SLSC 110 Lengths Challenge 2017

The 110 lengths challenge held this year on 30 September 2017 is the closing party for the summer swimming season, celebrating a great summer at the lido and another year in the lido’s history.   Tooting Bec lido opened in 1906 and in previous years the challenge has been to swim one length for every year the lido has been open.  This year, however, the organisers very sensibly decided to cap the swim at 110 lengths which is the equivalent of 10k.

We have previously swum the challenge as relay in 2014 (read our account here) and as solos in 2015 (read our account here).  Last year I (Katie) was away for the event so dragged a reluctant Brain to do the swim with me one morning.  This year, after some mixed training over the last month or so and with another baby on board, we decided to swim as a relay again.

Just before 1pm we rocked up to join 20 solo swimmers and 9 other relay teams attempting the challenge.  After a briefing the solo swimmers were off, including Emma Watson, who arrived just in time with a just out of the oven fruit cake in tow.

In 2014 when we had last swum as a relay team the format was very relaxed, we got in when we wanted, swum together and counted our own lengths.  We were unprepared therefore for a formal mass relay start and Manda didn’t even have her hat and goggles on.  This ended up with her starting two lengths behind me.  We had decided to swim at the same time rather than in a standard relay format, which would mean no delay in cake consumption.

I was unsure how I would feel on the day as I am still suffering quite badly with sickness and have not been doing much training so we had just agreed that I would swim as many lengths as I felt able to and Manda would swim the balance (I think she was scared that I would only manage 10).  On the day the water was a lovely 16 degrees and I just took it steady and plodded through the lengths.


Trying to keep track of how many lengths each other had swum so we finished after the requisite 110 lengths was challenging our mental arithmetic somewhat but we managed it with Manda stopping at the end of her 56 lengths when I was just starting my 54th.  Overall between us we completed the relay in 2 hours and 48 minutes.  This is slower than when we did the event as soloists even taking into account the additional length but I think that is mine and bump’s fault!


Once we were out it was time for some still warm cake – delicious – and to watch the soloists and other relays finish.  The team organised by Bronnie Gray including last minute addition Fiona Wiggins, who was sporting her Team Mermaids hat, did an amazing job with 10 people each swimming 11 lengths.


Well done to everyone who swam on the day.  Next year we are going to give the solo a crack again!


SLSC Mile race 2017

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

Nancy Shaw – SLSC’s best Mermaid for several years


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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!).


* achieved by mixing warm prosecco and mango baby puree

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:

A tale of three swimathons

Back in January I (Manda) had what I thought at the time was an amazing idea (these things so often start this way…).  After doing the swimathon in 2016 at 30 weeks pregnant I asked myself what could I do it make it harder this year?  I know I thought let’s do the swimathon multiple times on one day and let’s also drag Katie along to share the pain!  For some reason Katie also thought this was a good idea and we started to look at logistics.  We originally discussed swimming in four sessions on the same day but we couldn’t find sessions that worked so we settled on attempting the 5km distance three times on the same day.  This is the tale of how our swims went.


Swimathon 1: Thornton Heath

Time: 06:30

Thornton Heath swimathon was meant to start at 6:30 so per the official swimathon email we turned up 30 minutes beforehand to find the centre didn’t open until 6:30. After some knocking on the door, shouting “SWIM-A-THON” through the glass doors and Katie doing some arm swinging action to represent swimming (I think?), the receptionist let us in. 6:30 came and along with the entire over 60s population of SE London, we made our way to poolside to discover there were only 3 of us doing it and we had one lane for us.  Things were a bit disorganised and we were allowed to wear our Team Mermaids hats rather than the official swimathon hat.  We were told we could start and Derrek sped off, whilst we casually dipped our toes in the water to discover it felt like a bath.  Admittedly my 10 month old baby is in training for UK Cold Water Swimming Championships 2019 and therefore, I might do his bath a bit too cold BUT the water was warmer than his bath! We had planned to do 5k straight for the first one, just to get it over and done with but after each 1k Katie wisely stopped to allow us a quick sup of nuun each.

Lane buddies: Derrek

Swim time: 1:19

Water Temp: at least 31

Hat Colour: Team Mermaids


Tooting Bec Lido

It was a glorious day on Friday so Katie suggested a dip at the lido and it didn’t disappoint. We only did 200 yards but it was lush! One of the regulars suggested we did more than 2 lengths but we furiously clinged on to our excuse of having to swim another 10k, whilst we hauled ourselves out of the pool.


