Open-water Training 2017


Coached sessions at London (ish) venues




RG Active:

Serpentine Swimming Club:

General Admission:

Tooting Bec Lido

Fit and Abel:


Training sessions are for SLSC members only. You can get a Club only membership costs for just £25 (£20 for 19-25 year olds) but with the club only membership you have to pay for your entry to the lido.  More details here:

General Admission:

Parliament Hill Lido

Tri For Fitness:

General Admission:

London Royal Docks

RG Active:

General Admission:

Hampstead Ponds

RG Active:

General Admission:

West Reservoir

RG Active:

TriScape: TBC

London Fields Tri Club:

Capital Tri:

Swim Open:

General Admission:  Note: in order to go swim there outside of organised sessions you need to have done an induction.  As the season progresses the availability decreases, so if you are thinking of using this facility, we would suggest booking your induction ASAP.

Brockwell Lido

Streamline Swims:

Windrush Tri Club:

General Admission:

Shepperton Lake

Swim Lab:

General Admission:


Swim For Tri:

Ham Lake

RG Active:

Heron Lake

General Admission:

Bray Lake

General Admission:


General Admission:

Liquid Leisure at Datchet

General Admission:


General Admission:


General Admission:


Henley Mile – Skins vs. suits 2016

The question is age old – how much difference does wearing a wetsuit make?  

It is almost impossible to answer that question.  Races, courses, water flow, how you feel on the day are all different.  The closest you are ever going to get to answer the question however is doing the same swim twice on the same day, one with your wetsuit and once without.  That is what I (Katie) did on 10 July 2016 at the Henley Mile event.

Henley swim run four events a year: the Classic, Thames Marathon (aka Bridge 2 Bridge), Club to Pub and the Mile.  Team Mermaids have competed in all of these events before apart from the Mile so I wanted to complete the “set” this year.  I went on the website to enter and saw that they were running the suits vs. skins challenge which I thought looked like fun so I signed right up!

The Henley Swim events are always really well organised and professional.  They also tend to have a little something which makes them different and standout from other events I have swim in such as club to pub where the swim ends up at a pub!


The Henley Mile was a full day of races covering different distances from one mile down to 200m for the kids.  The first wave went off at 9am which makes it a much more civilised start than the 4am classic start time.  The event was combined with the Open Water Swimming Show hosted by H2Open magazine which had a combination of talks, demonstrations and stalls selling swimming gear.  Our very own Dan Bullock was there giving talks and doing demonstrations along with Cassie Patten – Olympic Bronze medallist in the 10km open water swim in Beijing.

As the rest of Team Mermaids and friends were out of action for one reason or another I managed to persuade Dennis and Max to come down and support me and keep me company during the day.  


My first race was at 10am – this time in my wetsuit.  The day has started off quite overcast and by the time we were walking the mile down to the start it was pouring down.  Once you get in the water though a little rain doesn’t matter and we were quickly off.  The course is absolutely lovely – swimming downstream between the Henley Royal Regatta boomed course.  It is nice not to be just going round in circles for a change but also not needing to constantly slight.

I was uncharacteristically enthusiastic at the start and tried to keep up with the three leaders.  I managed to stay with them until just over half way but then dropped back.  I was then swimming neck and neck with another lady for about 500m.  I lost sight of her at around 200m to go (where there is a helpful sign telling you to sprint) and I had a sneaking feeling I would find her on my feet.  A minute or so later I had that tell-tale tap on my toes which spurred me on to sprint down the last 100m or so.  I finished fourth in my wave of skins vs. suits participants in a time of 21 mins 5 secs.  The river flow must have been pretty strong as I would generally be happy with anything under 24 mins for a mile.  Overall I was pleased with my swim but I was also pretty tired and now sure how I was going to mange to do the whole thing again!


My next race wasn’t until 3.40pm so while Dennis headed off for his long marathon training run Max and I hung out at the open water show looking round the stalls and chatted to people.  Once Dennis had finished his run we drove into Henley itself for a bit of carbo loading at a local Italian.  


