Team Mermaids favourite swimming hats

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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.

KATIE

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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.

MANDA

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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: https://www.instagram.com/josiearden/)

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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: https://twitter.com/lucinda_bayliss)

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: https://www.instagram.com/brennantrish/)

Trish

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: https://www.instagram.com/aliceclarefitness/)

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: https://twitter.com/ledavies)

Laura

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: https://teammermaids.com/2014/09/07/coniston-chill-swim-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.
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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!) https://teammermaids.com/2017/05/09/2swim4life-2017/

LEE (Find Lee here: https://www.instagram.com/triathlonlee/)

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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: https://twitter.com/paultannahill)

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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.

 

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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:

https://society6.com/product/enamel-pin-french-penny#s6-s23p90011

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/539073385/mermaid-enamel-pin-mermaid-pin-mermaid

https://punkypins.co.uk/collections/enamel-pins/products/mel-stringer-mermaid-enamel-pin

https://www.ilovecrafty.co.uk/products/pink-mermaid-shell-pin

http://www.how-store.com/product/preorder-30mm-mermaid-banner-enamel-pin

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 LUXhttps://www.rorylux.com/collections/accessories/products/will-swim-for-pizza-patch


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 (www.kellyconnordesigns.com).

USE CODE: TAKE10 for 1O% OFF.

https://kellyconnordesigns.com/products/personalised-initial-mermaid-tote?variant=45728868949

https://kellyconnordesigns.com/products/swim-beach-bag?variant=45728133077


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

https://natatioswimwear.com/

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:

USE CODE: MERMAID15 for 15% OFF.

https://www.deakinandblue.com/

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

 

https://qswimwear.com/

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

https://www.simplyswim.com/products/funky-trunks-water-warrior-plain-front-trunk


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

http://www.florajamieson.co.uk/shop/wild-swimming-book

//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)

https://foyles.co.uk/witem/art-fashion-photography/swimming-pool-2017,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 www.notonthehighstreet.com.

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/hendogdesigns/product/personalised-bone-china-mug-mermaid-design

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/gilbertandstone/product/99-mermaid-handmade-earthenware-cup

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.

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https://www.selkieswim.com/accessories/other/details/30263/thermos-cup

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.

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

tea

https://www.firebox.com/Mermaid-Tea/p8368


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!

https://sarahmariedesignstudio.com/products/feed-me-and-tell-me-im-pretty-fast-womens-tank

https://www.rorylux.com/collections/clothing/products/phelps-face-unisex-tee

http://www.philipnormal.co.uk/productdetail/product/t-shirts/spice-girls-mermaids-t-shirt

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

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/sydandco/product/lifes-a-beach-sweatshirt

http://www.topman.com/en/tmuk/product/clothing-140502/mens-hoodies-sweatshirts-2925366/art-disco-pink-mermaid-sweatshirt-6812526?bi=0&ps=20

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

2017-10-16 19_30_15-Swimmer Vintage Leggings _ Zazzle.co.uk

https://www.zazzle.co.uk/swimmer_vintage_leggings-256807394842033864

 


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

https://rainbow-connection.co.uk/collections/picture-polish/products/mermaid

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

https://www.hypnoticpolish.com/collections/bow-polish/products/bow-polish-conversion-thermo-top-coat-violet

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.

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/sydandco/product/metallic-mermaid-print-cosmetic-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 hello@teammermaids.com for further details.

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We also think this one is ace:

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

https://www.proswimwear.co.uk/jaked-rock-roll-swim-cap-white.html


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.

USE CODE: LOVETOSWIM for 15% OFF.

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

http://www.swankjewellery.co.uk/product/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

https://www.cherrydiva.co.uk/products/mermaid-tail-earrings?variant=39481001225

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

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https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/lucylovesneko/product/ariel-little-mermaid-necklace


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.

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https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/534160678/framed-hobbies-collage-illustrations?

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.

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https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/helobirdie/items

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.

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https://www.jealousgallery.com/artists/rose-blake/autumn-at-london-fields-before-work


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.pnghttps://www.thenorthface.co.uk/shop/mens-himalayan-suit-2

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!

Capturehttps://www.lululemon.co.uk/p/womens-jackets/Slush-hour-parka-/_/prod12010382?rcnt=0&N=7vb&cnt=24&color=LW4AGHS_0001

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.

