Team Mermaids favourite swimming hats


We asked some of our Team Mermaids friends to tell us about their favourite swimming hat (other than the Team Mermaid hat of course) and the memories it inspires for them.



This is my swimming hat from when I was on the swimming team at the Cambridge University (many years ago know as you can tell by the state of the cap_.   I have swum many a race, including in the annual varsity match against Oxford University.  I also wore this hat when I was training for and competing in the 2000 Oxford Vs. Cambridge varsity channel swim relays.

This hat brings back so many great memories of setting PB, beating (and losing to) Oxford but mainly it remains me  of feeling part of a team and what its like to strive for and achieve something together.


Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
Suz wearing the NYC SWIM cap

This was a hard choice, but finally decided on my NYC SWIM cap that I wore during our 2012 Manhattan Island Relay.  To me, like my Team Mermaids cap, it represents friendship and knowing when you push your limits, people are going to be there with you to help you succeed.  NYC Swim, Manhattan Island relays, taught me so much about myself and ultimately created a team of 4 women that will forever be friends as a result of this shared experience.

JOSIE (Find her here:


One of my favourite swimming hats (up there are my Team Mermaid hats, obviously!) is this Tunnocks hat. I got it during a fundraising drive by St Abbs Lifeboat Appeal, and I took it with me to wear under the event hat at my first open water 5k swim, in Loch Lomond during the summer of 2016. It was one of those rare swims where everything just comes together and you feel strong throughout. There was mist on the water and beautiful views when I looked up to sight and breathe, golden beams of sunlight were cutting through the loch, and it was just magical! We were also not a million miles away from the Tunnocks factory in Uddingston, so, when in Scotland…

LUCINDA (Find her here:

I have quite a few hats to choose from so shortlisted to my favourite 9(!!).

From this I picked a hat which, bizarrely, is the only one I haven’t swum in. It signifies my first Channel Relay(I have done 3 in total). I was in training for my first Channel Solo in 2012 and jumped into a spare spot with a group of guys and girls from San Francisco who were making a second attempt at  a relay crossing for the 2011 season, before flying home. It was late June and I had never swum in the Channel, let alone at night! I was second into the water and just jumped into the inky black water without much thought other than to swim for my 1 hour slot and help the team to France. I got so cold; I spent hours after my swim shivering and being sick but learnt so much that day… we got to France in 12 hours 47 mins and I was given a commemorative hat as a souvenir of my experience!

TRISH (Find her here:


My guides SwimTrek hat reminds me my favourite job in the world. Working for SwimTrek I would often have a short break after clearing up the group lunch. Being on the waters edge with sparkly blue water is perfect motivation to use my time wisely. With a 20min break I’d pop on my white hat and enjoy a tranquil 19min swim in the ocean before hopping back on board to Vaseline 30 armpits for the next group swim adventure.

ALICE (Find her here:

My favourite swim hat is from THREO, I met the ladies who founded it, a year and half ago at a triathlon expo, and I’ve worn it for every swim session and underneath each triathlon I do.

All the open water swimming triathlons give you a thin rubbery hat that pulls on my hair, so I always wear this hat underneath for warmth and good luck. I’ve so far worn it for:

2 x Henley Marathons (14km)

2 x Tonbridge triathlons

1 x half ironman

1 x full ironman

One side says ‘Threo’ the other says ‘Train hard, race easy’ which I really love and it’s good to be reminded of before each training session.

LAURA (Find her here:


Here’s my fav swimcap. It’s loud and always clashes with my cozzie. It makes early morning swims that much more fun when I can have a little laugh at myself outing it on each time.

BRIAN (Find B here: @brian_m_foley)

My favourite hat is my pink chillswim “bobble” hat.  Back in September 2014 a bunch of us travelled up to coniston to do chillswim coniston end to end:  Not only was this a great swim, and a fun weekend with friends, but also the free hat we got with our entries turned out to be my favourite hat :-).  I liked it so much, I even convinced one of the others on the trip (Manda? Kate?) to give me theirs, so I ended up going home with two.
I always used to get headaches on long swims from the pressure of my swimming hat (I have a big head!), but this one is XL, and avoids that problem nicely.  It also has little “pockets” built into it, which I’m sure trap air/water inside the hat to keep me slightly warmer on cold swims.  Plus its pink.
I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve worn it, but at least:
Coniston end to end
2Swim4Life 2015
Some of 2Swim4Life 2017 (before Katie told me off for not wearing my team mermaids hat!)

LEE (Find Lee here:


My favourite swim cap? That’s tough! I’d have to say it has to be my silver cap from the Triathlon European Championships in Düsseldorf,  2017. I remember standing with a good friend on the pontoon before the race looking down in to the Rhein and thinking “this water really isn’t clean! I’m so glad I have this cap on!” I finished 4th in that race and had the best swim time of the 2017 season. When I wear the cap now it reminds me never to stop pushing! I started representing GB internationally in Triathlon quite late in the game (three years ago at the age of 29) and I’m determined to improve. This cap is a reminder of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go…

PIVO (Find him here:


Now I do not often wear a cap when swimming. If i do it is because I am in a race, or I am swimming in a pool that is cold, dam cold. So the cap I have chosen is one I received off a fellow kiwi channel swimmer. She had a few spares of these and so happily sent me one. I wear it from time to time, and have worn it in the Lake Zurich relay, as I thought it was nice to add a bit of international flavour. I am probably a little patriotic as well, and when I do wear it in the pool, it can be a conversation starter, and finally it is always good to daydream while swimming, and when wearing the cap, I am free to daydream about swimming for New Zealand.