By the time we got back to the event the sun was out and it was lovely and warm which was good news as I registered and got ready for my skins race.  The water was a balmy 18.8 degrees, however, I haven’t done any skins swimming so far this year so getting in was still a bit of a jolt to the system.  Once I was swimming though I didn’t feel too bad.  For this wave we also had elite and other traditional swimmers with us so it was harder to tell where you were in the field of suits vs. skins participants.  There were two young elite swimmers who sprinted off from the whistle and I settled down to swim with three or four others – not sure if they were the same swimmers as the morning swim though.


I think my morning exertions had taken its toll a bit and I didn’t feel as good in the afternoon swim.  Again I tried to keep with the three leading ladies but lost touch a little over half way.  Over the final 200m I was racing against another lady.  She was half a body in front of me and my efforts to catch her were being hampered by my goggles being totally fogged up and not being able to see the finish line.  In the end I didn’t quite manage to catch her.  


So what difference does a wetsuit make over a mile?  Well in my case 1 min and 31 seconds as I finished my second mile in 22 mins and 36 second.  So in percentage terms I was 7% slower without my wetsuit.  I think to be honest some of that will down to not having such a great swim and not taking out as fast as I did in the morning.  Overall though a wetsuit makes less difference that I would have thought!

I would absolutely recommend this event for next year.  It was a great race but also a fun day out.

Great North Swim 10k 2016

Fiona did the Great North swim in Windermere this year and seeing as we have never done the ‘North’ event of the Great Swim series we asked her to write us a guest blog.

ps cheery bakewell cocktails… Yum or Yuk?

I’m writing this from the heavenly super king size bed in our guest house in Windermere. Whippet and I have just had northern fish and chips (the best kind) after a surprisingly successful 10k Great North Swim. It wasn’t looking good on any front…

My training-in-earnest started later than usual this year after the shocking and heart breaking loss of my Dad in March, but I gradually eased myself back in, spurred on by wanting to keep his water baby genes alive, and a comment by Manda that “swimming is therapeutic”, which I have found it is, in a meditational way. I find that the sensory deprivation of swimming is a welcome relief from the exhausting sensory overload of everyday life. I also resolved to stop pressuring myself to train a certain number of times a week, to stop feeling guilty if I didn’t train, and to stop beating myself up if I was knackered after work and couldn’t face a hellish public lane. As soon as I removed that pressure, and allowed myself to just work and go home during the week, the tug of war instantly stopped, and I found myself wanting to swim – it was no longer a chore. Pushing and pressure are not effective motivational tools for me. Indeed, the same applies to my OU studies. So I’ve more or less been doing one or two masters sessions a week, and one or two lido sessions a week, maybe only once swimming more than three times in a single week. I think I have finally found what works for me. It’s only taken me seven seasons of open water swimming to figure that out, so don’t ever accuse me of being slow on the uptake!

The other worry about Windermere was the temperature. I thought that it could be between 13c and 16c, so I was preparing for 13c and hoping for 16c. My first lido dip of the season, also later than usual because of the chilly spring weather, was 10c in early May. Head up breaststroke skins. No point faffing with a wetsuit if I can’t get my face in, or stay in long enough to make it worth the faff. Later on, I managed a two mile skins job at 16c, but I was still behind on the sorts of distances I wanted to be covering in the lido.

My final worry was injury. I’ve had sore elbows for a year and a half now, and the odd shoulder twinge. I’ve spent a small fortune on physio, osteo, sports massage and Dan (Bullock; should be obvious to most people reading this, innit) to try to give myself the best chances of long term swimming health.

The last few days leading up to the swim weren’t too hot either. I had a nightmarish alcohol incident the previous Thursday, and a dreadful stomach on Wednesday when we drove up here, and this morning. I was psyching myself up for a DNF.

