Swimming in Guernsey

I (Manda) come from Guernsey and when I go back I want to go sea swimming but the lack of company always stops me, so this time I decided to try and engage local groups to see if they would let me tag along and I wasn’t disappointed.  Katie and Brian then joined me for part of the trip, so they were dragged along for some of these adventures!

Our trip also coincided with 30 bays in 30 days, so we tried to tick off a few of these along the way.

Havelet Bay

I was working in my Guernsey office for a couple of days, so when I saw on the “Guernsey Open water swimmers” (GOWS) page that they were meeting for a lunchtime swim,  I headed on down.  The plan was a mile loop of Havelet Bay, which is situated at the south end of St Peter Port and has the impressive Castle Cornet overlooking it.  Fortunately there were 2 other people not wearing wetsuits so I decided to join them and I was pleasantly surprised at the temperature.  We did  a loop of the bay but regrouped at every buoy so no one was dropped and also ensured that me, without my contact lenses, didn’t end up in France.  Being able to swim at lunchtime was a dream come true and to be able to do it in such beautiful surroundings was even better.

 

Pembroke Bay (Try a Tri Guernsey)

One of my colleagues in the Guernsey office was joining a group swim on Wednesday and invited me along.  We were meant to be in Jersey on the Wednesday but fog ended that, so last minute (which you can do when the beach is 2 minutes away) I decided to head on down with support crew of husband and baby to make the most of the day.  Laura from Try a Tri had set up a triangular course for swimming around so that everyone would stick together.  This was great for me and allowed me to gain some confidence in the sea that had been lost since Majorca 2015!

 

Marble Bay (30 bays in 30 days)

I got recommended this bay by the organisers of 30 bays, so we googled and decided “why not?”.  Why not… well we have a 1 year old and marble bay is accessible by only a coastal cliff path but after parking at Jerbourg point, we headed towards marble bay.  After a beautiful walk with views of Herm and Sark, we arrived at marble bay to find no one there.  We took it in turns to swim and just generally hung around living our own private beach dreams until I started dreaming of my cold drink that I had left in the car and the Guernsey ice cream at the Jerbourg kiosk.  We were there at low tide and apparently it is even better at high tide, so another reason to head back.

 

Les Beaucamps (Swim Smooth CI / Tri 3 Fit)

6:30 Friday am, I am normally at ironmonger row baths, so I just relocated my session to Guernsey with Swim Smooth CI.  I swam in the fast lane with 2 chaps and bashed out some 400s and then some 200s.  It was a great pacing set, and as the co-queen of pacing, I managed to hit the target times with accuracy.

Lancresse Bay (Guernsey Swimming Club)

On Wednesday night at Pembroke, I accosted a man in the sea, as you do.  He was swimming back from a swim as I was doing my laps with try a tri.  I asked if they were doing other swims that week that we could come along to and he said they were swimming Friday night at 6:15 at Lancresse, so enthusiastically I told Brian and Katie when they arrived in Guernsey.  We then tentatively turned up then to find a massive group of swimmers.   After some discussion we headed out to the edge of the bay, which was turbulent!  At which point Katie declared “I am concerned we aren’t going to make it back”.  We did! But it took us 18 minutes to get back vs the 10 minutes to get out.

 

Herm Island

We wanted to get across to Herm but the weather forecast wasn’t great but we thought we would head over and see what the weather brought.  We boarded the boat dry and then arrived in Herm 20 minutes later to torrential rain.  We decided to go for a drink under cover and assess our options.  The rain didn’t let up and thunder and lightning started, so we decided we had best get the next boat back.  Brian wasn’t happy about the lack of swimming, so seeing water was just 10 metres away he decided to go for it.  Armed with my camera and my water proof coat I led him to the shore and off he went.  I was and still am very jealous!!

 

Saints Bay 

During lunch, we discussed afternoon plan, but it was still chucking it down so after seeking advice for a swim location on the GOWS facebook page we headed down to Saints bay. We were greeted by the swimmers we had swum with on Friday night and promised them we weren’t stalking them.  They had just finished so handed out some advice on where to head … “head for the lion and seal” – ya what?!  There is no parking at the beach so we parked by a slippery slope which we had to descend to get into the water – this turned out to be the hardest part of the swim.

