Prescription goggles

 

The BBC published an article recently (see here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-39568781) about a lady losing her sight in one eye after an eye infection. There was some advice about contact lenses and swimming was mentioned:

‘a rare but serious eye infection caused by a micro-organism that’s common in tap water, sea water and swimming pools’.

All people who I swim with who need glasses either wear contacts as standard or switch to contacts and normal googles for swimming. I’m the exception as I generally wear prescription goggles apart from when I’m racing.

Admittedly, initially my main reason for this wasn’t protecting myself from infection (more to avoid having to faff around putting contacts in and ordering contacts) but as a result I have tried out a lot of the prescription goggles on the market.

Here are some I have tried / some I have seen recommended by several different people on DYST / OSS but if you have any feedback on the below or other recommendations then please put in comments.

View

View

The View Platina are my go to favourite. They are cost effective, last well and come in black or blue lenses so suitable for all pools and all weather. You can buy the matching strap and nose piece but I have always just used an old one I had.  You order individual lenses so you can have different prescriptions for each eye if needed.  A lot of sites only offer the black version but Jackson Sports have both and are run by a friendly team who will check stock etc for you.

http://www.jackson-sports.com/en/View-Swim-Goggles-Platina-VC510A-Lens/m-2976.aspx

1 x Lens cost: £8.00 (current price at Jackson Sports)

Total goggle cost (2 x lenses and brand specific strap and nose piece): £24.50 (current price at Jackson Sports)


Speedo

2017-04-20 05_58_36-Prescription Swimming Goggles _ Optical Goggles _ Speedo

I originally used the Speedo Pulse prescription lenses which are very similar to the View ones.  They then seemed to stop doing them so I tried out their Mariner googles, which are their cheaper* pair and you have to have the same prescription for both lenses.  These didn’t work well with me and leaked badly.  The good news is the Pulse ones are back on sale on the Speedo site, along with a couple of new prescription goggle options, but are more expensive than the View for what I believe to be the same lenses, so I think you are better off purchasing the View lenses.

*cheaper short term but not long term if you have to keep buying the full pair of goggles at £20 rather than just buying replacement lenses when needed.

http://www.speedo.com/uk/en/goggles/prescription-goggles

Pulse:

1 x Lens cost: £11.00

Total goggle cost: £33.00

Mariner:

1 x Lens cost: n/a

Total goggle cost: £20.00


Aquasphere

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I really liked the look of the Eagle as they appeared very similar to the Zoggs Predator Flexes that I am a massive fan of and give you an increased field of vision unlike the standard prescription goggles available.  I just didn’t find these comfortable on my small(ish) head but lots of people love them.

https://www.proswimwear.co.uk/aqua-sphere-eagle-goggles-prescription-lenses.html?options=cart

https://www.proswimwear.co.uk/aqua-sphere-eagle-goggles-blue-clear.html

1 x Lens cost: £9.49 (current price at proswimwear)

Total goggle cost: £35.00 (current price at prescription swimming goggles)


High street alternatives

Boots and Specsavers do offer prescription goggles, however I can’t find anything on their site. Prices sounds comparable, if not cheaper than the above, based on what people on OSS/DYST have advised so always worth checking them out.


Other places to buy:

http://www.prescription-swimming-goggles.co.uk/swimming-goggles.html – this site sells the View, Speedo, Aquasphere and lots of others, however you have to buy the whole goggle (2 lenses and kit) from them so you might be better off sourcing elsewhere if you only want the lenses.

https://www.mailsports.co.uk/goggles/prescription-goggles – sells the Speedo, View and Aquasphere, as well as Sable and Swan.

http://shop.swimmingwithoutstress.co.uk/sws/swimming-goggles/prescription-lens-goggles.shtml – stocks the Aquasphere Eagle and View Platina.

https://www.simplyswim.com/departments/AdultGoggles/Prescription.aspx  –  stocks the View, Speedo and Aquasphere.

