Monthly Archives: September 2014

Health and Safety nonsense

I had a moan about this on Facebook last night, but I’m gonna have another one here.

Fun finsYesterday my new fins arrived. The fins I had ordered specifically because my new coach had suggested that I use some to help with a couple of drills – I need to focus on correcting the arms and shoulders, so the fins help to provide more propulsion meaning that I can concentrate on the technique of the arms and not ‘swimming’. I was excited. Not only was it a new toy to play with, but I could do the drills I’d been assigned and make some well needed improvements.

A gentle warm up complete and I put the fins on for the first time ever. I was intending to do a few lengths with them to get used to them before I started the drills. However I’d only completed my 4th length when one of the lifeguards stopped me to tell me I wasn’t allowed to wear them. She didn’t seem to know why, just that it was policy, so I asked to speak to the manager. He came to the pool a few minutes later, but again couldn’t tell me why they were banned, quoting the obligatory ‘health & safety’.

I asked to see the documents – what I really wanted was for them to show me how it was a health and safety risk, but this is what he gave me See 6.2.1):

Health & Safety

Health & Safety

I’m pretty sure that this isn’t available to see anywhere on the pool’s website. So the only way I knew they were not allowed is to be specifically told by a lifeguard – yet all other types of equipment is allowed and I’ve seen someone using a snorkel.

To say I’m a bit pissed off about is an understatement.

I’d love to know if there are any reports or research documents that look at this issue – do you know of any?


Filed under Swimming

These look like fun

Just arrived today.

Fun fins

Fun fins

I think I might have to give them a test run this evening.

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What I learned yesterday

Yesterday I did another sprint triathlon after doing one two weekends ago. This one was in a village about a 45 minute drive from me, so again it was a nice gently start to the day. It wasn’t quite so gentle later on and this is what I learned:

1 – Triathlons are bloody hard work – even the sprint distance.

2 – Sprint is very much a misnomer – I’m not sure that other than a quick burst in the pool I officially sprinted ever during the event.

3 – I owe Steve £20 – I made a silly bet that I was bound to lose, but that’s ok because he has done 14 triathlons this year for charity and I’m happy to pay up to his charity – you should too if you’ve got a spare tenner (

4 – Actually, despite the above, it’s a pretty good way to spend a Sunday (especially when you can then go down the pub afterwards and have a few pints and a game of darts – which is what I did for post-event refuelling).

5 – It was great to meet Rachel in real life and I love the TeamBear ethos.

6 – I could spend a LOT of money on kit – I’m not going to, but it’s fascinating to rack my bike up next to bikes that probably cost more than my car.

7 – I have a very weird relationship with on course support – and I’ll probably blog about this more later.

8 – I’m not going to enter another event before I sort out my personal life – I probably won’t blog about this later – I’ll leave it intentionally cryptic, those that know, know. But if I need to go to *that* place at the moment I find it full. I don’t want to make excuses, but I do think this has affected *some* of my performances this year.

9 – Some driver are dicks. There were 3 or 4 that passed me by the absolute narrowest of margins on the course, but the trophy today goes to the woman that decided to turn right next to me in the village at the end of the event. She crowded me at the junction, turned with me and then overtook me even though I was indicating to turn right. I do hope that the 13 seconds she gained by that helped her out.

10 – I need to find a way to stop nipple rash – nuff said.

– – –

11 – Monday morning update. Number 4 was a bad idea!


Filed under Charity, Cycling, Kit, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Ribbons for Rememberance

Someone I met on my SwimTrek trip in April will be attempting to swim the channel for the third time this weekend, exactly five years after her first crossing.

That alone is an amazing feat. However, her second crossing, earlier this year, took over 4 and a half hours off her time to swim to France. Then only a week later she completed the round Jersey swim. She also did a relay channel swim just a couple of weeks ago. And now she’s off to France again.

Even more amazing than all of that however, is the fact that during all of these swims she manages to break out of the intense focus that is required by any swimmer to complete these challenges and throw [biodegradable] ribbons into the sea on behalf of anyone that has battled, or lost their battle to cancer.

For Rowdy & Cookie

For Rowdy & Cookie

Even typing this is bringing a tear to my eyes and I have asked Emma to throw a couple of ribbons for me on this swim.

Please visit Emma’s Just Giving page here – And you can track her swim here – (just select the boat Suva).

Good luck Emma. Swim strong, swim safe and enjoy.