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http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/north-ridge-fur-lined-inca-hat-p381429

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.

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https://www.waterstones.com/book/crave/martha-collison/9780008238636


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

http://swimquest.uk.com/lofoten/

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

https://www.swimtrek.com/packages/swimming-holiday-alcatraz

Happy Holidays all!

Winter Challenge 2016/17: the review

#failed

This year’s winter challenge was meant to be a little less taxing and a bit more fun, however, as proven by the results below we failed!  That being said Brian won, so chapeau Brian! Kate, Lisa and Pivo posted 0 and me and Katie post some (but not many) points!

Even though it was a bit of a disaster (I (Manda) couldn’t bring myself to part with my team mermaids cap!), we like to look at the positives so here are the good things that came out of the winter challenge:

  • We did 100×100.  Katie, Brian and me went down to Charlton with some others and swam the 100×100.  Katie and Brian then did a cheeky 10k pyramid a few weeks later.  Ultimately this helped with the training for mine and Katie’s Swimathon antics and Brian’s 24 miles over 24 hours swim.

 

  • I did an hour continuous swim on my own at Crystal Palace, which at the time was a big deal as I was having to do most of my training alone whilst on maternity leave and the lido was no longer viable for anything over 1k.  I spent most weeks bribing myself to finish the set with the thought of a galaxy caramel but this week I just plodded on knowing it would secure me 20 points… and a galaxy caramel!

 

  • We have started doing the odd 1 length fly in training voluntarily!

 

  • Brian did a festive swim back in Ireland over Christmas and even got featured in the local newspaper.
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Brian with his brother in bottom right hand corner 
  • We became hard-core* cold water swimmers.  The temperature plummeted and we kept swimming at Tooting Bec Lido.  Despite myself and Katie admitting defeat in November, we managed a brisk 30m in 1.5c* as part of the UK cold water championships in January and then reappeared in the lido once it hit 10c again.  We are now regulars at the SLSC Sunday morning races and we hope there will be more of the same next Winter!

 

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Ideas for next year’s Winter Challenge welcome!

 

 

*by our standards!

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

Swimming Baby names

With both having had sons recently we know what an ordeal choosing a name can be but these days you can call your children pretty much anything, so why not be inspired by your favourite hobby and use a swimming related name.  Here are our favourites:

  1. Elaine.  Get it… A-Lane
  2. Catalina.  In honour of one of the Ocean’s Seven.
  3. Ariel. Our favourite mermaid.
  4. Byron. In 1810 Byron swam from Europe to Asia by swimming the Hellespont strait.
  5. Nemo. The captain in “20,000 leagues under the sea” and our favourite animated fishy friend.
  6. Paul.  Pronounced Pull or pool.   I’ll get my coat.
  7. Keri-Anne.  Team GB’s finest open water swimmer and our girl crush.
  8. Leander. The original Hellespont swimmer who swam to Hero nightly until on a bad crossing he met his death.
  9. Hudson. This river is part of the triple crown’s Manhattan Island swim that we did in 2012
  10. Dory. Another one from Finding Nemo but now she has her own movie she needs her own entry.
  11. Sprint.  Suitable for Katie, I (Manda) would have to use ‘Plod’ instead.
  12. Poseidon.  God of the sea. And horses..
  13. Boomer. If Michael Phelps says it’s ok, we say it’s ok!
  14. Nixie. Cute name meaning water nymph.
  15. River.  Made famous by River Phoenix – this is a great name for an open water swimmer’s offspring.
  16. Eddy. Not every Channel swimmers’ friend, especially not Lisa’s, but a lovely name all the same.
Max swimming
Katie with baby Max

A Mermaid’s Christmas Wish List 2016

Last year we had a great response to our wish list so we thought we would do another one for 2016… It is also serves as a massive hint to our husbands!

