are sure to be of benefit..

In closing I just want to congratulate Darren W who made his first venture into open water and breast stroked the swim in far from ideal conditions at 12.7c..a monumental effort for his introduction to open water swimming. congratulations.

great photo of the pier when the sea was a little angry.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

BLDSA CofC 2015 (supplement)

Couple of short video clips (best viewed full screen) courtesy of The Zimbo Graeme Schlachter and his go pro filmed during the 5 miler of the BLDSA Champion of Champions 2015

Saturday, 4 July 2015

What gets measured gets done

Without going into detail my place of occupation is AGAIN becoming more and shall I put it..less of a nice place to be.

As a result, I took the day off on Friday (3rd July) with plan of going to the Lake in an effort to wash away the woes of work, at least for the weekend. Britain had been baked in glorious sunshine with the occasional electric storm for the best part of a week so there was really no excuse. Local water temperatures had been discussed online. Whilst the River and Lake would now do little for my acclimatisation, we agreed it would still be of benefit to ongoing fitness training/conditioning.

Friday was no exception weather wise, heading to Ellerton pretty much straight after the school run, I hadn't bothered with breakfast, just a couple of cups of coffee. The water looked very inviting as the sun began to peep over the tree line to East into a clear blue sky.

A few swimmers were already in the water but none that I recognised. The plan was 8-10km, hourly feeding with Lucozade sport and a tin of peaches left on the jetty, no need for warm feeds today as the sun would do its job.

Aside from the lake being extremely weedy between buoys one and two it was just 'what the doctor ordered'

The huge benefit I find from wearing the Suunto is 'What gets measured gets done' ..previously I might have gone to the lake for a planned 3 hour swim, subconsciously it would be a plod, feeds would be slower, I would have no concerns about stopping to gather my bearings or speak to anyone treading water at a buoy as they usually do. It would just be a matter of running down the clock.

Now, I am very aware that 'bobbing' and passing the time is only fooling myself, I know all to well how this will be reflected on the Suunto, and that the distance will still need to be swam, so, if I am in the water I might as well get on with it.

With a glance at the watch every 3 - laps I could choose the time to feed and keep it more or less on the hour with some minor adjustments to the route.

Three feeds later and a mere 900m to swim all was well, a little fatigued but very happy with my efforts, I had predicted 20 minutes per km, plus 3 mins, I was therefore pleased with total time of 3h:14m for 10,020m.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

BLDSA Champion of Champions 2015

Friday 19th June 2015 brought the standard horrific Dover drive, 340 miles south stuttered from the word go with traffic congestion. Arriving around 2030, we quickly checked in with Kevin Murphy at Charter House (recommended accommodation for swimmers be it your EC tidal slot or training weekends) the self sufficient cosy flat with enough rooms for us and two of the kids (Charlie and Lottie). We were delighted to see Freda too but had to cut short our catch up gossip for a table reserved at 'Cullins Yard'. 

(I had also arranged to meet with Jane from Portsmouth University re the Cold Water study, in order to take possession of 'the pill' as described on previous post)

A quick pasta meal and another chance meeting, this time with Sam Jones, then it was back to the flat to relax before bed.

Saturday morning after a broken nights sleep, mainly due to nerves,  I left the children and KGO in bed as I headed off for swim registration about 8am. Mark Sheridan and his team of helpers were in situ as were dozens of swimmers, friends old and new.., too many to mention. 

I had my weight, height and skin folds measured for the study, along with my core temperature by the Uni team. 

Arms marked up with professional Olympic style numbering it was just a case of awaiting the safety briefing before the inevitable start, planned for 0915. 

The plan was simple, swim the triangular course (what is it with the BLDSA and triangles ??? Wykeham/CofC/Derwent Water) clockwise for 10, yes 10 laps, report in to Kate Todd at the last buoy nearest shore on each lap..simples. What could possible go wrong?

The 5 mile started pretty much on time, the water felt fresh but it was too late to complain, the mass deep water start was as hectic as ever, though it didn't take long for the racing snakes (the likes of Chloe and Ollie (eventual Champions) to forge ahead. 

Rounding the first buoy, breathing under control, I felt wired, yes wired NOT weird. I needed to settle down into the metronome of one arm in front of the other. 

It would be pointless of me to flower this up so I will be as honest as can be. I rounded the second buoy and almost fell to pieces. I felt panic stricken, cold, lightheaded..what the hell was going on. I had swam plenty of times in the murky waters of Dover Harbour, the conditions were great, the sun was trying to get out, the water was about 14. something degrees C and I had only been in the said water for about 10 minutes??. Help.

