Monthly Archives: May 2014

Annoying football coach

My son’s football coach is really starting to annoy me. Every Saturday morning I bring my son down for the coaching sessions and nearly every Saturday I leave annoyed.

My son really enjoys football (and still enjoys the Saturday morning sessions fortunately), but I’m not biased enough to believe that he is blessed with any natural ability. He tries hard, he runs hard and he’s willing to learn.

So when the coach sets up a skills session to work on a particular aspect of the game there’s no point him just getting exasperated if the kids don’t get it right. Instead he needs to walk them through it, explain what it is they are learning, tell them why this is important, let them have a go and then remind them of all of the above if/when they don’t get it right.

Then when they’re playing a game at the end try to make sure that all the players are involved – and that my son actually gets passed the ball now and then.


Ok, rant over.

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Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

I’ve been meaning to repost this for a while – it’s very important and worth a read.

In summary, if someone “looks” like they are drowning, they almost certainly aren’t. Drowning doesn’t look like it does in the movies and you need to look out for the signs:

  1. “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.”

Or in summary:

“Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all—they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents—children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.”

You can read the full article here.


Filed under Swimming

Quick workout

That feeling when as you push off for a new length you see the super fast swimmer in the lane next to you touch the wall, so you think “how long can I stay ahead of them for?” By halfway you’re thinking, “I must be flying this lap.” By three-quarters you start to realise that maybe they didn’t turn after all. That.

Well that happened to me this morning, but other than that it was a good swim. A quick(ish) 3.4km in a lane pretty much to myself.

I’ll get into the pool again tomorrow morning to do about 4.5km and then on Sunday it’s the Colwick Park swim, which is 5km.

I feel like I’m not quite doing enough, especially as a month today I’ll be on my way to Dover to get ready for the Channel Relay swim. But I’m doing as much as I can, so it’ll have to do I’m afraid.

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Arch to Arc

One of the guys I met on my recent training trip in Mallorca is clearly a bit mad – he’s signed up to do an absolutely crazy challenge called the Arch to Arc. I’ll let him describe it in his own words:

“The Arch to Arc is the world’s hardest triathlon.  It begins at Marble Arch on September 15th with an 87 mile run down to Dover.  I will then plunge into the sea and swim the 22 miles of the English Channel (this, in itself, is one of the world’s hardest swims).  If I get to Calais I will then cycle the 180 miles to the Arc de Triomphe.  Only 13 people have completed the event.  At the time of writing I will be the oldest person to have attempted this.”

You can see what I mean about being a bit mad. However, there’s a very good reason why he’s doing it:

I’m raising money for the wonderful charity at which I work, Aspire.  The people we help, paralysed by spinal cord injury, would love to have the privileges that we have.  I, in particular, count my blessings and see each day what a privileged life I lead.  Even contemplating the Arch 2 Arc is an honour.  I do hope that you can make all of this worthwhile for Aspire and also for me. “

Not only is this an amazing challenge, but I have a friend that has personally benefited from Aspire to help her rebuild her life after a terrible spinal injury. Please do support Paul here –

And if you want to read more about his journey, then check out his blog.

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Did you swim today?

Not today. But I did do a great set from my new training plans yesterday – it’s so much easier to keep going when it’s all written down in front if you.

Not only that, but I got a new tee shirt too 🙂


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I’m Bi Curious

I have a confession to make – I’m attracted to the other side.

I’ve been thinking about it for a while and even had a few clumsy attempts – but to be honest it just makes me feel uncomfortable and can sometimes even hurt a bit.

But I’m going to persevere and be true to myself. I guess I just need to put myself in more situations where it can happen and overcome any of those initial fears. It may feel awkward at first, but if I want it enough I should just relax and go for it.

If I do that – then eventually I’ll be able to breathe properly on the right as well and call myself a bi-lateral breather.

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Training plans

I’ve finally got round to creating some swimming training plans, so I thought I’d share them with you.

A couple of weeks ago I devised a weekly plan – when to train and what exercise I’m doing. (Of course since then I haven’t been able to stick to it all, but that’s a whole other story). However, what I hadn’t done is define what I was going to do in the pool each time I went.

Normally I tend to alternate between doing speed endurance sessions, or just getting in the pool and swimming until it is time to get out. However, I’m aware that it would be a good idea to work on my technique a bit (especially my lack of rotation on my right side; and how my left hand lifts up as I stretch it out). So I wanted to create some sessions that would still be fun, would still feel like a ‘proper’ work out and would be manageable on my own.

I’ve split my sessions into four main areas:

– Warm-up / Cool down – as the names suggest, just gentle swimming, but I’ve added in some breaststroke and the use of the pull buoy and kickboard to mix it up a bit.

– Technical – drills suggested to me by Trish, one of the Swimtrek guides.

– Speed – or rather in my case, it’s about speed endurance. It’s not about the maximum speed I can swim, it’s about being able to hold a good speed for as long as possible.

