Monthly Archives: April 2014

SwimTrek Day 1

This post is a summary from last week’s SwimTrek trip. As there was no [working] internet last week I’m posting these one week on.

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The day started early (7:20am) with a quick dip in the hotel pool – this wasn’t to get any extra miles into our shoulders, instead it was to film our stroke so it could be analysed later. The pool was ‘fresh’ and it was certainly a refreshing start to the day.

The real swimming started after breakfast with a one hour swim in the local bay. The course was marked out – along the bay wall out to a red buoy, back into the bay to go round a yellow buoy, then back out to another red buoy. We went round the third buoy and headed back in along the opposite bay wall, along the beach and round again. We were feeding every half hour (so once in an hour swim) and for me the lap took almost exactly 10 minutes, so I stopped to feed after my third lap and then completed the hour after my sixth lap.

To say the water was warm would be overstating it, but it certainly wasn’t cold – and we were swimming on a beautifully sunny day in a gorgeous spot in Mallorca – it was lovely.

The lovely bay we were swimming in.

The lovely bay we were swimming in.

We then spent some time in a small group of 8 analysing the videos of our early morning pool swim. Each swimmer was filmed from three angles – above, underwater from the side and underwater from the front. I was last to be analysed, so it was interesting to hear the comments about other people’s techniques. Never having gone to any coaching I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for and even what some of the terms meant. It was interesting to see my stroke and again, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. What I did see was quite a smooth stroke, with a lot more leg kick then I expected (although I think that was a lot to do with subconsciously trying to warm up in a cold pool). However, the main coaching point I was given was that I don’t rotate my right side enough (if at all). So, I’m going to go back to the pool and try again with bilateral breathing.

The afternoon swim of day 1 was a bit longer, but still only 2 hours. So we started from the same beach, but this time swam around the headland and into the adjoining bay, back across both and then into the first beach again and out. It was lovely and for the first hour it felt great. The lap was about 14 minutes for me, so again it was easy to judge my 30 minute feeds and then off again. However after about 1 hour and 20 the wheels started to come off. I felt sick. I thought I was going to throw up, but I felt weak as well. I slowed right down and when I stopped for the final feed I was close to getting out. However that feed went down (slowly) and with some words of encouragement from Kevin – “just swim it off” I set off again. By this point though I was really struggling. I had no power and felt sick every time I sighted. I was a bit concerned – had I caught a bug, was I getting sunstroke – I couldn’t work it out. The only thing that kept me out was wanting to complete the two hour swim, just in case I couldn’t swim again in the week. I was going slowly anyway, but I decided that I could only manage one more lap, so I didn’t rush and just plodded round. By the time I got out, I was convinced I was about to be sick at any time. in the end I just stayed looking very white for about 15 minutes.

That evening we had a seminar on nutrition, which given how I was feeling felt slightly ironic. My biggest lesson from that was that I’m never going to use Maxi – what was being fed to us on the swim. Fortunately I have brought some of my own Science in Sport sachets, but when I looked tonight only two. Bugger.

I must admit that I went to bed quite despondent and a little worried about the rest of the week. If it’s not the feed and something else then not only might this week be over, but I might have to seriously reconsider my swimming plans in general. A bit worrying.

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SwimTrek Summary

This week I’ve been on a SwimTrek trip to Mallorca that involved about 14 hours and just over 36.5km of swimming. It was hard work, but probably the most gratifying thing was that it wasn’t *that* hard.

This is what we all came for: the six-hour swim certificate.

This is what we all came for: the six-hour swim certificate.

The trip is SwimTrek’s Long Distance Swim Training (or LDT for short) trip and is designed for those that want to get a lot of miles in – especially channel swimmers, with a six-hour swim being the focal point as that is the mandatory qualifying swim for a solo channel attempt.

The group I went with contained not only some amazing swimmers, but some lovely people too. It was great to share experiences, learn from those that have already got a successful channel swim under their belts, but also support and work together with swimmers with less experience.

The guides were great, the swims were beautiful, the accommodation good, the organisation second to none and the whole week amazing. And I’m not just saying that because SwimTrek’s General Manager was on our trip and I was trying to persuade her to use my PR agency!

The group of swimmers before we set out for one of the day's trips.

The group of swimmers before we set out for one of the day’s trips.

If you’re tempted by a channel attempt or another long swim I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you put in the effort you’ll be rewarded.

For me it has given me huge confidence for my summer swims. I now have experience of sea swimming for the channel relay (as well as more cold water exposure). But for the other swims I now have the confidence that I can not only complete them (which was my only ambition last time round), but I can actually compete this time. The competition may only be with myself, but I can attack my target times with a sense of purpose and belief.

And not only that, but I now have a group of swimming companions that I can chat to and swap stories and advice with should I ever need a morale boost.

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I can’t do this anymore

After two long days in London I was so looking forward to my swim this evening. It felt important not just as a way to “wash” London off me, but it was the last swim before I go away next week. So it was important to me that it was a good one.

But it wasn’t.

After only a few minutes I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I nearly stopped. It just wasn’t natural. I had to think about single element of it all, all the time. Nothing flowed. Nothing worked like it should. And I got fed up.

It did get slightly easier, but not much. I didn’t really enjoy any of it and I stopped after just 30 minutes.

I’m hoping it was the long days in London, the lack of sleep, the volume of work that is still to do – all playing on my mind and body and affecting.

I’m hoping it’s NOT actually that I can’t do this anymore, which is what my mind and body were telling me in the pool this evening.

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Viva Espana

I’m very excited – a little nervous – but mainly VERY excited.

Have I mentioned that I’m excited?

The reason? Well, next week I’m going to be swimming in the sea off the island of Mallorca for a week. Not only that, but it’s the first time I’ve got back into the open water this year, I’ll be with a group of like-minded nutters swimmers and we’ll all be being coached by the very qualified team from SwimTrek.

Can you see now why I’m excited? Oh, and it looks a bit like this:

I'll be swimming here next week!

I’ll be swimming here next week!

Of course it will mean A LOT of swimming – especially as most of the group are training up for solo channel attempts, but that which doesn’t kill us eh? (Although I am a little worried that it might kill me… but not a bad way / place to go).

This is all part of my training for my channel relay swim this summer, as well as the other swims I have planned (including Windermere). I’m hoping that I’ll add some endurance to my training that will set me up for the summer nicely; I’m hoping that I’ll get used to sea swimming that will help me on the channel relay and I’m hoping that a few bits of advice and tweaks to my stroke will help be to be more efficient in the water and therefore a bit quicker.

If you’re interested, then you can find out more details here. And I’ll tell you more when I get back.

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