A tale of three swimathons

Back in January I (Manda) had what I thought at the time was an amazing idea (these things so often start this way…).  After doing the swimathon in 2016 at 30 weeks pregnant I asked myself what could I do it make it harder this year?  I know I thought let’s do the swimathon multiple times on one day and let’s also drag Katie along to share the pain!  For some reason Katie also thought this was a good idea and we started to look at logistics.  We originally discussed swimming in four sessions on the same day but we couldn’t find sessions that worked so we settled on attempting the 5km distance three times on the same day.  This is the tale of how our swims went.

 

Swimathon 1: Thornton Heath

Time: 06:30

Thornton Heath swimathon was meant to start at 6:30 so per the official swimathon email we turned up 30 minutes beforehand to find the centre didn’t open until 6:30. After some knocking on the door, shouting “SWIM-A-THON” through the glass doors and Katie doing some arm swinging action to represent swimming (I think?), the receptionist let us in. 6:30 came and along with the entire over 60s population of SE London, we made our way to poolside to discover there were only 3 of us doing it and we had one lane for us.  Things were a bit disorganised and we were allowed to wear our Team Mermaids hats rather than the official swimathon hat.  We were told we could start and Derrek sped off, whilst we casually dipped our toes in the water to discover it felt like a bath.  Admittedly my 10 month old baby is in training for UK Cold Water Swimming Championships 2019 and therefore, I might do his bath a bit too cold BUT the water was warmer than his bath! We had planned to do 5k straight for the first one, just to get it over and done with but after each 1k Katie wisely stopped to allow us a quick sup of nuun each.

Lane buddies: Derrek

Swim time: 1:19

Water Temp: at least 31

Hat Colour: Team Mermaids

—–

Tooting Bec Lido

It was a glorious day on Friday so Katie suggested a dip at the lido and it didn’t disappoint. We only did 200 yards but it was lush! One of the regulars suggested we did more than 2 lengths but we furiously clinged on to our excuse of having to swim another 10k, whilst we hauled ourselves out of the pool.

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Lane buddies: SLSC members and a duck

Swim time: 3 minutes

Water Temp: 12

Hat Colour: Team Mermaids

—–

Swimathon 2: Pancras Leisure

Time: 15:00

This is a relatively new pool, which Katie loves because of the purple wall they have in the pool area.  We again arrived 30 minutes pre our swim start and slowly got ready.  Once on poolside we spoke to our lane buddies and tried to suss each other out.  The other lady in the lane had a garmin 920 XT, a gel and a nice swimming costume… she must be good!  I straight out asked the guy what time he was hoping to do and he said 1:16/1:17 so I said he should lead, whilst Katie gave him dagger eyes.  He kindly said that if we wanted to pass him just to tap his feet, but I explained we had already done 1 * 5km and had another one to go so we would either welcome the drafting (or extra drafting in my case!) or be taking it steady a long way behind him as 1:19 was more what we were aiming for.  Katie was made to leave 5 seconds after him and there was 5 seconds between me and Katie.  The first 100 I turned in 1:23.. WTAF!  I was trying to bridge the gap to Katie and unknown to me Katie was trying to bridge the gap to the man, which would have been great if the dude could have paced.  He managed to overtake us twice, first time being after 600m and second 1800m and then didn’t again… that’s all you need to know about his pacing!  After the 1:23 I decided to let Katie do what she wanted to do and I was just going to accept my fate and just plod as I didn’t want to suffer for this crazy pace later on.  She did settle down but it was still punchy hence the rather swift time we posted.

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Lane buddies: Fast man with no passing and lady with pretty costume

Swim time: 1:15

Water Temp: 27 ish

Hat Colour: Pink (Katie), Black (Manda)

—-

Swimathon 3: Balham

Time: 18:00

We picked Balham for the final swim due to (a) proximity to our houses and (b) because this is where Katie always used to do the swimathon when she was a kid.

