English Channel Swim 4.8.13: The stats


The route!!!

Date: Sunday 4th August 2013

Boat: Pathfinder

Pilot: Eric Hartley

Boat crew: Gary Watkins

CSA observer: Keith Oiller

Crew: Jenny Zwijnen, Llyr Hughes, Rachel Crossley, Martin Greenwood

Start time: 8:15am

Start location: Dover marine – Samphire Hoe

Finish time: 10:20pm

Finish location: Sand beach 0.5 mile NW of Wissant

Length of swim: 14 hours and 5 minutes

Distance covered during swim: 31.65 miles / 50,640 metres

High tide: 10:30am at 5.93 metres

Strongest wind: 12 knots

Biggest waves: 3ft and breaking

Water temperature: 16 – 17 degrees

Air temperature: 15 – 21 degrees

Feed times: After the first hour and then every half hour after that, reduced to 20 minutes for the last hour

Longest distance covered in an hour: 3.74 miles / 5,984 metres

Shortest distance covered in an hour: 1.38 miles / 2,204 metres

Reached mid-Channel in: 6 hours and 35 minutes

Support swimmers:  Jenny in for one hour after 7 hours, Llyr in for 30 minutes after 9 hours, Martin in for 30 minutes after 10.5 hours, Rachel in for 30 minutes after 12 hours and Jenny in to finish the swim

Lowest strokes per minute: 54

Highest strokes per minute: 65

Average strokes per minute: 58 – 60

Total number of strokes taken: 50,700

Breathing: Bilateral, 2,3,2,3 until the last hour or so and then to the right



Don’t sponsor me…

Got to love waking up covered in wonderful, jelly fish induced rashes and a few inches of skin missing on your neck. Ready to do another few hours in the harbour.


Seriously people, this has to be worth some sponsorhip ūüėČ


Yesterday, during the first ‘5 mile that was 7 mile’ swim and I felt horrendous and was questioning how on earth I could continue, I remembered that my swim hat said on it “Cancer Sucks” and I thought about all the incredible people I know, and have been told about, who have fought this disease.

And I gave myself a ‘metaphorical, slap in the chops and told myself to HTFU!!

Yes I was cold, tired, aching all over, in pain, bit confused, sick, freezing, headache, stung, salt mouth etc etc BUT this was all induced by me being lucky enough to take part in a sport I pove and I choose to do.

Cancer isn’t a choice and neither are the horrendous symptoms or side effects of the treatment.

People diagnosed with Cancer can’t ‘get out the water’ when they want to, I could have done.

I didn’t.

I decided to take my lead from those who have inspired me. I put a smile on my face and I kept going. Because that’s the only choice. Really. You smile. Keep moving forward. And hope that things will get better.

So, don’t sponsor me. I’m not doing anything special but I’m inspired by people who are. Please donate for them and so that Cancer Research UK can turn their hope into reality.

Ivan Percival 4 mile race



Saturday was the first ‘race’ of the year for me. I had been looking forward to the Ivan Percival for a while, as a test of how my training and increased speed had been going… it’s alright improving my times for 400m in the pool but could I transfer that to the Open Water over longer distances???

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The swim was a daunting prospect as 4 miles would be the furthest I had covered in Open Water, since last season, due to the cold water temperatures we are still experiencing. ¬†However, continuing my training outside through winter has helped me to acclimatise quicker this season, and I knew the distance itself wouldn’t be a problem, if I could keep warm enough.

Arriving to hear the ‘King of the Channel’ saying… There are three types of water… Freezing, Bearable and Nice… and this is FREEZING!… I wondered just how cold freezing was?? ¬†(Because when you’re winter swimming… freezing means freezing… and the water didn’t look sub zero!)

It turns out freezing meant about 12 degrees, averaged out over the whole course. ¬†The lovely warmer sheltered waters of the start buoy were around 13 degrees… the choppy, jelly fish flooded waters of the majority of the swim were more like 11 and below, while the section around the furthest turn buoy was a little warmer at 12 degrees. ¬†Chilly for swimming more than a couple of miles in.

