Tag Archives: Coniston

Windermere 2014

I’m glad I went to watch this year’s swim, but that, combined with a conversation I had the weekend before, has left me wanting to enter again next year.

The key for me is – having swum the distance already – is to try and beat what I did last year. Specifically I want to be aiming for a 7 hour swim (last year I was 7 hours and 42 minutes). I don’t want to get in to the lake if I don’t think that I can get to the end in 7 hours or less.

You can just see some swimmers in the lake below

You can just see some swimmers in the lake below

Given last year’s time, that means I need to be about 45 minutes faster, or about 4 minutes per mile quicker. I think that’s perfectly doable.

So how do I do that, well there are a few things I can get better from the swim itself:

Feeding – last year I swam for 2 hours before taking on any nourishment and even then I didn’t take on enough. So I can get that better – feed every 45 minutes, and think about proper drinks and food, not just water and jelly babies. That should give me more energy at the end of the swim.

Swim quicker – it seems obvious, but I spent a lot of last year’s swim conserving my energy. It was by far the furthest I had ever swum and I wasn’t sure I could do it, so I kept something in reserve so that I could. I had said all year that I was trying to “complete and not compete” and I’m pleased that I did complete. But it meant that I set off very slowly and stayed at that pace throughout the swim. Having a slightly different mindset from the start will help me to be a bit quicker throughout.

Train more – as I said when I got in last year, I’m not sure I could have done much more to prepare for the swim in the time I had, and that’s true. What I can do this time though is give myself more time. I only started training in April last year and only committed to swimming Windermere after swimming Coniston at the end of July. If I start now, then that should give me much more time and give me a much stronger base of fitness and swimming power, allowing me to push a bit harder on the day.

On top of those things though I’ll also need to get myself together now.

Training plan – life can be a bit up and down at times for me – pulled in a few different directions. A strong training plan will put some anchors down and will “force” me to always consider my training.

Advice – I’m not a big believer in having a coach, but I do accept that I could do with some advice on things like my stroke, my diet, my weight training. I intend to find the right people to ask – and ask them!

Physio – I spend a lot of time hunched over a laptop, if I’m then going to do a lot of front crawl it’s not going to do my shoulders and back a whole lot of good. A regular (probably monthly) good physio session will help.

Support – I need to ensure that my family is on board with all of this and that I’m not going off and doing a selfish mission. All of this will be much easier with their support.

I’m not guaranteeing I’ll enter and I’m certainly not guaranteeing that I’ll break 7 hours, but as things stand right now I’m going to give it a damn good try.

Right then, off I go.


Filed under Motivation, Swimming

2013 Challenges

Originally the plan was to swim Windermere next year – so my plans were quite simple: keep swimming. Now, having done it a year early I need to revise those plans, or at least reconsider them.

Windermere was obviously a big thing for me so I’d like to do some significant challenges and not just drift back into my old slobbish ways. That said, training for Windermere took a lot of effort and time and I need to be able to do other things with my time (not least family and work).

The compromise I’ve reached is that I’d like to set myself some big challenges for 2014 and that 2013 will be a bit of a “transition” year. I’m not fully decided on what the 2014 challenges will be yet, but it may be (and please don’t tell anyone just yet) a half ironman triathlon (I’ve done the Olympic distance previously) and another marathon (I’ve done two – London and Dublin – but way back in 2004).

So, to prepare for those, 2013’s challenges look a bit like this:

– More swimming. I want to re-do Bala and Coniston and to beat my times. So I’m aiming for 4hrs 15mins for Bala and sub-3hrs for Coniston. I also want to do the 7 mile Ullswater swim.

– Triathlons – I’d like to do at least three sprint triathlons next year. Luckily for me there are two organised in my village every year (run by One Step Beyond).

– Running – To help me focus on the running a bit more I’ll enter at least two 10k events.

– Cycling – Of a triathlon, it’s the cycling element that I enjoy the least, so rather than ignore it I need to “face the fear”, so I’ll enter at least one long cycling event.

– Three Yorkshire Peaks – on top of all of that I’m going to do the Three Yorkshire Peaks next year. It’s the year I turn 40 and an old mate of mine and I decided a couple of years ago that we’d do something to celebrate this landmark year. What we really wanted was an excuse to have a weekend away drinking beer, but this attempt to prove that we can keep up with the youngsters appeals to us as well.