Day 1 – Stocking Fillers/Gift wrapping

The perfect wrapping paper for any swimmer’s gifts is Nancy Farmer’s.  Beautifully constructed swimmers give the illusion of snowflakes to give us “swimflakes”.  She is also doing caps in various colours in the design.  All can be found on her Etsy shop.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/489924699/not-snowflakes-but-swimflakes-christmas?ref=shop_home_feat_1

I (Manda) already have this lego mermaid key-ring.  It is perfect for finding your keys when they are lost at the bottom of your swimming bag.

https://shop.lego.com/en-GB/Mermaid-Key-Chain-851393 or/

http://www.paperchase.co.uk/gifts/little-treats/key-rings-shopper-coins/mermaid-shaped-keyring.html

Snacks boxes for those all important post swimming snacks…aka CAKE

http://www.paperchase.co.uk/mermazing-snack-boxes.html

snack-boxes


Day 2 – Accessories

A bit like superman with his superman gear on underneath his suit, every mermaid should ensure you have these ready for any spontaneous mermaid adventures.

http://www.livingroyal.com/products/mermaid-knee-high-socks

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Bobble hats are essential winter swimming attire, but these Early Bird Swimmers trucker hats make a perfect summer lido companion whatever time of day you are swimming.

http://www.earlybirdswimmers.com/product/bird-trucker-cap-light-blue

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Day 3 – Mugs 

The mug can make or break how good a tea tastes and these are particularly excellent ones to consume a warm beverage from.

http://www.wannacuppa.co.uk/shop

“Coffee makes me swim faster”…obviously.  As do sharks but we don’t want them in our mugs thanks.

http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/thelittlepicturecompany/product/personalised-coffee-makes-me-swim-faster-mug

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Whether you’ve been there done that or aspiring, this is a great mug for open water swimming fans.

http://www.cafepress.co.uk/mf/25498783/swim-catalina_mugs?productId=143544934

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Day 4 – Lido loving

Lou Taylor has a lovely collection of lido items ranging from jewellery to art to gift cards.

http://www.lou-taylor.co.uk/collections/lido

Help support Tynemouth Outdoor Pool through purchasing some of their merchandise including this lovely tea towel.

http://tynemouthoutdoorpool.tictail.com/product/tea-towel

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The lido in Bristol looks amazing but we haven’t been able to go visit yet, instead we will have to make do with asking for these lush products to use in the Tooting Bec Lido changing room.

http://www.lido-spa.com

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Once again support a community lido by purchasing some of their goods.  Everyone needs more mugs in their life.

http://www.cottoncart.com/products/19676/

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Day 5 – Apparel 

We love this t shirt for the merman in your life from Don’t Feed The Bears.

http://dontfeedthebears.co.uk/p/9164972/brian-queen-of-the-sea-grey-t-shirt.html

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and for us mermaids this Selkie t shirt is a post swim must.

The lovely people at Selkie have given us a discount code.  Use MERM1216 at checkout for 10% off between now and the end of November!  We are very excited to have our very own discount code.

https://www.selkieswim.com/womens/t-shirts/details/30213/mermaid-t-shirt

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For those more formal occasions these gorgeous shorts are in the sale.

http://www.matchesfashion.com/products/Piamita-Bettie-mermaid-print-silk-shorts-1008803

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and just in case there was any doubt

http://www.boohoo.com/restofworld/boohoo-fit/bella-fit-mermaids-dont-run-running-vest/invt/dzz70985

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Day 6 – Books

I (Manda) love these wild swimming books.  They are great Christmas presents to inspire some family members/friends to come join you on some swimming adventures.  Currently you can also get 20% off using discount code: H20

http://www.wildthingspublishing.com/

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Oh how we loved Mr Michael Phelps at Rio.  This book includes Rio 2016 so putting it on the Christmas List is a must.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1683580877/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9QKY1GXB0PQVPFQJ2866

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If like us you always want to fit in a lido/pool visit when you travel or dream of a lido version of the pool crawl, then helping to get this book funded is the key.  A guide to all UK open air pools sounds amazing.

https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide

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Day 7 – House and Home

Helen has got some other amazing swimming related pieces but alas they are all sold out so snap these beakers up whilst you can.

http://www.helenbeard.com/product/swimmer-beakers#.WB7c5GqLSUk

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Nancy’s wrapping paper has already featured but we love this calendar as well.  It even includes the beautiful Coniston swim picture she did.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/470241561/swimming-calendar-for-2017-is-it-cold?ref=shop_home_active_17

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There is also SLSC’S Tooting Bec Lido calendar for sale here:

https://www.slsc.org.uk/home/slsc-calendar/

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Maybe more suitable for the smaller mermaids in your life but you can also get this print on a range of other goods including phone cases and LEGGINGS.