I went home to feed my baby pre final swimathon.  I also minced around a bit at home as I thought it didn’t start until 18:30 and therefore, needed to be there AROUND 6.  17:55 I rocked up at Balham leisure centre, had a chat to Dennis and Max, who were just leaving after having seen Katie and then walked towards leisure centre.  At this point, still thinking I had 30 minutes until swim start time, I realised I had left my pre swim nutrition of a crème egg in my car, so went back!!  When I finally got to leisure centre reception, whilst shoving a crème egg in my mouth, I saw Katie and others on poolside ready to go.  Uh Oh!

I ran to poolside and dumped all my stuff there.  Fortunately everyone was super relaxed about the start time, which would have annoyed me normally, but actually was to my benefit this time.

After the excitement of St. Pancras and with no one to race we settled back in to our normal plodding pace with a couple of stops for Lucozade.  Katie even forced me to go in front for 2km which I was not happy about.

After 4100m, we had a final drink of water and then with a chant of “so near, BUT YET SO FAR” Katie pushed off and 900m later we were done.

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Lane buddies: NO ONE 😀

Swim time: 1:19

Water Temp: 28 ish

Hat Colour: Black (Katie), White (Manda)

—-

Thanks to all the leisure centre staff who counted our laps today (even if we didn’t always agree with your counting!), dealt with us rocking up early, rocking up late and generally just being enthusiastic about the event.

Well done to everyone else who completed the 2017 swimathon especially to honorary mermaids Laura and Josie!

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Now what to do for 2018?

 

Olympic swimming lesson

Myself and Katie were at the London aquatic centre on Saturday (18 March), aka the London 2012 Olympic Pool, for a lesson with Olympians, power couple of GB swimming and founders of Triscape David Carry and Keri-Anne Payne.  Triscape is a health and lifestyle company that focuses on swimming coaching in various set ups and locations.

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Before heading to swim, we had a chat with David and Keri-Anne about our swimming, why we do it and what we wanted to get out of the lesson.  Katie wanted to know what dry land training she should be doing to compliment the swimming.  I decided to aim high and request to swim faster, longer and without shoulder pain. 

We made our way out to the pool and after a short pool side warm up, we plunged into our private lane and did a 300m swim, where we were told not to change anything yet but just to do our normal stroke.  I can do that!

Over the next hour, we covered 3 key elements to “straight line swimming”, the triscape swimming method.  We focused on our head position, breathing and rotation.

First thing to sort was head position.  We had to stop looking forward.  We watched a video Keri-Anne had taken of us swimming and watched David’s demo of the impact that his head position had on his body position and therefore, streamlinelyness (new word people – keep up) and it all made sense.  I like to look forward whilst swimming, as I need to know where Katie is at all times for fear of letting her get too far away or even worse tapping her toes (not her favourite thing!), but as soon as I did put my head down, I instantly felt the benefits. It is going to be a difficult one to crack, especially, as we get closer to public lido swimming, where unless you know what is going on around you, you are destined to bang heads with someone.

With the rotation theory, while I couldn’t feel the benefits to the same level, a simple pool side demo from Keri-Anne to show the impact it has on your shoulder muscles was enough to convince me that this is the path to shoulder pain relief.

Soon enough David was sprinting 50m to check he still has “it”* and our time was up.  Armed with our new technique we went into a public lane and did a short pyramid set to practice.  We both promised to make sure we put time in our sets to focus on getting this nailed…otherwise we might have to book ourselves on one of their trips abroad 😀

We both really enjoyed our coaching session and we would definitely recommend the session to other swimmers.

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*he does

 

 

 

10km pyramid

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After the success of 100 x 100m a few weeks ago everyone started getting very optimistic and suggesting more 10km sets.

This is how we ended up at Charlton Lido again on 12th March 2017 attempting a 10km pyramid.  We were a reduced group this time as Adrian way away skiing (I think he might have planned the trip to avoid the set) and Manda wasn’t very well.