Lane buddies: SLSC members and a duck

Swim time: 3 minutes

Water Temp: 12

Hat Colour: Team Mermaids


Swimathon 2: Pancras Leisure

Time: 15:00

This is a relatively new pool, which Katie loves because of the purple wall they have in the pool area.  We again arrived 30 minutes pre our swim start and slowly got ready.  Once on poolside we spoke to our lane buddies and tried to suss each other out.  The other lady in the lane had a garmin 920 XT, a gel and a nice swimming costume… she must be good!  I straight out asked the guy what time he was hoping to do and he said 1:16/1:17 so I said he should lead, whilst Katie gave him dagger eyes.  He kindly said that if we wanted to pass him just to tap his feet, but I explained we had already done 1 * 5km and had another one to go so we would either welcome the drafting (or extra drafting in my case!) or be taking it steady a long way behind him as 1:19 was more what we were aiming for.  Katie was made to leave 5 seconds after him and there was 5 seconds between me and Katie.  The first 100 I turned in 1:23.. WTAF!  I was trying to bridge the gap to Katie and unknown to me Katie was trying to bridge the gap to the man, which would have been great if the dude could have paced.  He managed to overtake us twice, first time being after 600m and second 1800m and then didn’t again… that’s all you need to know about his pacing!  After the 1:23 I decided to let Katie do what she wanted to do and I was just going to accept my fate and just plod as I didn’t want to suffer for this crazy pace later on.  She did settle down but it was still punchy hence the rather swift time we posted.


Lane buddies: Fast man with no passing and lady with pretty costume

Swim time: 1:15

Water Temp: 27 ish

Hat Colour: Pink (Katie), Black (Manda)


Swimathon 3: Balham

Time: 18:00

We picked Balham for the final swim due to (a) proximity to our houses and (b) because this is where Katie always used to do the swimathon when she was a kid.

I went home to feed my baby pre final swimathon.  I also minced around a bit at home as I thought it didn’t start until 18:30 and therefore, needed to be there AROUND 6.  17:55 I rocked up at Balham leisure centre, had a chat to Dennis and Max, who were just leaving after having seen Katie and then walked towards leisure centre.  At this point, still thinking I had 30 minutes until swim start time, I realised I had left my pre swim nutrition of a crème egg in my car, so went back!!  When I finally got to leisure centre reception, whilst shoving a crème egg in my mouth, I saw Katie and others on poolside ready to go.  Uh Oh!

I ran to poolside and dumped all my stuff there.  Fortunately everyone was super relaxed about the start time, which would have annoyed me normally, but actually was to my benefit this time.

After the excitement of St. Pancras and with no one to race we settled back in to our normal plodding pace with a couple of stops for Lucozade.  Katie even forced me to go in front for 2km which I was not happy about.

After 4100m, we had a final drink of water and then with a chant of “so near, BUT YET SO FAR” Katie pushed off and 900m later we were done.


Lane buddies: NO ONE 😀

Swim time: 1:19

Water Temp: 28 ish

Hat Colour: Black (Katie), White (Manda)


Thanks to all the leisure centre staff who counted our laps today (even if we didn’t always agree with your counting!), dealt with us rocking up early, rocking up late and generally just being enthusiastic about the event.

Well done to everyone else who completed the 2017 swimathon especially to honorary mermaids Laura and Josie!


Now what to do for 2018?


UK Cold Water Swimming Championships

After having my baby in June I (Manda) had a somewhat compressed season, where I trained solely in Tooting Bec lido. As the water temperature dropped at the lido I was still going down once or twice a week and before I knew it, it was 10 degrees and I was truly hooked on the challenge of cold water swimming.

So when the entries for the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships (UKCWSC) came up and it was still a positively tropical 7/8 degrees at the lido, we enthusiastically signed up for a 4×1 width relay. As Brian commented ‘how cold could 33 yards be?’


The UKCWSC take place at Tooting Bec Lido every 2 years. It is a championships but it feels more like a festival of cold water and all the people that dare to swim in it. Everyone and anyone is encouraged to have a go at events ranging from Crisis’ Big splash to the head up breaststroke with added hat competition to 99 yards freestyle.

