Tooting Bec Lido Sessions (100 yards)

Glossary:

L = Length

E = EASY

M= MEDIUM

H = HARD

SR = Seconds Rest

BP = Breathing pattern, so BP3 = Breathing every 3


4400 yds

10L WU

1L HARD

3L MOD

5L HARD

7L MOD

7L MOD

5L HARD

3L MOD

1L HARD

2L SWIM DOWN


 

3200 yds

4L WU

2*4L build through. So first length EASY then by last length SPRINT

10L @ 70%

2*4L reverse build through.  So first length SPRINT then by last length EASY

2L SWIM DOWN


3200 yds

6L WU

4*1L HARD 20 SR

4*2L ALT 1 length HARD, 1 EASY. 20 SR

4*3L E,M,H. 20 SR

2L SWIM DOWN


3200 yds

6L WU

2*1L H

2L M

2*2L H

4L M

2*3L H

6L M

2L swim down


 

3600 yds

4L warm up

5*2L 15 SR @ 75%

2*5L MAX EFFORT.  1 MIN REST BETWEEN. Aim for same time on both.

5*2L 15 SR @ 75%

2L swim down


4200 yds

4L warm up

4L catchup

4L M

4L BP3 @ M

4L 15 strokes off wall hard, easy to wall

4L ALT H , E

4L 15 strokes off wall hard, easy to wall

4L BP3 @ M

4L M

4L catchup

2L swim down


3600 yds

4L warm up

4*1L half length drill choice, half length easy 15 SR

1L H

2L 20 strokes off each wall Sprint, M to wall

3L M

4L 20 strokes off each wall Sprint, M to wall

6L alternate H, E per length.

4L 20 strokes off each wall Sprint, M to wall

3L M

2L 20 strokes off each wall Sprint, M to wall

1L H

2L swim down

 


3200 yds

10L Warm up

10L up hard, back easy

2*3L hard 10 SR

2*2L hard 10 SR

2L swim down


4400 yds

10L WU

10L swam as 2E,2M,2H,2M,2E

10 X 1L Odd lengths 15 strokes sprint, easy to wall.  Even lengths 15 stroke fists, M to wall. 10 SR

10L swam as 2H, 2 BP3, 2M, 2 BP5, 4E, 2M, 2 BP5, 2H, 2M

4L SWIM DOWN


3000 yds

10L (1000yd) warm up

10L HARD UP/EASY BACK

5*2L 15 SR : E , M , H , M , E


8000 yds

25L: 10L EASY, 10L Medium, 5L hard.

20L: 4*5L

1) E,M,H,M,E

2) M,E,H,E,M

3) H,E,M,E,H

4) E,H,M,H,E

15L E,M,H until end.  No rest!

10L UP HARD BACK EASY

5L 5*1L sprint.  30 SR

5L swim down


3400 yds

10L warm up

8L 4*2L HARD 20 SR

6L E,M,H,E,M,H

4L 15 strokes off wall Sprint

2L SPRINT

4L swim down


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Kings Cross Pond Club

I (Manda) somehow managed to persuade/bully a few work colleagues and fellow merm Kate into meeting me at Kings Cross one Friday morning with a lovely invite that said something like ‘start the weekend early with a Friday pre work dip followed by coffee and pastries’. Ok, I didn’t mention to the colleagues the water wouldn’t be heated. I didn’t mention that the dip would be taking place in a pond. And I didn’t mention said pond was in a building site… So foolishly they agreed.

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I’ve wanted to go up to Kings Cross Pond Club since I first heard about the idea and my desire was only increased after going to a talk with Kate at the British Library about the project.

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Photo courtesy of Inti Ocean 😀

The pond is a very simple set up. There are several lockers, a few changing rooms and outdoor showers. Currently you need to book when the tickets become available, 2 weeks before session, as every session appears to be a sell-out. There are 4 sessions in a day, which allows only 163 swimmers to swim each day. A precise number is driven by a calculation to determine the number of swimmers that allow water quality to be maintained, therefore, showering pre pond paddle is essential.

The pond is 40m long but is split into a swimming area and a plant area. The swimming area is perfectly long enough for some up and down swimming, but isn’t long enough to train and the pond isn’t designed for this anyway. The sessions cover 2 hours but you are only going to stay in for on average 30 minutes, so that means that whilst we were there, there was only ever 3 more people in the pond with our little group.