– – –


Unfortunately Emma had to get out about half-way across the channel, she was in a lot of pain down her left side and the decision was taken not to risk any long-term damage. But despite that (or actually because of it), what an amazing season she’s had, including a solo-channel, a round Jersey swim and a channel relay – and all the fundraising and ribbon throwing. Well done Emma and I hope I get the chance to swim with you next year.

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Suffer but NEVER surrender

I’ve got my second triathlon coming up in a few days – I’m going to East Leake to do the sprint triathlon down there. The course is a little longer than the Southwell one I did the other week (a slightly longer bike ride), but it’s meant to be flatter too.

I’d like to say that I’m looking forward to it, but….

However, something that I will be using as a mantra for the event is:

“Suffer but NEVER surrender”

Team Bear Logo ButtonThis is the motto of the great Team Bear tri team that I am proud to be a member of. It’s a virtual team of like-minded athletes who want to support and cheer the effort (not the times or results, but the effort) of each other. Where possible there is physical cheering too, but there is always a lot of virtual (social media) cheering.

I talked recently about the great community within swimming – and that’s true – but it turns out that its not just swimmers, there are other nice people out there too. I’ve been chatting on Twitter to a couple of people who have provided great support and cheering over the last couple of months (especially after Windermere) and as we got to know each other better I realised that they were part of Team Bear, so I checked it out and I LOVED the ethos of the team (apart from the cake bit). I told them I loved it and they asked me to join, so I did – as simple as that.

I’ve already found out that another Team Bear member will be doing the East Leake tri too – it’s actually his 14th triathlon this year and he’s raising money for Derby Hospitals. To make it more fun, I’ve told him that if he beats me on Sunday, I’ll put £20 in the pot (as Team Bear is not really about the results, I’m gonna put £20 in the pot no matter what – but don’t tell him).

So if you see someone with “sbNs” written on their hand on Sunday it’s likely to be me (or Steve). Please cheer us on in true Team Bear fashion.

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Big lad love

I went to a friend’s wedding a few years ago and I was honoured to be asked to be an usher. As the other usher was the bride’s brother I was then included as part of the wedding party and wore the ‘outfit’ – you know the morning suit and hat etc.

It was a lovely wedding and a lovely day for everyone.

However, it was a bit confusing for the wedding photographer.

After the service he wanted to get lots of photos in front of the church, so in his slightly camp South Yorkshire accent he organised everyone:

“Right then, let’s have the bride here – doesn’t she look lovely everyone? And the groom can stand next to her.
Ok, let’s have the bridesmaids around them… oooh gorgeous.
Now then, the parents and the brothers and sisters… ah beautiful”

And then he looked round to make sure he’d got everyone and he saw me. I was wearing the outfit, I was clearly part of the wedding party, but he had no idea who I was. A slight panic crossed his mind. I probably needed to be in the photo, but how did he ask me to join the group.

“And you… erm… big lad love, you go and stand at the back.”

By a certain group of friends I’m still occasionally known as big lad love.

I mention all of this because last week I went to get some swim coaching. I want to use the winter to work on my technique so that I can reap the rewards as I start to swim outdoors again next summer. I went to a great guy down in Canary Wharf and we had an hour of assessment and filming and drills in the endless pool. But at one stage, early on in the session, while watching a video of me swim from a head-on position he said to me, “you’re a big lad, but that’s a small hole in the water.”

It immediately reminded me of a camp wedding photographer in Doncaster.


Filed under Swimming

Gentle Sunday mile

I wanted to swim as part of the Smile Mile, I wanted to swim for Gunnar and I wanted to clear my head after an emotionally challenging weekend.

I’m not sure I managed any of them, but I did swim.

The Smile Mile is something that I saw in passing on Facebook, I’m not sure of the details, but the bit that struck me was the idea to swim a mile this weekend with a smile on your face. As I understand it, it was to remove the need for long distances or fast times, but just to swim for the joy of it again.

Gunnar is the brother of someone that regularly posts on the Facebook group “Did You Swim Today?’ (DYST). Gunnar died recently. Erland wrote a beautiful post on Facebook and many people have taken the memory of Erland with them into their next swim. This was my next swim after seeing the post and I wanted to take the memory of Erland, and of people that I’ve lost, with me. Strangely it actually helped me to smile.

