Tag Archives: BLDSA

The Season has Started

The open water swimming season has started for me – and started with a bit of a bang.

Last Sunday I did a 6-hour lake swim – organised by 100% Swimming. Next Sunday it will be the first BLDSA swim of the year as I’m organising the Colwick Park swim.

The 6-hour swim was something that I’d signed up for ages ok. Back in a time when I thought that I’d be able to get several lake swims in ahead of the swim and it would be a great training swim. Back before we had that horrible cold weather (can we even remember that now we’re having a mini heatwave). In the end, with winter dragging on through into April I managed a very short dip at 9 degrees in Sale with Cathy and a couple of ouchy swims in 12 degrees water at Activities Away.

In the end the weather turned in time to warm the lake up to 14 degrees in time for our swim and so swim we did.

I realised afterwards that I hadn’t swum continuously for longer than an hour at this year and that this was only my fifth ever swim of 6 hours or longer. But at the time I just swam around the half mile course swimming from feed to feed (and huge thanks to my swim buddy Hayley who was in charge of the feeds) until the 6 hours was up.

It was great to turn my winter swimming in the pool into a good open water swim. I’ve done quite a lot of pool work and a lot of gym work over the last few months. I’m still conscious of my bad back – and it is something that hasn’t been ‘fixed’, but is being ‘managed’, but not causing any real problems at the moment – so a lot of gym work has been done to stretch and strengthen the areas that need to be stretchier or stronger.

While in the pool I have been doing ‘sprint’ sets. Of course the term sprint is relative when my swim goals are 10.5 miles, so a sprint set for me has been a timed 1km or 2km swim in the pool. But I have noticed improvements and am feeling good about my swimming at the moment. It was good to test that out in open water.

Then next Sunday (20th May) will be the Colwick Park swim and the start to the BLDSA swimming season.

I am organising this swim again (but for the last year) and there will be a 1km swim – that people can turn up and enter on the day – a 3km swim and a 5km swim. As well as organising it I’m going to swim the 3km event, so that will be nice to ‘race’ in open water after the long training six hour swim.

The season has started. I wonder what it will hold for me.

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Ullswater done, Derwentwater done

Yesterday I swam the 7 mile length of Ullswater with the BLDSA.

It was chilly, windy and all in all a bloody tough swim. It split into three very distinct sections for me.

Part 1 – horrible, cold and really not much fun. I knew I wouldn’t finish and would be getting out “soon” (it was never now, but always “soon”). I took my first feed after an hour and then every 45 minutes from then and the second feed seemed to be an age away. I really didn’t enjoy this section of the swim.

Part 2 – it started soon after he second feed and was probably timed with the sun coming out a bit, but I suddenly felt ‘in the zone’ and really enjoyed it. From being desperate for my second feed to happen I pushed the third one back five minutes as I did t want to break my rhythm. For about two hours I actually enjoyed myself and was swimming well.

Part 3 – was when the shoulders began to ache and the cold got into me a little bit. At this point the end couldn’t come soon enough.

But the end arrived. I touched the buoy and turned round to thank my kayaker. Then burst out laughing.

A wave had caught her against a jetty (that she had positioned herself against so I wouldn’t swim into it) and flipped the kayak over. So she joined me for a swim for the last 50m. I rescued the paddle, hence this photo.


So in summary a cold swim (13.8 degrees), a long swim (7 miles), a tough swim, but almost an enjoyable one.

Today was Derwentwater and a little easier. The water was fractionally warmer (14.3 degrees), the weather was calmer and nicer and it was shorter (5.25 miles). But the main thing that made it easier for me was that I was kayaking and not swimming.

That said I was kayaking for an amazing swimmer and a very fast one. She covered the 5.25 mile course in a little over 2 1/4 hours and swam brilliantly throughout.

As a kayaker it was my job to be there as safety support if needed (I wasn’t), but also guide the route and feed when needed. The speed she swam at meant that I was kept pretty busy with both of those.

