Monthly Archives: June 2014

Preparing to swim

One of the key aspects of channel swimming, that most people forget, is the waiting. Swimming the channel (or other sea swims) is not like swimming in a lake as there are so many more variables with the weather, the tides and the other boat traffic and how they all react to each other.

While I’m no expert on this, and intentionally left all the organising of this swim to someone else, my understanding of how it works is as follows:

– You are give a ‘tide’ for your swim – a slot of a few days when the tides are favourable and your attempt will [hopefully] be made

– You are then given a position in that tide – all the boats take multiple swimmers across on a tide and so you are given an order ‘first boat, second boat etc’

– You are then at the mercy of the weather and your pilot – you trust your pilot to get you over safely and so you trust them to decide when you should set off. Sometimes stronger swimmers / teams may swap with weaker ones (I think), but generally you wait for the weather to work for you and then go. It does mean that if the weather is bad for a particular tide some of the later swims booked in can miss the tide altogether (although wherever possible they are moved to different tides).

We are booked on a tide that starts on July 1st (tomorrow) and we are the first boat. Looking at things from the harbour and the beautiful weather we have here now there appears to be no reason why we shouldn’t set off as soon as possible. However, we are sheltered here and the pilot has a better view and more experience of what it is like out at sea. So currently we have been told to expect a Thursday morning departure.

Last night looking out across Dover harbour and into the channel.

Last night looking out across Dover harbour and into the channel.

For those that don’t know, how it works in a relay once we set off is that we swim for an hour each in rotation. Once we have all gone in then the first person goes back in again and so on. If for any reason someone can’t do their slot (illness, injury, fear are probably the main reasons) then the attempt is void. I believe that there is an observer on each swim and we can’t touch the boat or receive any assistance during our hour either. Of course all of this is done in swimming costumes only, no wetsuits, according to the channel swimming rules.

So now I wait.

Dover’s not the most picturesque town, but the BnB is lovely and the weather’s great and I can read and watch the sea… sounds perfect, I may not want to swim!

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First Dover Swim

I got up early this morning (very, very early) to get down to Dover in time to get in the harbour with all the channel swimmers. Those swimming a relay get in at 10am, so I needed to be here in time to register etc.

I got in and did an hour and a half and I can’t quite say I enjoyed it, but by the end the swimming was nice and relaxed. The water’s nothing like it was in Mallorca (the last time I was in the sea), but it was ok. It tasted a bit like “holiday” – admittedly a cheap package holiday, but it had that familiar salty / sandy tang.

Of course my swim was nothing compared to the red hats – those training to do a solo channel swim (relay swimmers wear a yellow hat). Many of those guys were swimming for four or even six hours. And many of them had done seven hours yesterday!

The best thing about today was seeing the famous “beach” and channel community. And of course catching up with the rest if my team. It looks like our swim will set off on Thursday, early in the morning. But if course that could change dependent on the weather.

And now I’m sat at a pub on the front and I can see France!

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Rice Krispies

One of the things I promised myself when I decided to commit to a few more swimming events this year was that I’d have a regular massage. I felt that it would be very important both from the sense of treating myself, but also to help my muscles cope with all the swimming I knew I’d be doing.

Even though I first said this many months ago I only actually got round to getting it sorted a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll be honest, my first massage was agony – and I felt like I’d been hit on the back with a big stick for a couple of days afterwards. So I’m not sure it fulfilled the brief of treating myself – but it certainly did my muscles some good and they certainly needed it.

I had my second massage today, while I’m not sure I’d class it as fun it was less painful than last time (a sign that the one last time had done some good). However, this one was also doing some good – I could feel the bumps being worked out, but there were plenty of them. In fact, it felt as if my back was covered in Rice Krispies. At least I hope it’s doing me some good!

My back?

My back?

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#EverydaySexism

#EverydaySexism

Actually, as an aside to this have you seen this piece of #EverydaySexism on Rice Krispies boxes? I did tweet Kelloggs about it and the social media team promised me that they’ve changed it on new boxes. I don’t know how long it takes for the new boxes to hit the shops though as that was weeks ago. Poor form Kelloggs.

 

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Swimming Lake Geneva

Yesterday I met up with a group of friends from university. It was a great day of chatting, drinking, chatting some more and then drinking some more. We all met around 20 years ago and you can tell how much we’ve aged since then as the conversations this time round were more important than the drinking and the topics of conversation were about families and houses and careers and not about girls and cars.

But that’s the way life goes and it was great to catch up, especially since it is two years since I’ve seen some of them.

It turns out that one of our group now lives on the banks of lake Geneva and so while everyone else asked him about his new job and lifestyle I asked if I could visit and go for a swim.

I don’t want to do the length of the lake, but I have asked if if there is a local swimming club that organises swims across the lake to France (and back).

My plan over the next few years is not necessarily to try and swim further and longer, but instead to do a series of interesting and diverse swims – and where possible to some more international swims. It may well be, if Tony gets it sorted for me, that Lake Geneva is the first of those.

