Tag Archives: open water swimming

Last Training Swim

On Monday I’m off down to Kent to wait for my channel relay, so this morning’s swim was my last training swim ahead of that.

I did a series of drills (to keep my stroke in good order) and then a gentle 1km to total 2,850m.

However, the best bit about today’s swim was the chat with the other swimmers and letting them know about next week’s channel relay. Having done a relay before (and lots of other open water swimming) next week’s swim, while exciting, doesn’t seem that big a deal. But to the pool swimmers it’s a big challenge and they were excited and very supportive of me. It was lovely to chat to them and to see it through other people’s eyes.

Having said all of that, I am excited and I am looking forward to it. I am aware and respectful of the challenge ahead, but I’m also confident in my training and fitness.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the swim, please go here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-swim

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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.

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

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Please support…

I’m not a great one for using my swims for fundraising. I’m gonna do the swim anyway, so it doesn’t always feel right to ask people to donate to something I enjoy. 

This time is different though. I’m raising money for the MNDA through JustGiving. Here’s what I wrote there:

Someone very, very important to me lost someone very, very important to her to this shi**y disease, so I wanted to do something.

What I’m actually going to do is swim a channel relay (swimming from England to France as part of team) – twice.

The first is a four-person relay which will hopefully take place at the end of August. In it we will swim for an hour each and I expect to get 3 or 4 swims (so four hours of swimming).

The second is a two-person relay at the end of September. For this one we will swim for two hours at a time and again I expect to swim 4 times, however this will mean eight hours of swimming.

If you think that this is something that is worth a few pennies then please donate. Thank you.

– – – 

If you would like to donate, please go to my JustGiving page to do so – http://www.justgiving.com/Patrick-Smith-swim

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Collecting pebbles in Salford

There’s a tradition that if you complete a channel swim you collect a pebble from the beach in France as a memento. This weekend I completed my Aspire Channel Challenge by swimming 1,000 metres at USwim in Salford, so I collected my ‘French’ pebbles in Salford.

screenshot-2016-11-07-18-09-15

Obviously, there’s still time to sponsor me: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/patrick-smith-2016-aspire-channel-swim

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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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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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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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DNDNF

For those that don’t know, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. This post was very nearly about that, but in the end I Did Not Did Not Finish.

It was the last swim of the BLDSA calendar at Kings Lynn and I was looking forward to it – a 4.5km lap swim (3 x 1.5km) and an even more relaxed and friendly atmosphere as it was the last swim.

This is where we swam. Photo courtesy of Philip Yorke (@phil924)

This is where we swam.
Photo courtesy of Philip Yorke (@phil924)

Life stuff got in the way a bit to slightly disrupt plans (poorly son), but soon I was off to Kings Lynn being directed to the wrong venue by the satnav. A slightly panicky dash to the right venue and all was fine. Time to chat, register, chat, get changed, chat, have the briefing, chat and then get in the water. It was chilly, but manageable and soon we were off.

The first part of the lap was down river and directly into the sun. I thought I’d started well and kept to the left-ish side of the river towards where I believed the turning buoy was. I felt strong and was enjoying it.

After a few minutes of swimming I looked up and saw people way over to my right. Ok, I’ll drift that way over the next few minutes, no problem. Next time I looked up and couldn’t see anyone in front of me on my current trajectory, but a group of people to my left. This was starting to get annoying!

I drifted back to the left and tried to swim in the pack so that I didn’t have to sight any more, but even that was tough as I seemed to either swim into someone with one stroke and then be 5 metres away (and out of easy eyesight) with the next stroke. The water wasn’t very clear, so there was no underwater sighting possible and I just struggle to sight with my poor eysight – it takes me two or three consecutive sighting strokes to be able to gather enough information to be sure of anything.

Fortunately I was able to stick with this small group and they led me to the turning buoy – they became involuntary Labradors!

Swimming the other way was a bit easier as it wasn’t into the sun, but boy did it take a long time. I made the mistake of looking at my watch and by the time I would have expected to have completed a full lap I wasn’t even 2/3rds done. What was wrong with me? I finally completed the first lap and set off for the second and the group was now just me and a female swimmer a couple of metres away.

The sighting on the second lap was a little easier – as much to do with familiarity as anything else, but the pace still felt veeerrrry slooooooow. And I wasn’t enjoying it.

I wasn’t not enjoying it either, but it just wasn’t ‘fun’. I was starting to feel the cold a bit, again, nothing unmanageable, but it was clearly chilly; I was getting fed up of swimming in a zig zag pattern; my pace was really annoying me; and to be perfectly honest I’d lost the desire. The actual swimming bit was nice, it was the whole ‘event’ around it that I’d had enough of.

And actually I realised that I had had enough – and you know what, I could stop. So I spent the next few minutes exploring that decision. How would it feel to have a DNF? It wouldn’t be because of injury, or hypothermia, or the conditions, it would be because I just didn’t feel like carrying on. And as I thought about it, I realised that that is probably the best reason for a DNF – I was taking care of myself instead of pushing when it wasn’t there. I was saving myself physically and mentally for future challenges and keeping the passion intact. Yep, I could cope with a DNF.

As I neared the end of the second lap and my planned stopping point two concerns now reared their heads. 1) I needed to pee – and I needed to do it now and in the water so I could get up and walk out with no worries about it happening then!; 2) I didn’t want me stopping to put off the woman I was swimming with. Fortunately these two coincided as I slowed down to pee, she got just in front.

Right there’s the buoy. I’m not going to call my number out. I’m just going to make the throat slitting gesture and swim to the bank. A DNF, but I can live with it.

Wait! What’s that he’s saying? I listened closely as information was being relayed to the woman in front – “A shorter lap for the final one… Don’t do that extra loop there…” And for some reason I carried on.

I actually enjoyed the third lap. I almost knew where I was going. I picked up my pace. And it was almost fun again.

And it turns out I wasn’t that slow after all – the course, even with the shorter final lap, was 7km and not 4.5km!

Although it was that cold as I discovered as I joined Margaret, my aunt, my Windermere support crew x2 and currently a slow breaststroke swimmer, for the final section of her swim. Swimming at a pace that was unnaturally slow for me meant that the cold really got in and I was quite shivery for a while. But nothing two cups of tea and three delicious slices of cake (thank to whoever made that) couldn’t fix.

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Even though it turned out to be 7km, I’m only counting it as 1 mile towards my Aspire Challenge. 22 miles, in 22 days, in 22 venues – you can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/patrickJPRaspire/.

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So, in the end I Did Not Did Not Finish and even got a certificate

 

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