We paddled and chatted for about 30 minutes and once the sun appeared over the one of the surrounding buildings we sat basking and laughing at Vlad’s frozen face, whilst builders casually ate their bacon butties the other side of the fence.

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Afterwards, we headed for coffee and a pastry at Noble espresso at their pop up outside of Kings Cross station before being at our desks for 8am.

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Perfect way to start the weekend 😀

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Night Swimmer (Sandford Parks Lido) July 2015

On Friday myself (Manda), Brian and fellow Tuesday Night swimmers, Adrian, aka Dad Carr and David, aka Uncle Davey, went up to Cheltenham’s Lido, Sandford Parks, for a 12 hour night relay called Night Swimmer.

Once again, this seemed like a great idea in January, but as the date got closer and the reality of rain throughout the night got realer, I questioned why I do this to myself!

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This was the first time this race has taken place and I am sure if they do again some of the format might change but this was the information this year:

  • Non stop swimming 8pm -> 8pm
  • Teams must be made up of a minimum of 3 persons with a maximum of 10 per team.
  • Self-officiating from the participants i.e one team member not swimming is lap counter
  • Teams must submit their order of swimmers.  Teams must stick to the submitted order and each swimmer should only swim up to a maximum of 1 hour at a time.
  • In the unfortunate event of injury, teams may change the submitted order.
  • Wetsuits allowed
  • Water approx 24 degrees

Being the girl of the team, I let the men put up the tent in the rain (thanks guys!!), which would be used to keep everything dry and a place for a brief respite out of the rain.

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There was 24 teams participating over 8 lanes, so we were sharing our lane with 2 other teams.  This meant there only 3 people in the lane at any point, which made things easier the tireder you got.

There were differing opinions of the time tactics that we should do.  As a one-pace-wonder I gain no benefit/speed from doing shorter stints, so I preferred the option of longer legs, however, the boys thinking they would gain from doing shorter stints thought that doing 20 minute legs would be better.  I also thought descending intervals would be best, 40 mins -> 30 mins -> 20 mins as once fatigue sets in you want to be swimming less. So we agreed on 30 minutes x 2 each, then drop to 20 minute stints for remaining 8 hours.

Once we started we realised that it wasn’t so much the time in the water that should determine the intervals but more the time out of the water.  The 2 hour cycle went like this: SWIM, DRY/CHANGE/EAT, LAP COUNT, DOWNTIME/GET READY, REPEAT.  When you remove 40 minutes of that 2 hour cycle everything gets a little bit more hectic. I mean how am I meant to eat a pack of jaffas in that time!! We decided to change to 4* 30 minutes then 3* 20 minutes to bring us home.

The hardest part was the 1am -> 4am stint where, even though the rain had stopped, it was dark, everything I owned was now soaked and I was warmer and happier in the water.  There were a couple of times when I was supposedly lap-counting for uncle Davey when someone had to point out that it had been a few minutes and I hadn’t marked any laps!  Maybe next time we should get someone not swimming to be the lap counter.

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The sun then rose and everything was right in the world again apart from now I was dropping off whilst sitting on a chair on pool side, so I said I needed to get back in the water asap as it was the only way I was going to stay awake.  The drop to 20 minutes was needed at this point.  Myself, Brian and Adrian also put on our wetsuits for the 20 minute slots as Uncle Davey was concerned we were going to lose 2nd spot.

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8am arrived and everyone had finished.  We had managed 923 laps between the 4 of us, which was 46.15km, of which I swam ~11km of it.  Well done Uncle Davey for doing 12km.  Our distance got us 2nd and my desire to not wear a wetsuit got me a nasty look from Uncle Davey, who was convinced we could have taken the win if we would have worn wetsuits throughout.  Glouchester Masters won with around 49.2km.  Well done guys.

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I think 50km is realistic… next year anyone??

Thanks to Sandford Park lido team for putting on a great event that can only get more popular.

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Things I would do differently:

More dry clothes.  I was so concerned about not wanting to over pack and struggle to carry stuff that I didn’t take enough.

6 people.  I think 6 people would have allowed us to get closer to 50km and also meant more time to chill out inbetween swims.

Wetsuits.  Not sure how I would feel keeping a wetsuit on for 12 hours but that would definitely make things faster, especially for the boys, who seem to gain alot more from a wetsuit than us mermaids.

Bigger Tent.  This would be a luxury.  Travelling up on the train meant a smaller, lighter tent was needed but this meant that things got wet in there quickly.

