Monthly Archives: October 2015

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Last Saturday I got up at 7:30am to go for an early morning swim in 23 degree waters in Crete. Ah, sublime.

This Saturday I got up at a similar time to go for an early morning swim in 12 degrees water in Salford. Hmmm, ridiculous!

Actually, it was lovely. Properly ‘fizzy’ on the skin. Lovely people to chat to (and ‘bob’ with). Great chat (and cake) afterwards. And a nice actual 3-lap swim of 1,200m.

That said, I’m not sure I’ll do it again in November!


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More on Crete

I thought I’d extend a bit on my Crete trip after my short initial post. I’ve also written a post for the SwimTrek website, which should be here (once they publish it).

I flew to Crete on the Saturday, with the intention of meeting fellow swimmers on the Sunday as we shared a transfer from the hotel to the airport (I stayed near the airport on Saturday night). But soon after the flight had set off I heard two people discussing swimming behind me on the plane, and it turned out they were on the same trip. They were self-medicating for flight nerves with some strong medicine that seemed to deliver headaches the following morning!

We transferred to the resort the following morning and arrived to an almost perfect beach resort scene. So bags dumped we were on the beach in swimming suits almost immediately and the first swim of the week took place. To be fair, it was more of a ‘bob’ than a swim, but it was lovely.

The following morning was the start of the trip proper and the official acclimatisation swim saw us split into groups, based on speed. I was in the middle group and the first couple of swims saw me very much in the middle of the middle group.

The groups are a very important part of SwimTrek trip, as by swimming with people of a similar speed they allow the guides to monitor the safety of everyone. They also allow the guides to judge the groups and distances and have everyone finish the swims roughly at the same time.

The swims in Crete are mainly coastal hugging ones and for the first couple of days we would jump on the boat in the morning, find a new bay and then swim along it and the next couple of bays – then back on the boat and back to the hotel. All the while enjoying the glorious sunshine we had been blessed with. What a life!

One of the plan Bs was a trek across the island.

One of the plan Bs was a trek across the island.

Unfortunately the weather changed in the second half of the week – the danger of going at the end of the season. The wind whipped up and although it was mainly dry, it made the swimming conditions much tougher. It also meant that we couldn’t take the boat out as the coastguard wouldn’t let our pilot take passengers out to sea. However, the SwimTreks guides were fantastic and excellent plan Bs meant that as swimmers we a) didn’t have to worry about it; b) still got a great swim in.

From a personal point of view, for some reason I didn’t relax and couldn’t enjoy the first couple of swims. I came out of the water wondering whether I’m just not cut out for sea swimming and whether I should abandon my idea of swimming the Channel. I was genuinely concerned. However, something changed over the last few days and while the conditions got tougher my love of the swims increased dramatically. I loved it.

One of the main changes was that our middle paced group had effectively been split into two and I started at the back of

The great group on the last night.

The great group on the last night.

the quicker group, with the other swimmers generously waiting for me every now and then (although swimming off just as I stopped for a breather, like we used to do with the fat kid on cross country runs at school!). Then a combination of a couple of pieces of advice about my stroke and a realisation from me that I was swimming lazily meant that I could keep up and play (swim) with the cool kids.

All in all I swam just over 21kms in the week – so not a huge amount, but substantial. But most importantly I have made some more great swimming friends.

The week got a thumbs up from me. Photo courtesy of Miriam Zendle.

The week got a thumbs up from me.
Photo courtesy of Miriam Zendle.


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The Crete Escape

I’ve just got back from a great week swimming in Crete. It was an organised week, run by SwimTrek (I have done their Long Distance Training week previously) and I LOVED it.

I’ll write a bit more about over the next few days, but what can be better than a week in warm weather (and warm water), lots of swimming, great food and drink, and lovely people? Not much!

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A day without swimming

For the first time in 23 days I won’t be swimming today.

For the last 22 days I have swum a mile each day as part of my Aspire Channel Swim. I have now landed in France and so I’m taking the day off to enjoy the cheese and wine. (Unfortunately for me, this is as true as the fact that I’ve actually swum the channel – but I have swum 22 miles).

Screenshot 2015-10-06 12.36.04For me the swimming was never going to the big challenge – I’ve actually swum no less than a mile each day, but often more and have averaged at just over 2km per day – however the logistics and repetition of it were a big challenge. No matter what else I’ve been doing I’ve had to make time for a swim every day. And of course to make it harder for myself I’ve tried to do it in a different venue every day – what an idiot!