After signing up, autumn became winter and … well… it got cold…. MIGHTY cold. I was collecting used milk cartons at home for the igloo (see photo below) that Barbara from SLSC was building for the champs and as the cartons piled up, it was a daily reminder that I hadn’t swum at the lido for a while. Brian and David (the 4th member of Team Mermaids for the UKCWSC), taking the challenge seriously, carried on swimming at Tooting Bec and Parliament Hill respectively. Although I am pretty sure David took his time in the sauna more seriously than the swimming. Katie, like me, had been nowhere near the lido since it hit 7 degrees.

The water was hovering around 4 degrees and then no sooner had the Christmas baubles been packed away the weather in London became baltic, but the UKCWSC wasn’t until 28/1 so there was plenty of time for the weather to get better and for the water to warm up. Right??

Finally the day arrived and the water was 1.5 degrees (Lynne Cox would be proud). As we registered we tried to distract ourselves from our pending doom by having a look around all the fabulous stalls. It was like the Team Mermaids’ Christmas wish list in real life!!

After our briefing from Giles, current president of SLSC, we headed to our respective sides of the lido. I said good bye to Katie, whilst giving her the look of “we can still not do this” but off she marched and I knew my fate was sealed.

Brian was leading us off, then Katie, then me and then David would bring us home. David chose to swim last as there was a lower probability of him having to swim as I was 3rd. Now there is an urban myth about me and cold water swimming that goes something like this:

Once upon a time Manda decided to do the OSS December dip with the other Mermaids. The water was a balmy 5 degrees. The mermaids got in and swam. Manda got in, walked for 5 metres, then turned around and got out. Dom was disgusted. They all lived happily ever after.

So in short I was a massive flight risk. I didn’t know whether once in the water I would just get out. As much as I had psyched myself up for actually swimming the width, I knew that I wouldn’t be in control of myself, so I had to just hope that I actually started swimming and made it to the other side.

With shouts of “get your shoulders under the water” Brian was off… I was sheepishly standing on poolside waiting to remove my final layers of clothes… then Katie got in and took over. Now standing poolside in just my costume… She was getting closer… too close… so I got in and then…


The next thing I remember is my feet hurting and then hurling myself on poolside in probably the most unlady like fashion ever.


Victorious that I had actually made it to the other side, I returned to my family. Whilst asking me how it was, I proclaimed in my post swim euphoria “I don’t even remember Katie touching the wall”. Dom replied “that’s because you were already swimming when she touched. Your take off was dodgy to say the least”. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? I couldn’t remember her touching the wall but surely I waited?! I decided to tell the team what Dom had said so that if we did suffer any penalties then at least it would be clear whose fault it was. Then Lisa, who had come to spectate, sent through some photos of our race and there it was in all its photographic glory. Katie gliding into the wall and me already a couple of metres away!


In the end we came 7th in our category and had PENALTY next to us, but then again so did most teams. Next time we are going for the win (if they let me in the team again!)

Big thanks to SLSC as the event organisation and execution was supreme and well done to everyone who was involved in the event.

Floating igloo on the lido

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.

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. or/

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


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.


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.


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.

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


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


Day 4 – Lido loving

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

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


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.


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


Day 5 – Apparel 

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


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.

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

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


and just in case there was any doubt


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


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


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.



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.


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


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


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.


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.



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!


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:


Day 9 – Jewellery

For the Mermaids:



and for those Merman some swimming cufflinks.

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:

and some other bits we like:





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).


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.

Day 12 – Holidays

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


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)


Merry Christmas from Team Mermaids!

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SLSC club races 2016

Since becoming SLSC members many years ago we have categorically failed to be real team members! We have rocked up to the occasional mile race and twice swum the anniversary challenge swim but turning up regularly for the Sunday morning swims has never happened.

This year I (Manda) declared, whilst recovering from the birth of my son, that I was going to try do more of the Sunday races this year.  In reality I have said this ever year but this year I meant it.  As well as me and Katie, Brian and Kate are also members so would try and come to some races.

In the summer the races start at 9am so the idea would be to do a training session and then time the session to finish when the race was starting.  The majority of the races are handicapped.  We have no idea how this is calculated and we think 99.9999999% SLSC members also have no clue how this dark art works. Despite this and with a hope that I would be improving as the season went on, I was optimistic that Team Mermaids would be able to secure one trophy!