Joint stop watch.  We were using our watches/phones to decide when the swimmers time was up.  This worked well for the most part but did lead to small variations so would have been better to have one joint timing device,

Great London Swim 2015

On 18th July 2015, Manda and Katie took part in the Great London Swim. The swim is in the Royal Victoria Docks out by the ExCel centre in East London. It has been four years since we last raced on this ‘home’ course. Back then one mile felt like a long race but now it is definitely considered to be a sprint!

The day started at 9.30am with a family half mile wave followed by 11 one mile waves. Manda and I opted for the 3pm wave on the basis that most people would prefer to swim earlier in the day and therefore this wave should be less crowded. We were right and there was only about 30 people in this final wave of the day.

The course is a big rectangle very clearly marked with buoys  around every 200m. I really liked this as it gave you a good idea of progress and had meant that I planned to sprint the last 200m but was just too tired! At the start of the swim if felt like there was a strong current pushing you to the side. This calmed down once you hit the top right corner and was pretty calm along the straight. I had to stop dead twice though to adjust my hat which kept on falling off! When you turned back towards the docks at the end of the straight there was quite a wind which made for choppy progress and the second half was slower going than the first.

Manda finished in 25m 18s and was third female and 18th overall – well done Manda! Although I think she was a bit disappointed after having gone a minute faster in skins the week before at the lido. I was pleased with my 26m 24s, and 8th female and 34th overall place though. Pivo also competed in an earlier wave and finished in 26m 25s. Overall a whopping 1,052 people took part in the event – a lot of people taking part for the first time.

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As ever the Great London Swim was professional and slickly organised. The event is good value for money and you get a cool goody bag including a t-shirt. It is also nice to not have to get up at the crack of dawn to race and to be able to take the tube!

A special mention goes to Manda’s husband, Dom’s mum, Sarah, for watching Max for me while I swam – thank you!

Sean Conway: Hell and High Water

Both Katie and I have just finished reading Sean Conway’s ‘Hell and High Water’. The book has caused much debate between the extended mermaid gang and Katie and I have exchanged numerous whatsapp messages as the tale unfolded while we were reading.

Hell and High Water tells of Sean’s attempt to become the first person to swim the length of Britain. Sean talks of how he was frustrated with his ‘regular’ life and turned to extreme adventures instead. His attempt to cycle across America had been cut short when he was hit by a vehicle and therefore he was looking for a new challenge. Sean had swum regularly as a kid in Zimbabwe but was not an experienced open water swimmer as an adult.

The book starts by talking about preparation and funding with many amusing tales – buying a boat from eBay, his friend quitting his job to skipper for him to name a couple. The main part of the book though is focused on the actual swim itself. Sean starts from Lands End in June 2013 swimming north to John O’Groats via the east coast of Ireland. He initially anticipated that the swim would take something like 90 days but it ended up taking 135 days with Sean eventually completing the challenge on 11 November 2013.

There is no doubt what Sean achieved is an absolutely amazing accomplishment. He swam 1,400km in total often swimming for several hours each day. Swimming in the sea adds an extra dimension. Battling the waves is extremely tiring but you get a boost from the tide. Sean also raised thousands of pounds for War Child his chosen charity. He should be celebrated for all these achievements.

Notwithstanding all of this, reading the book is kind of frustrating. Sean approaches the swim in a pretty haphazard way. He admits that due to focusing so much on raising money to do the swim he hasn’t really trained that much and he hadn’t even tried on his wetsuit. His original plan was to swim around the coast of Wales but he then changes his mind and swims up the coast of Ireland. This decision turns out to have pitfalls as progress is slow and before they cross back to England/Scotland his skipper leaves the swim to return to work leaving Sean effectively stranded in Ireland for weeks until they luckily find a new skipper.

Without wanting to sound like the start of a year 8’s 500 word essay titled ‘what is adventure’, the English dictionary defines adventure as “an unusual and exciting or daring experience”. Now the world is discovered and technology is only progressing, adventure and adventurers have taken on different methods of ensuring what they are doing is exciting, unusual and daring. On reading the book I couldn’t help feeling that Sean partly misses the beauty of adventure in its purest state by being distracted by the ‘adventure’ being created from the poor preparation. When the excitement in the adventure is possibly from being in silly situations rather than discovering new things, you lose the beauty.