In the end then, my training fears were unfounded, my temperature fears were almost reversed when I feared I would suffer heatstroke in the day or two leading up to the swim (I’m a fragile petal, and since when was the Lake District subtropical?) and the lake was a staggering 21c on the day, my injury fears dissolved when I hit the increased volume, and I smashed my 10k time (Dorney in May 2010; 04:06) by over half an hour to bag myself a 03:35:48. Three thirty-five forty-eight!!! How the hell did that happen?! What am I capable of? Whippet rushed over to me with a glass of fizz and I sat on the grass in my swimming costume semi speechless. I’d only hoped to make the four hour cut off, and that was before taking into account all of the above adverse events.


In conclusion, I think this was a confidence boosting training swim for Henley to Marlow in August, which I “accidentally” signed up for after a couple of my special homemade cherry Bakewell cocktails.


OW Swimming’s super weekend?

If you are a keen open water swimmer then the weekend of 3rd / 4th September 2016 has riches in abundance to offer in the UK.

1. You could swim the 5.25 miles from one end of Lake Coniston to the other in the Lake District.  (Saturday)


2. Or you could swim 10k down the Dart River in Devon.  (Saturday and Sunday)


3. You might prefer to swim in a circle, in which case you could swim the 6.5km around Brownsea Island near Poole. (Sunday)


4. If it is a new event you are after then you could try the Dock2Dock swim in London which takes you from Royal Victoria Dock through Royal Albert Dock and finally into King George V Dock. (Sunday)


5. If you prefer a fast venue you can swim a range of distances between 750m and 10k at Dorney Lake near Eton. (Saturday)


6. If Dorney Lake is a bit boring for you, you could nip next door and swim between 2k and 10k at Bray Lake.  (Saturday)


**Note this has been moved to the 21/8 so we hope to be there**

7. If you fancy something shorter and more of a team event then RG Active will be hosting their annual 3.2km relay down at Ham Lake (there is normally cake!)


8. You could swim NEARLY the length of Windermere.  We would personally recommend doing this properly rather than doing this event but the swim is a challenge whether fully doing Windermere or nearly doing Windermere.  (Sunday)

While it is great that open water swimming is so popular that there is enough of a demand to fill so many events on the same weekend, it seems a shame that they are not more spaced out so keen swimmers could enjoy more than one in a season.

Some of these races are iconic events and a highlight of the open water calendar, therefore, wouldn’t it be better if organisers made sure they put their swims on different dates?  Coniston and Dart are always on the same weekend but Brownsea has moved to be this weekend in 2016 (which we can only assume is tide related) but Dock2Dock swim is a new event to the calendar so presumably could have been on a different weekend.


That being said there is a possibility for doubling up.  The double up of Coniston and Dart is probably unrealistic but you could definitely do a Dorney/Bray swim on the Saturday and then head to either Dock 2 Dock or RG Active on the Sunday.  Anyone?

Team Mermaids Plan

So where will we be this weekend?  Team Mermaids will be up in the Lake District swimming Coniston.  As for 2017 who knows?!

Open water Swimming dictionary

This is a list of words/phrases that we use regularly when discussing swimming.  As you will see from the below it is probably not that useful!

Thanks to the usual Team Mermaids support crew for suggestions:  Brian, pivo, Hilary, Lisa, Suz and Kate.



Acclimatisation: The act of screaming/whinging upon entering freezing (see below explanation) water.  Also, the act of preparing your body and mind ready for the cold water.  This can involve such activities as cold showers, sleeping with just a sheet in winter and (the money saving) no heating for the winter.

Alpha males: males swimmers who can’t accept that a girl might be faster than them and therefore insist on pushing off the wall right in front of you.   This species is found a lot at Crystal Palace.

Bathers: Term for swimming costume when in the Channel Islands.

Bathophobia: Fear of a bath due to being confined to such a small swimming space that is generally too hot… Nah only kidding.  The fear of the deep.   You know that moment we all have where you can’t see the bottom.  It happens to us all where suddenly you are overcome with thoughts regarding what is down “there”.   It comes from the ancient Greek for “deep” – bathos.

Blowing-up: being unable to carry on swimming at a certain speed having set off too fast.  Ask Pivo about this.

Bonus rest: additional rest taken between sets when there is some particularly interesting gossip to discuss.

