Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling!

We love a Pool Crawl so we have done a few and therefore, have self appointed ourselves as Pool crawl Presidents!

So here is our Top 10 tips for Pool Crawling.  Thanks to our Pool crawling partners in crime Brian and Pivo for helping us with the below.

    1. Have a small purse/freezer bag with 20ps and a couple of £1 coins ready for lockers.
    2. Try have dry bathers for each pool and if possible make them your “bigger” bathers as easier to get on over damp skin.
    3. Wherever there is a costume spinner, make sure you spin all wet swimming costumes.  Also, maybe not approved use of spinner but a secret source says you can put your quick dry towels in the spinner as well!
    4. Have a plastic bag ready to keep wet stuff separate.
    5. Have spare goggles/caps, the tireder you get the more likely you are to start leaving things at pools.
    6. Only invite people who cope well when things don’t go to plan and are still happy(ish) when tired.
    7. Save a dry towel for the last pool.
    8. If you have long hair and there is a hair dryer at a pool, blitz the ends for 1 minute before leaving.  Saves you hair dripping all over you on way to next pool.  If you have short hair then go for a pre pool crawl trim.
    9. Check pool opening times against schedule day before event to reconfirm all ok. (Lesson Learnt!)
    10. Bring battery pack for on the go mobile phone charging.

Extra tip if you are pool crawling through London:

8/10 of the pools we went to were managed by Better (GLL) so we got day passes that cost £10.00.  This allowed us to do all our Better dips for £10.

https://www.better.org.uk/memberships/short-term-passes

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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/

 

Midsummer Relay 2017

Every year SLSC put on public events over the summer at Tooting Bec Lido.  We have previously taken part in their aquathlon series but this year as I (Manda) am not fully back running yet, I thought it would be nice to take part in the Mid-Summer Relay.

The event takes place at 8pm on the Wednesday of the week of the summer solstice, so once the public have left the lido (which was a hard task on the hottest and sunniest day of the year) 40 teams get ready to battle.  There were teams there from all different swimming clubs and organisations including the Serpies, Spencer, and the MET police.

The format is 4 people who each swim 4*1 length and teams must have at least one male and one female so we roped Brian and Tricky into our team.

We listened to the briefing and I promised to try not to mess up (especially after my recent relay disasters at the Cold Water Championships and then more recently at a SLSC head up breaststroke relay where I pushed off under the water which was firmly against the rules!).

Ready, steady, go!

Katie was off on leg one and she had pretty much clear water for her first length.  That was where the clear water ended, as for the next 15 lengths you sprinted your way through the water hoping you weren’t about to be taken out by an oncoming swimmer, which I did witness a couple of times.

4*1L sounded easy, but actually sprinting 400 yards was proper hard work and we definitely earned our post-race pool-side included-in-the-price falafel and positively-tropical prosecco*.

It was lovely to see so many other swim clubs and swimmers taking part and enjoying the lido.

There was some controversy with the results as we were in the wrong age category and therefore missed out on our podium spot. However, we will be back next year to regain the third place that was rightfully ours (and drink more prosecco!).

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* achieved by mixing warm prosecco and mango baby puree

Open-water Training 2017

 

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Coached sessions at London (ish) venues

 

Serpentine

SwimForTri:  http://www.swimfortri.co.uk/hyde-park/

RG Active: http://www.rgactive.com/coaching-training/swim-training/

Serpentine Swimming Club: http://serpentineswimmingclub.com/

General Admission: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde-park/things-to-see-and-do/sports-and-leisure/serpentine-lido

Tooting Bec Lido

Fit and Abel: http://fitandabel.com/uk-swim-coaching/

SLSC: https://www.slsc.org.uk/

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: https://www.slsc.org.uk/club-events/training-sessions/

General Admission: https://www.placesforpeopleleisure.org/centres/tooting-bec-lido/

Parliament Hill Lido

Tri For Fitness: http://triforfitness.co.uk/courses.htm

General Admission:   https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/swimming/Pages/Swimming-opening-times-and-charges.aspx