So the set pretty much did what it says on the tin and went like this:

100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 600m, 700m, 800m, 900m, 1,000m, 900m, 800m, 700m, 600m, 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m.

We started off on 1.40sec per 100m pace but after the first 200m David took pity on my lack of rest and we moved up to 1.44sec per 100m pace (apparently Nils’ tempo trainer only goes up in 2 sec intervals)!

The day before the set I had run over 13 miles as part of the Swimmer so basically my only goal was to finish and if possible maintaining good (or at least good for me) technique.  At least this is my excuse for the awful times I posted!

Overall it was a good set and nice to tackle the distance in a different way to 100x100m.

Watch the space for more 10km sets in the future…

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The Swimmer

Back in the depths of winter last year Manda texted me to ask me if I was up for doing ‘The Swimmer’ in March. I hadn’t heard of the event before but with a name like that surely it was right up my street and I promptly accepted.

Fast forward a couple of months and we are having dinner with Laura and Josie our running friends and they are talking about an event where you run between London lidos and go for a dips in each. That sounds like fun I said – meaning fun for people who like running. At this point Manda pipes up and say ‘that is what you are doing in March’ errrrr no one mentioned running was part of The Swimmer. How much running I tentatively ask? 14 miles? What the bleep?!!

This was how I ended up nervously standing outside Gail’s at 7.30am on 12th March waiting for The Swimmer to begin.

So what does the event actually involve? We started at Hampstead Tube and ran up to the men’s ponds on the Health. This is probably a little over a mile. We then had a dip in the men’s ponds. The water temp was around 9 degrees. I climbed down the ladder on one side and planned to swim round to the other and climb out. When I got round to the other side thought there was about 10 people queuing to get out so I promptly swum back round to where I had started. I was not hanging about in 9 degrees.

We were just getting changed when someone came in to tell us the ‘good news’ – today was one of the only day of the year during which the ladies ponds are open to men and we were going there for a bonus dip!  The most common reaction to this news was ‘but I only brought four costumes!’

After we finished getting changed we set off on the roughly half mile run to the ladies ponds. The changing rooms have recently refurbished and are lovely. I would certainly recommend this as a place for a swim for any North London ladies.

After a short paddle around we were back on the road again down to Parliament Hill Lido. The pool water was slightly warmer than the ponds and I did a length (60m).

After Parliament Hill Lido the serious running began with a 6 mile traverse to the Serpentine. I was grateful for the Helen’s (@helenexpalinsit) company on the running as how shall I put it – well we were right at the back! We didn’t arrive too far behind everyone and I enjoyed my half-length in the Serpentine with the ducks to cool off!

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After some cake we started on the final 6 miles down to Brockwell Lido. This is where the running started to get pretty tough. Helen and I kept the pace steady though and we made it to Brockwell by around 12pm for a final one length.

Overall it was a fun, relaxed and friendly event. Manda had given her ticket to Lucinda Bayliss and it was really nice to catch-up with her and her husband Mark about their summer race plans. The longest I have ever run before in one go is 7 miles the one time Manda and I ran round Richmond park and it almost killed us so the distance was definitely a challenge for me but it was manageable as you have the breaks for the swim.

The Swimmer is run monthly over the winter and you can check out the website here. http://www.theswimmer.org/

I could potentially be tempted to try the Olympic Odyssey…

Gold In the Water – A review

GIW

About 3 years ago Amanda lent me her copy of Gold in the Water by PH Mullen. I pretty much only ever read now on my Kindle so I read about 8 pages and then gave up. Books are just too big to carry around and I ended up returning it to Amanda 2 and a half years later unread.

Gold in the Water has however recently been published on Kindle so I gave it a second try and I am so glad I did as it is magnificent.

The book tells the tale of the once glorious but now a bit down at heal Santa Clara swimming team in California and its swimmers as they prepare for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.  This is a time when no one has even heard of Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe was still referred to as a promising teenager!  Both are now comfortably retired after glittering careers which shows you how long ago 2000 is now.

