London Calling

I used to live in London – but we moved out on purpose. However, I still visit regularly for work – and most of the time it feels like work. I kind of like it, but it feels a bit too big and busy for me and I’m always glad to be going home.

I’ve had a great trip this time though.

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128km swim

Not me obviously, but a record-breaking Australian woman, Chloe McCardle, has broken the record for the longest ‘unassisted’ swim – she swam from the island of Eleuthera to Nassau in the Bahamas.

Unassisted means swimming according to the channel swimming rules – swimsuit, cap and goggles only and no touching the boat, or being touched by your support crew at all. Obviously you are ‘assisted’ in that there is a boat and crew with you and they can guide you and prepare feeds etc.

This is an amazing swim and kinda puts my Windermere efforts in their place. Well done Chloe.

Read more about it here – https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/25322416/chloe-mccardel-completes-record-breaking-swim-challenge/

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LetJog14 Update

At the start of the year a good Twitter friend of mine (I don’t think we’ve ever actually met in real life, we should correct that Dan) suggested that the runners of Twitter challenge themselves to run from Land’s End to John O’Groats – a total of 1,460kms – or LetJog.

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2Swim4Life – Entered

I paid online and filled out and posted the form – I think that means I’m in.

GULP

For those that don’t know – it’s a 24 mile / hour swim – swimming a mile every hour for 24 hours in an open air lido in Guildford. So, as well as lots of swimming, it will involve swimming through the night; dealing with the cold; learning to refuel properly; having the mental strength to keep going; and hopefully meeting lots of other swimmers and having fun (of sorts).

I’m actually kinda looking forward to it.

See you there ;-)

Proof!

Proof!

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Last night’s run

1st Tweet- – -

2nd Tweet- – -

The run- – -

The Reward

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Improving my technique

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve started to see a technique coach who will hopefully make me a smoother and stronger (and therefore quicker) swimmer. My plan is to focus on technique over the winter, plus running, so I can come back in the summer as a better swimmer.

I’m using the excellent Ray Gibbs of Swim Canary Wharf to help me and I had my first session a couple of weeks ago. Ray is great as he is really enthusiastic, very knowledgeable, but yet able to deliver the information in an easy-to-understand way. You swim in his endless pool and he films you swimming from a number of different angles – highlighting areas you can work on. He then gives you drills that will help you to work on those areas and you need to go away and practice them yourself.

My biggest issue was dropping my right shoulder and arm (using them as a lever to help me breath – even though I didn’t need to do it, my brain & body are still struggling with it). So, despite not being able to use my fins, I’ve worked on the drill Ray gave me for the last few weeks. It’s hard work, but I *think* I can feel myself getting better.

Well this morning I had two strong pieces of evidence that suggest that it’s working and I am getting better.

The first was a comment from another user of the pool I swim in. We chat quite regularly and there are a few swimmers there who take a real interest in what I’m doing and the challenges I’m setting myself. We also have Adam Walker (an Ocean 7s swimmer) who occasionally swims in our pool, so I’m the other open water swimmer.

Anyway, this morning, as she got into the lane I was swimming in, she said:

“You’ve got a really lovely stroke. I was watching you from the side and it’s really got better over the last few months.”

She’s not just another plodder, she’s actually a swimming teacher for kids at the pool, so (and I don’t think she’ll be offended by this) while she may not be in Ray’s league, she knows her stuff. It was lovely to hear her say it.

The second reason is that after the technique work I decided to do a quick ‘sprint’ burst. I’m not very quick and I don’t try to kill myself, instead what I want to do is swim at a ‘comfortable’ capacity and then keep it up. I do:

- 100m at 1:50
– 200m at 3:45
– 400m at 7:35
– 200m at 3:45
– 100m at 1:50

It’s a nice 1km ladder and it gets me working hard. For those of you that don’t understand the terminology (and I didn’t until recently) this means that I swim 100m and when that’s done I rest for a few seconds, but 1 minute 50 seconds after I started the 100m, I set off to swim 200m; 3 minutes and 45 seconds after I started the 200m (or 5 minutes and 35 seconds after I started the 100m) I set off for the 400m. And so on. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, the point of this is to say that in the middle of this I did the 400m in 7 minutes and 5 seconds.

It’s not a blistering pace, but it’s pretty quick for me. But best of all – I was knackered from the weekend and it didn’t feel *that* tough. So I’m pretty sure it wasn’t about me muscling the water out of the way, it was down to a better technique. Yay!