Festive Caps and Costumes 2017

Ho Ho Ho

It’s that time of year and this year we thought on top of our Christmas Wish List we would also share with you some of the festive caps and costumes we have come across.  Whether you fancy investing in a costume for the festive period or just decorating your head with an ugly jumper inspired cap, we have something for all you festive freestylers.

Know of any others?  Email us at


Born to Swim.  €11.95.  A lovely selection of caps and you can even bag yourself a festive towel to match.

USE DISCOUNT CODE: MERMAIDS for 15% OFF until 16/12/17

Speedo. £11.00


Nancy Farmer. £9.00.  Lovely snowflake caps in a variety of colours.  Snap yours up quickly.



MailSports. £8.00


Speedo. UK offering from Speedo.  Both men’s and women’s costumes available.


Qswimwear. A massive range from this stateside company.  These are our fav 3 but there is something for everyone’s taste.

USE CODE: off20 for 20% OFF

Dolfin Uglies.  Only children’s sizes left sadly.  If anyone has knowledge of where they still have the adult costumes in stock, then please let us know.


SLSC vs. Serpies 2016

Each year South London Swimming Club takes on the Serpentine in a battle of the cold water swimmers.  The 2017 edition is coming up on 19 November so we thought was time to reflect on our experience at the 2016 Gala.

For a couple of years Mandy, SLSC swimming co-captain, has asked us if we would like to take part in a gala. Our initial keenness usually fades when we find out the details i.e. in the lido at the end of November.

The 2016 winter however had been relatively mild. We had also been regularly attending the Sunday morning races and therefore felt that it wouldn’t be toooo bad and agreed to swim.

In 2016 the gala took place on 20 November 2016 when I (Katie) was told I was swimming in a 4×1 width medley relay team. Luckily I was doing the freestyle leg. Manda despite being unwell was prepared to swim but luckily someone else took her place as I am not sure cold water swimming is the way to cure a chest infection.

We stood round chatting to all the SLSC swimmers as I waited for my race. Finally we were up! I always get quite nervous before I get into cold water as I can never quite remember how bad or not bad it is. Also at 7 degrees the water was a bit colder than the last time I had swum. In the end it wasn’t too bad and we won our race. As I climbed out I was grabbed and told I was needed for the cannon race. This is a 10×1 width freestyle. I wasn’t quite prepared for this and stood shivering on the side in my skimpy towel until the next race began but in the end it was good fun.

And after the races there was cake (what I really came for).  I really enjoyed the gala and it was nice to swim as part of a team which is not something I get to do often.

The Serpies won overall – apparently the teams take it in turn to win and it was their turn. Bizarre I know, but just like cold water swimming, it really doesn’t matter how fast you are, all that matters is that you take part!

A Mermaid’s Christmas Wish list 2017

Once again we thought we would share with you the items we will be putting on our wish list for this Christmas, so that you can either add them to you own list or buy something for your swimming BFFs.

As usual there is a mixture of the fun and fabulous and the affordable to damn right aspirational.  Something for everyone’s budget we hope and even a few US entries for our stateside friends. BIG DISCOUNT CODES IN RED

Old Wish lists here: 2016 & 2015

Day 1 – Stocking Fillers:

There is something very cute about enamel pins.  You can easily build a collection of swimming related ones for your rucksack so here are a few to get you started:

If you are more pizza than mermaid (you can be both) then try this patch:

2017-10-16 19_35_06-Will Swim for Pizza Patch – RORY LUX

Day 2 – Bags:

Some days you don’t want to lug your massive great big bag with you to swimming and you just want something smaller to carry your towel and cossie in.  In this case you need look no further that these lovely bags by Kelly Connor designs.

Our favourite is this personalised initialled mermaid tote – we think they are totes amazing.  If you are looking for something slightly bigger though this ‘swim’ bag would be perfect.

The lovely people at Kelly Connor designs have given Team Mermaids a discount code for 10% off when you order through the website (


Day 3 – Costumes:

We’ve lusted after these Natatio costumes since first seeing them on Instagram.  I’m (Manda) the lucky owner of an Xena costume already but hoping that santa might drop one of the Navy blue ones down the chimney this Christmas.

USE CODE: MERMAIDS for 10% off until 30th Nov 2017

Likewise we have seen many a lovely lady rocking Deakin and Blue on social media and the fabulous Emma Watson and Alice Gartland have both looked stunning in their one pieces down at the lido over the summer.

Rosie who owns Deakin and Blue has given us an awesome discount to pass on to you:


What a range!  These QSWIMWEAR pieces definitely would brighten up any pool, lake, lido or ocean.  They also have festive ones available to order now.

Until 12/11/17 USE CODE: PRESALE17 for 45% OFF

After 12/11/17 USE CODE: off20 for 20% OFF

Now not forgetting the men, Brian has done his annual pick of Funky Trunks for us.  A great choice!

