Monthly Archives: December 2015

Review of the Year

There are lots of these posts going around, so to prove my lack of originality here is mine.


Screenshot 2015-12-15 22.02.08

A subject that took over my blog for a few days in December was the #TieForHelena. An online friend of mine (we’ve never actually met in person) and fellow swimmer was attacked near her house because she was wearing a tie. As a community we wanted to support her and hopefully give her the confidence to wear a tie again. Here’s the original post outlining this:

What actually happened was that it seemed to strike a chord with people and it turned out to be quite big. Here’s the summary post I did:


About to start mile 20 - not happy!

About to start mile 20 – not happy!

There were two main events that were the focus of 2015 for me. The first was back in May and was the 2swim4life event. A simple premise of swimming a mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. I trained hard for it and had great support on the day, here’s the write-up I did: That said, it took me a while to get my focus back again:

Swimming the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43One thing that did help me to regain my focus was swimming the channel on behalf of the charity Aspire. This was a channel crossing with a difference as it was to be done in the pool over the course of 12 weeks. I decided to add another element to the challenge and do it in 22 days: I completed it successfully and as you can see I was effusive in my final write-up:

It’s not too late to sponsor me if you have any spare money lying around after Xmas:

I didn’t do a channel relay this year (although there may be one on the cards for 2016), but I did write some of my thoughts on them for aspiring relay swimmers:

Bala Disaster

2015 wasn’t all good though. I had my first ever DNF at Bala this year – and to make it worse I wasn’t swimming, but kayaking and had to pull my swimmer out of the water (sorry again Rach): Fortunately we did get a swim in the following day:


A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

I also tried to play cricket again in 2015, for the first time in over 25 years. As you can see from these posts, it wasn’t a complete success:;


But at the end of the summer, I did treat myself to a swimming trip to Crete. It was a trip organised by the wonderful Swimtrek and I met some great new swimming friends: I’d definitely recommend one if you’re thinking about it.

Not a bad 2015 all in all. And I still think that 2016 will be even better.


Filed under Charity, Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

I’ve done it

My plan for 2015 was to complete 1,600kms – and after this morning’s swim I have crossed that threshold.

The distance isn’t the actual distance travelled during my training and events in 2015 as I use an algorithm to try and equal out the three main activities I partake in – swimming, running and cycling. As I’m mainly a swimmer, it didn’t seem fair on me to compare distances with runners for example. Yet nor did it seem fair to just do lots of cycling to boost the numbers. So the 1,600kms distance is a ‘normalised’ running distance for the year as I multiply any swimming distances by three, and divide any cycling distance by four.

So my totals for the year so far (I plan to do another session tomorrow):

Swimming: actual – 408.66kms; adjusted – 1,225.98kms
Running: actual – 270.17kms
Cycling: actual – 447.27kms; adjusted – 111.82kms
Total: actual – 1,126.10kms; adjusted – 1,607.96kms

I’m pretty pleased with that. Well over 1,000 kilometres in actual distance covered and a whole day to spare in hitting the target. But all of this is with a complete lack of motivation in June and July (after the big swim in May), which meant that to complete the target my top three months (in order) were October, December, November.

Update 31/12/15

After today’s session my final totals are: 1,145.8kms actual and 1,620.56kms adjusted.

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Filed under Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Cruising Along

I’m using the winter months to spend time in the pool working on technique and speed and it feels like it’s starting to come together.

The technique comes from drills from SwimCanaryWharf, while the speed comes in a variety of different sprint sets. My favourite is a pyramid of 100 – 200 – 400 – 200 – 100, all off set times.

However, the aim of this work is not necessarily to get quicker over 100m, or even 400m, but to allow me to be able to be generally quicker over the longer distances. So as well as sprint sets I also try to mix in some ‘cruising’ sets. What I want to be able to do is find the quickest speed at which I can keep going, yet without really getting myself out of breath. So I’m swimming ‘relaxed’ 1km swims, but trying to keep the pace strong.

Last week, any swims I did like this were between 1:56 and 1:58 per 100m, today I got that pace down to just under 1:55 per 100m.