https://society6.com/product/young-mermaid_duvet-cover#s6-3031852p38a46v343

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Day 8 – Costumes

There was once a TYR mermaid costume.  It seems to be the thing of urban myths, but alas we have found a replacement.  They do it in different backs and a 2 piece.. go forth and Mermaid.

http://powerwoman.com/product/spy-swimsuit-mermaid-new

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You’ll need these before Christmas so maybe more of a early christmas present to yourself rather than a wish.  Needless to say Katie wouldn’t be caught wearing any of these!! Me (Manda) – totally!

https://www.simplyswim.com/products/DolfinUglies/HappyFeetV2Back.aspx

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We asked Brian to send us a some trunks for the Merman out there.  He sent a rather sensible pair but we know really he wants these for Christmas:

http://www.proswimwear.co.uk/maru-mens-icon-trunks.html

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Day 9 – Jewellery

For the Mermaids:

http://www.betseyjohnson.com/product/BETSEY%20AND%20THE%20SEA%20BAUBLE%20PENDANT/238878.uts?selectedColor=MULTI

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http://www.thomassabo.com/GB/en_GB/pd/charm-pendant–mermaid-/1218.html

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and for those Merman some swimming cufflinks.

http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/nicolacrawford/product/personalised-sport-and-hobby-coin-cufflinks

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Yes these are bikes but they do swimming ones just no decent photo! check it out on link above.

Day 10 – Art

If you have been lucky enough to be at Tooting Bec Lido recently you would have seen Rachel Miller’s art work on the hoarding at the deep end.  She has done 2 lovely swimming related illustrations that can be purchased here:

http://www.rachelmillerillustration.com/shop/

and some other bits we like:

http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/hannamelin/product/personalised-at-the-beach-print

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https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/281599846/you-say-lido-a4-print-retro-surf?ref=shop_home_active_10

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http://www.priscillawatkinsart.co.uk/News_item_2.html

andromeda
http://www.souterandstanley.co.uk/product/the-lido-clifton-bristol-2/

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Day 11 – Equipment

I (Katie) reaaaaaaaaaallllllllllyyyyyyyyyyy want one of these for Christmas but clearly I have not been that good as Santa says my budget this year is only £50 (quietly sob).

https://buy.garmin.com/en-GB/GB/sports-recreation/running/forerunner-735xt/prod541225.html

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Now we are winter swimmers, we need some serious neoprene to ensure we can carry on.  Swim The Lakes are really friendly and have a great range of goods to suit everyone.  If you aren’t sure what you need then drop them a line.

http://www.swimthelakes.co.uk/product-category/open-water-swimming-shop/thermal-wear/


Day 12 – Holidays

We love a good holiday but Gelato, Pizza, Lasagne, Prosecco and Swimming = perfect Team Mermaids holiday.

http://swimquest.uk.com/italy/

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The next WANT is another swimquest in Norway.  This one sounds absolutely magical if slightly chilly (but its ok as we’ve asked for thermal gloves and booties)

http://swimquest.uk.com/lofoten/

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Merry Christmas from Team Mermaids!

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The pregnancy swim diary

Being pregnant presented some interesting challenges to my (Manda) swimming training, however, I was able to continue to swim right until 40 weeks.  This was all made possible by lots of lovely people, mainly Katie, who continued to swim with me despite my speed and endurance not being what it once was.  It also helped that I had goals (swimathon/winter river challenge/staying fit for labour!) that kept me focused.

I honestly believe that swimming is the best sport for pregnancy.. You don’t need to do as much as me but it should be encouraged to swim throughout pregnancy.

Here is what I got up to swimming wise whilst pregnant.

Weeks 1-4
Most people don’t realise they are pregnant by this point so it is business as usual.

Weeks 5-8
I swam a 10k in the lido in 13 degrees at this point. 😉 so evidently still BAU!

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I did struggle one week due to a feeling that I was ripping my stomach muscles every time I pushed off the wall. Not sure what it was but after 2500m I got out. I decided to get back in 2 days later and just be less aggressive on the turns and I was fine.

Week 8-12
I’m getting slower.. Well maybe not slower but I’m fatiguing a lot quicker and for a long distance swimmer being able to handle 200m easier than 1600m is a bitter pill to swallow. Apart from that I’m still thoroughly enjoying my swimming and being around friends.