London Royal Docks

RG Active: http://www.rgactive.com/coaching-training/swim-training/

General Admission: http://www.londonroyaldocksows.co.uk/opening-times/

Hampstead Ponds

RG Active: http://www.rgactive.com/coaching-training/swim-training/

General Admission: https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/swimming/Pages/ponds-times-charges.aspx

West Reservoir

RG Active: http://www.rgactive.com/coaching-training/swim-training/

TriScape: TBC

London Fields Tri Club: https://lftri.co.uk/training

Capital Tri: https://v1.bookwhen.com/capitaltri

Swim Open: http://swim-open.com/

General Admission: http://www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/london/hackney/stoke-newington-west-reservoir-centre  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: http://www.streamlineswims.com/training/training-dates/

Windrush Tri Club: http://clubhouse.windrushtri.co.uk/page/training

General Admission: http://www.brockwelllido.com/

Shepperton Lake

Swim Lab: http://www.swimlab.org.uk/diary/

General Admission: http://www.sheppertonopenwaterswim.co.uk/

Stubbers

Swim For Tri: http://www.swimfortri.co.uk/stubbers/

Ham Lake

RG Active: http://www.rgactive.com/coaching-training/swim-training/

Heron Lake

General Admission:  http://www.swimheron.co.uk/

Bray Lake

General Admission:  http://www.braylakeswimming.com/

Thorpe

General Admission:  http://www.thorpeopenwaterswimming.co.uk/

Liquid Leisure at Datchet

General Admission:  http://www.openwaterswimminguk.co.uk/location

Marlow

General Admission:  http://www.openwaterswimminguk.co.uk/location

Papercourt

General Admission: http://www.racestrong.org/papercourt/

10km pyramid

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After the success of 100 x 100m a few weeks ago everyone started getting very optimistic and suggesting more 10km sets.

This is how we ended up at Charlton Lido again on 12th March 2017 attempting a 10km pyramid.  We were a reduced group this time as Adrian way away skiing (I think he might have planned the trip to avoid the set) and Manda wasn’t very well.

So the set pretty much did what it says on the tin and went like this:

100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 600m, 700m, 800m, 900m, 1,000m, 900m, 800m, 700m, 600m, 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m.

We started off on 1.40sec per 100m pace but after the first 200m David took pity on my lack of rest and we moved up to 1.44sec per 100m pace (apparently Nils’ tempo trainer only goes up in 2 sec intervals)!

The day before the set I had run over 13 miles as part of the Swimmer so basically my only goal was to finish and if possible maintaining good (or at least good for me) technique.  At least this is my excuse for the awful times I posted!

Overall it was a good set and nice to tackle the distance in a different way to 100x100m.

Watch the space for more 10km sets in the future…

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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

selkie2016-11-14 19_32_53-Athlete T Shirt.png

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

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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

2016-11-13-17_37_31-maru-mens-icon-trunks-on-sale-from-proswimwear-co-uk


Day 9 – Jewellery

For the Mermaids:

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

2016-11-05-13_17_50-betsey-and-the-sea-bauble-pendant_-betsey-johnson

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

2016-11-05-13_18_11-charm-_mermaid_-1218-charm-club-thomas-sabo

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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The Lake District: “Wild swimming” adventures

As we were staying in Coniston for an extra week we decided to try and turn ourselves into wild swimmers.  Here how we got on…

Coniston (Manda)

One dip just in this beautiful water wasn’t enough, so realising that there was a water entry point a 5/10 minute walk from the cottage we were staying in, we put our wetsuits back on, refastened our tow floats and walked casually along the road in our flip flops.  Our hope of doing this bizarre walk unnoticed fell flat on its face within seconds when a shout of “Amanda, Katie” was heard… Josie was staying in cottage by us and was starting her journey back to London.  We said our goodbyes and off we ventured.

After Katie said goodbye to our flip flops (not sure who she expected to steal them) we waded into the water. Now hands up it was me (Manda) who thought this was a good entry point but there were several moments that I questioned this during and after.

 

First point: #weedgate

More on this shortly..