2017-11-04 18_36_01-Funky Trunks Water Warrior Plain Front Trunk _ Simply Swim UK

Day 4 – Books

//Wild Swimming//Flora Jamieson//

Flora sold out of the first set of these and kindly let us know that she now has them back in stock, so get a copy while you can!

An introduction to wild swimming.  With practical advice and safety tips, as well as inspiring quotes and useful resources, this guide is perfect for those wishing to dip their toe into the glorious pursuit of wild swimming in lakes, rivers, pools, waterfalls and sea.

2017-10-16 19_28_36-Wild Swimming Book — Flora Jamieson

//Swimming Pool//Maria Svarbova//

Anyone who follows Maria Svarbova on social media will know that her Swimming Pool photos series is truly magnificent and now the photos are all handily together in this book.

(Note: we have put a link to Foyles.  Where possible we would always encourage you to buy from your local independent bookshop),maria-svarbova-9789187815157

Day 5 – Hot Beverages!

At Team Mermaids we love a cup of tea – anything from English Breakfast to Earl Grey to those funny fruity teas Brian likes to drink.  Now as everyone knows that to maximise enjoyment from a cup of tea, you need the perfect mug.

We love these personalised mermaid mugs complete with motivational message from HenDog designs and this 99% mermaid mug from Gilbert and Stone Ceramics both available at

For those post-lido winter-day cups of tea you need a thermos cup to keep your tea warm as long as possible.  We love this Selkie thermos.


We would also recommend this SLSC reusable cup which come in blue, green, red and yellow and are available for purchase most weeks after the Sunday morning races for £6.


Finally, some tea to put in these mugs, although this tea is better suited for glass than mug as it changes colour!


Day 6 – Clothing:

We wish the Michael Phelps one had Laszlo and Chad there as well and they were all holding hands (Best Olympic moment EVER!), but this will do instead.

Also, Spice Girls as Mermaids… WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE!

2 sweaters for your perusal.  We might take a marker pen to the “Life’s a beach” one and amend it to Lido.

All these lovely tops will go beautifully with these “striking” leggings:

2017-10-16 19_30_15-Swimmer Vintage Leggings _


Day 7 – Nail Varnish:

Our third greatest mutual love behind swimming and cake is nail polish.  No Christmas wish list would therefore be complete without new additions to our vast collection.

I (Katie) am obsessed with pICTURE pOLISH which is an Australian based brand.  One of the really cool things they do is collaborate with bloggers to create new and interesting polish colours.  pICTURE pOLISH recently collaborated with blogger Nailland to create this gorgeous sparky green colour called Mermaid!  We love it!  pICTURE pOLISH is available in the UK via Rainbow Connection which also sells lots of other indy nail polishes.

2017-10-16 19_43_05-MERMAID _ Rainbow Connection

We also love this thermo reactive purple polish from Bow Polish.  Perfect for telling us really how cold we are in the lido!

2017-10-16 19_42_53-Bow Polish - Conversion - Thermo Top Coat Violet _ Hypnotic Polish

Now you have all this nail polish what you need is something stylist to store then on your travels.  You need look no further than this mermaid make up bag.

Day 8 – Swimming Caps:

Obviously the best cap out there is the Team Mermaids last cap.  If you want one of the limited run we have, they cost £5 donation to charity. Email us at for further details.


We also think this one is ace:

2017-11-04 18_17_25-Jaked Rock & Roll Swim Cap - White

Day 9 – Jewellery:

Lovely Suz (of Manhattan Island relay fame) found this and what a cracker of a statement necklace!

The lady who makes these is a UK based open water swimmer, so she kindly gave us a discount code.


2017-11-04 18_20_37-Swank Jewellery — Mermaid Necklace

These earrings are subtle mermaid attire that wouldn’t look out of place at the formalist of dos.

2017-10-16 19_42_10-Mermaid Tail Earrings - Cherry Diva

This is a beaut of a necklace and another one that you can wear everywhere and anywhere.


Day 10 – Art:

Keeping it simple this year in the art department.  3 simple but splendid pieces.

First up is this lovely 3 piece from Betty Illustrates.


Next up is this stunner from Helo Birdie, which I (Manda) find enchanting.  Link below to all the pieces on Etsy as the first one we choose sold out and the below might do the same.  So get in there pronto if you want to bag one.


Finally, another corker of a find from Suz.  Considering we are all still waiting for this lido to open again, this might be the closest you get to London Fields Lido this Christmas.


Day 11 – Cold water swimming MUSTS:

When we asked Brian for something he thinks is essential for cold water swimming I (Manda) wasn’t quite envisaging this.  However, to be honest, if someone could put me in this post lido swim I would be a lot happier than in my more muted ensemble!

2017-11-04 18_51_23-MEN'S HIMALAYAN SUIT _ United States.png

Now you rarely see me (Katie) dressed in something other than black, navy or grey and occasionally purple so I made the more predictable choice of this Lululemon jacket.  Now at £258 is it not cheap but we know from experience that Lululemon’s products always keep you super warm and last forever!