The book opens by depicting a showdown between rookie Tom Wilkens and veteran Kurt Grote as they race the 200m breaststroke at the 1998 Pan Pacs. This thrust you right into the action and the drama giving you a taster of what is to come in the remainder of the book. This time the experience of the veteran prevails.

Gold in the water focuses on the stories of 5 or 6 swimmers and their old school, unbending coach Dick Jochums as they individually strive to reach the same goal – a place on the Olympic team.

You have the all American Tom Wilkens, Kurt Grote who is combining swimming with a medical degree, the analytical Dod Wales whose father was an Olympian, the reluctant and depressed Tate Biancci and Moldovan refugee Serghei Mariniuc who trains a few times a week for fun. You even have a brief guest appearance from Team Mermaids hero Dara Torres as she prepares for her first comeback.

The book draws such a vivid, insightful picture of the ups and downs of the swimmers’ journeys that you can almost smell the chlorine and feel the lactic acid in your blood as you read.  It is not just a the story of the swimmers though as it also tells that tale of their coach Dick Jochums as he searches for redemption through them.  Jochums promising early coaching career hit the skids after he over trained his first prodigy Tim Shaw and after allegations of financial irregularities at his former swimming club.  Jochums returns to Santa Clara aiming to return it and through it himself back to its former glory.  Jochums is a coach of basic principles.  He doesn’t believe in any of this modern technology rubbish and gives the swimmers the same few basic work outs on rotation with a firm focus on race pace speed every day.  He is an anti-hero, deeply flawed but passionate man.  He wants desperately for his swimmers to succeed even if he doesn’t always do the right things to make that happen.

It is such a page turner that you forget that this is not just a story but a depiction of real life. **spoiler alert** This makes is even more heart-breaking when not one of the swimmers get their fairy tale ending. Grote, after taking a year off med school injures his knee and can barely train. Wales falls victim to his old flaws of a too conservative first 50m and touched third in the 100m fly at the Olympic trials. He is not destined to follow in his fathers’ footsteps. The saddest of all in Tom Wilkens who after all the thousands of kms swum and all the stellar times posted, cracks under pressure at trials and fails to qualify for his favoured event the 400m IM. He does qualify for the 200m breaststroke and 200m IM in which after a race of epic determination he wins a bronze medal in Sydney.

We would both thoroughly recommend this book to everyone whether you are a fan of swimming or not.

You can buy Gold in the Water here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Gold-Water-Story-Ordinary-Their-Extraordinary-Olympic/0312311168

Holy Mama yoga retreat – Ibiza

It was back in a very cold and miserable January 2016 when my friend Helen suggested that we went away on a Holy Mama (a mum and baby) yoga retreat in Ibiza.  An exercise based holiday with free (included in the price) child care in sunny Ibiza? I (Katie) of course jumped at the idea.

So at the start of October Max and I joined Helen and her baby #3 and Sara and her baby #2 on a 7am flight to Ibiza Town. Everyone agreed Dennis was getting the best deal with a child free week at home!  Although as we were off on holiday we were getting a pretty good deal too.

The retreat took place across three villas a short walk from each other and about a 20 min drive from the airport.  Generally the days started with a morning yoga class for an hour and a half.  During this time the babies were cared for by qualified nannies.

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Our beautiful orange grove (plus Helen baby #3!)

All the nannies were really lovely and friendly.  The yoga class was held (weather depending) under some orange trees which was such a tranquil surrounding.  Yoga was followed by a child free brunch which was an opportunity to chat to Helen and Sara and the other guests.

I enjoyed the yoga on the trip. I personally prefer more of a flow yoga series and the practice on the trip was more of the long hold variety which I am less keen on. I did feel like I learnt some new poses and improved my technique though and our teacher Anna was really sweet. The best bit was that at the end of each class she used to put a blanket over us while we were on savasana and put essential oils on our foreheads. Lying there listening to the wind was bliss.  On the first day of the trip the morning  was spent getting the babies used to the carers so the yoga class was moved to the afternoon and the babies came along too.  Now it is quite hard to be zen with a toddler who has refused to nap all day climbing over you so that was not my favourite class.