Week 12-16
I had to go to Hong Kong for 1 of the weeks and only managed one short swim there and I decided to go to the pool when the entire over 65 population of Hong Kong seemed to be there! This meant avoiding breaststrokers who seemed to be hell bent on swimming in the middle of the lane and kicking me. After that there was no swimming for nearly 3 weeks due to a combination of jet lag and a cough. I couldn’t take anything for it so just had to wait it out. Sorry to anyone who had the pleasure of miserable Manda during the time. I made my return for the 12 days of Christmas set and managed the 4K fine apart from the joys of now needing a toilet break mid swim. I’m also having to be a bit more selective on what costume to wear.

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Week 16-20
No Christmas sea dip for me. Brian tried to suggest the baby needs to get used to the cold water asap and I totally agree but it was more the risk of getting sick again that stopped me.

I am still doing the sets I write, I have just stopped trying to do anything that is over 80% effort and anything that involves less breathing than normal.. Maybe I should stop including anything over 80% in my sets but then how would I inflict pain on Katie and the others?! I am also finding that I am not fatiguing as I was at the beginning so maybe that was just a first trimester thing.

Week 20-24
Over half way and perfect timing for a 10 minute time trial with Swim for Tri to see how much speed I’ve lost. Admittedly there was some tactical drafting going on (thanks Simon and Katie in the later stages) but I did 700m and as I can’t swim at max effort I was pleasantly pleased with that. Previous best was 725m.

I am still doing 4km for my weekend swim. The idea is to keep up this distance on the weekends for as long as possible, especially as I need to swim 5k for the swimathon.

Week 24-28
I have admitted defeat and invested in some size 36”(which is 2 sizes up from my usual size) swimming costumes.  The maternity ones are just fugly and don’t look like they have been designed with swimmers who actually want to swim frontcrawl so my plan is 36” for now.

It is only one month to go until Swimathon so I am still doing a long swim of 4km or longer a week to ensure I can cope with the 5k distance.  We even managed a cheeky 50*100m down at Charlton one weekend in preparation for Katie and Brian doing 100*100m in April. I plan to go along but probably not do the full 100..although.. No I won’t..I promise!!!

I also managed to demonstrate in week 26 how 1) I had lost my sense of balance 2) I am not designed to be on land by falling off a pavement when 100m from the entrance to the swimming pool.  My knees took the brunt but a week later I was back in the water…just ALOT slower for the week off (or maybe it was all the food I ate in Italy whilst I wasn’t able to swim!)

Week 28 – 32
I have admitted defeat part II.  I have a 2 piece.  I’m baffling the swimmers of London.  Female, pregnant, 2 piece, fast lane -> SAY WHAT?!? Although after my week out of the water following “pavement gate”, I probably don’t belong in the fast lane anymore.  sob sob sob.

Swimathon! I did it.  5k in 1:25.  My hope was under 1:30 but that was including me taking rests as needed, so I was chuffed!  I only took one break for about 45 seconds at 3km.  I even managed to get a shout out from Duncan Goodhew on twitter.

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Week 32-36
No swimathon to train for but still have 3 weeks of the Winter River Challenge to go so still trying to get the 9641m a week done which means a 4k swim once a week.  There were 2 weeks where I didn’t make the weekly goal distance because I had to get out the water at Charlton 1.5k into a 4k swim as I was suffering badly from acid…oh the joys of being pregnant.  The following week I missed the target due to a combination of taking it easy for once and our Tuesday night session being cancelled.

Week 36-40
The winter river challenge is over!  I am still swimming.  On my last day of work we went for a dip at Kings Cross Pond Club but my already taut skin couldn’t take the cold water and felt like it was on the verge of ripping.  So I got out pretty quickly… ok VERY quickly!!  Very bizarre sensation.  Hoping the lido warms up (and I find my lido pass!) so I can get back in.

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Photo: @ledavies

I went for a swim at Hampton on my own, whilst the others were busy training for the jubilee 10k in the lido and was pleased to report that I was the fastest person in the pool (..just!).

Week 40+

This is where the diary ends… And after a few weeks ordered rest I will be back training for Coniston 2016, which could be my biggest challenge to date.  Watch this space.


