Tag Archives: Crete

Review of the Year

There are lots of these posts going around, so to prove my lack of originality here is mine.


Screenshot 2015-12-15 22.02.08

A subject that took over my blog for a few days in December was the #TieForHelena. An online friend of mine (we’ve never actually met in person) and fellow swimmer was attacked near her house because she was wearing a tie. As a community we wanted to support her and hopefully give her the confidence to wear a tie again. Here’s the original post outlining this: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/tieforhelena/

What actually happened was that it seemed to strike a chord with people and it turned out to be quite big. Here’s the summary post I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/that-went-well/


About to start mile 20 - not happy!

About to start mile 20 – not happy!

There were two main events that were the focus of 2015 for me. The first was back in May and was the 2swim4life event. A simple premise of swimming a mile on the hour, every hour, for 24 hours. I trained hard for it and had great support on the day, here’s the write-up I did: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/2swim4life-summary/. That said, it took me a while to get my focus back again: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/if-found-please-return-to/

Swimming the Channel

Screenshot 2015-08-26 14.08.43One thing that did help me to regain my focus was swimming the channel on behalf of the charity Aspire. This was a channel crossing with a difference as it was to be done in the pool over the course of 12 weeks. I decided to add another element to the challenge and do it in 22 days: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/swimming-the-channel/. I completed it successfully and as you can see I was effusive in my final write-up: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/ive-done-it/.

It’s not too late to sponsor me if you have any spare money lying around after Xmas: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/

I didn’t do a channel relay this year (although there may be one on the cards for 2016), but I did write some of my thoughts on them for aspiring relay swimmers: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/channel-relay-thoughts/

Bala Disaster

2015 wasn’t all good though. I had my first ever DNF at Bala this year – and to make it worse I wasn’t swimming, but kayaking and had to pull my swimmer out of the water (sorry again Rach): https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/shit-shit-shit-shit-shit/. Fortunately we did get a swim in the following day: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/sunday-was-better/.


A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

A picture postcard scene. Photo courtesy of @135notout

I also tried to play cricket again in 2015, for the first time in over 25 years. As you can see from these posts, it wasn’t a complete success: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/crickets-hard-work/; https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/cricket-hmmm/


But at the end of the summer, I did treat myself to a swimming trip to Crete. It was a trip organised by the wonderful Swimtrek and I met some great new swimming friends: https://1000kmstowindermere.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/more-on-crete/. I’d definitely recommend one if you’re thinking about it.

Not a bad 2015 all in all. And I still think that 2016 will be even better.



Filed under Charity, Cycling, Motivation, Running, Swimming

Getting Quicker

Every so often I write a post similar to this (for example this one) – one where I talk about the improvements I’ve made, especially those that are measured by speed. It’s clear that, while I’m not obsessed, it’s obviously an important factor for me.

It’s strange and very much a relative issue. At my local pool I can only think of four other swimmers that swim regularly that are faster than me – 90% of the time that I’m in the pool I’m the quickest one there. In Crete the other week I was in the middle of the middle group, by the end of the week I’d managed to speed up a bit and join those at the head of the middle group. Yet at most BLDSA events I’m in the last two thirds of the event – and the longer the event, the closer to the back that I finish.

I’m always striving to do better in everything I do and as I came to swimming so late (I could always swim, but I only started entering events three years ago) I think I still have a lot of room for improvement. In a group of people the definition of a ‘good’ swimmer is so subjective (I’m the crazy, open water swimmer amongst my pool colleagues, yet I’m the guy at the back in the BLDSA events), so it’s best to use an objective measurement of improvement – and speed / time is that.

Friday morning's swim time

Friday morning’s swim time

On Thursday I went to the pool mainly because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the gym. I was still tired after being out on Tuesday night, so I was planning / expecting to plod out 2km and go home. I only started my stopwatch to help me count laps as I thought I might lose concentration. However I joined two of the aforementioned quicker swimmers in the lane and I didn’t want to hold them up, so I got on with it. I got on with it so much that I did the fastest 1km that I’ve ever recorded – 17 mins and 33 seconds (an average of 1:45 / 100m).

Then the following morning, less than 12 hours after I’d got out of the pool, I was back in for my regular Friday swim. It involves 500m warm-up, 1,000m of drills, 400m of relaxed swimming, then a timed 1km set. I wasn’t expecting much after the previous evening’s unexpected exertions. Yet I matched my new PB to the second!