Buoy (pronounced: BOY in uk and BOO-EE in US):  Large plastic thing that NEVER appears and when it finally does often attacks you for swimming too close to it.

Cake:  The food of gods that helps you fuel and recover from long swims.

Channel rules: the rules governing an English Channel swim.  Hat, goggles & costume.  No touching the boat.  They (the CSPF and CSA) love a man in speedos.

Crocs: ghastly footwear that many a channel swimmer insists they NEED to wear. NO.YOU.DON’T.

Dip’n’Dine: a swim followed by food with friends.

Double Hatting: When the water is Freezing (see below) and you need to wear two hats to keep warm.

Drafting: You can’t escape it, even if you don’t want to do it, someone will do it to you.  Kick them in the face.. go on!*

Dry Robe: popular brand of post-swimming warmth.

DYST: ‘did you swim today’ Facebook group where the majority of the time people post interesting summaries/photos about what swimming they have done of note that day.

Feeding: another name for chucking a few jelly babies in the general direction of a swimmer.

Freezing: any water below 18C.

Jellyfish Soup – Miles and miles of jellyfish.   Large or small… stingers or non-stingers.  Jellyfish Soup causes you to curse and swear lots and seek immediate exit route from water.

(The) Jellyfish Crawl – the latest dance craze sweeping the world and also the slowed down swimming style that is adopted when swimming through Jellyfish Soup (see above).

Killer Whales: The “affectionate” term used by a core group of skin swimmers to refer to wetsuited swimmers.

Like a bath: any water above 18C.

Lube: normally in the form of Vaseline, bodyglide or channel grease.  Helps prevent chaffing and the resultant questions from work colleagues around how aggressive a kisser your husband is.

Marathon swim: Anything over and including 10km.

Oceans 7:  Not to be confused with Oceans 11, 12 and 13.  A wish list of the craziest long-distance sea swims that exist around the Globe.  For people who think swimming the English Channel is too easy.

Pool crawl: visiting a number of pools on the same day for swims.  This term originates from the phrase “pub crawl” only it is way cooler.

Pyramid of Pain: 1 minute hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 6 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 5 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 4 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 3 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 2 minutes hard swim, 1 minute rest, 1 minute hard swim.  I don’t think I need to explain why it is called the pyramid of pain.  Renamed the “Christmas Tree of Pain” around Christmas.

Relay: A race where a team of people swim a certain distance each.  This used to mean a serious competition between teams but now is more likely to mean that we will be competing using flip flops as hand paddles.

Running: Like swimming but on land and not as fun and much harder.

Single Arm Drill: Where you have to swim free style with one arm with the other arm down by your side.  A drill so hard it makes grown men want to cry.

Swimmers Beach: the unofficial name of the beach in Dover harbour where most channel swimmers train during the summer.

T10: a 10 minute time trial where you have to swim as far as you can in 10 minutes.  Normally leaves everyone in pieces and shouting at Dan from SwimForTri.  Poor Dan.. (Note: Katie wrote that.. sod Dan (Manda)).


*please don’t really kick someone in the face!



~4k (4000m) swim sets


**UPDATED 20/05/17**

These are sets we are doing ourselves so will be added to as and when we do new sessions.

See also:

2.5k sets

3k sets

5k+ sets

A few abbreviations explained:


ALT -> MEANS ALTERNATING, therefore, one length one thing, one length the other.

BUILD -> get faster over the distance.  Start EASY finish HARD.