She was the first swimmer home, so I’m going to take some credit for that (I’m not really, but it was amazing to watch a proper swimmer).


A good weekend so far.

– – –

Update – I also swam 6km in Coniston on Monday – you know, just for fun!

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2017 Swim Plans

I hardly swam at all in 2016 – a couple of dips as it got colder towards the end of the year, but no events and certainly not the Windermere swim I wanted to do.

Unfortunately I was injured. I had a [probably] non-swimming related back injury and it took me out all summer. It started in the middle of April and by mid-summer I could hardly stand, yet alone swim. It started to clear by the end of September, but too late for any ‘real’ swimming.

But 2017 has started much better. My back feels better, I’m getting my general fitness back and my swim fitness feels good at the moment. So I’m going to state my goals for the year. Here they are (in order of priority):

1 – 2-way Windermere
This was always the main goal for 2017 and another reason why it was so frustrating to be out of action all of last year – 2016 was meant to be a training year.

2 – Channel Relay
I’m really looking forward to doing another relay. I’ll be in a team of four with Rach, Cathy and Jayne and, fingers crossed, we’ll smash it!

3 – 2swim4life
I’ve signed up again to the 24 mile / 24 hour swim in Guildford again. When I did it in 2015 it was the biggest, hardest thing I’ve ever done and it broke me. I’m hoping this year that it will be good mental and physical train fun for the 2-way Windermere swim later in the year.

4 – 500kms
Not an event, but a personal target to swim 500kms over the year. I’d actually like to swim 600kms (50 per month), but I’d be more than happy with 500.  I managed 39.4kms in Jan.

Of course I’ll be swimming in a number of BLDSA events over the year as training swims and I’m also organising two BLDSA swims again this year.

Colwick Park – May 21st
A 1km swim for those wanting a shorter challenge and a 5km swim for those wanting to kick off their summer season with a bang. Both swims allow wetsuits.

Coniston – July 29th/30th
The Vets 3.5m swim (for those over 45) on the Saturday. And the full length 5.25m swim on the Sunday.

Both swims can be entered through Entry Central – just search for BLDSA to see all of our events.

Hopefully I’ll see you in the water in 2017.

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I Has Cold Swimmed

After having had a back bad I’ve had to miss the entire open water swimming season this year. However, my back is slowly starting to get better.

A month ago today I posted that I had swum for the first time in months, well now I can say that yesterday I swam outside for the first time this year. Unfortunately I’ve missed the BLDSA season by a day – but I’m just delighted to get back into the water.

It happened at the final BLDSA event of the year at Lynn Regis. A few people camp over following the swim and although I didn’t swim in the event itself, my son and I joined in with the camping. Some of the campers then get up and go for a quick dip in the water on the Sunday morning. I’d taken my kit along, but wasn’t desperate to join in, until my son said he wanted to get into the water. I wasn’t sure he’d actually swim – I thought he’d paddle for a bit and get out – but he jumped in and had a quick swim (proud dad moment), so I jumped in after him.

Although I didn’t swim far I stayed in after he got out and spent probably around 20 minutes swimbling – it was great.

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Come and swim Coniston

I’m organising a swim in Coniston Water in the Lake District and I’d like to invite you to come along and swim it.

It’s through the BLDSA, so you need to be a member of the organisation – you can enter easily online here: http://bldsa.org.uk/portfolio/bldsa-annual-dinner-agm/. However, membership not only allows you to swim in any other BLDSA event this year, it also supports a voluntary organisation that is dedicated to providing safe and fun events for open water swimmers.

The swim itself is a 5.25mile skins swim that starts at the southern end of the lake and ends when the lake ends at the northern end of the lake. And it’s beautiful. Coniston is one of the nicest lakes to swim in and I promise you’ll love it.

