SLSC Mile race 2017

The Mermaid cup, the SLSC’s women’s open mile cup, has been something of note in the Mermaid camp for a while, but alas we have never been able to win it because of Nancy Shaw.   Nancy is this formidable SLSC swimmer, who reigned victorious over most of the women’s open cups for several years, including the Mermaid cup and once whooped our butts during the mile swim, whilst she was heavily pregnant.  Nancy and family have now moved abroad, so despite our sadness that we were losing this great swimmer, we were finally optimistic about our chances of some cups in 2017.

Nancy Shaw – SLSC’s best Mermaid for several years


On the day of the event, we did our usual Friday morning 6:30am training and then spent a day at work.  Perfect preparation!

Upon arriving at the lido, there was some disappointment, as Emma Watson (SLSC star baker EVERY week) was optimistic she would win the cup until I (Manda) had turned up and declared I was hoping to swim in 26 minutes.  She then offered me cake for a year if I let her win.  There was a fundamental flaw in her plan as Katie was still due to arrive!  We declined the cake offer, which shows how much this cup meant to the team.


The evening started with the under 10s race, which was a hot contested battle by the next generation of Team Mermaids and then the half mile race.

We then got in and found the newly repainted black market that signifies the start point as the mile is 17.6 laps of the lido due to its 100 yard length.


We were off.  Katie and I had been split up with Katie as number 4 and me as number 6 but as soon as the opportunity presented itself, Katie appeared next to me.  We then stuck side by side for the most of the swim, only separating a few times when Katie missed the wall on her tumble (Katie insists those walls are really hard to see)!

On the final length still side by side, I tried to keep our strokes in synch so we would touch together and then boom.  Everyone was pointing at me as the winner.  This was NOT the plan.  Katie had also been trying to keep us in sync so we would touch together but had held back slightly but I had snuck in and touched first.   We were both credited with the same time of 24 minutes and 47 secs.  Katie had been saying that if she didn’t swim under 26 minutes she was going to retire so I’m glad we beat that threshold!


Hopefully we will get a chance to put Katie’s name on the cup next year.

As usual thanks SLSC and all the volunteers who ensure these events can run.



Henley Classic 2017 – Light vs. Dark Blue

IMG_2915The summer solstice means only one thing – it’s time for the Henley Classic again!

This year I was competing in the Oxford vs. Cambridge alumni race again. The main wave starts at 4.30am. Now it is very lovely to swim when the sun is rising but 4.30am is very early so I made sure to check what time the alumni race would start. 5.45am, okay, that is more civilised. I had been invited to a house warming the night before so after just three and a half hours of sleep I dragged myself out of bed at 3.30 to drive down to Henley.

On arrival I registered and chatted to old friends from both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as some new faces who were joining the event. The format of the race is that there are four men and four women in both the varsity (current students) and alumni (old people) races. Varsity men start, followed by varsity women and alumni in the same order at two minute intervals.

It is quite eery swimming down the course without loads of other swimmers around. More so for me as my goggles had fogged up and I couldn’t see anything. Despite it only being 2.1km, the course seemed to go on forever but I remembered this year that the grandstand meant you were nearly home and put on a spurt.  Well I tried to at least!

Overall I swam the course in 36 minutes, which I was quite disappointed with, but in retrospect maybe 3.5 hours’ sleep, a full on training schedule and a heavy week at work is not the best preparation.

The Cambridge Varity men and women both won their match ups.    With the Oxford Men and Women coming out on top on the alumni races.  Well done everyone who races. Until next year!

p.s. if any Oxford of Cambridge alums are keen to compete just let us know!


Paddle Round the Pier, Pizza and Saltdean Lido

Our trip to Paddle Round the Pier didn’t start too auspiciously when about 10 days before the event Manda emailed with a title that just said ‘there are two races which one are you entered for?’ Err two races on the same day? This prompted lots of searching through emails and fears that we might be actually be entered into different races. Luckily we both had both gone for the Swim Trek organised 1.5km at the very civilised 10.30am rather than the Brighton Tri Club organised 2.5km at 8.30am. There was some initial discussion of doing both but sense soon prevailed!

So Saturday 2nd July 2017 saw us, plus Mer-Husbands, plus mini Mermen heading down to Paddle Round the Pier in Brighton. Paddle Round the Pier is an annual two day festival of all things swimming, surfing and sea related. The festival is over a large area just in front of the beach and has loads of stalls with food, clothes, activities and loads of other stuff. After a wander through the festival we registered for the race, got changed and headed down to the start. At the start we bumped into Outdoor Swimmer’s Simon Griffith who had swum in the earlier 2.5k race who politely enquired why we were only doing 1.5k when long distance is our thing.

After a race briefing we were off. We had expected a water start so it was a bit of a surprise when the gun went and we had to run in. We took quite a leisurely approach to waking in which in retrospect was probably a mistake as we we were right in the melee being kicked and pushed. My only goal for the first 100m was not too lose Amanda even if that meant having to breathe to the left! Luckily we managed to stay together as we headed out to sea.


The first 200-300m were pretty tough with a combination of the rough sea and still having lots of people around us but once we turned along the shore we were greeted by amazing views of the shore line and the burnt out West Pier. We should probably have listened to the safety briefing more carefully as we ended up on the ‘scenic’ route after Manda sighted the wrong buoy but despite this we were, surprisingly quickly, turning back towards the finish line on the beach. Not too surprisingly, as it turns out as both our Garmins had the course at 1,290m rather than 1.5km.

Overall we finished 7/8 (3/4 women) in 21 mins 40 secs. I can’t say I loved it at the time but by now, a bit like childbirth, the swimming hormones have kicked in and all I remember of it that it was good fun.

After the swim we wandered back through the festival and watched BAD Ukes, a ukulele band playing pop songs – it was better than it sounds! We then went to Fatto A Mano for pizza which was very yummy and I would recommend if you are ever in the area.

Full from lunch we then headed about 20 mins down the coast to the recently reopened Saltdean Lido. Saltdean has lovely Art Deco style with a main pool, a kids pool with fountains and a large grass area for sitting. The mini mermen has an amazing time playing in the water and we enjoyed aperol sprits ice lollies (over 18s only)! If you are in the area Saltdean is well worth a visit.