Keeping your head warm post warm swim is a must so we have chosen this  purple (Katie’s fav) hat as our choice for this year.


I suppose technically this should be in the book section but cake is an essential part of our lido/cold water swimming life.  As GBBO fans (even since the move to Channel 4!) we loved watching Martha bake for Britain.


Day 12 – Holidays:

Our annual “we hope our husbands read this and send us on one of these holidays” hint:

My (Manda) choice is once again a Swim Quest trip.  Despite the water being challenging, which a polite way for saying Baltic, this trip looks amazing.  Never going to happen but a girl can dream!

2017-11-04 18_18_16-LOFOTEN ISLANDS, NORWAY - SwimQuest Swimming Holidays

Katie’s choice is doing the escape from Alcatraz swim followed by some wine tasting in Napa Valley… this holiday she will be going solo on 😉 #sharks

2017-11-04 18_18_53-Swimming Holidays Alcatraz, San Francisco _ SwimTrek

Happy Holidays all!

Michael Phelps training kit review

This summer we got our hands on some of the new Michael Phelps “MP” kit to try.


Paddles (Katie):

We tend to swim outside for most of the summer making the most of lido, lake and sea swimming but once we were back swimming in indoor pools we were able to test out the paddles.

Over the years we have both suffered off and on from shoulder problems and therefore have pretty much stopped using hand paddles as we find they often cause us shoulder pain.  Despite this we were open to trying a different type of paddle and took our neon yellow MP Strength Paddle’s down to one of our regular Friday morning Team Mermaids training sessions at Ironmonger Row Baths.  After swimming 6 lengths moderate wearing them we both stopped and exclaimed to each other that we really liked the MP Strength Paddle.  I don’t know what made this paddle special but we definitely felt it help guide our stoke and encourage perfect technique without putting too much strain on our shoulders.  These paddles are definitely going to be part of our regular training from now on.

Note: we both wore a size small.


Goggles (Manda):

Again we couldn’t test these out during the summer season as the ones we have, have clear lenses and we tend to were tinted/polarised lenses outdoors.

They are woman specific ones so suit the narrower face, which is great as often we get leakage when trying to use ones designed as unisex, but really are more suited to men.

They do 2 of the styles in ladies versions.  The XCEED, which we tried and the K180.

We also love how they haven’t just gone “Ladies goggles, er let’s just do everything in pink and purple”.  The K180 ladies goggles come in blue with the clear lenses and the pink ones are partnered with a black strap so not uber pink!

Costume (Manda):

I tested the costume while swimming in Italian waters this summer.  The thin straps were great for swimming in the sunshine and the one I have has a great colourful pattern.



Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling!

We love a Pool Crawl so we have done a few and therefore, have self appointed ourselves as Pool crawl Presidents!

So here is our Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling.  Thanks to our Pool crawling partners in crime Brian and Pivo for helping us with the below.

    1. Have a small purse/freezer bag with 20ps and a couple of £1 coins ready for lockers.
    2. Try have dry bathers for each pool and if possible make them your “bigger” bathers as easier to get on over damp skin.
    3. Wherever there is a costume spinner, make sure you spin all wet swimming costumes.  Also, maybe not approved use of spinner but a secret source says you can put your quick dry towels in the spinner as well!
    4. Have a plastic bag ready to keep wet stuff separate.
    5. Have spare goggles/caps, the tireder you get the more likely you are to start leaving things at pools.
    6. Only invite people who cope well when things don’t go to plan and are still happy(ish) when tired.
    7. Save a dry towel for the last pool.
    8. If you have long hair and there is a hair dryer at a pool, blitz the ends for 1 minute before leaving.  Saves you hair dripping all over you on way to next pool.  If you have short hair then go for a pre pool crawl trim.
    9. Check pool opening times against schedule day before event to reconfirm all ok. (Lesson Learnt!)
    10. Bring battery pack for on the go mobile phone charging.

Extra tip if you are pool crawling through London:

8/10 of the pools we went to were managed by Better (GLL) so we got day passes that cost £10.00.  This allowed us to do all our Better dips for £10.

Ultimate London Pool Crawl 2017

Team Mermaids’ Pool crawls started in 2014 off the back of wanting to tick off a block of pools for the  Winter Pool Challenge.  Somewhere along the journey we decided we actually enjoyed binge pooling and started doing it as a “thing”.

See other pool crawls here.

Last year we didn’t get around to doing any pool crawls (babies and stuff got in the way).  Paul aka Pivo realising this, whilst blog reading, threw the question out to the group:

“What is the most pools you think we could do on a pool crawl? 8/9/10??”

I (Manda) responded that I thought 10 was possible and we would probably need 12 hours to get them all done.

After a lot of chat and analysis (seriously a lot….pool times, tube closures, school terms) we locked in Saturday 14th October and set about planning.  The core group attempting the full 10 pools would be me, Brian and Pivo.

Pool 1. Aquatic centre. (Manda)
I arrived at Stratford station to find Brian waiting for me. I was ready to walk around the outside of Westfield shopping centre to the pool but Brian confidently lead us off into the shopping centre. We then proceeded for 10 minutes to try exit said shopping centre until we gave up and went back to where we entered and walked around the outside.

‘If this is the worst thing that happens today I’ll be happy’ says Brian.  Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

We swam our 1km with company from Wil of Guernsey swimming fame.  We did try to persuade him to come along with us for the rest but he wasn’t at all keen! No idea why.  Stay in Olympic 2012 nice clean pool or start schlepping west to dingy pools….

On schedule we left the aquatic centre.

Pool 2.  St George’s (via York Hall). (Brian)
Having left the Olympic pool, we got the central line to Bethnal Green for York Hall.  The omens were bad as we passed a dead rat on the way to the pool…  Paul immediately spotted the fact that the centre did not open till 8am (it was currently 7:50 so we thought we would have a short 10 minute wait.  Manda then double checked the timetable online and we realised that although the centre opened at 8am, the pool didn’t open till 9am.  Disaster!  A quick check of the next pool (Mile End) indicated that it also didn’t open till 9am, so we had to plan a quick trip to pool #4 (St George’s), and come back to Mile End and York Hall afterwards.

Luckily, there was a direct bus from York Hall to St George’s, so we got there just after 8.  This was the first time I (Brian) had swum in St George’s during the day, and it was a completely different pool with light streaming in through the multiple balconies on the south side.  We happened to pick one of the central lanes, which was above a set of water outlets, so we had a very unusual sideways current as we swum up and down.  Luckily we were the only people in our lane, so it didn’t cause any accidents.

Pool 3. Mile End. (Pivo)
Somewhat back on track with pool 3, where we arrived by DLR and bus from St George’s. I had left my goggles at London Aquatic centre so a bad start for all so far.  Mile end is where we all used to swim at with Swim For Tri, but it had been a while. We were greeted by numerous kids everywhere and a large changing hall. A quick change and straight into the water. Unfortunately the pool seemed like it had not been cleaned in a while. The water was manky, but the plus was there was aqua aerobics on at the same time, so we at least had some tunes and a small boogie.  Manda commented she needed a cocktail to make this a proper Vegas style pool crawl. Good times. Back to the central line and retracing our steps to get to York Hall for take 2.


Pool 4.  York Hall. (Brian)
We finally headed back to York Hall.  It was an easy central line tube ride away from Mile End.  Somebody had cleared away the dead rat, which we took as a good sign.  There was some confusion getting in, as the receptionist started to explain that paying for a single swim would have been cheaper than using out daily pass.  He did not seem impressed that we were swimming in 10 pools, of which 8 were Better pools, in one day…  The kiddies pool at York Hall was busy with lessons, but the main pool was quiet (one other person in our lane).  The pool is 33.33m so we did a 30 length inverted pyramid set.

Pool 5. Ironmonger Row. (Manda)
Back on schedule we arrived at Ironmonger Row. We swim here every Friday morning at the Team Mermaids training session so I wasn’t initially that fussed about swimming here but it is a good one for pool crawling due to its central location.

I starting walking into the ladies changing room and shouted back to the boys “it’s like being home”.  My ambivalence towards this pool had suddenly done a 180.  There was something reassuring and reviving about diving into the cool, clear, calm(ish) waters of Ironmonger Row and I suddenly felt a lot more positive about the remaining challenge ahead.

Ironmonger Row is 33.3 yards long, which is about 30.4m so you only need to swim 33 lengths, but that would mean getting out at the other end.  Who would do that? Brian, on a one man mission to not have to swim a metre more than he had to.


Pool 6. Golden Lane. (Paul)
Ah Golden Lane, not something I thought I would be looking forward to, it being the shortest pool and somewhere in deepest darkest Barbican. After a great swim at Ironmonger Row, with a cold pool and nice changing area we were able to sit down and have coffee and cake at Look Mum No Hands – ahhh a chance to do something normal on a Saturday morning. This was the first pool we all had to pay for, 5£ and a small pokey changing room. Into the pool, and there were adult swim lessons and an elderly lady with a pink shower cap on, slowly going up and down the pool. Whilst Brian and Manda tried to work out how best to negotiate the human and noodle traffic in the pool, I got friendly with the lifeguard, told him what we were doing, and he kindly put in another lane rope so we would not disturb too many other swimmers. He thought we were all mad, and was confused as to why we were doing this. So were we by this point!

Pool 7.  Cally Pool. (Katie)
Given my general state of health, additional passenger and lack of recent swimming I had decided that I didn’t really fancy a full 10 hours of schlepping round the pools of London and therefore decided to join for the second half of the crawl only.  I was aiming to join at Ironmonger Row but parenting duties meant that I wasn’t able to leave home until 11.15am.  A misreading of the timetable saw me heading on the Victoria line to Kings Cross and by the time I had realised my mistake I didn’t have enough time to make it over to Old Street to join at Golden Lane.  I therefore decided I would get in 1km at St. Pancras (I do like the purple wall) before heading up to join everyone else at Cally Pool.  I arrived at Cally Pool ahead of schedule and therefore manged to get 1.4km (7 x 200m alt swim and pull) in before Manda, Brian and Pivo arrived.

Cally Pool isn’t the nicest pool in London.  Two of the lanes were being used for lessons and with a large ‘medium’ lane there was only a narrow fast lane which already had its full quota of alpha males plodding up and down refusing to let faster pregnant lady in front.  This made for quite a painful 2.4km / 1km.

Pool 8. Pancras Square. (Manda)
We walked to Pancras Square from Cally.  We had a nice walk through Granary square and along the canal.  This area once housed Kings Cross Pond Club so always brings back nice memories of when the Friday morning swim club went al fresco.

A sense of calm was now upon us as on schedule and nearing completion.  Brian then disturbed this calm somewhat by giving us a 4*10 length set.

My reaction was “Let’s just get it done”.
Pivo: “What the F?”

Katie: “NO”

Before we knew the 40 lengths were over and we were off again.


Pool 9. Oasis. (Paul)
We  arrived at Oasis, and I was still fuming about the type of set we did at St Pancras (seriously who does 4 x 250???).  I had written this set so knew it would be better.  We arrived via Covent Garden and all its hustle and bustle, but once at the pool, all seemed (relatively) calm. The medium lane in the outdoor pool was empty so we piled in there, all the time cruising past those in the fast lane (even me who was starting to fade… ok HAD faded). This set was mixed up, in order to distract you so the swim went quick, unlike St Pancras (Brian are you getting the hint!). The only thing worse than 4 x 250 would be an Uncle Davey 1 x1000 m set!!! We all noticed for the first time as well that Oasis has outdoor showers and a sauna, who knew? Not us.  My fading continued so Katie stepped up to the 3 slot now there were 4 of us, but at least after this it was the nicest pool, and then burgers!!

Pool 10. Marshall Street Baths. (Katie)
Marshall Street is a Team Mermaids favourite located just off Carnaby Street (so you can combine shopping and swimming).  The art deco setting and quite lanes made it the perfect place for a final stop.  Once again Brian being Brian only swam 33 lengths… we did 34.

SLSC 110 Lengths Challenge 2017

The 110 lengths challenge held this year on 30 September 2017 is the closing party for the summer swimming season, celebrating a great summer at the lido and another year in the lido’s history.   Tooting Bec lido opened in 1906 and in previous years the challenge has been to swim one length for every year the lido has been open.  This year, however, the organisers very sensibly decided to cap the swim at 110 lengths which is the equivalent of 10k.

We have previously swum the challenge as relay in 2014 (read our account here) and as solos in 2015 (read our account here).  Last year I (Katie) was away for the event so dragged a reluctant Brain to do the swim with me one morning.  This year, after some mixed training over the last month or so and with another baby on board, we decided to swim as a relay again.

Just before 1pm we rocked up to join 20 solo swimmers and 9 other relay teams attempting the challenge.  After a briefing the solo swimmers were off, including Emma Watson, who arrived just in time with a just out of the oven fruit cake in tow.

In 2014 when we had last swum as a relay team the format was very relaxed, we got in when we wanted, swum together and counted our own lengths.  We were unprepared therefore for a formal mass relay start and Manda didn’t even have her hat and goggles on.  This ended up with her starting two lengths behind me.  We had decided to swim at the same time rather than in a standard relay format, which would mean no delay in cake consumption.

I was unsure how I would feel on the day as I am still suffering quite badly with sickness and have not been doing much training so we had just agreed that I would swim as many lengths as I felt able to and Manda would swim the balance (I think she was scared that I would only manage 10).  On the day the water was a lovely 16 degrees and I just took it steady and plodded through the lengths.


Trying to keep track of how many lengths each other had swum so we finished after the requisite 110 lengths was challenging our mental arithmetic somewhat but we managed it with Manda stopping at the end of her 56 lengths when I was just starting my 54th.  Overall between us we completed the relay in 2 hours and 48 minutes.  This is slower than when we did the event as soloists even taking into account the additional length but I think that is mine and bump’s fault!


Once we were out it was time for some still warm cake – delicious – and to watch the soloists and other relays finish.  The team organised by Bronnie Gray including last minute addition Fiona Wiggins, who was sporting her Team Mermaids hat, did an amazing job with 10 people each swimming 11 lengths.


Well done to everyone who swam on the day.  Next year we are going to give the solo a crack again!

Maternity Swimsuits

Why are maternity costumes so nasty?  Proper Nasty.  Low back, low front, frills and generally all black.  This is a time when you need chest support but swimwear brands are not bothering and worse still, making the front even lower than normal.  Why??

We don’t want anything different to what we wanted beforehand.  We just want it to support us where it needs to support us and grow with us.  We never wanted frills, boob spillage, boring costumes beforehand so we definitely don’t want them during a time where we might be struggling to feel ourselves.

It comes as no surprise that amongst us and our friends, none of us have gone down the maternity costume route.  Instead we have all looked to our favourite brands and just worked what they have in the normal range to suit our changing bodies.  Some worked, some didn’t.

Before we get into the costumes we tried, if anyone has tried this one please let us know!



Speedo – the cheap one. I went 2 sizes up in one of their cheaper costumes. A cheap one on the basis of I didn’t know how long it was going to last me so I didn’t want to spend a fortune but actually the cheaper non-chlorine resistant fabric was great as it happily stretched over bump whilst the remaining fabric remained secure around the chest and bum.