However, I was really pleased to find I enjoyed the water temperature throughout the swim and felt comfortable for each of the 4 miles. ¬†No wandering little fingers. ¬†No claw hands. No brain freeze. And no shakes when I got out. In fact, I floated around in the water at the end to ‘cool off’ a little, before getting out and chatting in my costume and then just putting a skirt, flip flops and t-shirt on. ¬†The sun helped hugely with this… although I have to say the boys were wrapped up warm and shivering.

I usually think of myself as a ‘slow’ ‘plodder’ but I have put a lot of effort in, over the winter, to increase my speed and ability to maintain a quicker pace for longer distances. ¬†I therefore decided to try and push myself with this swim, rather than hold back. ¬†There were a few glitches on the way… goggles steaming up almost instantly and therefore impairing visibility massively, being punch in the face by an oncoming swimmer (on the complete wrong side of the course) at the start of the third mile – leading to a very swollen, bruised and split lip, jellyfish a plenty, punching a kayak (that I couldn’t see because of the goggles) and the particularly choppy water from the strong winds – which would normally be ok because it makes one way hard but the other way easier… but I turned at one end, after a hard 800m, to find the swim just as hard coming back?*!

However, I was really pleased to round the buoy at the end of my fourth one mile lap to find I was the first female back and third overall, in a time of 1:46.  I was really pleased to be within 5 minutes of the incredible Steve Jones (1:41) and Ned Dennison.

It was a fantastic swim and I must thank Joseph Coy and City of Liverpool Swim Club for organising the event, all of the wonderful kayakers for their safety cover and support, the other swimmers for their camaraderie and everyone who was involved in making the swim such a success… especially the person that remembered to book the sun!

Definitely recommend it to all for next year… there is a 1 mile and 2 mile event for those wanting less than 4 miles too.

2swim4life: The good, the bad and the ugly bits: From a swimmer’s perspective

A week on from ‘that’ swim and this is going to be a LONG blog. Lots to reflect on and some learning to share. Hopefully some of this will be useful or interesting for you! ¬†I am a pretty stubborn person and tend to make my own mistakes to learn from, however, when it comes to open water swimming (and in particular humungous challenges like 2swim4life that are completely out of my realm of prior experience) I am very much soaking up the advice of those wiser than myself and making a habit of learning from (without repeating) their mistakes. ¬†I therefore spent a fair bit of time before the 26th April speaking with others who had done 24 hour swims and reading blogs that were available. ¬†I have no doubt that things I learnt from others had a massive impact on me being prepared (and as a result able) to complete this challenge.

Seen as I was able to learn so much, to help me, from other people’s blogs before the swim, I felt it was important that I then updated my blog after the swim to hopefully help anyone thinking of taking on this challenge for 2015 (2swim4life is a bi-annual event). ¬†This blog includes:

  1. My ‘story‘ of the swim
  2. Some information you may find useful: I have tried to organise this into sections so you can just read the bits that might be useful to you.
  3. The ‘Stats‘ from my swim (in a table) mile times, stroke rate etc. ¬†For the ‘geeks’ amongst us.
  4. Photo story of the swim (These were all posted by Llyr during the swim, but are in one place here.)

This was a huge milestone event for me. ¬†A good ‘practise’ run for the upcoming Channel solo in August, with some obvious differences. ¬†The getting in and out made it a complete unknown to me, but I was determined that I would not be leaving Guildford without having done the full 24 miles. ¬†This determination kept me going and I believed, in myself and that I could do it. ¬†I think the winter swimming I had done really helped with the cold, as my body had learnt to recover quickly and when the air temp was still bitter. ¬†I didn’t get bad shakes and only had one mile where I really worried the cold may get the better or me. ¬†This was Mile 17 when I felt the cold inside my stomach and in my back. This is the same feeling I got doing my two-way Windermere (which ended with me being pulled unconscious from the water, a mile from the end and after twelve hours in the water). ¬†This worried me, as I did not want the cold to stop my 24 miles. ¬†Luckily I managed to stay focused and take action to bring my core temperature back up when I finished the mile (hot tub, warmer tent, very hot drink… all things I hadn’t used in the previous miles so they made a big difference). ¬† The time out of the water between miles 7 and 8 were very very tough too. Which was hard because this was so early on in the swim. ¬†I had made (what I now believe to be) a mistake, going to lie down in our tent to get some rest. This just made my body stop producing much needed extra heat and zapped me. Waking back up, shivering, was horrible. ¬†From that mile on we decided not to sleep and to stay awake and moving to keep warm. ¬†The warmth was more important than the sleep.

