Longest swim…

Not ever, but the longest swim I’ve done in the past five months.

I’m slowly, tentatively returning to the water after a back injury. It’s great to be back in the water again, but I’m trying not to push too hard – just hard enough. There are two main reasons for this: 1) I’m still not certain what caused the injury, or whether the recovery will hold, so I don’t want to damage it again; 2) I’m really unfit and knackered!

However this morning I got chance to swim in the pool at Imperial College London (right by the Royal Albert Hall – a lovely location). The pool was great, it was full of fit students (and lecturers I presume) and I felt pretty good. So I pushed myself a bit further.

Today, dear reader, I swam a whole mile and even managed 3 x 500m in one go! Both recent records.

Not only did I really enjoy it, it’s also got me thinking about signing up for 2Swim4Life again!

PS – today’s swim was another as part of the Aspire Channel Challenge, please sponsor me.

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I’m swimming the channel tomorrow

Of course I’m not swimming the actual channel, but I will be starting the Aspire Channel Challenge.

The challenge is to swim the same distance as a channel crossing (22 miles) in your local pool over a 12-week period. It starts tomorrow (12th Sept) and runs until 5th December.

I’ve been struggling with a back injury this year so I haven’t done much swimming, so it really does feel like a challenge to complete the distance. However, I’ve been swimming a few times and I think I’ll be able to give it a good go.

Although my back is a bit better, it’s a long way from being right, so I’m easing myself into gently. At the moment my swim routine is as follows:
– 100m warm-up
– 4 x 250m swim
– 100m cool down

I’m hoping to gently increase both the total distance I can swim, as well as the distance I swim in one go, so I’ll increase those middle swim sets by 50m every couple of weeks.

The total number of lengths I need to complete to ‘swim the channel’ is 1416, while the above set is 48. So based on that, I’ll need to swim an average of 2.5 times every week for the duration of the challenge.

One of my personal reasons for doing the swim this year is to help with my motivation (to make me go to the pool 2 or 3 times per week), so for that reason, I’ve donated £22 to the cause (£1 per mile). I’d be really grateful if you could spare a few pennies too – please go here to sponsor me: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim

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The Aspire Channel Challenge

I’ve signed up again for the Aspire Channel Challenge.

Last year the swimming element of the challenge was easy for me, so I increased the challenge by doing it in 22 consecutive days. This year, after coming back from an injury that has stopped me from swimming at all this summer, it’s the swimming itself that will be tough.

Since I’ve been back in the pool in three swims I’ve managed to swim 1.8kms, so over 40kms for the channel challenge feels like a lot this year.

However, I’m going to do it and I’d love you to sponsor me here – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim (where you can read most of this blurb again).

As Aspire says: “Every eight hours someone is paralysed by a Spinal Cord Injury and Aspire provides the essential equipment, advice, housing and grants that spinal cord injured people need to live their lives independently. This is a big challenge, but the more I raise, the more of a difference I’ll make, so please be generous!”

And of course, you can sign up too if you want to take part in the challenge – just go here: http://aspirechannelswim.co.uk/

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Life’s Frustrations

It’s only just dawned on me today that when I get frustrated about things – and people – in life, what it is exactly that annoys me.

It is when other people’s behaviour shows that they consider themselves to be more important than others. Of course, I get frustrated when that behaviour is shown to me, so then it becomes even more personal – that behaviour shows that they consider themselves more important than me! But it’s the fact that it is just generally selfish that bothers me, not [just] that I’ve had my nose put out of joint – honest!

There are two places that I seem to witness this the most and therefore get frustrated the most:

The pool
– Not allowing quicker swimmers to pass; chatting at the lane ends and blocking swimmers from turning; just poor lane etiquette in general and being in the wrong lane according to your speed in particular etc

The road
– Driving too quickly; overtaking with no regard for oncoming traffic – especially overtaking cyclists; parking across three spaces etc

Of course, there are other places too, one of the main ones seems to be how people talk to others on social media.