This was explained in the holiday material which I had uncharacteristically read quite thoroughly .  I didn’t realise this in advance however so it was quite disappointing.

Other than the first day we had our afternoons free to explore Ibiza.  Ibiza is quite a small island and generally easy to get round so we felt like we had a good explore visiting Ibiza town, local villages and beaches on each side of the island.>

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Artistic ice cream from Ibiza Town

The villa we were staying in was nice and spacious with a lovely balcony and pool.  Our villa was the ‘kitchen’ of the trip with all food being prepared there. This had its advantages in that we were close to the food but also meant that we had people in our villa from about 8am until around 8pm at night which grated after a bit.  Early in the holiday we also felt that we needed to wait for people to leave before cracking out the wine and Oreos (as we worried these might be frowned upon) but later in the week we cared less about this! The accommodation has moved for the 2017 season so will be slightly different.  I saw some photos and it looked lovely.

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The view of our courtyard and pool

I am reliably informed by Helen and Sara and others on the trip that the food was amazing. I am such a fussy eater though that I didn’t enjoy loads of it but as I kept on saying to the chef this is my fault rather than the food’s.  All the food was organic and most of it was vegan (unapproved Oreos aside!).

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Me a bit sceptical about green juice

The holiday also included a facial or pedicure from a nearby spa which was lovely, as well as two evening mediation sessions with babysitting included.  We went to the first session which was dance mediation but decided to give the second a miss in favour of going out for cocktails!

Would I recommend it?   Before I went on the trip I had built it up in my mind expecting it to be THE BEST TRIP EVER and as with everything like this there were bits that were rough around the edges so I was a bit disappointed at that.  However, looking back  now I remember all the things I enjoyed more than the things I didn’t, like getting to spend time with friends I don’t see that much and time with Max.   Overall therefore if you like yoga I would certainly recommend it as something to do with friends and  kids.

http://www.holy-mama.com/

100 x 100m – 2017 edition

Early one morning I (Katie) received a text from Brian which broadly said “sooooo David, Nils and I were chatting and we are planning to do 100 x 100m soon. Are you keen?”  Challenging though it is, I love doing 100 x 100m so I was definitely in.

The negotiations then started. The first point of order was where and when.  We quickly agreed on 5 February 2017 at the Charlton Lido.  While it is a bit of a drive away Charlton is a no brainer for big sets.  Not only it is a heated 50m outdoor pool but it is also a real swimmers pool.  Everyone there has good swim etiquette which makes for a much less stressful experience.

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A peaceful lido – photo from Sally Goble

The second point was a bit harder to resolve – what time were we going to swim off? Nils and David are much faster than the rest of us and wanted to go off 100 secs.  Whenever I have done the set in the past I have always swum it off 1 min 50s i.e. 110 secs.  100 x 100m off 100 secs does have a nice ring to it though and I thought, provided I maintained a steady speed, it should be okay.

The day before the swim there was lots of whatsapp chat about nutrition – Adrian offering to bring David gin kind of bants – and nerves. There was also a last minute panic as the website said the pool was only open form 9am – 12pm.  Now the set would take nearly that amount of time so everyone was instructed to arrive dressed to swim with garmins pre-set to a 50m pool length.

Everyone obeyed instructions and we managed to get in the water for 9.02am. Nils led the first 10 reps and after the obligatory first rep keenness everything went smoothly.  I was typically coming in around 1.32 pace giving me around 8 seconds rest.  David led the second block of 10 and everything went a bit crazy with the leading four doing well under 1.30 pace.  I was like hang on a moment guys, there are 80 more to go let’s not go crazy here so Manda and I stuck to the 1.31 / 1.32 pace.  This meant that I didn’t have as much draft as the others were so far ahead but on the whole I think it was better to keep a steady pace.  Brian and Adrian led blocks 30 to 40 at a much more reasonable pace and Nils led the final 10 before the chat / toilet break.  So far so good with Manda and I holding a steady pace at the back and we were feeling good.

