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.


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.


*he does





10km pyramid



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…


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!


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


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: