Monthly Archives: August 2014

Windermere today

Gonna set off and swim this in about an hour.


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Swimming video

On Tuesday of this week, instead of my usual 3 hours of swimming up at Activities Away I was filmed getting in and out and swimming around. It’s all part of my Open for Business plan and I’ll be able to reveal much more soon.

But in the meantime here’s a short clip of me swimming.

As you can see, we’re using a GoPro camera. For the first bit it’s strapped to my head, then Tracey from Orange Media filmed me from under water. I think it looks great.

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Nice comment

I like it when someone you haven’t seen for a while tells you it looks like you’ve lost weight.

I especially like it when they then give you a new swim hat.


Thanks Paul.

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Last Training Swim

Today was my last training swim before Windermere. So on a rainy bank holiday in the UK I went up to Activities Away to do a few more laps of the lake. It would seem that the rain kept a few people away (that or the the prospect of cooler water) as there were only about 20 of us today.

As usual I was one of the first in and the last one out. I was also the only skins swimmer that I could see doing laps (I saw a couple go round the 200m lap – the woman was wearing some very bright orange shoes to swim, I think I saw her feet about 100m away!).

Anyway I did 7 laps – which in a straight line would be 5.6km, however my GPS told me that it was just over 6.7km – I clearly don’t swim in a straight line! However, even more remarkably is that, according to my GPS watch, I did 6.7km in just over 2 hours or at an average pace of 1:54 per 100m.

Over 6.7km swum

Over 6.7km swum

At an average pace of 1:54 per 100m

At an average pace of 1:54 per 100m











Although I have no reason to doubt my smart new watch I can’t quite believe that pace.

My original plan was to do about 1/3 the Windermere distance (3.5 miles) in 2 hours – mainly because the lake was only open for 2 hours for swimmers. Instead I did about 40% of the distance. On that pace I’d complete Windermere in less than 5 1/2 hours!

Even if we assume that I’ll swim as ‘wobbly’ as I swam today and I did actually do 1/3 the distance, then I’m still on for a 6 hour 20 minute Windermere!

I’m sure I won’t get anywhere near either of those times, but it has given me confidence and in particular the confidence to get on with the swim and set off at a decent pace and not try to swim so that I conserve energy – which is what I did last time. My goal is to break 7 hours (I was 7 hours and 42 minutes last time). Wish me luck!

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Windermere next week

Next Saturday (August 30th) I’ll be swimming Windermere.

I got a bit nervous about it all yesterday, especially when a couple of family members scared me by suggesting that it was actually today! It’s not today, it’s next week… I hope.

I’m swimming it as part of the BLDSA event and it’s the second time I’ve swum it – having successfully completed in 2012 in a time of 7 hours 42 minutes and 36 seconds.

For those of you that don’t know, Windermere (not lake Windermere as the ‘mere’ bit means lake) is 10 1/2 miles long and is England’s longest lake. There’ll probably be about 25 of us that all set off together – and hopefully 25 of us that finish the swim. Last time I swam it I was last finisher by a long way, the penultimate swimmer was 50 minutes ahead of me. So I’m not expecting to win (or medal or podium to use a horrible verb that we seem to have adopted since the Olympics), but I do want to finish. I’m hoping to complete the swim in less than 7 hours, but like so much of open water swimming a lot will depend on the weather.


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GPS tracker of my Canadian swim

For the swim I did in Halifax I wore my new GPS watch, so I tracked all the details of the swim – speed, stroke rate etc. This is the first chance I’ve had to download it all and perhaps more importantly, look at the map of the swim.

The swim itself wasn’t very interesting – just up and back, but the other stats are interesting. At the moment I’m just breaking the watch in, so I’m not using it to it’s full capacity as a training tool just yet. And for this swim I swam with a group, so it wasn’t a hard training swim, more of a social morning in a lake. But it’s all interesting nonetheless.

The map of the swim with my stroke rate

The map of the swim with my stroke rate

As you can see, there are a lot of lakes in the area

As you can see, there are a lot of lakes in the area

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More Canadian Lakes

As I said, I’m visiting family in Canada and on the weekend we went out camping up into the foothills of the Rockies. If you’ve never been – go. It’s just amazing scenery and countryside and so powerfully huge and impressive. It really makes you feel small.

While we were up there I got to go swimming in another lake.