What Sean did was a great achievement, there is no denying that, so Chapeau Sean, Chapeau. However, I wonder how much better it would have been for him with just a little bit more consideration for what lay ahead.

Sean previously had cycled from Lands End to John o’Groats. Following the swim he decided to also run the route and therefore is the first person to complete a length of Britain triathlon!

Touch the Wall: a tale of two swimmers

At Team Mermaids we love swimming and we love the cinema so when Brian invited us to go and watch the first international screening of Touch the Wall we were there!

Touch the Wall tells the story of rising swimming star Missy Franklin and two time Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Missy is just 15/16 at the start of the documentary training with the Colorado Stars. She is unproven but there are high expectations of success from the swimming community. Kara Lynn has already competed in two Olympics winning four silver medals in the freestyle and medley 4×100 relays at Athens and Beijing. Kara Lynn’s choice to move to train with the mainly teenage Colorado Stars raises eyebrows in some quarters but her and Missy quickly build a good relationship and benefit from training with each other. Ultimately Kara Lynn, however, decides that the Colorado Stars is not for her and moves to swim with a pro team with other swimmers in their early twenties.

The documentary is a fascinating look at swimming from opposite ends of the career spectrum. Missy can’t put a foot wrong, going from strength to strength, while Kara Lynn struggles, loses her funding and is disappointed with performances. Watching Kara Lynn struck a cord for me, whether you are swimming at elite level or amateur level giving it you all and everything not quite coming together is no fun.

At the Olympic trials Missy qualified to swim in four individual events in London. Kara Lynn puts in a fantastic performance to come second and qualify for the U.S. Olympic team for a third time in the 50m beating Team Mermaids new hero, Dara Torres to the spot.

In London Missy wins four gold medals in the 100 back, 200 back (in a new world record time), 4x200m free reply, 4x100m medley relay and a bronze in the 4×100 freestyle relay and catapults herself into world stardom. In the documentary Missy comes across as a genuinely lovely person. She swims for her high school team treating the meets as seriously as world champs. She turns down turning pro as it has always been her passion to swim at collage level (she goes on to swim at UC Berkeley for the Cal Bears).

I loved watching this documentary – it is funny and touching and for swimmers there is lots to identify with. The scene were Kara Lynn throws a strop at coach Todd over a set made us laugh as this is something Manda and I have done a ‘few’ times ourselves (poor Terry and Dan)! The scenes from London 2012 brought back all the good memories of the summer and the amazing job that London did hosting the games. Kara Lynn herself was at the screening to introduce the documentary along with her husband who she met during the filming.

I would thoroughly recommend this documentary about these two amazing ladies.

SLSC Tooting Bec Lido 1 mile race

In 2011 Katie and I participated in the SLSC 1 mile race where we got beaten badly. Our egos were so badly bruised we haven’t made it back to an SLSC race since, despite me claiming that I will do the weekly Sunday races every year but never have. This year the 1 mile race was being held on a Friday and both Katie and I were available and headed on down.

They held a kids’ race and then a half mile race prior to the 1 mile. One of the kids was a child after our own hearts as she did our favourite stroke, the not yet officially recognised, “kick-on-the-back”. Note: WHEN this becomes an Olympic sport me and Katie have got the 1, 2 locked down.

The mile race starts half way down the pool and then once you get to the other end it is 17 lengths from there as the lido is 100 yards long. Katie got in and immediately declared “ooh this is cold without my wetsuit”. Now if there was a top 10 of things you shouldn’t say around people who swim in skins all year round in a non-heated lido, then that must be in the top 3. The only thing she might have said that would have been worse is “just going to have a little wee to warm this water up for you all”.

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Off we swam. Despite the back and forth nature, no collisions were experienced and everyone looked out for each other. I managed a respectful 24:50, which is actually a 40 second improvement since 2011 and Katie came in shortly after me. The ladies winner was the lady who beat us last time, whilst then heavily pregnant! Well done Nancy.

I had a celebratory cupcake (thanks Katie) and headed to bed for an early night as we were back at the lido for 6am the next morning for a 7000 yd swim.

Team Mermaids uber supporter

On the 29th June 2015, my Mum, Liz, Team Mermaids uber supporter, passed away. As I kid my Mum gave up nearly all of her free time driving me to and from Crystal Palace and various other pools on the SW and SE London areas. She spent a good many of her weekends at galas and open meets waiting all day to watch me swim for 30 seconds. I can truly say that it is wasn’t for all her help and support I wouldn’t have been able to carry on swimming. Swimming has brought me so many friends and been so much fun over the years and I thank her for that.

