Tag Archives: Aspire

Collecting pebbles in Salford

There’s a tradition that if you complete a channel swim you collect a pebble from the beach in France as a memento. This weekend I completed my Aspire Channel Challenge by swimming 1,000 metres at USwim in Salford, so I collected my ‘French’ pebbles in Salford.

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Obviously, there’s still time to sponsor me: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim

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Nearly reached France

Today was going to be the day that I completed my channel swim and reached France. It didn’t quite happen.

It wasn’t because the water was too cold and I was suffering with hypothermia, it wasn’t because the currents took me and I wasn’t strong enough to keep swimming for another 3 or 4 hours, it wasn’t because I was exhausted and just couldn’t go on.

No, for me it was because I decided to stand around and chat instead.

You see, my channel swim isn’t in the actual channel, but is part of the Aspire Channel Challenge where people swim the equivalent distance (22 miles) in their local pool. I have 1/2 a mile left to go.

screenshot-2016-11-02-09-52-40

Although I didn’t reach France, I did have some lovely chats.

Firstly I chatted to Ali – like me she is doing the Aspire Challenge. I first spotted her great lap counting device (a stick, with wooden dominoes with a hole drilled into the middle so they could be added or taken off the stick as required) and so I commented on it and we got chatting.

Ali is the perfect example of who the Aspire Channel Challenge is for. She hasn’t swum for a few years (although seemed to have a great stroke), so is using the challenge as a personal motivation to get back into the pool. However on top of that she has a friend that was supported by Aspire a few years ago, so she’s also raising money to repay Aspire’s support.

The challenge is about fundraising and I’m not normally one to ask, but even if you don’t want to ‘reward’ my swimming, then please think of people like Ali’s friend and if you can spare a few pounds that would be great – please sponsor me here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim.

As well as Ali, I chatted to Scott about open water swimming and front crawl technique and then even had a work chat sat in the sauna!

So, although I didn’t reach France it was a great morning in the pool. And if I can stay in the water long enough I’ll reach France during my cold water dip in Salford Quays on Saturday morning.

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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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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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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: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

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It’s not too late…

… to sponsor me for the Aspire Channel Swim.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43The challenge, as established by Aspire, was to swim the English Channel (22 miles) in your own pool. To make it more ‘fun’ I decided to swim a mile a day for 22 days in as many different venues as possible. In the end I managed 20 different venues as I had to use my local pool three times due to my son being ill for a couple of days and not having the time to travel anywhere.

– Read about my first mile here.

However, not all of those venues were pools as I managed at least two different open water venues.

For most of the days of this challenge I swam a bit more than a mile, in fact I averaged 2kms per day over the 22 days, but I only counted a mile towards my target. And of course I’ve continued to swim – just not every day. In fact since the start of the challenge I’ve swum about 41 miles – so I’ve nearly completed my return crossing of the channel too.

The challenge isn’t over until December 7th and many people are still swimming and fundraising hard. If you know anyone swimming for Aspire, please support them in any way you can – whether it’s verbal encouragement, a piece of cake or financial support through sponsorship.

And it’s not too late to sponsor me – www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

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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.

– – –

You can still sponsor me here – www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire

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The best and the worst so far

I’m only five miles into the Aspire Channel Challenge so far, but the last two days have seen the best and worst swims so far.

The Best

After just one of those days at work yesterday – you know the sort, nothing bad, but it just felt like hard work – I went to the Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton, about 15 minutes from the office.

As I arrived just before 7pm the place was heaving. The car park was so full people were parking (neatly and sensibly) in spaces next to the marked bays. Lots of kids were leaving the centre having done club sessions of one sort or another and it just look like a hive of positive activity. Already I felt cheered.

Lane swimming was just an hour from 7-8pm and as it turned out it was only two lanes with aqua aerobics sharing the pool. In my local pool I’d have tutted at this and already planned just how much my workout would be affected, but I put on a brave face and went for it anyway. There were about 20 people in the aqua aerobics class and about another 10 sharing the swimming lanes. The swim didn’t start well as just as was pushing off for my second lap a very slow swimmer set off directly in front of me and forced me into very slow breaststroke – despite me choosing the lane marked as the fast one of the two.

But after that it got much better. It didn’t get any less busy, but the stars seemed to align. I swam well, people were respectful, the water was lovely and it was, all in all, a great experience. I got out MUCH happier than when I got in.

Lammas Leisure Centre

Lammas Leisure Centre

The Worst

This morning I had to use one of my ‘local pool joker cards’ as my son isn’t very well. I had planned a swim at a new pool in Nottingham, but instead needed to be quick and back to work from home supervising his sitting on the sofa watching TV.

I thought that I was a creature of habit and that I’d love to be back in my ‘home‘ pool. But not today.

Nothing was really wrong and no-one is to blame, but this morning just felt like a bit of a slog. I’ll be honest, if this is the worst of the 22 swims then I’ll be doing really well, but it’s the worst so far.

And I even forget to take a selfie afterwards.

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Aspire miles 2 and 3

Miles two and three were actually only about 10 hours apart.

Mile two was a late night session last night at Southglade Leisure Centre. A nice modern pool with about 6 lanes marked out. Although they weren’t marked for speed there was one lane with a single, quickish front crawler in when I got there, so I joined him. The pool was shallow at one end and even shallower at the other, with no real deep end. But it was nice, clean and I had a lovely evening swim.

Southglade last night

Southglade last night

Mile three was early this morning at Rushcliffe Leisure Centre. I used to live round the corner from this centre and this is where I started swimming again, although only as occasional exercise and long before I decided to swim in open water. I had remembered that it was only a 20m pool, but I hadn’t remembered how inappropriate it was for lane swimming. The swimming part of the pool is joined onto a ‘fun’ part and is separated by a lane rope. On top of that it’s curved on the sides and only has three lanes marked. The people in my lane (nominally the fast lane) seemed to have chosen it as it was the widest, rather than their swimming speed. So 80 lengths and a lot of dodging of slow breaststrokers.

I’m glad I don’t have to use this pool as a regular training pool, but it’s funny how times change. As I was swimming I remembered how I came home from a previous swim there delighted that I had swum 40 lengths (800m) non stop!

Rushcliffe this morning

Rushcliffe this morning

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Aspire Swim in the Paper

As I’ve mentioned not only am I a swimmer for the Aspire Channel Challenge, but my PR agency Joshua PR is also doing a bit of work for them.

The two worlds collided yesterday as Patrick the PR person arrange for Patrick the swimmer to have his photo taken by the Nottingham Evening Post.

This is the photo:

Screenshot 2015-09-15 11.45.20

And here’s the full article: Good Deeds Notts: Patrick to ‘swim’ English Channel in aid of charity

And please don’t forget to sponsor me on JustGiving.

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