Again there was the obligatory post break keenness coming in at 1.26 before settling back down into the 1.31 / 1.32 pace again. We were much closer to the group now so were getting the benefit of draft so the combination of the pace and rest was very comfortable.  The early fast pace was starting to tell up front over the last 20 – 25 reps and I moved up behind Nils who was now leading.  I did feel a bit bad after spending 80 reps drafting to go in front but hopefully the others didn’t mind and they had some draft in return!   I was then effectively leading the pack as Nils was so far head.  This and trying to hit a slightly faster pace made the final 15 tough going but it was good to have a bit of a challenge at the end.

And then we were done! I was a bit disgruntled that I wasn’t allowed to do the last 2 as swim down and had to do EXTRA swim down after the end.  A combination of the short rest and discipline around the start and breaks meant that we finished in 2h 45 minutes in total only to find out afterwards that the pool was actually open until 5pm so there was no need to rush.

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Nils still smilling after 91 100s – photo from Sally Goble

Afterwards there were six very tired and wrinkly swimmers in reception with some terrible goggle marks. Despite this I thoroughly enjoyed the swim and it feels like a really achievement afterwards to have finished.

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UK Cold Water Swimming Championships

After having my baby in June I (Manda) had a somewhat compressed season, where I trained solely in Tooting Bec lido. As the water temperature dropped at the lido I was still going down once or twice a week and before I knew it, it was 10 degrees and I was truly hooked on the challenge of cold water swimming.

So when the entries for the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships (UKCWSC) came up and it was still a positively tropical 7/8 degrees at the lido, we enthusiastically signed up for a 4×1 width relay. As Brian commented ‘how cold could 33 yards be?’

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The UKCWSC take place at Tooting Bec Lido every 2 years. It is a championships but it feels more like a festival of cold water and all the people that dare to swim in it. Everyone and anyone is encouraged to have a go at events ranging from Crisis’ Big splash to the head up breaststroke with added hat competition to 99 yards freestyle.

After signing up, autumn became winter and … well… it got cold…. MIGHTY cold. I was collecting used milk cartons at home for the igloo (see photo below) that Barbara from SLSC was building for the champs and as the cartons piled up, it was a daily reminder that I hadn’t swum at the lido for a while. Brian and David (the 4th member of Team Mermaids for the UKCWSC), taking the challenge seriously, carried on swimming at Tooting Bec and Parliament Hill respectively. Although I am pretty sure David took his time in the sauna more seriously than the swimming. Katie, like me, had been nowhere near the lido since it hit 7 degrees.

The water was hovering around 4 degrees and then no sooner had the Christmas baubles been packed away the weather in London became baltic, but the UKCWSC wasn’t until 28/1 so there was plenty of time for the weather to get better and for the water to warm up. Right??

Finally the day arrived and the water was 1.5 degrees (Lynne Cox would be proud). As we registered we tried to distract ourselves from our pending doom by having a look around all the fabulous stalls. It was like the Team Mermaids’ Christmas wish list in real life!!


After our briefing from Giles, current president of SLSC, we headed to our respective sides of the lido. I said good bye to Katie, whilst giving her the look of “we can still not do this” but off she marched and I knew my fate was sealed.

Brian was leading us off, then Katie, then me and then David would bring us home. David chose to swim last as there was a lower probability of him having to swim as I was 3rd. Now there is an urban myth about me and cold water swimming that goes something like this:

Once upon a time Manda decided to do the OSS December dip with the other Mermaids. The water was a balmy 5 degrees. The mermaids got in and swam. Manda got in, walked for 5 metres, then turned around and got out. Dom was disgusted. They all lived happily ever after.