As we are so focussed on you being safe and enjoying your swim we insist on a 1-2-1 kayak to swimmer ratio, so you’ll need to have a kayaker to support you. However, if you’re stuck with that we might be able to find you someone who can help, or if you a body but no boat kayaks can be hired at the lake – just let me know.

So, sign up here – http://www.entrycentral.com/event/100339 – and be quick as entries close tomorrow.

The view back down the lake from the finish.

The view back down the lake from the finish.

The beach at the Bluebird Cafe

The beach at the Bluebird Cafe

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Swimming Season Over

At least it is for me.

I’ve been injured for the last eight weeks or so and although it’s slowly getting better it’s a long way from fixed. Tonight I finally bit the bullet and cancelled my entries to the BLDSA’s Bala swim. I also withdrew from my place in a Channel Relay team.

The Bala swims were to be one of my training weekends for Windermere – the plan was to use events as long distance training opportunities. Without Bala I’m not going to be able to train enough for Windermere, so that’s out for this year.

Bugger!

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BLDSA’s Colwick Park Swim – Report

A sunny day, happy and successful swimmers, the support of some great volunteers – this swim secretary job is easy isn’t it?

The first swim of the BLDSA season was blessed with glorious weather, which off-set any concerns about the early season cold water and nearly 50 swimmers set off for the 5km swim, including some wetsuit swimmers for the first time.

2016-05-22 10.10.45The great conditions were matched by great swimming. The ladies event saw the top three swimmers separated by less than three minutes – Georgia Amison coming in first a couple minutes ahead of Louise Fielding and Wendy Figures. Thomas Roberts won the gents event, with a battle for second that saw Paul Smith finish just 13 seconds ahead of Andrew Ward, who was also the first wetsuit swimmer home.

Swimmers continued to stream home for the next hour, with excellent performances from everyone.

Then once all the 5km swimmers had completed their swims (and everyone had had their bacon butties) we started the 1km swim.

12 swimmers set off for the 1km and it was a great mix of 5km swimmers wanting to add an extra 1km to their day’s swimming, swimmers looking for a 1km challenge, BLDSA regulars and some first timers to our swims. We even had a team medley happening.

Thomas Roberts was again the first swimmer home to take the gents 1km event, while Nic Court, swimming her first BLDSA event managed to scoop the ladies event and first breaststroker home.

Once again, thanks to all the volunteers and I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

2016-05-22 07.39.09

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Wetsuit swimmers needed

It turns out that I’m a glutton for punishment. Not only have I taken on the running of the BLDSA’s Coniston swim, but this afternoon I found myself on Facebook agreeing to help run the Colwick Park swim – my local event and the first BLDSA swim of the year.

I’ve swum it a couple of times and it’s a lovely event and a lovely swim (of course what I’ll find out is that it was so lovely for a swimmer because it was so well organised). As it’s an early one (May 22nd this year) it can be a little chilly, but not too bad and a great way to kick the season off.

What’s different about this one, and actually is new for this year, is that as well as the usual skins swim, there is a wetsuit category too. So no discrimination – all swimmers welcome. And as it’s a circuit swim – 5 laps of a 1km circuit – you don’t need to provide a personal kayak escort, the swim organiser (who I’ve heard is exceedingly handsome!) will organise kayakers to be dotted around the course watching out for all swimmers.

Anyone that’s training up for longer swims in the year, or has a 5km swim on their bucket list, this is a great event for you – however you choose to swim it!

Sign up here – http://www.entrycentral.com/festival/806
Although you need to be a BLDSA member first – http://bldsa.org.uk/swim/membership/

And don’t forget, you can sign up for Coniston too (a gorgeous 5.25m swim) – http://www.entrycentral.com/event/100339

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Kayakers Needed

If you read this blog much you’ll know that my swims are rarely solo affairs. All of the BLDSA point-to-point events I enter require each swimmer to have a support boat with them. Sometimes it’s a kayaker, other times (especially on Windermere) it’s a rowing boat.