Special thanks to Swim For Tri, RG Active and #thisgirlcan for keeping me swimming and Katie and Simon for not kicking me out of the fast lane!

Winter River challenge: the results

So May is here and the 2015/16 Winter River Challenge is now officially over. The challenge was to swim the length of the 10 longest rivers in the UK (Nene, Spey, Clyde, Tay, Ure/Ouse, Wye, Great Ouse, Trent, Thames, Severn) over a seven month period.

Regular readers of the blog will know that we were VERY far behind our target so in April we asked (well begged) the swimming community, family and friends to help and ‘donate’ one swim to us during April to help us meet the target.

Thank you to all of the following people who donated the meters to us – we very much appreciate your help!

So how did we do in the end? Well we got sooooo close! We swam the length of the 9 of the longest rivers in the UK and we managed to get 94km down the UK’s longest river the Severn. In total we swam 2,087km out of a total distance of 2,347km. Of this 1,588km were swum by the core team and 499km were ‘donated’ by all of our lovely swimming friends and family.

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To start with we were initial disappointed not to make the whole distance but then we took a step back and asked ourselves why we really did the challenge in the first place. There were two main reasons. Firstly, we wanted to have something to motivate ourselves to get off the sofa and go swimming on those cold, dark winters night. The challenge certainly helped with this. We were pretty much obsessed with meeting our weekly ‘target’ of 9,461m (this was the distance we each needed to swim every week to complete the full distance). This meant we had to swim two sets of 3km during the week and then a ‘long’ swim of 4km on the weekend. There were many swimming sessions we would have sacked off it if wasn’t for the challenge. As Manda kept on saying ‘those rivers will not swim themselves’.

The second reason was having something we could all do together at a team. Swimming is generally such a solo pursuit so it is nice to have something that you need to work with other people to achieve. So on that note, thank you to the core team Kate, Lisa, Hilary, Brian, David and Pivo for all their swimming over the last 7 months and a massive thank you to all of you who ‘donated’ your meters over the past month – we wouldn’t have got as far as we did without you.

The Accolades

The Winter River Challenge is at its heart a team challenge and a team victory but we do want to highlight some of the individual achievements during the challenge. The Winter River Challenge accolades therefore go to:

MOST METERS SWUM – Katie and Brian both swam a total of 293,375m each swimming one-eighth of the total required. Everyone managed to swim more than 100km over the seven month period which is not bad!

MOST METERS SWUM IN A SINGLE WEEK – the most meters swum in one week goes to Katie with 24,893, closely followed by David with 21,000 and Hilary 20,000.

MOST NUMBER OF WEEKS MEETING THE WEEKLY TARGET – Katie and Brian both hit the weekly target 17 weeks out of a total of 31 weeks

MOST DONATED METERS BY SINGLE PERSON – The most donated meters came from Mark Sheridan of Nemes Nutters with a huge 27,353m swam in one swim. Well done Mark!

MOST DONATED METERS BY A TEAM – DYST a Facebook community donated 97,596m but a massive shout out to RG Active, who despite being considerably smaller than the 13,000 strong DYST lot, managed a whopping 23,650m by 12 people.

MOST METERS SWUM WHILE PREGNANT – this award goes to Manda with a massive total of 223,114m swum while pregnant.

We hope everyone enjoys their summer of open water swimming. We will be writing about our adventures here on the blog and hope to see you at an event soon!

10 signs that you 💜 Open water swimming too much

1. You think that wearing and applying copious amounts of lube in public is perfectly acceptable.
2. You happily know what the acronyms CSPF, OSS, DYST mean but have no clue when people use FOMO, FWIW and IRL.
3. You buy clothes based on a criteria of 1) Will it keep you warm 2) will it be easy to put on when wet.
4. You’ve started to think Crocs are ok.
5. You consider going back to bed after open water swimming without having a shower.
6. The smell of wetsuit reminds you of summer.
7. You have to continuously cut your nails short for fear of ripping your very expensive wetsuit.
8. You wouldn’t get up at 5.30am to go to work EVER but it seems like a normal time to get up on the weekend for swimming adventures.
9. You order bodyglide in bulk.
10. You start every sentence with ‘this one time down at the lake/lido/Dover…’.

Thanks to usual gang for their ideas!