Given that we were up in the mountains I was a little concerned that it would be cold, glacial water and a bit too ‘bracing’ for me. But it was lovely – probably about 16 degrees.

I only did some widths of the lake, rather than the length as there was no-one around with a boat that could come with me and I didn’t know the lake well enough to risk it on my own. In the end that was the right decision because after about 30 minutes (4 widths) everyone else was keen to move on – it turns out it was colder out of the water.

But another nice swim done in a Canadian lake.

This is where we were camping:


But we didn’t see any wildlife despite the warnings:


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Swimming facilities in Canada

I’ve visiting family in Southern Alberta in Canada in a town you’ll almost certainly not have heard of unless you’ve been here. It’s called Lethbridge and is situated between the grain growing prairies of Canada and the foothills of the Rockies. It’s not the most picturesque of places, but I love it here as I love visiting my family.

One thing Lethbridge does have though is a university and within the university is a sports complex and within the sports complex is a swimming pool. And that swimming pool is amazing.

It’s a newer, cleaner, very possibly bigger version of Ponds Forge with a 50m pool that can be altered by the use of a moveable platform, a diving pool and a kids pool. It also has a spectator area and great showers and changing areas.

The Ponds Forge facility is the closest 50m pool* to where I live in the UK and it’s an hour away from me. Based on that, I’m making the assumption that the Ponds Forge pool is very probably the closest 50m to around 5million people in the UK. To be the closest to that number of people the Lethbridge pool would need to be the only 50m pool in the whole of the province of Alberta – which I sincerely doubt.

* at least with these kinds of facilities.

Anyway I swam there and it was lovely.

Having said that, I can now understand why some people look to have underwater MP3 players. I’ve never bothered before as I kinda don’t see the point. One of the things that I need to train for is the mental boredom as much as the physical effort. I’m not allowed to have an MP3 player while I’m swimming the events I enter, so I don’t think I should train with them either.

However, as the Lethbridge university pool complex is so large it meant that number of different groups were using it while I swam. Not only were there a few lane swimmers (of which I was one), but there were also swimming lessons, parents with kids and a synchronised swimming training session.

That training session was using music and lots of instructions from the coach, making it a noisy session – and with the music seemingly pumped through the water as well it meant that it was hard to get ‘into the zone’ to just swim. If I’d had some I would have gladly worn some headphones and listened to music.

I swam 2 miles on Thursday and 2 miles on Friday.

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A great lake

It wasn’t one of the Great Lakes, but it still felt pretty good to me. I was swimming in Canada in Lake Kearney near Halifax, Nova Scotia.


I’ve been in Halifax for a few days on holiday and once I knew I was coming I wanted to see if I could find somewhere to swim. So with a bit if help from the ‘Did You Swim Today’ Facebook group, some Googling and a cheeky email or two I found a group of guys who swim every Sunday morning at the lake.

In a way that seemed to match both the Canadian attitude to this sort of thing, and the OW swimming community’s attitude I was immediately welcomed, made to feel part of the group, but not fussed over all at the same time.

The swim itself was a nice gentle 1km up the lake, waiting for the group to all catch up, then the 1km back to shore. In a way that also seemed typically Canadian (or Nova Scotian) the lake was free for all to enter and even had lifeguards on the small beach at peak times.

When we’d finished half of the group (there were only 6 of us) just melted away to get on with their lives without allowing me to thank them. I did get to go for a coffee (I had tea) with a couple of them, but even then I wasn’t allowed to buy the drinks.

So thanks to Mike and his group and I’ll look you up next time I’m in Halifax!


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Yesterday I went for an actual run. You know, outdoors, along roads, in the fresh air, using my legs to propel me forward and not in a lake!

It may not sound like much to most of you, but it’s my first proper run for probably about three or four months. I occasionally do a couple of kilometres on the treadmill at the end of a gym session, but I’ve not been outside for ages. It was really nice just to be able to set off and see the scenery, say hi to a few cyclists and explore different terrain.

I wanted to run for three main reasons: 1) just because; 2) to try out my new GPS watch – it works!; and 3) to see if I could and therefore whether I could enter a triathlon in a few weeks time.

My running stats

My running stats

It turns out I can run (in a fashion), so I have now entered the triathlon – only a sprint triathlon and is a pool swim (so no wetsuit needed). It’s two weeks after my Windermere swim, so I’m not expecting to break any records, but it’ll give me a focus immediately following the swim and I may even like running and cycling more.



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