I’m sure none of this is groundbreaking new thought, but as I say, it became clear to me today.

There is of course the other type of person – usually the type that behaves as described above – who seems to get angry and frustrated at how unfair the world is when they are asked not to do exactly as they please and possibly put others first…

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A Tragic Incident

This weekend the open water swimming community was shocked to hear of the death of Nick Thomas, who died in Calais after being taken out of the water only a few miles short of completing his channel swim.

I didn’t know Nick personally, although I know a number of people that did. You can read the notice from the Channel Swimming and Pilot Federation here: http://cspf.co.uk/article/111/nick-thomas

Personally this weekend I was with another community of swimmers at the BLDSA’s Windermere swim, not swimming this year, but helping out with the management of the swim. However late on Sunday evening I got an email asking if I would be interviewed on BBC radio about Nick’s death. I’m not sure how they found me – probably through the BLDSA’s Twitter page (which I run), but I wasn’t sure that I was qualified enough to speak about it. I tried to find someone I felt was more qualified – but with it being the Sunday evening of a bank holiday weekend people weren’t available.

So last night I was on the Stephen Nolan show on Radio 5 Live. I told them I hadn’t known Nick, nor had I swum the channel, so instead I talked about open water swimming in general. You can listen here (it starts at about 45 minutes in) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07q1wfs

It wasn’t a particularly a good interview, like many non swimmers the interviewer just didn’t seem to understand the concept of open water swimming and so asked very basic questions. I hope I did ok and represented our community well enough.

I also want to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Nick Thomas.

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I Has Swimmed

It might not sound like much given that this is a blog (in theory) all about swimming. However I’ve had a bad back for the last four months, so I’ve hardly swim at all.

At first I tried to swim through it, but that was no good. So then I tried to use swimming as therapy, but it wasn’t.

So for the last three months or so I haven’t swum at all.

Over the last few days my back has started to feel a little bit better. I don’t want to tempt fate, but just maybe…

Anyway, I decided to risk a swim today and managed a whole 500m, I was delighted. Of course I had a rest at the end of every length, but 20 whole lengths!

It was also nice that a few people at the pool said hello and asked if I’d been away. I suspect that they just enjoyed a more relaxing swim over the last few months – well, that might be about to change!

UPDATE – 1st Sept

I has swimmed again today – another 500m. This time I even managed to it in 100s (so 4 lengths at a time, no rest)!

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Dear Speedo…

I posted this tweet as a little joke last night:

Screenshot 2016-08-23 09.34.24

Obviously it was intended as a dig at Ryan Lochte and his ‘antics’ in Rio and the aftermath for him with regards to sponsors backing away from him. A couple of my friends (Rach & Hazel) saw it and we swapped a few tweets about how nice it would be, then I posted this one:

Screenshot 2016-08-23 09.34.41

But then I got to thinking about it more seriously…

I’ve read recent reports that Speedo was due to pay Lochte $50,000 which it is now donating to charity. I’m not sure if that all of the annual fee he receives, or just the Olympics related portion of it, but just think what some non-Olympic athletes could do with that sort of money – and actually how it could change the profile of a sponsor to get involved at that level.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I LOVED watching the Olympics, but I can’t say I was particularly inspired.

I’m sporty. Apart from the horse stuff and the wrestling I’ve probably had a go, in one form or another, at nearly every Olympic sport. But to watch it on TV, well they might as well have been completely different sports. I will never ever swim as quickly as Phelps (or Lochte) or run as fast as Mo. Even watching the badminton made it look like a completely different sport to the one I’ve played a few times. For that reason, those people are not my sporting inspirations.

I’m a fat, middle aged, single parent who also tries to stay fit and swim a bit. The people that inspire me, the people that I really want to be like are the slightly less fat people that finish the swims 10 or 15 minutes ahead of me (even those that finish 2 hours ahead of me are already considered to be on a different planet). Those are the people I look up to, the people who’s kit I surreptitiously check out, or who’s training programmes I try and copy. So why aren’t they sponsored?