With some help from Brian here is our account of the SLSC summer races:


1 mile (Brian)

The SLSC 1 mile race is the longest of the summer handicaps. 1 mile works out at 17 and a bit lengths of the lido, so the start line is part way down the pool (facing the deep end), and 17 full lengths after that. Manda, Katie and I (Brian) were all in attendance this year. Katie and I had been there since 7:30 and had done 44 lengths before the race, as we were in full preparation mode for the Henley Bridge to Bridge swim. The start was a bit unusual as we had to jump in at the deep end, and swim up to the start line, before turning around to start the swim proper. Katie and I swam together to finish in 27:15, and Manda finished in a very respectable 30:10 in her first race back since having a baby.

Manda has written about this in more detail here.

1000 yards (Manda)

With the others at the Thames Marathon I (Manda) headed down solo for a training session and then registered myself.  Like the new girl at school, I had no friends with me, so casually put myself in the middle of the pack and then chatted to anyone who would speak to me.  The race itself was a good bench mark to see if/how I was improving since giving birth to Miles. 17:05 signified a 1 minute improvement since my return to swimming – hoorah!

800 yards (Manda)

Katie and me headed down to the lido to do my longest swim post child arrival and then lined up ready for the swim. I was swimming in a line with 3 other members and had prior to the race decided to go ‘slow’ to give myself the best possible handicap so that next week I could reign victorious in the 200 yards! My competitive streak came out though and next thing I know I’m sprinting the last 2 lengths. I touched at the same time as the man (sorry I’m rubbish at remembering names!) I was ‘racing’, at which point Katie, who at finished in 11:30, got told she was banned for being too fast by him. 😜

200 yards (Katie)

In previous years we had only ever swum the 1 mile event at the SLSC races so we were excited to do more of a sprint. On signing up we were told that none of the fast people were here today so we could swim at the fast persons’ end of the pool.  Not sure whether to be offended or flattered we headed over to the start.

I (Katie) put my head down and swam. On the Thursday before we had been doing 200 yard reps in the SLSC training session so I felt I had some recent experience in terms of pacing.  I was aiming for hard on the way up before turning it up a bit on the way back.  This over excited tactic inevitably led to some dying on the way back but I managed to touch the wall first.  I guess all the really fast people were elsewhere!  The race was handicapped, however, so I didn’t pick up the overall trophy.

300 yards breaststroke (Brian)

This race was a “special edition” as it was on a Monday rather than a Sunday (the late august bank holiday). I had been in Ireland for the weekend, so was keen to cram as much swimming as possible into Monday. Accordingly, I met Katie at 7:30, and we did 41 lengths before the race (finishing at the far end, as that was the end the race started from). We were somewhat surprised to find that the race was three lengths of breaststroke (all the previous races I had been in were freestyle). We started off a bit tentatively, but I found myself beside some very fast people, so naturally started to race them! Katie finished second female, and I finished second male. My placing was uncontroversial (despite my best efforts I was at least 5m behind the winner), but Katie’s was a lot, lot closer. We then finished off with a swift 24 lengths back in our wetsuits (naturally!).

99 yards medley (Katie)

The 99 yards medley race is one of the few SLSC events of the year which is not handicapped. Manda and I (Katie) were therefore secretly hopeful that Team Mermaids might pick up their first SLSC trophy.  The race was a width of back, breast and then free.  I started cautiously on the backstroke – too many childhood incidents making me scared of hitting my head.  By the end of the breaststroke width Alina, who had touched me out on the 300 yards breaststroke race, was just ahead.  I sprinted the final free width.  It was all a bit chaotic at the end and not clear who had won.  When someone came looking for me in the changing room I hoped it was me and it was.  Now Team Mermaids have their own trophy – well to keep for a year at least!


We have voiced our intention to try continue to race on Sunday mornings but as the water temperature plummets I’m not sure how we are going to fare. Watch this space.

SLSC 110 length anniversary challenge

Each year SLSC hold the anniversary challenge to celebrate the lido’s history. Participants swim one length for every year the lido has been open.  The lido opened in 1906 so those who are good at maths will work out that this year this was 110 lengths. At 100 yards a length this is just over 10km of swimming.

In 2014 Manda and I participated in the 108 length challenge as a relay and last year we stepped up to compete in the 109 length challenge solo.

I really enjoyed the event last year so with Manda building up her distances following Miles’ arrival I persuaded Brian to (a) become a member of the lido and (b) enter the swim with me.

We were busy training away when I discovered a small diary ‘incident’ and realised that the weekend of the swim was the weekend that I was away in Berlin as Dennis was running the marathon. After a morning of tears at the thought I was missing the challenge I managed to persuade Brian to come and swim the distance a week early with me.  Poor Brian – the things we make him do!