 

Petit Port/Moulin Huet (Guernsey Swim adventures)

The swim we had come for.  The morning of the swim we were greeted with wind and lots of it, which prompted the organisers to say they had already decided on a revised route and would decide 15 minutes before swim start whether it would go ahead.  After descending 324 steps we arrived with shaky legs and surprise to see some chunky waves. Jacqui, from Guernsey swim adventures, said we were going to do the revised route to cradle rock and back twice through. A tide going out and a gap in the weather meant that 10 minutes to go, we were reverting to plan A. Ahhhh I had no idea what that was as I thought we were doing Plan B. So after several minutes of repeating, cradle rock, rock in ocean, buoy, cradle rock, home, to myself and Jacqui ensuring us that there was a rock in front of the headland we were off.

I optimistically galloped off into the waves as only an islander or an Irish man (Brian) can do, to find my goggles knocked off (same for Brian).  Katie sensibly and cautiously walked into the water as only a proper English lady should do. We then plodded our way around the course.

We returned to shore to be greeted with rain and our winning gold caps!

 

Soldiers Bay/ Bathing pools

Wil, who I had met at the previous Tuesday’s swim, suggested one final joint swim from Havelet bay, via bathing pools to soldiers bay. This bay is no longer accessible by land due to falling rocks but has a great history as it is where Victor Hugo used to swim.

I arrived late at the bay (due to wedding ring removal issues) to see people swimming off but Wil still there. ‘No problem we will catch them’ errrr ok. He proceeded to speed off and I spent the next 10 minutes sprinting after him (I might have put more effort into this swim than the race on Sunday!). When we got to the bathing pools, we hopped the railings and swam through the pool that was like a wave machine. Rounded the headland corner and finally caught up with the others. Wil then disappeared off into the gullies and the others headed for home. I floated in the ocean for a while hoping he would eventually reappear. He didn’t so I decided to head back. On way back I stopped at bathing pools again and then he appeared. After a somersault off the diving board, we battled our way through the pool and then back to shore.

 

Petit Bot

Time for a final bay. Bay #23 was actually bay #9 from the official 30 bays in 30 days for this trip.

A lovely sunny swim to finish off what has been an amazing and confidence building sea swimming trip.

 

Thanks to everyone who welcomed me/us to their swims.

If you are ever in Guernsey and want to join some friendly locals for a swim here are some resource ideas:

Guernsey Open water swimming Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/822350874509034/

Guernsey Swimming Club:

Apart from accosting scantily clad men in the sea, I am not too sure how to find out about these swims to be honest. However, contact us at hello@teammermaids.com and we can point you towards the social media for some members.

Try a Tri / Fry Fit:

https://www.facebook.com/tryatriguernsey/?fref=ts

Swim Smooth CI / Tri 3 Fit:

https://www.facebook.com/swimsmoothci/

Guernsey swim adventures: 

https://www.facebook.com/guernseyswimadventures/

30 bays in 30 days:

http://www.30bays.org/

 

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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

mug

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

matches

and just in case there was any doubt

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

mermaids-dont-run


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

normal_personalised-hanging-at-the-beach-print

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

il_570xn-1041979963_ilzh

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

download

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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Slovenia with Strel Swimming 2013

At SwimFest (Openwater swim races run by the lovely brother and sister duo of Dan and Keeley Bullock at SwimForTri) in 2012 I (Manda) won a trip to Slovenia with Strel Swimming at the raffle that they held for all competitors.

My first thought was who could I rope into coming along with me…..I managed to get all the Merms to agree to come and additionally, we were joined by 2 friends Paul (a.k.a Pivo) and Lisa.

In July 2013 after a quick plane ride to Ljubljana and then a pleasant transfer (where Pivo realising he was with 5 girls spoke to our lovely ex-pat Driver Graeme about football for the entire drive) we arrived at the lake side hotel Strel provides in Lake Bohinj. With a few hours to spare before we met our group, we headed off to the “beach” next to our hotel and did what swimmers do best.. had a paddle/dip/splash. My first thought was it was freezing (it really wasn’t!) but secondly how clean and tranquil it was. This was the lake swimming of dreams. No algae, no boat traffic..just us and a few friendly kayakers.

