Sunday, 26 June 2016

Analysis (updated)

This weekend is recovery, no swimming at all, some rest for the upper body. With some time on my hands and with Charlie as my assistant, we have been analysing some of data from my training records, in particular comparisons between years and the time spent training in open water.

I still have a few more years to add but for now I have looked at 2010 - 2016. For the purposes of the chart below, the figures are only plotted up to and including July, albeit historically most of the annual main events take place late August. 

This years figures are reassuring. I don't expect July 2016 to be massive month as I will taper after the Windermere swim on July 10th in anticipation of some perfect weather for J2F! 
We can Hope and Pray.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

So Far So Good

My training records show the week following the Champion of Champions event is normally somewhat easy in terms of distance and effort. In fact last year I took ten days away from the water, granted, I did not have a major swim planned for 2015, perhaps the CofC was itself one the main targets of the season.

This years goal is somewhat different, with J2F looming in a mere month, time is of the essence.

Suffice to say we (Billy the fish, Ben and I) were back in the water on Monday just 24 hours after returning from Dover. Monday was a fairly easy 80 minutes stretching out and freeing up the shoulders, I made a conscious effort not to sight ahead in an attempt to protect the neck.

On Wednesday I took some time off work and swam for most of the afternoon, the first 3 hours alone then a couple more hours with Bill, a good session of 5 hours 15 minutes, which included 3 feed stops.

Thursday was a rest day, though I managed to find time to visit Simon at BodyBalance for a deep tissue massage and some mind training.

The following day was scheduled to be spent on Lake Windermere piloting Karen Throsby on her 2 Way swim, however, this was cancelled due to injury concerns. 

I therefore retuned to the River Tees for what was intended to be a 10km swim. All seemed well for the best part of 6000m after which I was physically drained. The easy option would have been to exit the water, however to work through 'the pain' was excellent mental preparation, the discomfort did in fact pass eventually to the extent that the 9th kilometre was the quickest of the day.

Overall a very good week with just under 10 hour swimming outside, covering approx. 28,000m.

So far so good. 

A few days recovery now plus a reconnaissance visit to Jersey to meet Matthew Clarke from Lionheart Pilotage. 

BLDSA Champion of Champions 2016

Friday 17th June 2016 came around worryingly quick, it was that time of year again, for the annual pilgrimage to Dover in order to take part in the BLDSA Champion of Champions event. Organised again this year by the ever present and witty Mark Sheridan. I am sure by now you know the format, however for the uninitiated, it is simple enough.

Three swims in Dover Harbour negotiating a triangular course to complete 5 miles (10 laps) followed by a short rest, (the period of which is determined by the time taken to swim the required number of laps) then 3 miles (6 laps) and finally 1 mile (2 laps)

Having already swam virtually double the time and distance compared with last years total, I felt way better prepared than normal, the pre event anxiety was minimal..I felt ready.

The journey south put and end to the inner calmness as we were involved in a rear end shunt on the M25 on Friday about 630pm, the car which we have only had a 3 months sustained damaged and we began to feel the after effects and associated whiplash type injuries once the journey recommenced.

The morning of the event saw the gathering of many a familiar face, there was virtually insufficient time to say all the hellos before we were ushered into the water to begin. 

After about six laps of the ten I was starting to suffer with the sighting aspect, my neck was sore and aching. I couldn't work out if this was down to the accident or simply regular checking to ensure my swim course was on track. As the laps counted down, I remember talking to myself through the issue:
"OK whats wrong? I'm not cold (The Suunto had a temperature reading of 59ºf) I'm not physically's just my neck that hurts like hell, am I causing further damage? lets do the 5 miler and call it a day"
Exiting the water after the first swim, slower than normal by about 20 minutes (2h58m) with a distance of 8750m recorded. I was sure that was it for the day, to the extent that I went and had a warm shower. The heat alleviated the pain somewhat, I had a light hearted chat about the situation with Jane, Kelly and a few others, a quick bite to eat and drink and I was back in the water for the 3 mile swim.