Finally I just needed the water and the exercise and the discipline of having to swim and turn and watch for the people and keep going to help give me something different for my mind to focus on. The weekend has been a bit of challenge for me emotionally and I wanted the water to help wash some of that away.

The plan was to just get in and swim for 35 minutes and then get out – I didn’t want to count lengths as I had too much else to think about. I found it hard going at first. Aside from the triathlon, this was my first real swim since Windermere and, especially with my head so full, I had to ‘remember’ how to swim again.

Pretty soon the fast lane was full of swimmers doing some Sunday evening training and so I moved to the middle (medium pace) lane. That helped a lot as the pressure to swim quickly was removed and I could just leisurely go up and back, occasionally swimming breaststroke as I swam behind a slower swimmer.

I was able to smile for some of it, I did think about Gunnar and others, and the water did wash away some of the emotional stuff too. Swimming’s good like that.

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Triathlon Done

In a moment of madness inspiration a few weeks ago I decided to enter the Last Minute Tri organised by One Step Beyond, sponsored by Esendex and most importantly taking place in my village. My view was that it would give me something to focus on after the big swim and stop me spending all of September on the sofa.

After such a disappointing Windermere swim however, I very nearly pulled out. It wasn’t just the effort of the swim, it was because it had been so tough I felt physically broken and mentally angry – not the best starting point for a triathlon. But a couple of weeks had passed and I thought it was worth giving it a go.

Last Minute Tri transition area

Last Minute Tri transition area

The one thing I didn’t want to do – especially after Windermere – was set myself a target. I was just going to have fun and see how I got on. And that’s what I did.

The organisation was great and my wave started exactly on the 10:34am start time. We were started in the pool in groups of five, based on our predicted swim times. The slowest went first and it gradually built up to the quicker ones that set off at 11:30am. What that meant though was that slower swimmers were already in the lane finishing their swim. Unfortunately for me, they were very slow. However, a few lengths of breaststroke and a sprint to overtake them and I had a nice relaxing swim with a lane almost to myself.

I had predicted 7mins 30secs for the swim and a quick glance at my watch as I got out of the pool suggested that was pretty accurate, but then we had to run round the building and into the transition area before the official swim time was registered. I did this quite gingerly – I hate doing this without my glasses.

The bike was next and it was an out and back course with a quite a hilly section to start with. It was by no means easy, but I survived. And even though my swim time meant that I started with the ‘good’ (but not super elite) triathletes, what pleased me was that only eight people passed me on the bike.

Now it was time to see if my legs could cope with the run. Again the run has a hill early on, so I decided not to go crazy and walked up this, but the rest of the run was steady if not spectacular and I plodded round nicely. The run course is two laps and the second lap followed the same pattern, apart from the ‘sprint’ finish.

I crossed the line in 1hour 19mins and 10secs. And although I said I didn’t have a target, I was secretly aiming for 1hour 25mins, so I was pleased with that. Right where do I sign up for another?

Last Minute Tri timing

Last Minute Tri timing


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Tri Hard Today

In about two hours time I’ll set off on a sprint triathlon:
– 400m swim
– 17.6km bike ride
– 5km run

After my disappointing recent swim I’m not setting any targets or aiming for a particular time – I just want to finish and enjoy it.

Considering I’ve not trained for the bike or run part it’ll probably be a bit tough. But nowhere near as tough as the Arch to Arc that a friend of mine is currently undertaking.

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Arch to Arc

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a friend taking on the immense challenge that is the Arch to Arc. As he describes it on his Just Giving page:

“I will attempt the world’s most difficult triathlon – The Arch to Arc.  I will run 87 miles from Marble Arch to Dover. Within 48 hours of beginning that run I will attempt to swim the English Channel solo. On completion of that I will then cycle the 180 miles to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.  It is a huge undertaking: You may think that an 87 mile run is a challenge but it pales into insignificance compared to the enormity of swimming the English Channel.  That is like climbing Everest with a fridge on your back! To date, only 13 people have completed the task –  one more than has stood on the moon. In September I will be the oldest person to attempt the Challenge at the grand old age of 49.”

It’s almost too much to even contemplate for us mere mortals.

Well, the challenge will start this weekend (weather dependent) and so this post is my way of wishing him good luck and pushing you to his Just Giving page – There will also be a tracker that can be found on the Enduroman homepage and will be activated once Paul starts.

You can read about Paul’s training on his blog here.

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Filed under Charity, Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming