Monthly Archives: May 2012

First Event

So I’m a little nervous as I’ve got my first event on Saturday – I’ll be swimming the 3-mile event in Budworth Mere in Cheshire. It’ll be swum under full BLDSA rules and will be the first time I’ve done a non-wetsuit open water event.

I’m not too concerned about the distance, although I’m still a little worried about the cold. But I suppose more than anything it’s the fact that it will be “real”.

So far all the open water swimming I’ve done I could stop if I wanted and convince myself that I’d done all I wanted to. On Saturday I’ve got a clear goal and it’ll be pretty obvious if I don’t achieve it. That said, I’m looking forward to joining the open water swimming fraternity.

If you’re around and want to cheer me on – I’ll be bloke somewhere near the back.

If you’re reading this and will be taking part on Saturday – be gentle!


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More Talk, More Speed

So tonight I managed to do 2 1/2 miles in the lake. I’ve got a 3 mile event on Saturday so this was the final training swim and it felt good. I came out after 2 1/2 miles very happy that I could have done more and also just relaxed and chilled. This was the first time I’ve swum in the lake and didn’t have a single moment of “why am I doing this?”.

Every other time I’ve been in the lake that thought has crossed my mind, even if only for a minute. Tonight it didn’t. I just swam and relaxed and enjoyed it. The lake itself was quite busy and I think that helped. It was good to feel part of a community of swimmers – even if you don’t get much chance to chat!

Several people overtook me and were going what seemed to be impossibly quick, yet I overtook quite a few people myself. And strangely after being concerned about my speed – I speeded up a bit. I didn’t do anything different or try to swim faster, but I think the very fact that I had talked about it and was aware of it meant that if not consciously trying to be faster it was there at the back of my mind and didn’t let me relax at all.

My time for tonight’s 2 1/2 mile swim.

On Saturday I did 2 miles in almost exactly 1hr 20 mins (so 40 minute miles, or 20 minutes per 1/2 mile lap). Tonight I did the first lap in 18 minutes and in total I did 2 1/2 miles in 1hr 36 minutes – so 4 minutes quicker than Saturday’s pace.

You can see my final time on the photo and the numbers above it show the first split time (18 mins, 1 second, 23 hundredths).

It’s funny how it works that way – but I’m not complaining. It does mean that I am now clearly targeting a sub-2hour swim on Saturday.



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The Need for Speed

As I mentioned previously I did 2 miles in the open water without a wetsuit on Saturday. And to be fair I was quite pleased with that.

However, one thing I wasn’t pleased about was my speed as I swam at exactly a 40-minute mile pace.

"I feel the need, the need for speed"The reason this is concerning me is that as you extend the distance, the time takes on a much greater significance. I was always working on the assumption that I was a 35-minute mile swimmer, but over a mile the five minutes is neither here nor there. However as I swim the 10 ½ mile Windermere it makes quite a big difference. 10 ½ miles at 35 minutes per mile means I’d be in the water for less than 6 ¼ hours, yet at 40 minutes per mile it’s exactly 7 hours (at 30 minutes per mile it’s “only” 5 ¼ hours).

Now I know that as I swim I’m likely to slow down my pace and that these figures aren’t accurate for that reason – but if anything that makes it more important.

Then on Sunday evening I did my usual mile in the pool. As the whole time thing was preying on my mind I timed it. I actually did it in 31 minutes and 19 seconds, so more than eight minutes faster than in the lake.

So what’s the reason for this? I was tired on Saturday morning, but then no more tired on Sunday evening as I’d had a very active weekend (we did the excellent Tonya’s Challenge as a family on Sunday morning – for anyone local I’d strongly recommend it for next year). I swam hard on Sunday night, but I wasn’t hanging about on Saturday either.

The main difference was the lake versus the pool. Some of that was the fact that I wasn’t always that straight in the lake (military swimming – left, right, left, right), but of course the biggest difference was the cold.

However, the more I’ve thought about it since the weekend the more I’ve decided to not worry about it – for now.

The whole 1,000kms concept is important to me this year, so I’m going to use this year as a way to get my body used to the effort required by putting as many miles in as possible (and doing as much on the bike as I can, and maybe even running too). But I’ve decided that I won’t give myself the 1,000kms challenge next year and instead I’ll plan some sessions that are more specifically designed to trying to speed up a bit, while also building up for the effort of Windermere.