So in short I was a massive flight risk. I didn’t know whether once in the water I would just get out. As much as I had psyched myself up for actually swimming the width, I knew that I wouldn’t be in control of myself, so I had to just hope that I actually started swimming and made it to the other side.

With shouts of “get your shoulders under the water” Brian was off… I was sheepishly standing on poolside waiting to remove my final layers of clothes… then Katie got in and took over. Now standing poolside in just my costume… She was getting closer… too close… so I got in and then…

NOTHING!

The next thing I remember is my feet hurting and then hurling myself on poolside in probably the most unlady like fashion ever.

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Victorious that I had actually made it to the other side, I returned to my family. Whilst asking me how it was, I proclaimed in my post swim euphoria “I don’t even remember Katie touching the wall”. Dom replied “that’s because you were already swimming when she touched. Your take off was dodgy to say the least”. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? I couldn’t remember her touching the wall but surely I waited?! I decided to tell the team what Dom had said so that if we did suffer any penalties then at least it would be clear whose fault it was. Then Lisa, who had come to spectate, sent through some photos of our race and there it was in all its photographic glory. Katie gliding into the wall and me already a couple of metres away!

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In the end we came 7th in our category and had PENALTY next to us, but then again so did most teams. Next time we are going for the win (if they let me in the team again!)

Big thanks to SLSC as the event organisation and execution was supreme and well done to everyone who was involved in the event.

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Floating igloo on the lido

100 x 100m – 2016 edition

This Sunday (5 February 2017) Team Mermaids and friends are going to attempt the legendary 100x100m set. I (Katie) have been reminiscing therefore about the last time we did this set at the preparation.

50 x 100m at Charlton Lido

On 20th February 2016 Manda and I went down to Charlton for a warm up 50 x 100m session.  We swam off the following intervals for anyone thinking of doing the set.

Reps Distance Goal time Rest Total
10 100m 1.40 10 secs 1000m
10 100m 1.36 15 secs 1000m
10 100m 1.33 20 secs 1000m
10 100m 1.30 25 secs 1000m
10 100m 1.33 – 1.40 Off 1.50 1000m
Total 5000m

64 x c.110m at Oasis outdoor pool

Given that I was almost about to collapse after 50 x 100m I thought it would be advisable to maybe try and build up gradually rather that jumping straight in to an additional 50 reps. I therefore managed to persuade Brian to do 70 x 100m with me a few weeks later.  Due to it being Swimathon weekend pool times were somewhat restricted so we swam in the outdoor pool at Oasis.  This pool is 30 yards long so we ended up actually swimming 64 x c.110m for 7,022m.  Those additional 10m feel loooong I tell you.

I think Brian was smoking something he shouldn’t have been with the first intervals he suggested but I managed to talk some sense into him and we swam off the following times.

Count Distance What 110m pace equiv 100m pace Recovery Total
10 110 Warmup 01:46 01:37 10 secs 1100
10 110 Easy 01:43 01:34 10 secs 1100
10 110 Moderate 01:39 01:31 10 secs 1100
4 110 Hard 01:36 01:29 10 secs 440
Toilet break
10 110 Hard 01:39 01:31 10 secs 1100
10 110 Moderate 01:43 01:34 10 secs 1100
10 110 Easy 01:46 01:37 10 secs 1100
Total 7040

We made it through although I was pretty tired by the end!

100 x 100m at Charlton Lido

On 16th April 2016 it was finally time for the big one – 100 x 100m.  We headed back to Charlton Lido as what better place to swim that an outdoor headed 50m pool.

We swam off 1 minute 50 reps aiming for the following times:

Block Target time
1 1m 40s
2 1m 37s
3 1m 35s
4 1m 31s
5 1m 28s
6 1m 40s
7 1m 37s
8 1m 35s
9 1m 33s
10 1m 40s

As ever the set was a massive challenge but also lots of fun.

Wish us luck for the weekend! If anyone is keen to come and join us we will be therefore from 9am.  Check out the blog shortly for 100x 100m the 2017 edition!