Tag Archives: London

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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Another one inspired by Sally

Swimming with Sally the other week has opened my eyes to the possibilities of London swimming. Normally when I come down for work I write the days off as non-swim days and leave it like that. Chatting to Sally and reading her blog made me realise just how many pools there are in London and how with just a tiny bit of effort I could swim in them.

Last night I was staying near Liverpool St. I nearly decided to go up to Swiss Cottage again as I knew where the pool was and had enjoyed my session, but than I decided that it would a) be cheating (going to a ‘safe’ pool), and b) be an unnecessary trek across London.

A little bit of Googling and I discovered York Hall baths in Bethnal Green, just one tube stop away.

York Hall Baths

York Hall Baths

A grand old building, a well maintained pool area, cool water and three wide lanes that were segregated by speed but also offered plenty of room for over-taking. What more could you want?

The pool was 33m long and my early morning brain couldn’t work out how many lengths I needed to swim to swim a mile, so I just kept going for 80 lengths (2,640m). And it was lovely.

Then I spent most of the post-swim changing time chatting to another guy that was swimming in the pool for the first time. The conversation soon moved on to how much, then how well we swim and so technique was quickly mentioned. As always in these situations I was happy to recommend Swim Canary Wharf. Ray, I think you may have a new customer!

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A one in fifty swim

You’ve heard the expression “one in a million”, well this swim was one if fifty – actually part of Sally Goble’s plan to do 50 swims in 50 days (read more here and here).

As I was in London last night and this morning I asked Sally if I could join her. It’s always great to meet fellow swimmers and I tend not to swim when I come down to London, so I wanted to explore possible pools and get myself more into the habit of swimming down here. As part of Sally’s reason for doing this is social she enthusiastically said yes.

Then of course the realisation hit as Sally suggested meeting at Swiss Cottage at 7am, IN the pool. So that meant a trip across London first thing in the morning to find a pool I’d never been to before at a time when I’m not normally awake!

Too early!

Too early!

I set off in good time as I didn’t want to keep Sally waiting – I say good time, it was of course a ridiculously early time and there was very little good about it. But it did mean that I actually got to the pool a few minutes before 7am and had time to acquaint myself with the new surroundings, get changed and even do a few lengths before Sally arrived.

And then, exactly on time, Sally arrived. Swimmers are a funny breed and although we’ve never met before we had a good chat poolside before we set off to swim our respective miles.

The pool itself was wonderful, clean, cool and with eight busy lanes in use. As I got in there were club swimmers (adults and juniors) swimming in five of the lanes, so just three were left for lane swimmers. It made it busy, but even though the swimmers didn’t obey rule 3 very well it was hard not to get too annoyed as it was just great to see so many swimmers (I certainly tried to avoid breaking rule 5).

The only strange thing about it was that as the club swimming finished the lane swimming lanes were shifted, so from swimming in the medium lane initially (there was no fast lane set up) I was suddenly in the slow lane. Then a few minutes later they opened a fast lane, so I was able to move across there. If you knew to expect it it would have been fine, but seemed strange as an outsider.

In the end I managed 2.3kms – given the extra few lengths I managed before Sally arrived – and it was truly wonderful. I’ve not enjoyed a swim this much for a while, so I was trying to work out why this one was so good. I think it’s because:

I swam – I often say that one of the best things about visiting friends for the weekend is that as you sit and relaxing, drinking tea and reading the papers, on the Sunday you can truly relax as there isn’t a pile of ironing staring at you and you don’t feel guilty about not hoovering. In some senses today’s swim was like that. I just went to swim. I didn’t go to train, to do a set, to hit a distance or time. I just went to swim. And swim is all I did (and chat).

I swam well – not only that, but I swam well. I’m used to how I compare to the seven other people I normally share a lane with in my local pool (quicker than them, about the same as him, not as quick as the guy that gets in for a quick kilometre at 8:20am). Today I was with a new group of people and without racing anyone felt that I held my own in the fast lane.

Breaking the monotony – I’m so used to my local pool that to go for a swim has become almost monotonous and (dare I say it) boring. Today I had to be fully awake and aware of my surroundings just to navigate my way from reception to the pool. It made me swim with my senses fully open and I loved it.

Sally – it was great to meet Sally and a real honour to be allowed to take part in her personal challenge. After the swim we had breakfast and chatted and swapped swimming stories and I have now made another swimming friend.