It took all my concentration and focus to get to grips with this awful mental blip. I continued swimming throughout, speaking to myself all the while, working through the issues one at a time, calling on some relaxation techniques. In the back of my mind I also had the faces of those who had joked with me about ensuring I finish this event (Kelly, Emma, Sam, Graeme, G, Freda et al) 

After 5 minutes or so, my head began to settle down and sort itself. I plodded on and on and on, after what seemed like an eternity, 5 laps were done. I was half way, I was playing all kinds of mathematical games with the numbers and distances remaining. Feed wise; At some point I grabbed a couple of jelly babies from the lap counters, together with a gel I had concealed in my trunks. 

I knew each lap was taking between 15-18 minutes, therefore I knew I was now in the final hour. Yahoo! No matter how long your swim, knowing you are in the final hour always brings great relief and happiness!! In my mind the last loop didn't count as that was just the swim back to the beach.

10 laps down, one final report in to Kate with directions to swim to shore, where we touch the green buoy and the clock stopped. Excellent. Surely that was the toughest part of the event over ?

The Uni attempted unsuccessfully to take my core temperature, I was either dead or needed to swallow another pill.

KGO and the children were waiting with towels and warm dry clothes, they supplied me with several hot sweet drinks of coffee, I gobbled down a couple of croissants and an energy gel, spending the remaining time resting and warming up.

The Suunto shows 2 breaks in connection to the satellite, but you get the idea.

5 miles: 2hours 40minutes 54seconds

When we commenced the first swim, it was more or less low water. As the tide came in, so did the wind, this resulted in a marked changed in conditions for the 3 miler, the bumpy water slowed my pace and made sighting more difficult. This was physically way tougher than the 5 mile swim. Thankfully the mental demons did not re visit. Mile 2 of 3 was a killer for me, fatigued, aching, my goggles fogged to the extent that I asked Lianne to guide me in her kayak on the last leg as I was swimming blind! 

This time the Uni managed to take a reading !! I was alive....More coffee and sweets before the final briefing of the day for a mere mile.

3 miles(4898metres): 1hour 47minutes 55seconds

Good conditions had once more returned for the days final swim, just 2 laps and it would all be over, slightly more of a swim (due to the tidal range) to the start line but I was past caring.

After some thrashing around fighting the waves on the 3 miler, I decided to focus on technique and good form for these last two laps. I was very relaxed knowing it was all but achieved and enjoyed the last mile very much.
1 mile (1763metres): 33minutes 51seconds 

The presentation followed with rightful thanks to all involved in organisation and safety cover. Mark Sheridan had something positive to say about almost every swimmer, making the whole event feel very personal and friendly.

The weather held good until the end of the proceedings when the heavens opened. How lucky we were.

An awesome event. Highly recommended. Thank-you to BLDSA family yet again.

More pics later as well as feed back from the Uni.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Cold Water Swimmers Temperature Study

Whilst I am attending and taking part in the BLDSA Champion of Champions event this weekend at Dover, I will also be taking part in a cold water study conducted by The   University of Portsmouth,Department of Sport & Exercise Science.

We are surveying swimmers, to find out what factors affect your deep body temperature and also to further improve planning and health and safety for open water swimming and triathlon events worldwide. The information gained may also be of benefit to search and rescue organisations.

Taking part in this research is entirely voluntary. It is up to you to decide if you want to volunteer for the study. 

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire about your swimming experience, the event you are taking part in, as well as measure your height, weight, skinfold thickness and wetsuit fit (if you are wearing a wetsuit). You will be required to swallow a temperature pill. The picture below shows the approximate size of the pill (about the size of a Jelly bean). We will ask you to swallow the temperature pill that will start to read your deep body temperature. We would like to record your temperature just prior to the start of your swim, when you finish and again 30 minutes after you have finished.
Once you have swallowed the pill it will pass into your stomach and though your intestines before you pass the pill out. 

After swallowing the pill you will have to wear an orange medical wristband until the pill has passed out of your body (this should take between one and two days WE DO NOT WANT IT BACK!). For approximately one hour after swallowing the temperature pill we ask you to drink only tepid drinks, not cold or hot drinks as the temperature of the drink can affect the pill temperature measurements.

What measurements will be taken?
We will take all the measurements (survey, measure your height and weight) before the swim. We will also record your deep body temperature before the start of the swim, as soon as you finish, and then again 30 minutes after you have finished.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?
There are no direct benefits to you, but we hope that the results of this study will increase our understanding of the effects of cold water swimming on the body. This work will contribute towards developing the lower water temperature limits for swimming and triathlon races.  This information would also be extremely helpful with event planning and risk assessment, event safety cover and co-ordination, and entrant information and preparation to further improve open water swimming and triathlon events.

Who is funding the research?
This research is being funded by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA), International Triathlon Union (ITU) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).