Current version on sale by speedo:

Cost: £20

Good for bigger boobs pre and post-natal:  YES and NO.  It fit my smaller chest but I was subject to flattening.

Grows with bump: YES

Post-Natal: NO – it was too saggy in stomach area and as not chlorine resistant material it had already started to thin.

Funkita 2 piece. I went up a size in both parts of this and that happily suited me right up until 40 weeks. I then wore it all of last summer at the lido whilst I was breastfeeding and the weight was still peeling off.

Current version on sale by Funkita:

Cost: £40

Good for bigger boobs pre and post-natal: NO – I didn’t go up many cup sizes but still found that there was a lot of leakage until I was back to pre-baby/post-breastfeeding size.

Grows with bump: YES as no bump coverage

Post-Natal: YES


Speedo. I choose this one as it had a higher neck but it still offered the support at the back. Unfortunately it was expensive and the material at the front was not flexible as hoped so I grew out of it in a matter of weeks.

Current version on sale by speedo:

Cost: £50

Good for bigger boobs pre and post-natal: YES due to high neck but might be super squashed depending on size.

Grows with bump: NO due to restrictive material

Post-Natal: YES


Similar to Manda I struggled to find maternity costumes that were sufficiently functional to allow for freestyle and tumble turning.

Speedo – the cheap one. I took myself down to my local Sports Direct and purchased a couple of cheap costumes from there. I went for ones that weren’t endurance material so that the material was more stretchy and therefore lasted me through my pregnancy.

Cost: £20

Good for bigger boobs pre and post-natal: NO

Grows with bump: YES

Speedo – post natal.  Once I had had the baby I invested in two speedo costumes with an inbuilt bra as I felt that I needed some extra support while breastfeeding.

Current version by Speedo:

We have also asked Laura (who was pregnant when wrote this!) and Lisa, who is now 30+ weeks pregnant.  Both continued to swim through their pregnancy.


A super keen swimmer friend of mine opened my eyes to Dolphin Uglies.  These swim costumes a few years back and I love them because they have a thick liner that stops all chances of see-throughness. Plus you can find them on SportsDirect for super cheap (under £10) if you aren’t too picky about the pattern.

Annoyingly I was already close to the largest size available for these costumes (tall problems) so I ordered 2 sizes up (their largest option) and that fit up to about 6-7 months of pregnancy.

Current Version:

Cost: £10 – £30

Grows with bump: Sort of, the double thickness gave me a few extra weeks of stretch I’m sure and it the nice wide straps never made it too uncomfortable.


Eventually though I went to H&M and bought a cheap pair of bikini bottoms and wore those with a Oiselle sports bra for the rest of my pregnancy. Two piece bikinis just became more comfortable. I would have spent more money on a proper sporty maternity swim costume if there was one. The options aren’t just limited, they’re non-existent!


Natatio Swimwear – Two Piece.  My chest had gone from a C to a FF and it had been impossible to find anything that was fitting everything into place without anything falling out and that had some style to train in without feeling frumpy – unlike all the other two pieces I’d tried this one fitted my top perfectly without any bits falling out anywhere. It’s really comfy and supportive and I love the style of the back of the top, the material also feels really soft on the skin.

Current Version

Cost: £40 for the bottoms and £45 for the top.

Good for bigger boobs pre and post-natal: This two piece will work for both pre and post natal training and swimming – definitely supportive for the bigger boobs and they definitely don’t spill out anywhere! A great thing is that you can buy different size top and bottoms.

Grows with bump: I bought the regular bottoms rather than the high ones and as my bump has got bigger they are still comfortable to wear.

Post-Natal: Can’t currently comment on this but can’t see that they would be a problem post but will still be comfy.

Funkita.  I went up a size on the funkita two pieces and although the bottoms fit fine and bump feels fine with them the tops just don’t support a FF chest size (they also only go up to a size 14 and you have to buy the same size bottoms and tops) – I feel like I’m auditioning for a new swim porn movie in them (they are very low and definitely don’t cater for bigger chested ladies) so they are on hold for post natal when the boobs get back to normal! None of my One pieces are viable for bump and big pregnancy boobs!

Zoggs.  I have a old zoggs costume which I’ve had for years and once I stopped being able to wear any of my old Swimwear I tried this one on one day and amazingly it fits both my bump and boobs although not sure it will fit right to the end of my pregnancy but has been a great costume to get into for now.

Lake District 2017

After our week in the lake district last year, we were keen to do a longer Buttermere swim and also explore some areas of the lakes we hadn’t got to.

Saturday (Manda)

Saturday we arrived in Penrith accompanied by David and Brian to pick up our very small hire car, which with 3 tall adults, little me and our accompanying swimming paraphernalia meant the poor car was destined to have a challenging weekend.

We follow various Lake District residents on Instagram/twitter so we were grateful that  @suzannaswims (who now offers bespoke lake district swimming tours and @lottiethompson gave us advice when we ask where to swim in Derwent.