This is what I looked like before working on the technique. Both videos shot by Ray at Swim Canary Wharf.

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I’m a runner now

Obviously not really, but the next two events I’ve entered are both running events, so my plan for the winter is to work on my swimming technique and then get running.

Leeds 10k entry form

Leeds 10k entry form

The first event I’ve got coming up is the Leeds Xmas 10k, which isn’t actually at Xmas but at the end of November. I’m in this event thanks to Gemma who ran a competition on her site – she was offered a free place because she marshalled the event last year, but she decided to give the place away. Thanks Gemma.

My second event, in March, is the Coniston 14. It’s a run around the perimeter of the lake. So as I’ve swam it, I thought it would be fun to run it too.

I better get my running shoes on.

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I love you all

I have a genuine smile on my face this morning and as Lucy will tell – that’s rare!

Last night I mentioned again on Facebook and Twitter that I needed a buddy to be able to enter the 2Swim4Life event in May next year. In fact, after being prompted by a friend, I updated it to say that ideally I’m looking for a team of buddies, however I need to nominate one to be able to enter.

Well I now have a team!

People volunteered. People volunteered to help me. People volunteered to give up a weekend to stand in the cold (and possibly rain) to help me swim. I am genuinely touched and amazed and slightly overwhelmed.

I’ve said it before, but as a swimmer I couldn’t do these swims without the enormous support of the people behind the scenes. The people who are willing to row a boat or kayak alongside me as I swim; the people who are willing to organise the events themselves and put in the long hours to get it running; and the friends who are willing to support and humour me as I become a swimming bore.

Not only can I now enter the event, but it’s come at a time when I needed a boost. I have one and I’m smiling. Thank you.

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Wet pants

After my swim this morning I did something that many swimmers must be familiar with. Instead of effortlessly stepping into my boxer shorts I got my toe caught, lost balance, had to put my foot on the [wet] floor and therefore now have wet pants!

Such a shame. because I’d had a great swim.

At the moment, under the instruction of my technique coach Ray (who is great) I’m working primarily on my technique. The plan is to become a better swimmer during the winter months, so that it is easier to become a quicker and longer swimmer once we get back into the open water.

The main technical flaw that Ray spotted was that I use my right arm as a lever to help me breath to my left (I only breath to my left). This means that at best I only have half the available catch on the right arm. So, again at best, I’m only using 3/4 of my possible catch – an obvious inefficiency.

The drill I’m doing at the moment is to swim on my side, arm extended, looking down the length of my arm, then to breath to the relevant side without moving my extended arm – it’s to teach my brain that I don’t need the help of that arm as a lever.

This morning’s swim was as follows:

- 200m warm-up freestyle
– 200m drills (right arm up, left arm back)
– 100m relax
– 200m drills
– 100m relax
– 200m drills
– 200m cool-down freestyle

It may not sound like much, but it’s bloody hard work, especially as I can’t use the fins (Grrr). I’ll go to see Ray again in a couple of weeks – so hopefully he’s noticing a difference.

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I need a buddy

This isn’t just a desperate plea for friends to go down the pub with*.

There’s an event on May 2nd – 3rd next year that I’m really keen to enter, but before I can I need to nominate a ‘buddy’, someone that will support me on the day.

The event is the amazing 2swim4life event in which you swim 24 miles over 24 hours at Guildford Lido. The idea is that you start on the hour (or half hour), swim your mile and get out, then repeat on the next hour and so on until you have done 24 miles/hours.

Screenshot 2014-10-05 18.24.39As you can well imagine it’s pretty brutal and this is why the buddies are so vital. To have someone that can offer you a warm cup of tea, remind you to get warm and changed and just be there for chat/support during the ‘dark’ hours (in more ways than one) of the early morning is vital.

Unfortunately I’m not in a position to ask a partner/parent and I don’t have any training partners, so I need to ask around. If you’ve ever done any marathon events, or supported others doing them, then you’ll know that it is bloody hard work (I’m not going to lie), but equally, bloody rewarding.

So, got any plans for May Bank Holiday weekend next year?

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* If anyone fancies going down the pub then let me know that as well. I said it wasn’t “just” a desperate plea for that!

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UPDATE:

As a friend pointed out on Twitter, being a buddy and offering support for 24 hours is a long time and would end up being as tiring as actually doing the swimming. The ideal solution would be for two or three people to take turns or shifts at this. Once I’ve entered it would be my intention to recruit a support team. The reason I’m asking in the singular at this stage is that I need to name a person on the entry form and I can’t enter without listing someone as my buddy.

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