Tag Archives: channel

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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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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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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Two Channel Experiences

Yesterday was a bit of a channel day for me.

It started with me reading this account of a recent channel swim by Jane. It’s funny, I know the writer but not the swimmer, but I still got all emotional reading it. It’s a great post and obviously a huge achievement and a hugely personal one for Tony.

The day then continued with me tracking a very good swimming friend of mine as she set off to “bother the French” just before 8am. I was glued to her tracker and the Facebook updates I could find in between meetings for the whole day. I made sure I could sign into Wifi on the train home to keep checking and as soon as I got home up came the tracker again.

And then after about 13 hours of swimming there was a kink in the tracker that didn’t look good. The next refresh confirmed it – the swimming had stopped and the boat had turned for home.

So near, but yet so far. The track that no-one wants to see.

So near, but yet so far. The track that no-one wants to see.

I was heart broken for her. Yet, as I posted on Facebook, for some reason I had to keep following the tracker until they got back to Folkestone harbour. I didn’t ask them to give me ‘three rings’ to let me know they were safe, but it was a similar feeling – I needed to know they were safe.

But I guess that is a typical channel day – for some it provides a defining moment of glory, for others frustration and disappointment.

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Next stop France…?

I did it.

At the weekend I swam in the 2swim4life event in Guildford and managed to swim 24 miles over 24 hours. Given that before the weekend the most I’d ever swum in one day was the 10.5 miles of Windermere it’s fair to say I’m pretty pleased with that.

Not only was the swimming tough, but the constant getting in and out added a lot of extra psychological toughness to it. In fact, a lot of the channel swimmers at the event said that just swimming non-stop for 20 odd miles is easier.

Let me just repeat that – a lot of people said that swimming the channel is easier. So maybe that’s what I’ll do next…

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Arch to Arc

I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a friend taking on the immense challenge that is the Arch to Arc. As he describes it on his Just Giving page:

“I will attempt the world’s most difficult triathlon – The Arch to Arc.  I will run 87 miles from Marble Arch to Dover. Within 48 hours of beginning that run I will attempt to swim the English Channel solo. On completion of that I will then cycle the 180 miles to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.  It is a huge undertaking: You may think that an 87 mile run is a challenge but it pales into insignificance compared to the enormity of swimming the English Channel.  That is like climbing Everest with a fridge on your back! To date, only 13 people have completed the task –  one more than has stood on the moon. In September I will be the oldest person to attempt the Challenge at the grand old age of 49.”

It’s almost too much to even contemplate for us mere mortals.

Well, the challenge will start this weekend (weather dependent) and so this post is my way of wishing him good luck and pushing you to his Just Giving page – https://www.justgiving.com/PaulParrishArch2Arc/. There will also be a tracker that can be found on the Enduroman homepage and will be activated once Paul starts.

You can read about Paul’s training on his blog here.

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Community

I talk quite a lot about the community of swimmers in my presentations and I mentioned it on the radio the other week too. Over the last few weeks in the disappointment following my Windermere swim I’ve had chance to witness it first hand.

One of the most obvious ways was in the support I received at the end of the swim itself. For many people the fact that I suffered and took longer than I had anticipated made it an even better swim. I received plenty of pats on the backs and hugs and people wanted to congratulate for overcoming it all and completing the swim. At the time I couldn’t really accept it all as I felt like a failure. But the community of swimmers understands that it is actually the swims that you complete even when what feels like your entire being is begging you to quit – those are the ones that take a greater effort and should be recognised as a greater achievement. So apologies to anyone I may have brushed off that evening.

This community and show of support was repeated online. Again I brushed it off at the time, and while I’m still not happy with my swim (or myself), I can now see what people mean.

But even greater than that is the fact that some of the stars of the support are willing to help others out. Soon after the swim I reached out and asked a two-time channel swimmer if I could have some of her time to chat to her about where I went wrong and what I can do to put it right. She responded almost immediately and was very generous with her time and advice.

I do feel better after the swim now and am starting to plan for next year – thanks in part to the great community of swimmers I feel lucky to be part of.

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SwimTrek Summary

This week I’ve been on a SwimTrek trip to Mallorca that involved about 14 hours and just over 36.5km of swimming. It was hard work, but probably the most gratifying thing was that it wasn’t *that* hard.

This is what we all came for: the six-hour swim certificate.

This is what we all came for: the six-hour swim certificate.

The trip is SwimTrek’s Long Distance Swim Training (or LDT for short) trip and is designed for those that want to get a lot of miles in – especially channel swimmers, with a six-hour swim being the focal point as that is the mandatory qualifying swim for a solo channel attempt.

The group I went with contained not only some amazing swimmers, but some lovely people too. It was great to share experiences, learn from those that have already got a successful channel swim under their belts, but also support and work together with swimmers with less experience.

The guides were great, the swims were beautiful, the accommodation good, the organisation second to none and the whole week amazing. And I’m not just saying that because SwimTrek’s General Manager was on our trip and I was trying to persuade her to use my PR agency!

The group of swimmers before we set out for one of the day's trips.

The group of swimmers before we set out for one of the day’s trips.

If you’re tempted by a channel attempt or another long swim I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you put in the effort you’ll be rewarded.

For me it has given me huge confidence for my summer swims. I now have experience of sea swimming for the channel relay (as well as more cold water exposure). But for the other swims I now have the confidence that I can not only complete them (which was my only ambition last time round), but I can actually compete this time. The competition may only be with myself, but I can attack my target times with a sense of purpose and belief.

And not only that, but I now have a group of swimming companions that I can chat to and swap stories and advice with should I ever need a morale boost.

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Viva Espana

I’m very excited – a little nervous – but mainly VERY excited.

Have I mentioned that I’m excited?

The reason? Well, next week I’m going to be swimming in the sea off the island of Mallorca for a week. Not only that, but it’s the first time I’ve got back into the open water this year, I’ll be with a group of like-minded nutters swimmers and we’ll all be being coached by the very qualified team from SwimTrek.

Can you see now why I’m excited? Oh, and it looks a bit like this:

I'll be swimming here next week!

I’ll be swimming here next week!

Of course it will mean A LOT of swimming – especially as most of the group are training up for solo channel attempts, but that which doesn’t kill us eh? (Although I am a little worried that it might kill me… but not a bad way / place to go).

This is all part of my training for my channel relay swim this summer, as well as the other swims I have planned (including Windermere). I’m hoping that I’ll add some endurance to my training that will set me up for the summer nicely; I’m hoping that I’ll get used to sea swimming that will help me on the channel relay and I’m hoping that a few bits of advice and tweaks to my stroke will help be to be more efficient in the water and therefore a bit quicker.

If you’re interested, then you can find out more details here. And I’ll tell you more when I get back.

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Top tenuous

I’m famous.

Well, a bit. Alright a very tiny bit, but still, my name was on the radio this morning on Radio 2’s Chris Evans show. For those of you that don’t listen they do a regular feature called the top tenuous where you have to text in with a tenuous link to a specific topic. Today the topic was the English Channel and I texted:

“I know lots of people that have swum the channel. I haven’t but I’d love to swim a channel relay. The furthest I’ve done is to swim the length of Windermere.”

It was read out amongst some people who had actually swum the channel, but still, fame at last!

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