Dear Speedo, please sponsor some more ‘normal’ athletes.

This also links to the reports about the cost of the GB team’s medals – apparently it is just £1.09 per British person per Olympic medal won in Rio. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to pay for that success and well done to all the medalists. But maybe, just maybe, we could just pay 99p each to all the athletes on the medal track and 10p towards greater participation in sport – in building basketball courts in inner cities, in increasing disability access to sport, in hiring more school sports teachers, in preserving playing fields and football pitches etc etc.

The medal success is great and I loved watching the golds, silvers and bronzes rack up over the last couple of weeks, but I’ll have forgotten much of it within 10-15 years (if not sooner). Yet as a nation think how much better off we would be in 10-15 years time if more people were more active. If you believe that sport is a good thing in itself, then surely we want as many people as possible to have the chance to take part, but aside from that – we would increase the pool of potential Olympians if more kids were active and massively reduce the burden on the NHS if people generally led a more active life.

As a major player in one of the major Olympic sports Speedo, you could do something about that right now.

Don’t find another Lochte, instead 5 or 10 ambassadors for your sport and your company and sponsor them.

And if you’re looking for suitable people and want a fat, middle-aged bloke, then yes I am available. But also look at Rach and Hazel too please – completed Ironman event, channel swims between them, they are the real inspiration for everyday folk.

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Walmer Cottage Update

Some of you will have read posts that described Walmer Cottage – a place I rented in Deal, near Dover. You will have noticed that I didn’t like it. You might also have noticed that the posts are no longer on the site. So what happened?

The owner got in touch with me to say that she has been very ill. While I absolutely stand by my posts I don’t want to add to her stress and discomfort, so I have pulled the posts for now.

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Self-catering cottage in Deal, Kent

I recently stayed at Walmer Cottage in Deal, Kent and I wrote this post about it. If you don’t want to click on the link – in summary it was just not clean. Not filthy, filthy, but certainly not clean enough to be offered out to rent to the public.

I’ve been trying to get in touch with the owner to discuss a refund for half the week – I’m not asking for all of my money returned, but as I felt I couldn’t stay longer than a couple of nights I want the unused portion of the week refunded. As you might have expected her customer service skills are as good as her attention to detail on the cleanliness of the place.

Based on that, I therefore think that it’s fair that I should warn as many people as possible about this. Please do repost, retweet, mention in Facebook etc. I’d quite like it if we can make sure that people searching for accommodation online find these posts before the cottage’s own website.

She also runs (or works) here – http://www.keatfarm.co.uk/parks/hawthorn-farm-holiday-park/ – so I’m not sure I’d trust that either.

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Walmer Cottage, Deal

If you’re looking for a place to stay on the south coast (near Dover), whatever you do, don’t stay at Walmer Cottage. I had the misfortune to stay there recently and it was (unfortunately) not a pleasant experience.

Let’s start with the name – it’s not a cottage. It’s actually a rather poky two-bed terraced house. Although to be fair to them, all the other houses in the row of poky terraced houses called themselves cottages too.

The main complaint I had though was with the overall state and cleanliness of the place – or more to the point the lack of cleanliness. Just about every surface downstairs had that sticky, tacky feel to it; while the upstairs smelt dusty and musty. It wouldn’t be fair to say that the place was filthy, but it would be fair to say that it needed a good clean throughout.

As I’ve described it to people – it was the kind of place that if you had a friend that lived there, you’d always sit on the edge of the sofa and never stay long enough for a cup of tea, just in case.

It certainly wasn’t a welcoming and relaxing venue for a week’s break, which is what I’d booked it for.

Just in case you hadn’t caught what I was saying – DO NOT STAY AT WALMER COTTAGE, DEAL.

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