BP -> Breathing pattern.  So BP3 = Breathe every 3, BP4 = breathe every 4 etc



500m swim

200m drill choice

100m swim

200m alt kick/pull

Main set:

10*200m 20 Seconds rest (SR)

  1. 70%, 2. UP 80% DOWN 60%, 3. BUILD (Get faster over 200m distance from easy to sprint), 4.70%, 5. UP 60% DOWN 80%..REPEAT

10*100m 15 SR

  1. 80%
  2. 75%
  3. 70%
  4. 65%
  5. 60%

REPEAT (using the 9th(65%) and 10th(60%) as swim down)

Total: 4000m


25m pool

Warm up:

4*100m free

3*100m drill choice (catchup, fingertrail, doggy paddle, fists etc)

2*100m pull

100m kick


50 free @ 70% 20 SR

100 free @ 70% 20 SR

150 free @ 70% 20SR

200 free @ 70% 20SR

250 free @ 70% 20SR

10*25 @ 90% 15 SR

50 free @ 70% 20 SR

100 free @ 70% 20 SR

150 free @ 70% 20SR

200 free @ 70% 20SR

10*25 @ 90% 15 SR

50 free @ 70% 20 SR

100 free @ 70% 20 SR

150 free @ 70% 20SR

10*25 @ 90% 15 SR

50 free @ 70% 20 SR

100 free @ 70% 20 SR

10*25 @ 90% 15 SR

50 free @ 70% 20 SR

10*25 @ 90% 15 SR

Swim down:

300m alternating, free, catchup free, back, catchup back.  Repeat * 3


400m swim

200m choice drill (break at end of every length if needed)

200m alternating 1 length kick, 1 length pull

Main set:

1000m @ 70% 1 min rest

2 * 500m @ 75% 30 seconds rest

5 * 200m @ 75% 20 seconds rest

Swim down:

200m alternate 1 length of non-freestyle and 1 length of free.  Thinking about perfect stroke for the freestyle.

Total: 4000m


500m swim

10*50 or 5*100m (depending on pool length) 15 SR.  UP drill choice, back easy.

500m swim

Main set:

1000m @ 70% 1 min rest

2*100m 15 SR @ 80%

600m @ 70% 45 secs rest

2*100m 15 SR @ 80%

200m @ 70% 30 secs rest

2*100m 15 SR @ 80%

swim down: 200m alt back and free

Total: 4100m


500 swim 500
100 pull 600
400 alt lengths:  60%, 70% 1000
100 kick 1100
300 alt lengths: BP 3 BP 4 1400
100 pull 1500
200 BUILD over the 200m so easy for first 25/50 all the way to sprinting the last 25/50 1700
100 kick 1800
800 4*200 REST 30, 20, 10 60 2600
600 4*150 REST 30, 20, 10 70 3200
400 4*100 REST 30, 20, 10 75 3600
200 4*50 REST 30, 20, 10 80 3800
200 SWIM DOWN 4000

TOTAL: 4000m / 4k


400 @60%
350 @70%
100 KICK
150 BP 5 (50m), 4 (50m), 3 (50m)
250 PULL
200 @80%
250 PULL
150 BP 5 (50m), 4 (50m), 3 (50m)
100 KICK
350 @70%
400 100 @ 60%, 100 @ 70%, 100 @ 80%, 100 @ HARD

TOTAL: 4K (4000m)


400 SWIM 400
500 @60% 30 SR 1200
400 @70% 20 SR 1600
300 @75% 15 SR 1900
200 @80% 2100
1 MIN REST 2100
400 @ 60% 30 SR 2500
300 @70% 20 SR 2800
200 @75% 15 SR 3000
100 @80% 3100
1 MIN REST 3100
300 @ 60% 30 SR 3400
200 @70% 20 SR 3600
100 @75% 15 SR 3700
50 @80% 3750
250 SWIM DOWN 4000

TOTAL: 4K (4000m)


300 swim

100 drill choice

200 swim

100 pull

100 swim

main set:

1000 @ 70% ensuring pace is same through out

800 up length hard (80%), down easy (60%)

600 negative split. Making sure that 2nd 300 is faster than first 300

400 1 length easy, 1 length medium, 1 length hard, 1 length kick  Repeat through to 400

200 @ 75%

200 swim down.

Total: 4000m / 4K


300m swim

100m kick

300m swim

100m pull

4*200 @ 70% 30 SR

8*50 @ 80% 20 SR

2*400 @ 70% 30 SR

4*100 @ 80% 20 SR

800 @ 70%

200m swim down

TOTAL: 4200m/4.2k

SET 10

400m swim

200m choice drill.