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We met our guides (Borut, Alex and G) and group (I think there was about 14 of us on trip) later in the evening for our briefing. We discovered there were some good swimmers based on the achievements and forth coming plans and there was even a fellow Zurich swimmer, Jonas, who was attempting the swim solo. These were all good signs for a great trip.

The next day we met early on the lake shore to do a test swim. This allows the guides to band swimmers according to speed. Upon returning to shore it was apparent that we were all of a similar standard so no splitting into sub groups was required. So off we went to Lake Bled for our first official swim of the trip. The plans were tentative as there was due to be an air acrobatic show in the afternoon and additionally, they would be practicing in the morning so we prepared to be flexible.

We ended up swimming to the castle in the morning and were accompanied on the swim by Borut’s father, Martin Strel, of marathon swim fame and additionally, by practising planes. Once at the castle we had drinks and snacks and then had a look around, including ringing the church bell and then swum back to the shore. After a lovely traditional lunch, a group of us headed on a walk to a view point to discover amazing views of the lake and beyond.

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The afternoon consisted of swimming the length of the lake along the rowing course. So a nice straight line, passing the castle, of approx. 2km and then swum to the local lido to get changed and chill out for a bit.

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The following day we headed off to Italy for a swim Lago di Predil. The water here was colder but as we were preparing for Zurich, non-wetsuit it was.

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After our visit to Italy, we headed to for a walk to a waterfall. Once we got to the waterfall we all had a “refreshing” dip and Alex entertained us through various mischievous activities then we headed further down the river Soca to go for a dip there. It was a bizarre swim as it started off very cold, some swimmers who hadn’t previously worn wetsuits were now wearing them and I was initially regretting my bravado/being peer pressured into no wetsuit, but suddenly it became warm, almost too warm. We swum past various traditional lake boats and the tourists as always were fascinated to see us.

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After the swim we went to the train station and boarded a car train. This was so RANDOM! Never seen anything like it and was a funny experience and one I will remember for the military operation required for shutting the van door before we went through a tunnel as well as the general party bus atmosphere.

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The final day consisted of a walk to the other end of Lake Bohinj and then swimming back. This was a 4km swim and was a real test for some of the swimmers, who hadn’t previously swum that far and an ideal opportunity to put into practice the technique advice that had been provided by the Strel team. It was a great way to end the trip and probably my favourite swim.

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That afternoon we headed back to Ljubljana, as we were spending one night in the city before heading back to London. Ljubljana is a small city and makes it easily explorable. We walked around taking in the sights, whilst having a few Pivos (Slovenian for beer and also Paul’s nickname) and aperol spritzes. The following day we did a (comical) boat trip along the city’s canals and then headed back.

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Thanks Slovenia and Strel for having us.

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http://www.strel-swimming.com
http://www.bigriverman.com

Things I liked specifically about Strel :

Local knowledge (Including speaking the language(s)) – you can’t undervalue this and I think this is where Borut excels, not just in Slovenia but in other countries, and by choosing the right team to support him.

Food – often lunch can be included in these trips. On this specific trip we were responsible for buying our own lunch. On other trips, Non-Strel trips, we have had bad experiences with there not being not enough food for everyone, no carbs, salad for lunch etc – giving people control of their meal is the best option for me. Snacks provided were also good and varied.

Length – yes you want to make the most of it but I think 4 days works well. Whether that be from a fatigue perspective or from a being in a group of people you don’t know perspective.

Flexibility – no group is going to be the same, so you have to be prepared to accommodate everyone’s wants and needs. This was done well in our group. Where most of us were a similar speed there was one lady who wasn’t up to the (unusual) standard of our group. G looked after this lady and pretty much provided and 1 on 1 service, which if wouldn’t have been done could have quickly easier ruined the lady’s experience and impacted the others as well.