Second point: #swangate

Upon entering the water there were 2 swans with signets making their way over to us.  I was calm at this point as we were about to swim off in the other direction but THEN one decided to come after us.  Faced with flashes of Outdoor Swimming Society posts describing broken arms after swan attacks, I screeched something in Katie’s direction and then proceeded to head down sprint away.  After what seemed like a lifetime I stopped and glanced back to see the swan not moving but I am sure it was giving me evils and Katie had not swum away with any sense of urgency and was a good 50m behind.

We had a lovely 2 km swim in the rain and mist. Cautiously we made our way back to our entry point.  Katie hoped that her flip flops were still there, I was more concerned that we didn’t have round 2 with the swans.

Now going back to first point.  To get into the water we had to wade and swim through some weeds.  This didn’t seem like an issue until the next morning we woke up with “swimmer’s itch” – millions of (well not literally) tiny bites all over our bodies .  A week and a half later we are still suffering from the blighters.

Buttermere (Katie)

After a chat with the owner of the Swim the Lakes shop in Ambleside, we had some good insider knowledge of the best approach to taking a dip in Buttermere.  After over an hour’s drive, the last bit winding through the hills, we eventually arrived in at the Fish Inn in Buttermere, which is the best place to enter the lake for swimming purposes.  We changed in the car park and then wandered down to the lake in our wetsuits with tow floats in hand.

The lake was as beautiful as promised.  Our aim was to swim to the other side of the lake and back.  The challenge was that we only had about an hour as Miles needed feeding again soon. After about half an hours swimming we still looked like we were miles from the other side and decided to turn back.  Looking at the Garmin map afterwards it looks like we had made is about three quarters of the way over.

Buttermere was much colder than Coniston had been particularly in the middle as it is fed by a waterfall. On the way back my hands were so cold I had to swim fists.  I don’t think either of us are destined to be channel swimmers!

We arrived back to quite a bit of interest from the locals. Apparently a group of ladies were quite concerned that we were swimming given we seemed to need flotation devices.  We reassured them that we were competent swimmers and the tow floats were mainly for visibility!

Grasmere / Rydal Beck (Manda)

Fuelled by our wild swimming success, we decided to go for one last dip before heading back to London. The choice was between Coniston again, a waterfall near Rydal or Grasmere. I (Manda) researched in Facebook, wild swim and various other places and decided that now we were proper Wild Swimmers a small hike to a waterfall would be no problem for us. Rydal Beck we are coming for you.

Katie drove as far as she could up the hill that lead to the waterfall and then we proceeded to walk up. We had Google Maps so what could go wrong.. We reached a point where we were meant to turn off left and there was a path, however, it was covered in fern. I’m sure it was manageable but we decided to head back. Our wild swimming days were days were over!

Instead we headed to Grasmere and thanks to lakeswim 2016 Facebook page we knew where to park and where to start swimming from. Due to the time we had lost gallivanting around trying to find a waterfall we didn’t have much time to swim in Grasmere but the little time we did spend in there was bliss.  We kept turning on our backs and floating around so we could admire the beautiful scenery.  This is one we will defo be heading back to in the future.

Swimming in Lake District resources:

These are what we used in deciding where and how to swim:

Lake district national park swimming page:  http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/thingstodo/water/swimming

Explains what waters/lake you can and cannot swim in and additionally, which one have less boat traffic etc.

Swim the lakes: http://www.swimthelakes.co.uk/

The chap who runs this gave us excellent advice re where to enter the water at Buttermere.  They have a brilliant shop in ambleside that caters to all your swimming needs.  We are looking at doing one of their trips in 2017.

Swim secure: http://www.swimsecure.co.uk/

Tow floats for purchase.  Note: you can also buy these from swim the lakes (see above)

Wild swim map: http://wildswim.com/

Search for swims and dip spots on this map.

Lakeswim 2016 facebook group: find on facebook

Lots of chat and resources (including excellent files that show entry points, where to park etc) on the waters.

 

Boulter’s to Bray 2016

Thanks to Paddy for giving us an insight into open water swimming events from the spectator’s point of view.  It is as glamorous as we thought!!