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this challenge (apart from between miles 7 and 8, Mile 17 and Miles 21, 22 and 23). I really did love it. The atmosphere. The¬†camaraderie.¬† The other swimmers. ¬†The joy at finishing each mile. ¬†It made me laugh, every single mile of the 24, that the people taking part were pretty much all endurance swimmers, and by definition take quite a while to warm up in a swim… ie more than a mile… but were only swimming a mile at a time. I found that by length 28 I was loving it and really into my stroke and then would realise that I only had 4 left to go. ¬†I loved length 28 of every mile. ¬†I distinctly remember saying (on more than one¬†occasion) to LLyr, make sure you’re getting across in the blog how hard this is, that I am suffering, that it is cold and I am tired, that it is taking a lot to make me get back in and start every mile and to specifically remind me of these feelings if I ever suggested to him doing the event again. ¬†Funnily enough, now, despite knowing that I was saying those things, I would love to do 2swim4life again and I can only really remember enjoying it and the sheer joy coming down length 768 to finish!!

I am very proud of this swim.  I will be buying a bright yellow 2swim4life 2013 hoody and wearing it with a big smile on my face. Massive congratulations to everyone who took part, whatever the distance you covered.

24 miles… 38,400m… 768 lengths… 24 hours… 1,440 minutes… 16 costumes… 5 minutes to go ūüôā

Hotel: We stayed at the Premier Inn Guildford. It was literally over the road from the Lido, which was helpful in the morning, so could just walk over with all the kit. ¬†I had booked for Thursday and Friday evenings. ¬†Obviously I wasn’t planning on sleeping in the hotel at all on Friday evening, but check-out isn’t until 12 noon on the Saturday which was brilliant. ¬†At 8:30am, after finishing Mile 24, I went straight back to the room, had an amazing hot shower (which I did actually fall asleep in) and then crawled into bed until 11:55am! ¬†LLyr found the hotel helpful too, as a couple of times he popped over to get himself a coffee (while I was swimming) and he also brought over the warm, dry towels from our room when the going got really tough for the last few miles.

Lido: This is such a great place to swim. ¬†There were clean changing cubicles (not that I used them at all) and toilets – which ALWAYS had toilet roll. ¬†Thank you SO much to whoever kept those topped up throughout the swim. ¬†There is lovely grass areas at both ends of the pool, where we all pitched our tents, of varying sizes, and where there was a ‘heated marquee’ and hot tub. ¬†Sounds daft now but it is worth noting where you tent is pitched in relation to the toilets, as the female bathrooms were at the opposite end of the lido to the tents, and this extra walk really does make a difference in sub zero air temperatures. ¬†The lido is a glorious 50 metres (so each mile is 32 lengths) and there is great lighting during the evening. ¬†There are taps with drinking water, which we used for my feeds, and there was a table set up with urns of hot water (which we also used for my feeds) although these didn’t get warm enough until later on in the afternoon.