200m alt pull/kick

1000m @ 70% (take a note of the time taken)

5*200m 30 SR

  1. @60% BP (breathing every:) 3
  2. 10 strokes hard, easy to wall..repeat through to 200m
  3. 50m @ 60%, 50m @ 70%, 50m @ 80%, 50m @60%
  4. Breathing to your right on odd lengths, breathing to your left even lengths (aiming for 60%-70%)
  5. Odd lengths catch up, even lengths: SPRINT

1000m @ 70% aiming for same time as before

200m swim down (include some backstroke)

TOTAL: 4000m/4k

SET 11

8 SWIM 400 400
2 PULL 100 500
6 SWIM 300 800
2 KICK 100 900
4 SWIM 200 1100
0 1100
0 1100
10 500 @ 60% 500 1600
8 400 @ 65% 400 2000
6 300 @ 70% 300 2300
4 200 @ 75% 200 2500
2 100 @ 80% 100 2600
0 2600
4 EASY 200 2800
0 2800
20 10*100m @ 75% 20 SR 1000 3800
0 3800
0 3800
0 3800
4 SWIMDOWN 200 4000

TOTAL: 4000m/4k

SET 12

2 variations of set depending on whether in a 30m or 25/50m pool.

30m pool one below

12 SWIM 360 360
8 ALT PULL / KICK 240 600
4 DRILL 120 720
4 ALT PULL / KICK 120 840
8 DRILL 240 1080
12 SWIM 360 1440
0 1440
  0 1440
6 2*3L hard 30 SR 180 2220
0 2220
10 STEADY 300 2520
6 2*3L hard 30 SR 180 2700
0 2700
6 2*3L hard 30 SR 180 3480
0 3480
10 STEADY 300 3780
6 2*3L hard 30 SR 180 3960
0 3960
8 SWIM DOWN 240 4200

For a 25/50m POOL.


(If 25m pool)

12 SWIM 300 300
8 ALT PULL / KICK 200 500
4 DRILL 100 600
4 ALT PULL / KICK 100 700
8 DRILL 200 900
12 SWIM 300 1200
0 1200
  0 1200
8 2*4L hard 30 SR 200 1900
0 1900
12 STEADY 300 2200
12 3*4L hard 30 SR 300 2500
0 2500
8 2*4L hard 30 SR 200 3200
0 3200
12 STEADY 300 3500
12 3*4L hard 30 SR 300 3800
0 3800
8 SWIM DOWN 200 4000

SET 13

This is for a 30m pool.  If done in a 25m then comes to 3500m but you can add to the pyramid to increase.

10l swim

8*1l drill choice.  If swimming with someone take it in turns to choose.  15 SR.

6l pull

4l swim

2l kick.

16l @ 75% but every 4th length hard/sprint.

5*4l @ 85% 30 SR

16l @ 75% but every 4th length hard/sprint

swim all at 70%.  You should keep a consistent speed so that the when you are going down the pyramid you are hitting the same times as going up!  15 SR between each interval.














9l swim down.  Do some backstroke!

Total: 4200m (in 30m pool)

Set 14

200 swim

100 pull

200 swim

100 drill choice

200 swim

100 kick

100 swim

8×50 @80% 10 SR

5×100 @75% 15 SR

1k time trial

5×100 @75% 15 SR

8×50 @80% 10 SR

200 swimdown

SET 15

400 SWIM

300 PULL


100 KICK

8*200.  Odd 200s HARD, even 200s EASY 20 SR

8*100 50 non freestyle stroke of choice, 50 Mod free 15 SR

8*50 SPRINT 15 SR

200 swim down

TOTAL: 4000m

SET 16

500 every 3rd length drill

200 alt pull/kick per length

100 easy free

1000 @ race pace. 1 MIN REST


600 @ race pace. 1 MIN REST

400 @ MOD. 1 MIN REST


200m swim down.