Filed under Motivation, Swimming

Two miles – no wetsuit


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Smith – Windermere; Fogle – the Atlantic

Well, the fact that Ben Fogle is planning to swim the Atlantic next year slightly rains on my parade I suppose. I’ll be doing the 10.5 miles of Windermere, he’ll be swimming 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.

It even looks like he can walk on water from the picture too.

Read more here.


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I’ve donated… it’s your turn

I’ve said before that I’m not doing this to raise money for charity – it’s just not what is motivating me to do it. But some people do take up challenges for charity. For me to donate my simple rule of thumb has to be that it actually has to be a challenge – not an “everyday” achievement or an excuse for a holiday.

Well, I think we can safely say that cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats AND BACK AGAIN is a pretty serious challenge.

That’s why I’ve donated. And I think you should too.

I used the rough calculator that Martin gives on his page in that 1p per mile equates to £18. Well, given the effort that Martin is putting in that seemed reasonable to me. I split my donation between two of the charities giving them £9 each, but as you can see, they’re all worthy of your money.

Currently Martin will be starting day 4 of his trip, which will see him cycle through half of Scotland, with the goal of reaching John O’Groats and getting halfway through the trip by the end of the day tomorrow. Then all he has to do is turn round and do it all again!

You can follow his progress on Twitter.

And if you feel so inclined, please do donate.

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I want to swim in this pool, it looks amazing.



The most captivating part of the building is the 30 meter long swimming pool that hangs over the edge of the 24th story of the building. Check out more photos of the swimming pool at HiConsumption.

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Goggle malfunction

The plan was to do a couple of miles in the pool this morning, or at least a mile and a half. It would seem that my goggles had other ideas.

Spot the difference:

goggles ok

goggles fail

You know when you can just feel that something is different – well that’s what happened here. I was completing a length and it just felt a bit weird.

Oh well, at least it happened in the pool and not the lake. And the good news is that I can start work a bit earlier (yay!)

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Even Colder

So last week I went for my first open water swim of the year… and it was cold. Well it didn’t put me off so I went again this week. Although this time it was even colder as I took my wetsuit off and did a lap in just my shorts. Brrr.

Apparently the water was a little warmer this week, it reached the dizzying heights of 13 degrees C (compared to 12.7 last week), but it was certainly colder out of the water and it was certainly colder without the wetsuit.

I did 3 laps with the wetsuit and realised that I had to just bite the bullet and get on with it. So out I got, off the wetsuit came and back in again I went. And it was cold, but actually it was great too. If I could have done so without swallowing water I would have been grinning all the way round, because I was actually doing it. I was actually swimming in a cold lake and was starting to achieve my goal of completing the swims. I was also thinking of my granddad and how proud he would be of me.

I only did one lap (800metres). I actually set off to do a second, but it didn’t feel right so I stopped, but at least I did a lap. Next week I’ll do at least two.

Once I was in the water and swimming it didn’t feel too cold. The great thing about being wetsuit free was that there was no hanging around once you stepped into the water. With no wetsuit to provide any protection you just wanted to get on with it.

As I got in a couple of people were getting out of the lake and I was told “You’re brave.” “More like stupid,” was my reply and that’s what it felt like until I actually got swimming. Then it felt great.

The actual swimming felt easier too. Without the restrictiveness of the wetsuit I was able to move my arms more freely and swim more naturally. The first half of the lap felt a lot quicker and I was up to the buoy before I even realised.

It was the getting out that was hard. The windy day meant that the air temperature was cold and I got cold very quickly. I obviously need a new strategy for when I get out and warm clothing and some food needs to part of that strategy. By the time I was dressed and had got into the car I was really cold and even with the car temperature turned all the way up I didn’t warm up and had to walk around with a blanket round my shoulders once I got home. Yet a cup of tea, some toast and a warm shower all helped and now I have a warm glow all over – partly from the satisfaction and partly because I’ve caught a terrible fever probably.

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Truly Inspiring

I’m lucky to have all four of my limbs. Yet I still consider the 10.5 miles of Windermere to be a fairly big challenge. This guy doesn’t have any of his limbs left (having lost them because he was electrocuted and fused to a metal ladder) and yet he has just swam 12 miles between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. And he wants to do more, much more.

“A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an accident has completed the first part of his challenge to swim between five continents.”

Read more about it from the BBC here.

Hat tip to Lucy HG for the link.

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