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Even when I was an adult Mum was always offering to drive Team Mermaids to various lakes to watch us swim – at least the races are a bit longer these days! Mum and my sister even made the trip out to New York to watch us swim round Manhattan in 2012 (although I think a week in New York might be been part of the attraction!). In 2014 Mum drove up to Windermere to watch Amanda, Dave and I do our two way relay. This involved crossing the lake no less than four times before driving all the way back to London so she could fly to Singapore the next day to visit my sister.

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Earlier this year mum was a massive help to me during the winter pool challenge, driving me to far flung pools and watching Max for me while I swam. I think she actually got pretty in to it and she started calling me and asking which pools we were visiting this week!

The last time my mum saw me swim was at the swimathon on 17th April this year. I feel this is a fitting finale as she loved the swimathon and watched me nearly every time I have swim it over the past 25 years. She will very much be missed.

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Dara Torres: Age is just a number

Back in January Manda lent me a copy of Dara Torres’ autobiography ‘Age is just a number’ for some post baby swimspiration. What with having a new baby and all I only just got round to reading it.

I didn’t know much about Dara before the reading the book but her tale is fascinating and it made me realise what an incredible sports woman she is. Dara has competed in five Olympic Games winning a whopping 12 medals. The last games Dara competed was in the 2008 Beijing when she was 41 years old and had a two year old daughter. The book covers the whole of Dara’s career but mainly focuses on her preparation for Beijing, the different strategy she needed as an older athlete and combining motherhood with being a top level athlete.

Dara competed in the Games in 1984 in Los Angeles, 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona winning relay medals with Team USA but underperforming in her individual events. She made a come back in 2000 for the Sydney Games finally winning the converted individual medals Bronzes in the 50m and 100m free and 100m butterfly.

When Dara fell pregnant with her much longed for daughter, Tessa she started swimming again for fitness. She soon got the bug again and started planning a comeback after Tessa’s birth. It is really interesting to understand how Dara did things differently an older athlete. In short this meant less mileage, lighter weights and ‘mashing’ a form of resistance stretching. Dara put in her best individual Olympic performance winning silver in the 50m free missing out of Gold by just 0.01 – heartbreaking!

Reading this book has given me some faith that it is possible to get in back the water and even improve after having had a baby. The book took on another dimension for me as while I was reading it my mother passed away suddenly. Dara’s father passed away as she was preparing for the 2008 Games and I found reading about her experience a comfort.

I really enjoyed the book. It is a page turner for swimmers and non swimmers alike.

Oxford vs Cambridge at the Henley Classic

The dawn of Saturday 28th June 2015 saw the Oxford and Cambridge teams line up on the Henley regatta course for the varsity open water swimming matches. The student varsity match was first held in 2014 and proved so popular that the organisers decided to add an alumni match as well this year.

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The matches were held as part of the Henley Classic event. This is a lovely race which was been going for many years now and one that Team Mermaids did in 2011. It is always held at dawn (4.30am!) on the Sunday before Henley Regatta starts on Wednesday. The swim is 2.1km upstream along the regatta course.

The format of the varsity and alumni match is that four ladies and four men compete for each university with the fastest three times for each sex counting towards the overall result. The swim operates on channel swim rules i.e. skins! Although this wasn’t made clear to all the alumni swimmers in advance, so as it was the first year some people were allowed to wear wetsuits (but won’t be next year!!).

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Kate and I (Katie) swam for the Cambridge alumni team. I would like to say that it was very competitive to be selected for the team but in reality pretty much anyone who wanted to swim was welcome! The student match set off at 5.45am with the alumni match setting off a few minutes later with an altogether much more sportive atmosphere to it! Marisa and Katia started off strong for Oxford with Jo and Rachel for Cambridge hot on their heels. Jo ended up winning the race, and Kate and I managed to come in fifth and sixth ahead of the final two Oxford girls (Anna and Katie)

Cambridge varsity and alumni teams before the start of the races
Cambridge varsity and alumni teams before the start of the races

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I really enjoyed the race even though towards the end if felt like the finish was never going to arrive. Oxford were victorious in the men’s and women’s student match and the men’s alumni match – well done Oxford. Somehow though Cambridge managed to win our women’s alumni race – all down to Jo and Rachel I think! Can’t wait for next year.

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Varsity girls race
Varsity girls race