Massive well done to Kate for her swim!


I’m not a sports spectator and never have been. I also can’t swim. I can float and vaguely control the direction of travel, but it’s not for me. The smell of chlorine evokes vivid memories of being thin and blue, shivering at the poolside in school swimming. I love lakes and the sea, but further schoolboy misadventures involving nudity and canoes (not at the same time, you understand) mean I don’t relish going for a dip in either. Rivers? Right up there with ‘rip tides’ in my list of reasons to decline an invitation from the swimming club.

So now we’ve established that I don’t enjoy watching sport, nor swimming, perhaps we can consider a pertinent question: what moment of lunacy has led to me getting up at 4am to go and watch people churning through a 3km stretch of the river Thames? It’s Saturday – I should be in bed, sleeping off a light hangover before getting up for a leisurely, high-cholesterol breakfast.

Thing is, Kate owes half of south London a lift (with IOUs ranging from Tooting Lido to the Lake District). The other thing is that Kate doesn’t have a car. Or, in fact, a licence – though that is a work in progress. Muggins here does, and has been enlisted. So, at 4am I’m at the wheel and we’re Maidenhead bound for the Boulter’s to Bray Swim.

Aside from the horribly early start, the day begins well. The sun is shining, we don’t hit traffic, we don’t get lost, we find a parking space immediately, registration is completed in the time it would take to buy a newspaper and there is a promise that later we will be offered bacon sandwiches. And coffee. Both will be needed.

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Organised sport is not my natural habitat, but Kate quickly finds changing rooms and seems to have a good idea where the start of the 2.8km race is. I am promised the start will be “the exciting bit”.

Arriving at the starting area, things do get more interesting. Kate slips into a crowd being addressed by someone with a megaphone, leaving me to chat to the three other spectators (there are 180-odd entrants). But looking back on the throng, I notice that everyone has turned identical. As the starting gun looms, everyone has pulled on matching event-branded swimming caps. The uniform also includes a black wetsuit.

I can’t find Kate. Some more spectators turn up with a couple of labradors. Even the dogs look confused. It does look a little like the aliens have arrived. It doesn’t help that half of them are ‘windmilling’ like The Who guitarist Pete Townshend.

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After a lengthy game of Where’s Wally? I manage to pick out a pair of distinctive pink goggles. It’s Kate, and I’m able to get missile lock long enough to see her enter the water. But now there’s a new problem: the organisers are ‘floating’ the swimmers around the corner for the start. I set off to get a better view.

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I just catch the start, but there’s something surprising. Swimming is faster than I expected and this lot are heading downstream. I adopt a brisk pace in the hope of catching up. Problem is, I keep stopping to see if I can pick out a highlight of pink goggle among the rhythmically churning arms. Fat chance. I also have to cross via a bridge, which adds to the lag, following which I’m led down a riverside path where the dense foliage does not afford a clear view. I can hear arms slapping into the water, but I’ve no idea which end of the swimming order I’m walking next to.

Eventually, I come across a dozen or so panting wetsuited men on the towpath, just in time to see Kate (also panting) emerge behind them. It’s the first time I’ve had a definite ID on her since before the start, but I haven’t seen any of the other woman swimmers on the way down here, and there don’t appear to be any looking for their shoes in the pick-up area. Has she won? She doesn’t think so.

Back at HQ, important things are afoot, mainly involving pork and caffeine. Several men are trying to mend a computer. A small queue has formed. One of the men plugs in a new cable, gives it a wiggle and presses some buttons. He looks across the table hopefully and the expectant swimmer taps in his race number. A ticket is printed out. The queue begins to move.

Kate’s ticket reveals that she’s come 21st overall, and is the second fastest woman in the grid. During prize giving, we find out that she was off the leader’s pace by just seconds.

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Swimming hasn’t revealed itself as the best kept secret in spectator sports, but Kate thinks having the support has helped her to put in a good time and there’s clearly a bonhomie among the swimmers. Would I get involved? Not on your life. But I might watch again, although I’d hope for a later start. And it’s definitely Kate’s turn to drive.