Anyway, it’s done now. I’ll post more about it later, as despite what sounds like a moan I’ve really enjoyed it.

In the meantime I’ve been featured in my local paper, so you can read the article in the Nottingham Post.

And of course, it’s not too late to sponsor me.

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I’ve done it

22 miles in 22 days in [nearly] 22 different venues. 

For the first time in just over 3 weeks, I’m not going to swim tomorrow. 


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“This is clockwise isn’t it?”

It wasn’t.

Imagine the scene…

It’s a busy Saturday afternoon at a ‘fun’ pool – you know the sort, with all the slides and wave machines and screaming kids. But I still had a mile to do for the Aspire Channel Swim. Fortunately there was a regular pool next door, however there were only three lanes marked, with the other half of the pool given up to a group of kids having a lesson.

The lanes were marked for speed, so I joined the fast lane. At the shallow end was a guy, who let’s be honest didn’t look the most athletic, resting. I set off for my mile and 5 lengths in I turned and headed back to the shallow end. Swimming directly towards me, with a very slow breaststroke, was the aforementioned resting guy – heading straight towards me on my side of the lane.

“Isn’t this lane for clockwise swimming?” I asked politely.

“This is clockwise isn’t it?” he replied.

“No it isn’t. And it’s meant to be the bloody fast lane,” was what I wanted to reply. But I didn’t. I swam round him, carried on and finished my mile.

One of the things that I’ve tried to stick to throughout all of these miles is that these are not my pools and I don’t know the culture and so I’ve tried to just fit in with whatever was going on there. I’ve just tried to get my head down and get my mile done. It’s not always been easy, but I think I’ve managed.

Today’s mile, the penultimate one, was at the Ken Martin Leisure Centre in Nottingham.

I think the best I can say about it is that I’m glad I’m nearly finished. There was nothing terrible, but it just wasn’t right. The water was too warm; the lanes were marked for speed, which wasn’t adhered to; there was a queue to get in; my son was with me, but wasn’t allowed to watch pool side. It was all a bit ‘meh’.

But hey, one more mile tomorrow and then it’s done.

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Proper Pool

2015-10-02 08.33.26This morning’s mile for Aspire was wonderful. The fact it was mile 19 and the end is in sight helped. The fact that I swam well and smoothly and completed my lengths with no fuss also helped. But the main reason it was so wonderful was the fact that it was in a proper, old-fashioned pool.

It was the Portland Centre in Nottingham, run by Notts County’s Football in the Community scheme and reminded me of the old pools that my grandad would have taken me to. The changing rooms were cubicles on the side of the pool and there was no chrome or steel, just tiles and water and the chance to swim in a lovely 30m pool.

Post swim smiley face

Post swim smiley face

Mile 17 was also a great swim too. A friend joined me and as he said afterwards, the solitary aspect of swimming is great, but it’s also good to have company once in a while. We swam at the Victoria Leisure Centre pool and after a 1,000m warm-up we did 10 x 100m off 1:50m. It felt like we were pushing things, without killing ourselves and I was comfortably holding 1:40 for each 100m. To finish off we did a timed 100m sprint – Julian managed 1:19 and thrashed my 1:35. It just shows me that I clearly only have one gear / speed. I comfortably held 1:40 in ‘cruise’, but flat out sprint only gains me an extra 5 seconds!

We enjoyed it so much that we forgot to take a photo and instead rushed off for bacon sandwiches!

Yesterday’s mile – mile 18 – was swum in London as I was down there for meetings for the day. It was good, but a bit ‘London’ – you know, a bit too busy and a bit too expensive. But another mile ticked.

I nearly missed mile 16 earlier in the week. I got up later than I intended and so realised that I might not have time to get to the planned pool. So instead I looked for a closer pool and set off for that one – only to arrive and realise that I’d looked at the timetable for the wrong day and it wasn’t open for another hour. I drove back home in a sulk, but it did give me time to have a proper shower and breakfast, two things I’ve missed most mornings.

I went back to the same pool after work, only to act like a cross between a sulky teenager and a diva when I discovered that a) I’d misread the timetable and it wasn’t lane swimming, but ‘general swim’ and b) it was only an 18m pool. I went for it anyway and of course the swim itself was lovely. I did 120 lengths for a total of 2,160m (but only counted the first mile of it towards the Aspire total).

If things go to plan, I’ll finish on Monday in my local pool.

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You can still sponsor me here –


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