Feeding: I used the same feeding routine that I have trialled with continuous swims. ie having hot carbohydrate drink every hour and something solid on the hour. ¬†(Although I only had the drink on the hour too, when I was out of the water.) Normally, when I am swimming, the solids I have are Jelly Babies, Jaffa cakes, Miky Ways, Mini Rolls, Penguins etc. I LOVE these things on my big swims, and had no problems with them on my 12 hour swim last year. However, I had not anticipated the effect that getting in and out would have on my feeding. I absolutely did not want the sweet foods that I had brought. A friend had recommended the small pots of rice pudding, which were good, and little pots of jelly with fruit in. What I did want to eat (unfortunately for him) was all the food Llyr had brought to eat while he was Buddying. OOOPS! Cup-a-Soups and sachets of pasta that can be made in a mug with hot water, these were fantastic at reviving me and giving me a boost. ¬†I didn’t have anything with electrolytes in, after some advice with Brynn about the bad effect they had on him during 2swim4life two years ago. ¬† I was forcing myself to eat and drink every hour when I got out of the water. ¬†I believe this added to me feeling ill and really suffering with my stomach towards the end. ¬†If I did this event again I would try to have something but mainly only eat when I wanted to each something and not force it down.

Routine: I found routine to be essential. ¬†What worked for me was finishing the mile and taking off wet costume, getting dry, putting on a dry costume, layering thin clothes and then my North Face Jacket and Dry Robe Advance, having a hot drink (and I mean hot) and then chatting with people / walking around the outside of the pool. There are additional things available to help try and warm you up after each swim, like the hot tub, hot water bottles and the heated tent. I didn’t use these things until I absolutely had to, and then only introduced one at a time. ¬†This meant that, when the hypothermia started to really kick in, I still had something left in my arsenal to throw at it and get my core temp back up. ¬†Up until Mile 17 I had not been in the hot tub and was changing outside. ¬†From Mile 20 onwards I also found it helpful to keep my swimming hat on, between swims, and put my wooly hat over the top of this. After Mile 7 I was very tired and so tried to have a rest in our tent, this turned out to be a bad idea. ¬†The resting and¬†lying¬†down / stopping meant I wasn’t generating anymore body heat and by the end of that time I was shaking badly and struggled to wake back up to get in the water. ¬†From that point on we decided I would not lie down or attempt to ‘rest’. ¬†We were then both awake for the rest of the hours and used walking to get my body going between the mile swims. This worked really well! From mile 17 onwards I would get in the hot tub, just for two minutes, straight after each swim, and then follow the same routine as before, but going in the heated tent to change. ¬†I would then come out of the tent and walk around, until mile 20 when I started staying in the tent because I was really suffering and from mile 21 added a hot water bottle to give some extra warmth. ¬†I still didn’t sit down though (apart from for a few minutes at a time) and stood up in the tent.

Stroke rate: My Buddy took my stroke rate in the first and second half of each mile. ¬†This was really useful for me to be aware of picking it back up if it was dropping, or rein it in if I was having a ‘mad half hour’. ¬†It was a good indicator that I was ok each mile.

Lanes: There are ten lanes across the lido. ¬†Each lane has 5 swimmers that start their mile on the o’clock and a second wave that start their mile at half past each hour. ¬†You are given a lane to start the swim in, however, you do not have to stay in this lane. ¬†The lanes are ‘streamed’ according to times to swim a mile, Lane 10 being the lane that takes the longest and Lane 1 the quickest swimmers. ¬†You can move up / down a lane as you need to. ¬†I had massively overestimated how long each mile would take me and so moved up a couple of lanes initially. ¬†It really helped to find a lane where we were all swimming at a similar pace and could draft / encourage when needed, and weren’t over taking or being over taken during the mile.

Lane Buddies: It was definitely an advantage to make friends with the people in the lane. There was one guy in particular who I swam with in the lane, we were well paced with each other and it made a massive difference to arrive at the pool side, with a few seconds to go, and see a familiar face and share a smile before you took the plunge for another mile.