For me, this is always the most demanding phase of the CofC, both physically and mentally. Soon enough the 6 laps were complete thanks to the odd jelly baby at the final buoy were our numbers were called to the lap counters and it was almost over.

Spirits on the beach are also high after the 3 miles as even those getting little to no rest, are happy in the knowledge that the end is in sight.

A leisurely 2 laps and the was that. 
The conditions were good if a tad bumpy at the furthest orange buoy (bottom right in the images), the water temperature was slightly above average for the time of year, and despite my early injury concerns I was happy to have finished what proved to be a tough but excellent training session. 9 miles in the sea in June has got to be a good thing... hasn't it ?

The presentation soon followed with Mark Shezza Sheridan (pic below) once more making every swimmer feel special with his anecdotes for instance explaining I had prepared for this event by sunset swimming in Jamaica..a comment that was even published in the event catalogue !! 
Thanks to the BLDSA family once more for a great weekend.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Recovery Week

As per the previous post, the week commencing 6 June 2016 was intended to be recovery. However, it was still one of my better weeks.

Monday and Tuesday no swimming just some light stretching.

4km on Wednesday evening after work with the flowerpot men, then rest again Thursday.

Friday I visited Simon at Bodybalance for some treatment, and ended the week with two excellent sessions in the river with Amanda. 

Friday was intended to be 2 hours which turn out out to be 2 hours 35 minutes (Amanda was late again!! so ended up doing the first hour and half alone) a pleasing 8km/5miles with no negative after effects other than a stiff neck from sighting.

Fridays route:

Saturday was a 3 hour session (as per video), wasn't feeling the love as I forced down the porridge but come lunchtime and 9350m later it was all over. So just 3 swims but  still 21+km.

Saturdays Suunto Movie:

The plan is 2 x 1 hour sessions in the North Sea this week followed by rest and eating like a pig prior to our visit to Dover for the brutal Champion of Champions event.

Monday, 6 June 2016


Since the last update mid May, my training has been building very nicely. 

As a result of now having three regular training partners in Amanda, Ben and Bill, I almost always have company and the additional motivation to get into open water, I opt not to say cold water as the temperatures have been steadily increasing.

I have continued to predominantly use the River (Tees) until such times as the North Sea holds in double figures i.e. over 10º c.

Despite what may look like haphazard sessions I do actually have a training plan, albeit not written down in a formal manner. The idea is to more or less build to a weekly figure covering the total distance of J2F (Approx. 25+km) once achieved I intend to alternate between this and recovery weeks. 

A recovery week will still entail swimming though the total average will reduce to anywhere between 60-80% of a 'big week'. Having received some great advice from my sports injury expert 'Dr Ish' I intend to make a conscious effort with my nutrition, stretching and resistance band type work as part of the recovery strategy. 

This last week was very pleasing in terms of figures and remaining injury free, the final swims of the week taking place at the BLDSA Wykeham near Scarborough. The main event here is only 5km being one of the first on the calendar. However I decided to compete another circuit in order to make the swim 2 hours.

Here are the stats for last week (all figures are from The Suunto Ambit3)

Monday 120 minutes @59º 6000m Ellerton Lake
Tuesday 107 minutes @57º 5500m Tees
Thursday 80 minutes @58º 4000m Tees
Friday 63 minutes @58º 3350m Tees
Sunday 125 minutes @59º 6400m BLDSA Wykeham
Sunday 19 minutes @60º 1050m BLDSA Wykeham

Total 8 and half hours just over 26km

Wykeham track

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Adrian Rotchell 1 Way Windermere

When I received a message from Adrian last October regarding escorting him on a Windermere swim, I was flattered to say the least. Adrian is an awesome swimmer who has already swam the English Channel, he has some mammoth goals for 2016. This one way would be a stepping stone/training day on the journey toward Loch Awe and a 2 Way Loch Lomond later this year!!

Once the logistics were sorted with boat hire, timings and general plans we were all set for the morning of Sunday 29 May 2016. I will leave the finer details for Adrian to blog on his site, suffice to say we had an awesome day and we are extremely proud to be associated with him and his new record setting swim (subject to BLDSA ratification) for the earliest recorded swim of England's longest lake.