Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Jason (one of the most reliable blokes I have ever met) and I drove the 280 miles or so to Guildford, leaving Friday morning, the trip was more or less pain free except for some traffic hold ups on the road to hell (M25). Arriving around 4pm we quickly pitched the tent, off loaded the vast majority of kit and food, then headed off to freshen up at the premier inn which was literally over the road from The Lido.

Before long it was time for our evening meal at the adjoining restaurant, I was delighted to see some of my favourites in attendance, the likes of Zoe Sadler etc and also to meet lots of new swimmers with the same rather crazy interests.

Having socialised a little (the food I chose was horrid) it was time for bed, a good nights sleep would be required if I was going to have a successful day. Alas..sleep never really came, I will save the individual embarrassment, suffice to say this old post is relevant

The next morning looking like death warmed up, we attended the Lido around 7:45 for registration. In the blink of an eye it was 9am and the first wave headed off on mile one of a possible 24.

My wave began at 9:30 prompt, if memory serves I was initially sixth, moving up to fourth swimmer, we more or less swam in a train with the lead swapping each 400m. The water felt comfortable, it was reported as 23 degrees C though my watch read nearer 20C.

Mile 1 complete on 26:38 somewhat fast for my plans. I quickly exited the pool to dry off and rest, I was tired out already ! this was not a good omen.

The half hour start times came around all too quick, I was caught up in the pace of the other swimmers and really should have moved down a lane very early in the morning. I either forgot to start the watch a couple of times or had a recording error but the times were as follows.

  • Mile 2 : 26:44
  • Mile 3 : 26:38
  • Mile 4 : record error
  • Mile 5 : 29:12
  • Mile 6 : record error
  • Mile 7 : 29:06
  • Mile 8 : 29:57

During Miles 4,5,6,7 and 8 I was suffering physically with general fatigue, pain in the left forearm and front deltoid. Deb Herridge provided some excellent massage gel which gave some relief to the forearm for around the first 1000m of each swim.

The most obvious tell tale sign of weariness for me personally came in the shape of my breathing pattern, the more I swam the more I reverted to right side only, the increase in anaerobic effort meant I was unable to maintain the economical bi lateral breathing I had worked on over the winter.

As can be seen above I was beginning to slow to the extent I was lapped on mile 8. This did absolutely nothing for my state of mind or confidence.

Returning to the tent I had a mini breakdown and had to get a real emotional grip to re start. In 2011 I had only really began to suffer after dark, this year things were very different.

Mile 9 was much better at 28:44 I stayed with the train and had the half hour to think about what I was going to do. I decided at this point that if I was going to achieve some of my bigger goals this season then I was stopping at 10 miles.

I had some great support and advice from the Graeme Schlacter and Sam Jones especially the piece regarding shortening my stroke to ease the forearm pain.

Attending the poolside for the start of Mile 10, The first 5 swimmers had started around 30 seconds early, this doesn't sound a great deal, however I was already 40m or so behind the last swimmer in the train. This left me swimming alone, bored, frustrated and only led to confirm the idea that after 10 miles I was done. Mile 10 30:15

I was content with 10 miles, disappointed for Jason who had travelled so far from home to stand on sentry duty yelling support from poolside. But content all the same.

We said a few goodbyes and before too long we were headed North, Jason and I fully debriefed the days events. All was well and I live to swim another day. Providing I train !

Thankyou to Lesley Zimmerman and Jim Boucher who organised a superb event, to Guildford Lido and their staff, the numerous sponsors and supporters of the event and to all my swimmy mates some of whom swam the whole 24 miles (Jenny Z et al) some who didn't.

Special Thanks to Jason, Graeme, Deb and Sam your support is much appreciated.


PS Follow Graemes SCAR challenge here 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, inspiring read.

You did brilliantly Mark, it takes courage to know when to stop and not push on and potentially injure yourself and you have that in droves. You have guts my friend. Live to swim another day.

Enjoy your holiday and come back refreshed and fighting fit for many more exciting swim challenges.

Deborah. x