Challenges: The biggest challenge was getting in and out, because of the sheer bitterness of the air temperature and also the time this added to the swim. After mile 20 I was celebrating (in my head) only have 4 miles to go… but then realised this was still another 4 hours. A long time! The getting in and out also really affected my eating, far more than I thought it would. ¬†A little talked about ‘challenge’ was the unbelievably frequent toilet trips. I have never needed to wee so much in my entire life, something which everyone I spoke to there commented on. ¬†I think the getting in and out, and the cold, also really added to this. ¬†It sounds daft but having to fit a toilet trip in to your rest time was a real pain, and if you were desperate as soon as you got out of the water this could add precious minutes on to the time before you could get dry and warm. ¬†Another challenge for me was worrying about my Buddy. ¬†He was really suffering in the later hours too, freezing, hungry, exhausted, in physical pain, very sore back, unable to walk properly, couldn’t speak, headache, poorly tummy. ¬†It wasn’t nice to see someone, who has made such a big sacrifice to help you, suffering in this way. ¬† The only time I genuinely thought about stopping was when I could see how much he was suffering and wanted to stop to put him out of his misery. ¬†Fortunately I realised I had to be selfish, and that he would be ok, and ploughed on. ¬†But this was an extra challenge.

Buddy: Llyr was my hero that day. He made the swim possible for me and it was very much a team event.  He is going t to write a blog from his perspective, as the Buddies are the unheard wonder people of the event and there is a lot to be learned from them sharing their perspective too.  I am forever in debt to the sacrifice he made for me and really do appreciate it.  I had to finish the swim so that his efforts had not been in vain.

Recovery: I wish I had taken a recovery drink / shake / protein powder to have when I finished Mile 24 (or an hour or so after). ¬†This would have helped. ¬†As I was in so much pain with my stomach etc I went straight back to the hotel, showered to warm my bones and then slept for a few hours. ¬†After check out we went to my Sisters in London. ¬†I was still in a lot of pain through the afternoon and realised that this was being made worse by the fact I hadn’t eaten. ¬†We had pizza and chips and it was the best thing I have ever tasted! My stomach pain really eased after this. ¬†The temptation was to sleep all day but I didn’t want to reset my body clock into permanently nocturnal so we made ourselves stay awake (apart from the odd hour of nap) and then just got an early night. ¬†I was amazed to feel as well as I did on Sunday. I had not pain and had full movement of my arms etc. I didn’t need any pain killers etc which I was pleased about. ¬†We travelled back to Manchester and I did a VERY gentle swim at the Aquatics. ¬†It was 500m tops, just to stretch out my arms and muscles. And I did feel better for it. Another early night meant I felt pretty good sleep wise in the morning. ¬†Monday was another rest day ie no swimming, but Tuesday I did a 3km training session. ¬†Wednesday was another rest day, with a sports massage (ouch!!), followed by a 3km outdoor swim Thursday and a 3km pool session Friday. ¬†Saturday I did 2km outdoors and Sunday has been a rest day. ¬†From Monday I will start back to my proper training programme again.

Top Tips: Definitely wear ear plugs, they really do help with the cold and feeling dizzy. ¬†Lovely Sarah had battery operated fairy lights around her tent for the dark hours, these were great for finding our tents and also provided some comfort. I had sun cream and planned to use it / was reminded to, but somehow forgot. ¬†USE suncream. Whether it seems to be sunny (it really didn’t!) or not. ¬†My face was very badly burnt the sun cream would have been a useful barrier to protect skin, all over my body, from the chlorine in the water and the frost bite / bitter cold air. Have a really clear plan with your Buddy for your routine. ¬†I had typed this out as a checklist, which my Buddy ticked off for each hour. This helped give us something to focus on and made sure we didn’t forget anything when things got bleary and bleak in the small hours. ¬†DON’T count the miles. ¬†I didn’t particularly keep track of my miles (apart from when being reminded by my Buddy of reaching mile stones). ¬†I tried not to think of how many I had done or how many I had left to go. When I did this would generally just panic me at the sheer vastness of the challenge and miles ahead. ¬†Each time I though, it’s just one mile. I can swim one mile. ¬†Each mile at a time and thought about on its own.