Hmmm, busy year then 🙂



Filed under Cycling, Running, Swimming

10 Swimming Questions

I saw a version of this post on the Fit for a year blog and I thought I’d blatantly steal it. As part of the stealing I’ve adapted it as well as the original post was about running.

Anyway, here are 10 questions and answers about swimming:

  1. What was your most memorable swim? Although in many ways it should be Windermere it’s actually Coniston earlier in the season. That was the swim that made me realise that I could do this and it persuaded me to enter the Windermere swim.
  2. Three words that describe my swimming. Slow, steady, surprising.
  3. What swimming kit do you use? Trunks, a hat and some goggles. That’s it. And certainly no wetsuit.
  4. Do you have any quirky habits while swimming? Not that I know of, but outside observers may say more about this. I’m always surprised at just how blank my mind goes as I plod along.
  5. When do you swim, morning, midday or evening? The training lake is only open Saturday and Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, so that determines a lot. If I go to the pool, then mainly evenings.
  6. Does the weather stop you swimming? I’ve stopped the open-water swimming for now (although they are thinking of setting up some winter swims at the training lake so I’m looking forward to those – and I’ll probably wear a wetsuit for them!) Of course the weather doesn’t affect pool swimming!
  7. Have you had a swimming injury? While swimming Bala my shoulders were very, very painful. However since then I did quite a lot of upper body strength work. You may not see the difference, but it made a big difference to my shoulders while swimming.
  8. I felt most like a badass swimmer when … to be honest I’m still not sure that I do, but completing Windermere felt pretty good. It’s mainly the fact that so few people have done it.
  9. My next race is … not sure yet, I need to work out my plans for next year and events have stopped for this year.
  10. Swimming goals for 2013. To work on my speed. A lot of that will come from strength work and improving technique, so those two are important too. I want to beat my times for Bala and Coniston and maybe attempt Ullswater – but I’m not sure I’ll do Windermere next year.

So that’s me. What about you?

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Filed under Swimming, Thoughts

Coniston Report

Before I do anything I have to say a massive thank you to my canoeist Lucy HG. Last week at Bala (my first big swim) Jon was excellent as he kept me going and motivated, with just the right amount of coaxing and cajoling. There wasn’t as much of that this time around, firstly because I didn’t need it, but mainly because Lucy spent all of her time keeping the kayak upright.

It was choppy.

A choppy Coniston

Apparently it couldn’t get much choppier without the event being cancelled. Not only that, but the waves were blowing down the course, meaning that the kayaks were getting pushed way beyond the swimmers. Poor old Lucy spent all of her time paddling backwards just to make sure she was going as slow as I was. She did an amazing job, and yet again – thank you.

However, the one thing that Lucy needs to do is be more believable when she tells me that we’re close to the finish. At one stage I took a moment to get my bearings and I heard Lucy say: “You’re doing really well, nearly there.” “Yeah, yeah,” I thought, as according to my calculations I was about a mile away. But a couple of minutes later I heard, “nearly there” again. This time I thought, “leave me alone woman,” so I looked up and was about to say that when Lucy said, “that yellow buoy is the finish.” We were only about 200 metres away, so I put my head down and got on with it.

In the end I finished in 3 hours and 6 seconds.

While I was disappointed not to break 3 hours, I was expecting to be closer to 4 hours, so I was delighted with the time. Last week I did 6 miles in 4 hrs 31 mins (45 mins per mile), this week I did 5.25 miles in 3 hrs (34 mins per mile). Or to put it another way, last week’s winner did it in 2 hrs 39 mins, while this week’s winner (the same person) did it in 1 hr 58 mins. Apart from the fact that those times don’t appear human to me, they were 41 mins quicker, while I was 91 mins quicker.

What caused this? I’m not entirely sure myself, but I suspect it’s a combination of: just getting on with it – I was a bit of a tourist last week and enjoyed the view too much; confidence in the distance – I knew I could do 5.25 miles, after all I swam 6 miles last week; being a bit stronger and swim fitter – again last week’s swim helped; and maybe just getting a bit better.

So, onwards and upwards now.


Read Lucy’s blog about it here – I thought she was a more experienced kayaker 😉


Filed under Swimming