KayakThe reason for the support boats is primarily safety – if the swimmer gets into any difficulties then the support boat can be used for physical support and the kayaker or crew can attract the attention of the safety teams. This level of safety is hugely important and is something the BLDSA prides itself on. The other reasons for the support boat are to help with navigation and also feeding.

But what it means is that without that support, we can’t swim.

And as swimmers we are VERY grateful to the people that provide that support.

But it also means that we’re always on the look out for kayakers. Would you fancy it? Or how about anyone you know?

If you’re already competent in a kayak, or possibly even a member of a kayak club, then what it means for you is a nice day out on the water in beautiful scenery. If you’re not yet an experienced kayaker, but fancy it, then maybe you could start to train up for the season as the swimmers are putting in the swimming training.

If this is something that you could help with, then PLEASE do get in touch. I’d like to start a list of people who would be willing to volunteer and then put you in touch with swimmers that need boat support. I’m running the Coniston event for the BLDSA this year (on Sunday 24th July), so I’m particularly focussed on that event, but I’d like to keep an active list for other events too.

This is something separate to the BLDSA and not ‘authorised’ by them, but I’m hopeful that it will help a lot of potential BLDSA swimmers. My goal is to put volunteer kayakers in touch with swimmers in need and allow them to arrange things. Any arrangement would then be between yourselves and be a completely private thing, but it is often the norm for swimmers to pay something towards the kayaker’s costs, so it would be perfectly reasonable for you to ask / expect that.

Please, please, please get in touch if you would be willing to kayak and please, please, please pass this on to anyone you know you is a kayaker or in a kayak club.

From all the swimmers out there – thank you.

– – –

UPDATE

Thanks for all the comments and offers to support so far, please keep them coming. My plan is to get in touch with you all privately over the next few days so that I can create a list that can be shared with swimmers that need a kayaker. Thanks again.

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Triathlon Training Day

I’ve mentioned it before, but this July I’m doing the Isoman half and so I need to train for it. I’m doing the running and the cycling and the swimming (a bit), but one of the most important things will be putting all that together – learning how just to keep going all day and through the different elements.

So for that reason I want to do a couple of ‘triathlon-lite’ training days. All the elements together, but without the distance or intensity, but just to get the body and mind used to process of it all.

The first of those will be on May 22nd and I’m inviting any that wants to join me for any of the four (yes four) vital elements of a triathlon.

1. Swim

The swim will be the BLDSA Colwick Park event – it’s a 5km event near Nottingham. As it’s a lap course (5 x 1km lap) you don’t need a kayaker to support you – just turn up and swim.Most BLDSA events are skins only, but this one does have a wetsuit category, so you can enter that one if you like.

If you want to do the swim, then you’ll need to be a member of the BLDSA, so sign up via Entry Central here.

2. Cycle

We won’t rush the transition, but once everyone is ready (and warm and dry) we’ll cycle from Colwick back to Southwell. We’ll take a slightly longer route and try and do about 30km. Nottinghamshire is fairly flat, so it shouldn’t be too tough a ride – although there is one big hill we could go up depending how we’re feeling.

3. Run

Once back in Southwell we’ll do a c. 10-15km route around the village. For me this isn’t about pure distance, but about getting a decent run in on the back of the other two elements to see how it feels and how I cope. So I don’t want to kill anyone (me especially), but just get a ‘good’ run done.

4. Refuelling

The most important element of any triathlon surely? Depending how many people there are we will either find a local pub that will fill us up with good pub grub and a pint (or two), or we will come back to my flat and I’ll feed us all with copious amounts of bacon sandwiches and cups of tea.

I’m particularly targeting this at my Team Bear friends. Do any of you fancy coming along and joining in any of the four elements of the day?

But of course, it’s not restricted to Team Bear members. If you fancy any of this let me know and it will be great to see you – please get in touch so that I can estimate numbers and plan it a bit more, but do come along.

 

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