Total: 4000m

SET 17

500 SWIM


400 SWIM

100 BACK

300 SWIM


400 @ race pace/75% 1 MIN REST

2*200 PULL @ MOD 15 SR

400 @ race pace/75% 1 MIN REST

4*100 HARD 30 SR

200 @ race pace/80% 30 SR

2*100 PULL @ MOD 10 SR

200 @ race pace/80% 30 SR

4*50 SPRINT 10 SR



SET 18

400 swim

300 pull

200 drill

100 kick

2 * 400 UP HARD (80%), DOWN EASY (60%), 20 SR

3 * 100 1) 60%, 2) 70%, 3) 80% 10 SR

2 * 300  E,M,H,H,M,E (if 25m pool, repeat to get to 300)20 SR

3 * 100 1) 60%, 2) 70%, 3) 80% 10 SR

2 * 200 UP HARD (80%), DOWN EASY (60%), 20 SR

3 * 100 1) 60%, 2) 70%, 3) 80% 10 SR



SET 19

400 swim

300 pull

200 drill choice

100 kick

400 swim, hard into wall from flags and out of wall to flags

4*100 odds hard, even technique 20 sr

2*200 50 fly, 150 free @ mod 20 sr

400 50 E, 50 M, 50 H, 100 KICK, 50 H, 50 M, 50 E

4*100 BUILD 15 SR


2*200 100 PULL, 100 FREE @ MOD 20SR


TOTAL: 4000

109 lengths at Tooting Bec Lido with SLSC 2015

Every year since the 100 year anniversary of Tooting Bec Lido, SLSC have held a club challenge to swim the age of the lido in lengths.  Now if the lido was 25m then this would be a fun swim, however, (un)fortunately for us the lido is 100yds (91m).

2015 is the 109th anniversary of the lido so that would be a whopping 10,900 yards (9,966m) of swimming.  Last year we did the 10,800 yards distance as a 2 person relay in 17 degrees, but this year we decided early on in the year that we would tackle the distance solo as a bit of end of season fun.

So September came around and with it came the british winter a few months early.  This meant that the temperature at the lido was slowly dropping through the teens 17…16…15…14.  Please no lower!!!  The weekend before the swim we managed a 2 hour swim in the lido at 14 degrees in the glorious sunshine, however, the Thursday before the swim, we did 45 minutes swim at 7am and come 10am a colleague asked me if I was ok as my lips were blue.  Panic set in!


The morning of the swim we were greeted with sunshine but 13 degree water. It was the best weather, if not water temperature, we could have asked for.  After arriving at the lido just after lunch, the SLSC captains set about getting us all ready.  There would be 9 of us doing the solo, of which 4 of us would be wearing wetsuits, therefore, 5 were doing it SKINS.  SKINS, my skin is tingling just typing this.

To start we walked to the deep end and entered the water there.  This threw me and Katie off as we are used to walking from the shallow end to acclimatize but couldn’t really raise an objection whilst covered in our luxury neoprene.

And we were off.  We had decided to have our first stop after 45 minutes, so after 33 lengths we stopped and I had a sip of luke warm tea and then the chat started:

Katie: How many have we done?

Me: 33 lengths

Katie screams loudly: IS THAT IT?

Now at this point Katie was about to offer to take the lead, however, she didn’t have a chance to offer as I rapidly set off again in fear of being shouted at for taking too long at feeds.

This meant there was no conversation about when to next feed.  I thought it would be good to do 42 lengths this time.  You would break the back of it by taking you to 75 and therefore, would leave only 34 to finish.  However, Katie was thinking I was going to do around 30 lengths so started worrying once we got higher than that, that I wasn’t going to let her stop again until the finish.

I did stop, which allowed for more, now cold, tea and allowed Katie to take the lead for the final 34.  By this point I couldn’t feel my feet properly, which makes for a bizarre sensation when pushing off the wall at a turn and I also realised that I had been so preoccupied about the cold in the build up I had forgotten about the distance actually being a challenge in itself and my arms started aching.