For our Derwent swim we started from Calfclose bay, where you can park 300m away in Great Wood NT car park.  We swam off with the idea that we would probably do around 15 minutes/1k taking into consideration we didn’t want to get cold (me, Katie and Brian were skins and David was in his thermal wetsuit!) and we were saving ourselves for Sunday’s race.  Despite the initial face burn the water felt “ok” or at least I thought it was until I tried to talk at 14 minutes and could hear I sounded almost drunk!  We promptly swam back to shore and therefore, ended up being in the water for around 30 minutes.  A quick change on the shore and a dash to the car where the heaters were turned up to the max.  Poor David who wasn’t remotely cold was subjected to sauna like conditions for the drive!

We dropped our stuff off at our hotel on the banks on Thirlmere.  Despite this being a non-swimmable lake/water (who knows what it is!!) this was a great location for us to be based as only 25 minutes from Keswick, 20 minutes to Ambleside and 40 minutes to Buttermere.

It was also a 5/10 minute drive from Dobgill car park where you can walk 20 minutes (uphill) to Harrop Tarn.  Following the instructions provided to us by Lottie, we eagerly set off.  According to Lottie getting there takes “10-20 minutes depending on hill fitness”…needless to say we are not hill fit!  The walk takes you up through the woods and then slowly you can hear water gushing getting louder and louder.  After coming out from the woods, you are greeted by a waterfall.  What a magnificent treat.  Further along the path, the tarn appeared.  We made our way through the grass/bog (see pics of Brian bearfooted!) to the water’s edge.  The water was Baltic.  We took it in turns to have a swim – it lived up to my magical expectations and then some.  Rolling hills, lily pads on the water, dark black water, pine trees, no one around -> MAGICAL.

After a quicker dash back to the car whilst the light was fading, we headed back to the hotel to pick up Katie, where she was deservedly resting at the hotel and headed to Ambleside for some pasta and then went back for an early night.

Note: if you do fancy some lake crawling, please ensure you read the below:


Sunday (Katie)

So Sunday was the day of the race.  It dawned nice and sunny but no sooner had we packed the four of us and our luggage into our tiny Citroen C1 it had started to rain and that turned out to be the order of the day.

The race didn’t start until 10.30am but we had heard horror stories about the state of the parking in Buttermere Village so aimed to arrive nice and early.  Having traversed the winding roads into Buttermere with our car barely making it up some of the hills we arrived at 8.30am and secured our parking spot.  It was still raining so we stayed in our car to wait it out.  During a short gap in the rain we rushed to register and for refreshments in the café which had opened early especially for the swim.

Manda, Brian and David were doing the 10km race.  I (Katie) was originally entered into the 10km as well but I am expecting a baby next year and severe sickness means I have done a total of 5 training sessions in the last 8 weeks which meant that I wasn’t feeling up to the 10km and dropped down to the 5km.  I almost changed my mind back again when I saw that the 10km race hats were purple!

The time soon ticked away and we were changing into our wetsuits and heading down to the start of the race.  It was still raining….we waded through what I can only describe as a bog to get to the start (okay well maybe not a bog but I am from London so I am mudaphobic) and arrived at the water’s edge.

The start of the race was about a 5 minute walk up the lake so I waved goodbye to Manda, Brian and David as their wave was starting 15 minutes before mine.  Soon it was our turn and I was walking up to the start.  One good thing about the cold and miserable weather was that it didn’t actually feel ‘that’ cold getting in.  It was one of the things I had been worried about, after a summer of a lido of 18 degree plus the advertised 14 degrees of Buttermere was quite intimidating.  I was wearing my booties though which helped keep me warm.

We all piled into the lake and started swimming…then about a minute later we all stopped again.  Oh you we were only swimming to the start!  You could see a lot of confused people frantically trying to re-set their Garmins.  Finally we were really off.  I swam down to the first buoy which seemed to have come loose and drifted to shore so a load of us then had to swim back up on the other side to next to the next buoy.

Conditions for the swim were really tough.  You felt like the wind was in your face the whole time which was making the water pretty choppy.  I wanted to give up a 100 times but before long I was at the top of the lake and then across to the other side and which point I had no choice but to swim back down.

I finished in 1h 30 mins which given my lack of training and extra human baggage I was actually reasonably happy with.  I do think the course was a bit short though as there were a couple of buoys at the top end of the lake on the course map which I don’t think were there.

After finishing I, very inelegantly, exited the water and went to retrieve my stuff.  I was walking back to the car when I found Manda huddled under a tree getting changed.  ‘I thought I might find you here’ I laughed.  ‘I wasn’t cold’ she replied ‘just miserable’.  I knew what she meant.  Buttermere is absolutely beautiful and a still one of my favourite places I have ever swum but the rain, wind and waves had not made for the most fun experience this time round.  Manda wasn’t alone with an early exit.  Out of 170 registered to swim only 56 people finished the 10km.


We quickly got changed and then went back to see the boys finish.  David was beaten by only a few meters into second place in a time of 2h 28 minutes.  Brian in a hitherto unseen racing gentlemanliness let the lady he was swimming with finish in front of him coming in fifth in 2h 39 minutes.  Well done guys!

After finally getting changed and dry (well drier!) we couldn’t face going back to the lake for the prize giving so we headed back to Keswick for some well-earned lunch.  We mooched around Keswick eating fudge and drinking tea until it was time to get back for our train.

A lovely weekend despite the rain and race conditions – we will definitely be back in the Lakes next year!