Unexpected: I realised that my brain can do two things at once… one part of my brain was counting each of the 32 lengths for every mile (checked by my Buddy for most miles, so I knew it was accurate) and the other part doing what it normally does during swims… thinking… singing… musing… drifting off… ¬†The effect on my skin was very unexpected and very unpleasant. ¬†A combination of the constant repetition of wet / dry, the sun, chlorine, frost bite, cold wind and tiredness made my skin pretty painful the next day (and during the swim). ¬†It has all peeled, was scaly and tough, and just in really bad shape after the swim. A week of constant moisturising. ¬†I think showering in between miles would have helped this, and also using a layer of suncream / baby oil / moisturiser before and after each mile. ¬†Another very unpleasant side effect was the impact on my lungs / chest. ¬†I didn’t notice this during the swim / event but the next day breathing was very difficult and painful. ¬†I could only take shallow breaths and my throat / lungs felt burnt (again probably from the chlorine and very cold air). ¬†After the couple of days rest it was fine again.

Pleasant: Some really pleasant memories I have from the swim are the feeling of the water lapping across my back. ¬†When the air temperature really plummeted at night the water was heaven. ¬†It felt like a bath to get into for each mile (as, while not warm, it was significantly warmer than the air) and the feel of the water washing the cold air off my back with each stroke was delightful. ¬† I found swimming through the dark really comforting. It was peaceful and magical. ¬†There was eerie steam coming off the water that was pretty unique to swim through (although must have been a nightmare for the lifeguards as you couldn’t see the swimmer in front of you or the end of the pool from the water, never mind looking down from the side). ¬†The lights were beautiful and the moon was glorious.

Thank you: ¬†Massive massive massive thank you to Lesley for organising, to the Life guards for tirelessly volunteering. To the wonderful people topping up the hot water and toilet roll. ¬†For the ‘5 minutes’ shout before each mile as about to start. ¬†Thank you to the sponsors and people who helped make the flood lights, heated tent and hot tub happen. Unending thanks to the Buddies in general and mine in particular. ¬†They were always stood guard around the pool and made the challenge seem¬†manageable. ¬†Thank you to my fellow swimmers for their inspiration and advice, can’t name you all but especially Bryn, Sarah, Mike, Colm, Ned, Big Ricks, Nick, Lisa.

Equipment: I took WAY too much of everything. I would always prefer to have too much, than not enough, for an event, although I think 6 pairs of goggles and 8 hats may have been a little over-prepared, especially as I only wore one of each for the entire 24 hours! ¬†I would recommend the obvious, hat, goggles, ear plugs, vaseline, suncream and swimming costumes and then some less obvious… hot water bottle, thermos flask and boxes with lids so your kit can be kept outside, safe in the knowledge that it’s dry if raining. ¬†I had 14 swimming costumes (which is excessive I know, but I do have a wee addiction to buying them!) and found it worked well to use 8 for the first 18 hours on rotation (as they had time to dry in between swims) and then from mile 18 onwards I wore a fresh, dry costume for each swim, which helped with extra warmth. ¬†Pegs, string and scissors were helpful for putting up a washing line to dry costumes and lots of thin clothing that could be layered up. ¬†My Robie Robe and Dry Robe Advance were absolutely essential and really really did help me. ¬†I could have done with two Robie Robes as mine did get very heavy and damp / wet by the later miles and so I switched to towels to dry with. ¬†I had only taken two towels and think a couple more would have been useful.

I had prepared a ‘table’ for my Buddy to complete during the swim, which recorded information that will be useful in my prep for the Channel in August. ¬†I’ve copied it below so you can see the ‘stats’ from my swim and then after it is an overview of the swim in photos ūüôā

Information in the table includes:


Time started the mile

Stroke rate in first and then second half of the mile

Time to complete the mile (Split for half way, if have it)

Air Temp (Water remained at around 16 – 17 degrees)

Feed: What I had to eat once getting out of the water

Comments: Any medication taken / feeling ill etc

1 9am  60  62  26:38 (13:10)  8  SiS 300ml / Bakewell tart  Lane 7

2 10am  60  62  27:14  8  SiS 300ml / Mily way  Lane 6: Slowed behind other swimmers

