Category Archives: Swimming

Sea Swimming

Most people in the UK will have been in the sea at some time in their lives. Many will have kept their feet firmly on the ground and exercised great caution – instinctively knowing that they are putting their lives in danger by getting in any further. Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death for children in the UK. More than 400 people accidentally drown in the UK every year.

In 2013 fatalities at the sea, on the beach or shoreline accounted for nearly a third (115) of all UK deaths by drowning. A further 22 deaths happened at harbours, docks, marinas and inland or coastal ports.

It’s a very big sea. A dangerous environment that you cannot control

It’s a very big sea. A dangerous environment that you cannot control

‘There’s little to compare with the thrill of a stormy sea swim, diving and forging through teetering waves before bouncing in the swell behind the break.’ (Kate Rew – Wild Swim)

I have been swimming in the sea most of my life. I gained life guarding qualifications as a young adult. In the mid 1970’s – when we had those really amazing heat waves– I worked my summers as a beach lifeguard.
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Swimming around Brownsea Island

GPS track of our swim

GPS track of our swim

Brownsea Island is spectacularly located in Poole Harbour. It is the largest of Poole Harbour’s islands and has been owned by the National Trust since 1963.

There is evidence of settlement, pottery production, agriculture and trade in the area since the 5th century BC. It has been a hideout for pirates and a gentleman’s estate. In 1907 the first Scouts came to camp on Brownsea and in 1963 a permanent 50 acre camp was opened by Olave Baden-Powell.

With regards to swimming around the island there is a large event organised by Poole RLSS which takes place in September. Entries for this event are booked up very quickly when they open in February.

A group of us swim regularly in the Bridport area and we decided to organise our own swim around Brownsea Island. We did a bit of tidal guesswork and Ian came along in his sea kayak to keep us safe and to carry the food and drink which would help us keep going for an estimated 3 hours in the water.

Ready to swim at the Castle slipway

Ready to swim at the Castle slipway

We met at Sandbanks and caught the yellow Brownsea Island Ferry.

On the ferry to the island

Waiting for the ferry to the island

Ian met us at the Island close to the Castle. We changed into wetsuits and loaded all our gear into the hatches in the kayak.

At the start

At the start – nutrition on the kayak deck

The essential jelly babies and isotonic drinks were kept on deck for easy access during the swim.

Loading supplies into the hatches

Loading supplies into the hatches

As we swam away from the Castle at Brownsea Island we had a strong push from the flooding tide and for a few hundred metres we flew along.

Swimming with the tide behind us was very fast

Swimming with the tide behind us was very fast

This was to be short lived unfortunately and for the next 2 kilometres up to Pottery pier it was quite a hard swim which became harder as we got closer to the top of the island. The wind increased and it got choppy and then there was more boat traffic so we got wash.

Approaching Pottery pier

Approaching Pottery pier

Once round the other side of the Island things calmed down quite a lot and we had wind and waves behind us. We still didn’t get much tidal assistance but it was a lot more fun. There was the added bonus that this side of the island is shallow with little boat traffic so we could stop and stand up to get our food and drinks from the kayak.

Our land support team member, Jane, swam out to meet us.

Jane swam out to join us

Jane swam out to join us

Navigation was easy with land on the left all the way and after just under 3 hours we found ourselves back at our starting point.

Another great adventure.

Recovery

The moment of finishing the ironman is the culmination of a years training. That was my main goal for the year and our lives had been geared up to achieve that goal.

So what’s next? The perceived wisdom seems to be that six weeks rest are in order before a return to gentle training. Well that was never going to happen!

In order to avoid post ironman depression syndrome (PIDS – yes really!) I had a few things lined up in advance so the coming months in the diary were not empty!

The first week after the ironman I rested – apart from some gentle pool swimming. I was very hungry and despite being tired I had to get up at about 03.30 to make porridge and toast as my rumbling tummy was keeping me awake.

The second week was spent in the Lake District on a planned holiday. Time to reconnect with my family and my inner – non-triathlete. Hill walking wasn’t a problem and we enjoyed some long walks in the hills around Keswick.DSCF1421

Walking in the Lakes

Walking in the Lakes

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Swoosh!

The Bantham Swoosh was a new event organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society for the first time in 2015. I heard about it too late to enter the OSS event.

However, this sounded like a lot of fun so I checked out the tide tables and earmarked a few dates which looked suitable. All that it needs is a big spring tide really.

On 30th August there was such a tide and all my swimming buddies were busy doing other stuff. Ian and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed – despite the dreary bank holiday weather – and drove down to Aveton Gifford where the River Avon is accessible from the car park.
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Swim

My main event this year is Challenge Weymouth. This is a long distance triathlon and will be the official European Triathlon Union Long Distance Championships. The event takes place on Sunday September 13.

In its most common form, the modern triathlon consists of swimming, cycling, and running in consecutive order. The participants’ times also include the “transition” times between each event. The multisport race format is designed to test the endurance of its participants, much more so than swimming, cycling, or running alone.

The distances involved in the long distance triathlon are: Swim 2.4 miles (3.8km) bike 112 miles (180km ) and run a full marathon of 26.2 miles (42.195km). The term ironman is commonly used to describe an event of this length. Strictly speaking an Ironman is produced, owned, or licensed by the World Triathlon Corporation. There are races of the same distance which aren’t produced by the WTC.  However all long distance triathlons are often referred to as an ironman.

I swam competitively as a child so my basic front crawl technique was sound when I started training in September 2014. I received some technique coaching at ‘swimfit’ classes at Bridport Leisure Centre.

Over the winter I built up my endurance in the pool until I could slog out 160 lengths or 4 km. This is mind blowingly boring so I found some ironman training sessions online to build up swim strength stamina and technique through drills.

I am fortunate to live a few hundred yards from the sea. I do not relish cold water so it wasn’t until the end of May that I actually got into the sea.

In the sea at last

In the sea at last

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Bristol Harbourside Triathlon

Tri Bristol logo_0

June 14th 2015 was the 6th staging of the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon run by TriBristol. Bristol Harbourside Triathlon is established as a premier event on the Triathlon racing calendar in the South West.

A triathlon is a multi stage competition involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines. There are many variations but triathlon in its popular form consists of swimming cycling and running in immediate succession over varying distances. Triathletes compete for overall fastest course completion times including timed ‘transitions’ between the individual swim cycle and run components.

Triathlon race lengths vary and at the TriBristol event there was a Sprint race consisting of a 750m swim, 20k cycle and a 5k run. I competed in the Standard distance also popularly known as the Olympic distance which is a 1500m swim 40km cycle and a 10km run. My daughter Kathryn was also competing in the standard distance event.

A transition area is set up where athletes change gear for different segments of the race. At Bristol the women were numbered 1 – 54 and the places in transition were allocated consecutively. There were only 4 of us so called female Supervets aged over 50 and we met up before the race as we were setting up in transition.

Kathryn and I in transition before the start

Kathryn and I in transition before the start

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Focus

I haven’t posted for a long time. This is not because I have been idle and inactive. Far from it.

My focus for this year is the Challenge Weymouth long distance triathlon – Ironman distance – which is in September. The distances involved are 3.8 kilometres swimming in the sea followed without a break to180 kilometres cycling and then direct to 42.2 kilometres running. This is a big challenge for me and I’m not sure if I will manage to complete it. However I have been training with this event in mind since October 2014.

Long winter run on Thorncombe Beacon

Long winter run on the Dorset Coast Path. the picture is on Thorncombe Beacon

Audax ride on my winter bike

Audax ride on my winter bike

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