A great start to the day – but I’m tired now after getting up so early.

The pool in action

The pool in action

Breakfast - why we swim!

Breakfast – why we swim!

Sally & I outside the pool post-swim. Photo stolen from Sally's Facebook page.

Sally & I outside the pool post-swim.
Photo stolen from Sally’s Facebook page.

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London Calling

I used to live in London – but we moved out on purpose. However, I still visit regularly for work – and most of the time it feels like work. I kind of like it, but it feels a bit too big and busy for me and I’m always glad to be going home.

I’ve had a great trip this time though.

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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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I can’t do this anymore

After two long days in London I was so looking forward to my swim this evening. It felt important not just as a way to “wash” London off me, but it was the last swim before I go away next week. So it was important to me that it was a good one.

But it wasn’t.

After only a few minutes I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I nearly stopped. It just wasn’t natural. I had to think about single element of it all, all the time. Nothing flowed. Nothing worked like it should. And I got fed up.

It did get slightly easier, but not much. I didn’t really enjoy any of it and I stopped after just 30 minutes.

I’m hoping it was the long days in London, the lack of sleep, the volume of work that is still to do – all playing on my mind and body and affecting.

I’m hoping it’s NOT actually that I can’t do this anymore, which is what my mind and body were telling me in the pool this evening.

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#Febathon week 2

Half way through the week I almost failed. I nearly ignored Febathon after a tough day in London, but, as this post proves, I sucked it up and embraced the spirit of Febathon.

Slightly ironic then that the very next day (Wednesday) I genuinely forgot and therefore did nothing! I should have planked and done some press ups in my hotel room in London that morning, but clearly not learning from the night before’s almost failure I didn’t and planned to do it that evening. It wasn’t until the following morning that I realised that I’d forgotten. But that aberration then gave me the licence to have another blank day on Thursday.

So two blank days, but here are the full weekly stats (Mon 10th – Sun 16th):

– Planked – 60 seconds
– Press ups – 30
– Swimming – 9.85kms
– Running – 2.81kms
– Cycling – 16.65kms
– #LETJOG14 total – 36.52kms

I’m now 13.6kms ahead of February’s #LETJOG14 total – although still behind in total after falling behind in January.

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London, Nottingham, Edinburgh businesses

I don’t often tweet work stuff, but I’m going to be busy over the next few days with an interesting and exciting project that I wanted to share. And I mainly wanted to share it because if you’re a small business in London, Nottingham or Edinburgh then it might be really valuable to you too (obviously you won’t actually be a business, but you know what I mean).

Over the next three days VisuallySocial is doing a roadshow in those three cities, filming small businesses on behalf of Bizcrowd. The idea is that the businesses will then be showcased across all of Bizcrowd’s channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, website etc) in the run up to Small Business Saturday, which is on the 7th December.

You can read more details (including filming locations) here.

If you’re in a small business and you’re around in those locations this week, then come along and be filmed.

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Swimming in the Thames

I saw this recently in the Evening Standard – it’s an idea for swimming pools in the Thames in central London.

It looks amazing and it would be a great way to enjoy the river, but without having to fight with the boat traffic.

The concept is that a new sewer system will be employed soon, making the river cleaner and so better to swim in. The pool would be separate to the river in an enclosed tank, but it would fill with water from the Thames at high tide.

A while ago I wrote about an idea to create swimming lanes in London’s canals, it would be amazing if some of these ideas came off and we had much more “wild” swimming happening in London.

UPDATE

There is a Twitter account set up to promote this project – you should follow them here. You can also see much more about the project, with some original designs here.

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Social media: that’s the way to do it

Last week in London I was very disappointed with the hotel I was staying in. So when I logged onto to wifi and it automatically sent me to their Facebook page I posted a passive aggressive whine: “Don’t stay here”.

It wasn’t big, it wasn’t clever, but I wasn’t happy, so I posted and then thought nothing of it. Until I got a response from the social media team on Facebook – and it was a great response: it was timely, acknowledged my complaint, didn’t try to argue with me and opened things up for a conversation.

So I replied, we chatted and now, even though I still didn’t enjoy my stay, I’m happier about the whole situation and I’m not going to mention the name of the hotel here.

So well done social media team. You just need to make the hotel staff do their job as well.

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