3 11am  60  68  25:55 (12:52)  9  SiS 300ml / 2 fig rolls  Lane 5: Fastest mile

4 12pm  68  64  26:13  10  Hot chocolate / 2 fig rolls  Lane 4: Hot choc made me feel sick

5 1pm  64  62  25:57  12  SiS 300ml / Small plain pitta bread  Lane 4: Stayed here for rest of swim

6 2pm  64  64  26:16  10  SiS 300ml / Half apple Nutri grain  Freeze gel / massage Left shoulder

7 3pm  62   62  26:17  10  SiS 300ml / Small rice pudding pot  Ibuprofen gel Left shoulder / tent

8 4pm  60  62  26:28  12  SiS 300ml / Jelly Fruit pot / Kit Kat  Very cold / shaking

9¬†5pm ¬†66 ¬†62 ¬†26:19 ¬†10 ¬†SiS 300ml (Couldn’t eat anything) ¬†1 Ibuprofen / Walk around pool

10 6pm  60  60  26:21  11  300ml hot water / Pasta mug  1 Paracetamol / Walk around pool

11 7pm  60  62  26:20  10  SiS 300ml / 2 Jaffa cakes  1 Ibuprofen / Walk around the pool

12 8pm  60  62  26:34  9  SiS 300ml / 2 fig rolls / Popcorn  1 Parace/ Tummy ache / Sun down

13 9pm  62  62  26:15 (12:50)  7  300ml hot water / 2 Jaffa cakes  1 Ibuprofen / Walk around pool

14 10pm  62  62  26:32 (13:00)  6  SiS 300ml / Small plain pitta / crisps  1 Paracetamol / 1 Immodium

15 11pm   62  62  26:49 (13:05)  5  300ml hot water / Tomato soup / crisps 1 Ibuprofen / Walk around pool

16 12am  62  62  26:55 (13:12)  5  SiS 300ml / Rice pudding / 2 Jaffa cakes 1 Paracetamol / Walk round pool

17¬†1am ¬†62 ¬†60 ¬†26:28 (13:05) ¬†4 ¬†Tomato soup / couldn’t eat solids ¬†1 Ibuprofen / VERY cold / Hot tub

18 2am  60  60  26:44 (13:10)  3  300ml hot water / pasta mug  1 Paracetamol / hot tub / warm tent

19 3am  62  62  27:07 (13:40)  2  SiS 300ml / 2 Jaffa cakes  1 Ibuprofen / hot tub / warm tent

20 4am  62  60  28:00 (13:55)  0  300ml hot water / 2 Jaffa cakes  1 Paracetamol / hot tub / TIRED / cold

21 5am  60  60  27:32 (13:35)  0  100ml hot water / 2 Jaffa cakes  hot tub / sick / cramps / COLD

22 6am  60  62  28:55 (14:21)  2  100ml hot water Рif that!  hot tub / sick / cramps / cold / tired

23 7am  60  60  31:38  3  Jelly babies and 2 Jaffa cakes while swimming  hot tub / back stroke / sick

24¬†8am ¬†64 ¬†64 ¬†27:50 ¬†4 ¬†Couldn’t eat or drink due to sickness and cramps. ¬†Bed & sleep for 3 hours!



Coming soon… 2swim4life: The good, the bad and the ugly bits: From the Buddy’s perspective.

Something to wet your appetite…

Have uploaded lots of new videos to the Events page on here, so take a peek at some of the swims I have already done this year… and others I’m excited about and looking forward to!