– Swim – just some time in each session to just get some lengths in.

I had six different technical drills suggested to me, so I’ve created six different programmes, each programme working on four of the drills – in that way I get to mix it up and don’t get too bored of them. Then for the other areas I had two options for each, so just tossed a coin to see which one I’d do with that particular technical session.Once I planned the sessions I printed them out and laminated each of them (I had a bit of help cutting them out and laminating them from my son). Each time I go to the pool I’ll take one of these cards at random. In this way I’m hoping that I’ve got some sessions that keep me both interested and guessing.

Six [hopefully] interesting traing plans.

Six [hopefully] interesting training plans.


Filed under Motivation, Swimming

Swimming on the radio pt 2

I was on the radio today. I talked about open water swimming and I think it went pretty well. If you fancy it, you can have a listen here:

I suspect all the usual rules about it only being available for 7 days apply, so don’t hang about. Although the whole programme is really good (especially the bit about the guy taking a photo a day for 1,000 days), you don’t have to listen to it all if you don’t want to. If you want to fast forward to my bit, I was on after 3 hours and 24 minutes – although there are two great tunes just before my bit – Say a Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin and Mustang Sally by The Committments.

Thank you to Verity for having us on her show.

To top the day off I then went for a swim in the lake at Colwick Park tonight with Pete. A nice, relaxing 2km swim and it was lovely.

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Swimming on the radio

I’m gonna be on the radio tomorrow – you should listen.

I’m going to be on the excellent Verity Cowley show on BBC Radio Nottingham in the afternoon (and I’m not just calling it excellent ‘cos I’ll be on it). The show runs from midday to 4pm and I should be on at about 3:15pm.

The reason I’ll be on is to chat about the BLDSA’s Colwick Park swim which kicks off the BLDSA “season” on June 1st. I’ll be on with Pete Hawksworth who’s the swim secretary for the swim.

The great thing is, that in this very clever internet age you don’t even need to be in the BBC Radio Nottingham region to listen in – you can listen here too:


Filed under Swimming

Ghosts in the water

When I’m swimming, especially when I’m swimming in the lake, I get the sensation of another swimmer on my right hand side. It makes it all the stranger as I only breathe to my left, so I rarely look right. It sometimes comes out of nowhere and catches me by surprise, but then I realise what it is and it’s all ok again. Of course when someone is actually swimming next to me on my right hand side that then catches me by surprise all over again.

I was thinking about it more while I was swimming on Saturday and trying to work out what it is. I narrowed it down to three options:

– A bit of my goggles strap dangling in the water and catching my eye
– A reflection of my left arm in the goggles (or my right arm under water)
– The ghost of my grandfather swimming alongside me

My grandad was one of the pioneers of open water swimming and a founder member of the British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA). While I don’t consider my decision to start swimming to be directly influenced by him – I don’t think I’m doing it in his honour – I am aware that without his involvement in the sport I would never have started.

When I was a kid we spent lots of summer weekends travelling up and down the country to watch swims. My grandad, by then, was more involved on the beach (or boat) than in the water, but he’d also persuaded both my parents to get involved too (although both of them stayed dry throughout their BLDSA ‘careers’). In the summer that I turned seven my dad was the President of the BLDSA, so they went to pretty much every swim, and my brother and I joined them for nearly all of them.

I loved that. I loved being the son of someone important. I loved watching all the people get ready for their swims. I loved getting to go on the launch boats and watch the swimming close up. And I also loved selling programmes on the beach and telling all the tourists what was going on (especially at the Bala swim). But at the same time the water looked cold and the swims were long and I thought that the people who took part were pretty stupid.

I’m still not sure that anyone that swims for that long in water that cold isn’t a bit stupid.

During this period my grandad and his friends were the lifeblood of the Association. My grandad was a fairly unassuming man, but there were people such as my ‘uncle’ Johnny who could never be described as unassuming. As a seven-year old I just hung around with them all and soaked it all up.

Like Grandfather like Grandson

Like Grandfather like Grandson

My decision to swim Windermere was inspired by my grandad. A couple of years ago my cousins and I were thinking about doing ‘something’ and because of grandad’s love of swimming and because of the special place that Windermere has in the hearts of swimmers it seemed like the right thing for his grandkids to aim towards. In the end, for a variety of reasons, there were only two of us that set off to swim Windermere and I was the only one that completed it.

I was thinking and talking about my grandad much more recently. On the SwimTrek training trip I recently went on a few of the people there knew him, so we chatted a bit about him (I also spent some of the trip trying to ‘defend’ the BLDSA – and of course I can’t avoid thinking about him then).

Again, while I’m not doing this ‘for’ my grandad and I am very aware that he has inspired some of this in me. I also know that if we was still alive he’d certainly be very pleased that I have followed in his footsteps (or possibly trunks!), he may even be proud of me too.

But of course he’s not swimming alongside me, it’s just the strap of my goggles.

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