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Two weeks to go

Two weeks today I will be preparing to swim in the English Channel as part of my Channel Relay. I may even already have set off, given the nature of the tides and the weather I can’t say exactly when we’ll be setting off (or even if we will at all). And I suppose that is all part of the excitement and the challenge – not only are you fighting against your own fears and inadequacies, but you can often be fighting the elements too.

As always, I feel under prepared. I feel like I should have done more swimming, spent more time in the lake and got myself physically more ready. Yet at the same time, I know I’ve done all I can do given the rest of life.

I also feel worried about the non-swimming bit of the relay. Being on the boat after my sessions and getting ready for my next swim. I’m concerned about getting cold, not feeding properly, getting seasick and letting my team down. However, there are many things that we just can’t control and I know that I’ll do my absolute best to do whatever it takes to survive and achieve the crossing.

I suppose these nervous feelings are all part of getting close to the event and reaching that point where there’s nothing more I can do. That’s usually the point that you start to think about how much more you should have done!

Having said all of that, I’m really looking forward to it and I’m very excited to be taking part in such an iconic swim and to be part of a great team of outstanding swimmers. Bring it on!

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Another Sunday, yet another 5k

No event this week, but instead a training swim.

I always intended this one to be a bit of a plod. I feel like I haven’t done enough swimming recently (especially with the Channel Relay coming up soon), so today I just wanted to do a few laps of the lake, enjoy it and be ready to do more swimming this week. In the end I did just under 5k in a little under 1hr 50mins.

Of course today is Father’s Day too and before I left for the swim I’d been given a card and a present by my son.

So my entry for the Father’s Day competition is this one:

A swim by the "Best Dad, Hands Down"

A swim by the “Best Dad, Hands Down”

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Father’s Day Photos

I don’t talk about work too much, but I wanted to let you all know about a competition that a client of mine is running this weekend.

As you probably already know it’s Father’s Day this weekend and Dreamstime is running a competition to find the best photos to represent what Father’s Day means to you. You could win £100 in Amazon vouchers (or $100 if you’re in the US).

To enter simply take a photo and then submit it to their Facebook page or Google+ page with the hashtag #DreamstimeDads.

It’ll be great to see your photos if you want to let me know about them too – in the comments or blog about it.

Good luck and happy Father’s Day.

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A bit more about Dreamstime:

They are a stock photography company that has a huge presence in the US, and is using my company to increase awareness in the UK.

As a blogger, you could open account to find photos for your blog if you wanted to look for different shots, but you could also submit photos and earn some money from them. Do check them out – http://www.dreamstime.com/.

And here’s an example of a photo from the site.

Free Picture: Mountain Reflection ID: 190409 © Nancy Mahnken | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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UPDATE

Here’s my photo to represent what Father’s Day means to me – or more importantly, how I spent a great Father’s Day this year:

A swim by the "Best Dad, Hands Down"

A swim by the “Best Dad, Hands Down”

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Top 100 Blog

I would like to thank you the readers, you truly are the reason I do this and I feel blessed to call you my fans. I’d also like to thanks all my fellow swimmers, you make the training and the events all worthwhile – your spirit and commitment is truly humbling. And of course my other bloggers, you provide inspiration and your passion is amazing, you deserve nothing but the best from life.

Finally of course, I’d like to thank the Academy eBuzzing website.

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World Cup Fever

I’ve written about this before, but I am such a Dad!

The World Cup kicks off today – something that as a kid I would have spent weeks, if not months, obsessing about. Yet here we are, minutes away from the start and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to watch it or not. That is until my 8-year old begged me to let him watch it and stay up past his bedtime.

I’m not sure how much it is based on a love of football or just the fact that he can stay up – but how could I refuse?

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Taking the plunge in business

For a while now I’ve been a big believer that open water swimming can provide some lessons for people in business and especially people looking to start their own business.

It’s certainly an unusual angle to take, but the level of preparation and dedication required to succeed at either is comparable. So too is the fact that it’s still considered to be an unusual thing to do that requires courage. As someone that has done both (and continues to do both) I think we can take the examples from swimming to create engaging stories for business people.

As part of this, I have written my first article for the excellent H2Open magazine. In this article I look at some simple lessons taken from open water swimming that can be applied to starting a business:

“To me, some of the biggest lessons can be applied to business and especially for people running their own business. Both open water swimming and running your own business, while growing in popularity, are outside of the norm. They both require a degree of bravery to set off and, if you will excuse the pun, take the plunge.

However, that pun is a clear example of the link between the two activities. Much of the language of business can be applied to open water swimming and vice versa.”

I’m not going to post the whole article here, instead please do go and read it on H2Open’s site.

However, if you’d like to hear more about this, then I am also starting to speak on this topic at business events. If you’d like to chat about an event you might be running then you can find more information here.

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