That may not sound particularly quick to some people, but even if I add an extra 10 seconds for the cold water and an extra 10 seconds to feed, then my Windermere time will be well over an hour quicker than I’ve done it before.

I know it’s not as easy as that – but it’s a good start.

Anyway, that was my last swim before Xmas. Hope you all have a good one. See you on the other side to swim off the turkey.

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Filed under Swimming

That went well…

… in fact it went very well.

Yesterday was #TieForHelena day. It was done to show support for someone who was attacked just for wearing a tie. We wanted to tell homophobia to get knotted. There was one hell of a response from people.

See all the Twitter #TieForHelena posts here.
See all the Facebook #TieForHelena posts here.

There were a number of news stories, articles and blogs written on this:

The Telegraph

We had people wear ties with shirts:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.51.04 Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.51.22 Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.51.32

And people wear ties without shirts:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.53.40 Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.53.51

And bow ties:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.55.23

We had people in offices wear ties:

We’ve had swimmers in ties:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.56.31 Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.56.40

And non-swimming swimmers:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.10.36

We even had teddy bears:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.11.12

And babies:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 21.18.53

But most importantly – and this was the main reason for #TieForHelena, to show Helena that we are all supporting her and want her to have the confidence to wear a tie again after the attack – we had Helena herself wearing a tie:

Screenshot 2015-12-15 22.02.08

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Filed under Thoughts


A swimming friend of mine was attacked only a street away from her own home in London last night.

She believes the attack was a homophobic attack and that the perpetrator singled her out because of how she was dressed – especially that she was wearing tie. Read the article and see the photos in the Evening Standard.

There was a line from the Facebook post she made that really struck me:

“I don’t think I’ll be rocking a tie in the near future.”

I called Helena a friend of mine in the intro to this piece, but strangely we’ve never actually met, instead we’re social media buddies through shared swimming experiences – Helena did a channel relay with someone I went to SwimTrek Majorca with. And one thing that I used to love was seeing the photos Helena updated with her wearing a new tie, she definitely did ‘rock’ that look, so I hope this horrible attack doesn’t make her too scared to rock it again.


I think that we should show support for Helena by all of us wearing a tie – so we can all rock that look.

If you already wear a tie to work, then great, you’re part of the gang. If you don’t, then for one day, please do. You can wear it rakishly, dashingly, with a suit, with slacks, or maybe even ‘Rambo style’ like we used to on the school playground occasionally. However you wear it, please take a photo and upload it to social media with the hashtag #TieForHelena.

Let’s all do this on Tuesday 15th December.

Let’s show idiot homophobes that they are in the minority and let’s hopefully give Helena the courage to rock a tie again.


Filed under Thoughts

Four times across the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43The Aspire Channel Challenge officially ends today (if you’re still swimming your last few lengths, or raising your last few pounds, then keep going!). The challenge is to swim the same distance as an English Channel crossing (22 miles) in your local pool. The challenge started on 14th September and ran for 12 weeks, until today.

I decided that I’d set myself an additional challenge of doing the distance in 22 days, which I managed to do (I also swam in 20 different venues). I also managed to get a little bit of extra publicity for the challenge (here, here and here).

However, I didn’t stop once I’d done my 22 miles. I may not have counted them directly towards the challenge, but I kept on swimming, so I thought it would be interesting to see how much I swam throughout the twelve weeks of the challenge.

The first thing to note is that although I completed my part of the challenge as a mile a day over 22 days, I didn’t swim only a mile. Most days I swam a little bit more – I just didn’t count it towards my Aspire miles. In fact I swam an average of 2kms per day for those 22 days. After that, I went to Crete with SwimTrek. Then recently I’ve been getting a bit more serious with my training as I want to get a good base level of fitness ready for events in 2016.

The great SwimTrek group on the last night.

The great SwimTrek group on the last night.

So, the total amount of swimming I’ve done in the last twelve weeks is… drum roll please….

134.5kms, or just over 84 miles.

That’s nearly four crossings of the English Channel. Not bad I suppose.

And if that’s impressed you to sponsor me for Aspire, then please, please do so by going here:


Filed under Charity, Motivation, Swimming