I put these improvements down to a few factors:

  • The work I’ve been doing with Ray from SwimCanaryWharf has made HUGE improvements to my stroke
  • The week in Crete with SwimTrek gave me a few additional pointers that I’ve worked on since getting back – raising my left hand, taking too long on my breaths, being a ‘lazy’ swimmer (my words)
  • I’m probably at the fittest I’ve been for a while having done a lot of gym work in October
  • I’m enjoying my swimming again

I’m aware that my speed isn’t much compared to some of the faster swimmers I know in real-life and online, but I’m pleased with it as not so long ago I would have been delighted to get below 20mins for 1km. Also, having never been a swimmer as a kid I still don’t tumble turn, so compared to someone swimming at the same pace as me I might be losing as much as a second a lap (20 seconds total) over a tumble turner.

What is important to me though is not how quickly I can do 1km in the pool, it’s all about getting my body used to swimming at a quicker pace, so when I want to go longer my 80-90% speed has improved.

My best time for Windermere is 7 hours and 40 minutes – an average pace of just over 27 minutes per kilometre. Imagine if I could reduce that average to something like 22 mins – well, you don’t have to imagine, it would mean a 6 1/4 hour swim!

So I’m going to keep trying to speed up in the pool, keep celebrating any improvements I get there, but also keep my eye on the bigger picture (and swims).


Filed under Motivation, Swimming

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Last Saturday I got up at 7:30am to go for an early morning swim in 23 degree waters in Crete. Ah, sublime.

This Saturday I got up at a similar time to go for an early morning swim in 12 degrees water in Salford. Hmmm, ridiculous!

Actually, it was lovely. Properly ‘fizzy’ on the skin. Lovely people to chat to (and ‘bob’ with). Great chat (and cake) afterwards. And a nice actual 3-lap swim of 1,200m.

That said, I’m not sure I’ll do it again in November!


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More on Crete

I thought I’d extend a bit on my Crete trip after my short initial post. I’ve also written a post for the SwimTrek website, which should be here (once they publish it).

I flew to Crete on the Saturday, with the intention of meeting fellow swimmers on the Sunday as we shared a transfer from the hotel to the airport (I stayed near the airport on Saturday night). But soon after the flight had set off I heard two people discussing swimming behind me on the plane, and it turned out they were on the same trip. They were self-medicating for flight nerves with some strong medicine that seemed to deliver headaches the following morning!

We transferred to the resort the following morning and arrived to an almost perfect beach resort scene. So bags dumped we were on the beach in swimming suits almost immediately and the first swim of the week took place. To be fair, it was more of a ‘bob’ than a swim, but it was lovely.

The following morning was the start of the trip proper and the official acclimatisation swim saw us split into groups, based on speed. I was in the middle group and the first couple of swims saw me very much in the middle of the middle group.

The groups are a very important part of SwimTrek trip, as by swimming with people of a similar speed they allow the guides to monitor the safety of everyone. They also allow the guides to judge the groups and distances and have everyone finish the swims roughly at the same time.

The swims in Crete are mainly coastal hugging ones and for the first couple of days we would jump on the boat in the morning, find a new bay and then swim along it and the next couple of bays – then back on the boat and back to the hotel. All the while enjoying the glorious sunshine we had been blessed with. What a life!

One of the plan Bs was a trek across the island.

One of the plan Bs was a trek across the island.

Unfortunately the weather changed in the second half of the week – the danger of going at the end of the season. The wind whipped up and although it was mainly dry, it made the swimming conditions much tougher. It also meant that we couldn’t take the boat out as the coastguard wouldn’t let our pilot take passengers out to sea. However, the SwimTreks guides were fantastic and excellent plan Bs meant that as swimmers we a) didn’t have to worry about it; b) still got a great swim in.

From a personal point of view, for some reason I didn’t relax and couldn’t enjoy the first couple of swims. I came out of the water wondering whether I’m just not cut out for sea swimming and whether I should abandon my idea of swimming the Channel. I was genuinely concerned. However, something changed over the last few days and while the conditions got tougher my love of the swims increased dramatically. I loved it.

One of the main changes was that our middle paced group had effectively been split into two and I started at the back of

The great group on the last night.

The great group on the last night.

the quicker group, with the other swimmers generously waiting for me every now and then (although swimming off just as I stopped for a breather, like we used to do with the fat kid on cross country runs at school!). Then a combination of a couple of pieces of advice about my stroke and a realisation from me that I was swimming lazily meant that I could keep up and play (swim) with the cool kids.

All in all I swam just over 21kms in the week – so not a huge amount, but substantial. But most importantly I have made some more great swimming friends.

The week got a thumbs up from me. Photo courtesy of Miriam Zendle.

The week got a thumbs up from me.
Photo courtesy of Miriam Zendle.


Filed under Swimming

The Crete Escape

I’ve just got back from a great week swimming in Crete. It was an organised week, run by SwimTrek (I have done their Long Distance Training week previously) and I LOVED it.

I’ll write a bit more about over the next few days, but what can be better than a week in warm weather (and warm water), lots of swimming, great food and drink, and lovely people? Not much!

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Filed under Swimming