109 lengths later we were finished. 2 hours 39 minutes in the lido. It was a challenge for so many reasons but mainly, the cold and distance.  Others commented on the tedious nature of the lap swimming for that long, however, by swimming as a team it was like you always had company and I was never bored.  This was the first race since Max’s arrival that Katie and I swam together (it would have been bridge to bridge if it wasn’t for her seeing my warning signs!) so for me it was a definite season highlight.


Next year it is 110 lengths, so as an even number of lengths it might be back to a team mermaids relay instead.


Thanks to SLSC for a great event and special thanks to Nicola and Mandy for their organisation and support.

RG Active relays 2015

From the longest race to the shortest race of the season. After the 14km Bridge to Bridge the weekend before, last weekend Manda and I competed in the RG Active relays. The race is 6 laps of Ham Lake, a lock that is fed from the Thames nr. Richmond, and is 3.2k in total so around a mile each. Each lap you have to hand over to your team mate, which involves running up a steep hill. This part nearly killed me. At the end of each lap I was totally out of breath and I am not sure that that was from the swimming!


While this isn’t the biggest challenge distance wise, it is lots of fun. It is great to hang out with all the RG Active peeps and chat about the seasons events. After the event Vicki and Emma had baked some cakes which were worth the trip alone.


This is the second year the relays have been run. Last year Manda and I were the winners so we were hoping for a repeat performance. In fact Manda has been doing some trash talk on Twitter which was making me a bit nervous! Alas it was not to be as we were beaten by a Teddington Masters team into second place by 3 mins (we swam 49m 29s compared to their 46m 31s). We will be back next year to try and regain the title!!

Jubilee River swim 2015

On Sunday 7 June 2015 Team Mermaids and friends went on an outing to the Jubilee River swim put on by My Sporting Times. This beautiful event is a 10km downstream swim ending up at the Thames Valley Athletic Centre in Eton. Well I say it is 10k but really it is c.9.5km of swimming with about 500m of walking/running/hobbling over the weirs as body surfing down the weirs is not allowed. There goes the good GO-PRO footage.


The day started at the Thames Valley Athletic Centre (swim finish as well) from where we got buses to the start of the swim near Taplow. The swim started off in waves. The yellow (social) wave went off at 9.30, pink at 10am and finally the purple wave at 10.30. I (Katie) must have been being very conservative in my estimate of how long the swim would take me as I was in the pink wave much to Manda’s annoyance as this meant we needed to arrive an hour earlier aka an hour less in bed! On the plus side for me I meant that I was out near the front of my wave so got to swim unimpeded for most of the race giving me plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

The starting swim was 1.9km down to the first weir. This was a good warm-up for the second stretch which is the longest at 3.5km. The weather was beautiful and with the lovely scenery to look at it felt like the swims were going by quickly. The third part was 2.6k before the final stretch of 1.5km. I’m glad that after the ‘warm up’ the length of each swim decreased in distance as this made each stretch mentally easier to complete. The finish came as somewhat of a surprise as I thought I had a while left to go and it wasn’t until I was about 30m away that I realised I was at the end.

There was a pretty helpful current which made you feel like you were zipping a long and made for some good times! Manda and Brian swam together and finished in a time of 2.17. Manda was second female – well done Manda! I finished in 2.37 which I was pleased with given my general levels of fitness and training. Special shout out to uncle Davy who competed the course in the super fast time of 2.09 to finish 5th…although we had to tell him off at the end as he had swum all bar 50m of it on someone’s (Steve Mott) toes and then sprinted past them at the end. Not cricket!

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Overall a lovely course for a little paddle, a well organised event and the sunshine was the icing on the cake (which we ate plenty of afterwards)!

Race review
Cost: The race cost £75 (£100 if you want to split and do as a relay). It comparison to other UK end to end 10ks this is reasonable and if you are going to “invest” in one 10k.. this is the one to do.

Organisation: Generally well organised although the trip on the bus to the start seemed to take a while which was a bit frustrating.

Challenge: The end to end nature of this swim and descending sections make for an easier mental challenge than if you were looping around a lake. 10k is a challenge but with the gentle current dragging you along it is a great swim for a 10k first timer.