Maybe you’ll see something that takes your fancy and find yourself signing up a new challenge for 2013 ūüôā


And some photos below from Winter swimming fun…

Polar Express


I could barely sleep last night, was way too excited about this morning’s USwim Polar Swim! So, when my alarm went off at 8am there was a HUGE smile on my face as I jumped out of bed, costume on (complete with penguins!) and trotted off to the Quays. ¬†It was a pleasant surprise to see so many people down there, many of whom were new faces. I think the total, by the end of the session, was about 70 keen beans, mad enough to start their weekends with a dip in refreshing cool water, (which was a toasty ten degrees!) Many had wetsuits on, several didn’t, but at some point we all wore smiles, be that as a grimace when the first shock of water hit bare skin, or with pride as the first lap was completed or overwhelming joy once the hot chocolate and biscuit were in hand at the end!

The water was stunning. A really good temperature. ¬†Chilly enough to set the skin alive but not so cold as to sucker punch all the air out of your lungs. I could barely breathe when I set off… nothing to do with the temperature… and everything to do with the MASSIVE smile on my face inhibiting access to my lungs. It was sheer joy. Couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be… well… the ocean… Sandycove… Llyn Lldaw… but Dock 9 was beauty enough this morning. ¬†The buildings are incredibly majestic from the perspective of the water, and you feel incredibly small surrounded by them on all sides. ¬†I was so focused on the feel of the water that I completely failed to notice when it rained… which is unusual because I love swimming in the rain.

The 400m buoy course was set out, which takes you up to, but not under, the red bridge, with the safety boat nipping past every now and then to add waves.  Lap 1 was sheer bliss.  Perseverance against the cold and every tingling, numbing, screaming sensation in your burning, bright red skin.  A battle between body and brain, to settle into a rhythm, that balances your desire to swim quick and bring warmth with the speed and find your pace that brings comfort.  It felt incredible.

Having had 6 weeks out of swimming (to rest and recover) and then be confined to a pool for the past few weeks, it was absolutely amazing to back in the open water, with the bitter fresh air and views and real water.  The warmth of the pools, has been stifling and claustrophobic, so this was freedom again.

I loved laps 2, 3, 4, and 5 just as much as the first. ¬†The usual sensations occurred… the extremities burn, tingle, scream at you to warm them up, then stiffen, claw, go numb and pain sets in. These can be easily ignored. ¬†And funnily enough I don’t seem to suffer with my face. I’m able to put it straight in and breathe and feel comfortable from the start. ¬†(Especially now that I always wear ear plugs.) After the first lap my core felt good too.

After my ‘scare’ with the two-way Windermere, where I became far more hypothermic than I ever intend to be again, I was apprehensive about pushing myself too far, and making sure I stayed safe whilst still challenging myself. ¬†So, I was constantly mindful of how my body felt and whether my mind was lucid or not (which it isn’t always on dry land to be fair!). I now know, first hand, what the stages of hypothermia feel like. ¬†The pain and clawing of my hands and feet don’t cause the panic they used to, but I was aware of whether my ‘insides’ where getting cold or not. Did I feel cold right inside my stomach? or my lungs? No. Good!

By Lap 5 I was feeling a little sluggish and the limbs were getting heavy. ¬†My stroke was feeling laboured, and while still loving the experience the swimming was becoming harder. ¬†However, a small push and little injection of pace soon overcame this and brought an ease back to the arms rotating and hands (well… claws…) pulling through the water.

My goal before getting in (because, after learning the hard way last year, I now always have a goal of time or distance, to achieve with each session) was to go for an hour. I could have aimed for more, but not having been in the open water for a while (apart from support swimming for Catie) I was unsure about how much acclimatisation I had lost. ¬†I hit this with lap 6 and felt like I wanted to push myself further, but my goal had been reached and I didn’t want to hit my limit, so, with smile still in place, I headed back to the steps, happy with a good start to the day!

Getting dressed was easier than I thought it would be… which tells me I could have stayed in longer… although there was plenty of dramatic shaking and throwing of hot water over myself. ¬†The yellow super suit certainly got some funny (and jealous) looks from fellow swimmers and spectators!

Am still grinning and feeling on a high from the swim… as is always the case ūüôā My first ‘proper’ training back in the open water has well and truly filled me with the bug again and I can’t wait to get back in!!