We agreed to meet at the lido at 7.30am on Saturday morning (17 September) only to find out that there was actually an aquathlon on and the pool wasn’t open until 8.30am. Oh dear!  This kind of c&ap would never happen if Manda was in charge.

We went back to my place and then came back for 8.30am. We decided to split the swim up into 3 blocks: 40 lengths, 40 lengths and then 30 lengths.  We finished the first 40 lengths in just over 56 minutes and then had a toilet and gel break.  We then started again for another 40 lengths before stopping for another gel break.  We then set out for the final 30 lengths with me telling Brian it was just like a normal training session. He gave me one of those “I’m too tried to respond but I am unimpressed” looks.

We finished in around 2 hours 44 minutes of swimming time and about 2 hours 51 of total time. This was slower than last year (even taking into account the extra length) but I think the competition environment helped a lot last year.  I really enjoyed the swim.  We had the perfect weather in that it was overcast so the lido wasn’t too busy but the water was still lovely and warm.


Once wasn’t enough for Brian though and he was still planning on swimming in the official event the weekend after. Unfortunately though he forgot his wetsuit and managed 72 lengths’ skins before having to admit defeat from the cold.  Next year B!


Training for Coniston 2016

I (Manda) recently watched a mini documentary series about USA athlete Sarah Brown. Sarah got unexpectedly pregnant a year before the Olympics in Rio. She decided to continue training whilst pregnant to ensure she could give herself the best chance at the Olympic trials in July 2016. She gave birth early so ended up having 4 months to get ready for the trials. So much in this series hit a note with me. Ok Coniston ISN’T the Olympic trials but it is my A goal of my shortened season. I’m not looking to qualify or win or even get a time… I just want to start and a bonus will be to finish.

My baby was due 3rd June and arrived on 4th June. I was hoping to swim 5.25 miles end to end of Coniston on 3rd September. I got signed off for swimming on 14th July so had 7 weeks and 1 day (but who is counting!!) to get myself as ready as I could.

I am not out to damage or hurt myself and this is just a fun hobby so I had no plans on doing anything silly and my plan was run past both my GP and my midwife. Also, before I gave birth to my son I wrote a plan including several eventualities. I had to be realistic that he could be 2 weeks late and that my recovery could take longer than the generic 6 weeks. In any scenario there would be no benefit to panic training so the plans were set and I promised the post-partum me that I would be kind to myself no matter what.

Week 0

6 week checkup with medical practitioners. Given the go ahead with the caveat of ‘no swimming the Channel just yet’. Errrr ok! And another excuse never to have to swim the Channel conveniently gets logged in my head!

I text my husband with the casual request that we go to lido for a short dip once he gets home from work. His reply is ‘OK. I will go cycling on Sunday’. The childcare negotiations have started!

The swim was 1000yds of euphoria. Then the next day.. Boom..soar throat of doom. I am not sure whether it was to do with the swim but hey. I reasoned with myself that I was fortunate that my baby was on time (punctual as expected!) and that I was signed off after 6 weeks so could relax and better to get rid of it properly than return too soon and lose more time.

Week 1

Plan: Long swim: 2500 / Total distance: 5000
Actual: Long swim: 1400 / Total distance: 3600

After a week of soar throat I returned to the tropical climates of Tooting lido. Due to proximity to my house I did all my London training at the lido. It is a 20 minute walk or 5 minute drive away so this meant I would be able to maximise time in the water rather than travelling to/from further away pools. I was also training “skins”. Again time constraints meant that I would lose training time by having to put on a wetsuit, it was also + 20 degrees by the time I started training AND MY WETSUIT DIDN’T FIT!! I added 200 yards on to the 3 swims I did this week. I didn’t make my planned distances but I was calm about what lay ahead.

Week 2

Plan: Long swim: 3300 / Total distance: 6600
Actual: Long swim: 2800 / Total distance: 7800

Not only have I got the physical challenges up against me I also have the logistical issues. I can’t just go swimming when I please anymore. This week highlighted this when despite feeling better and capable I got kicked out the lido at 19:45 despite having only done 2800 yards of my planned 3400 yards. 2 things have to happen to allow me to leave for the lido: Husband needs to be home and baby needs to be fed. Either one of those not happening at the right time means time at the lido is compromised. Lessons were learnt and we were ready now for the weeks ahead.

Week 3

Plan: Long swim: 4400 / Total distance: 7700
Actual: Long swim: 4000 / Total distance: 10200

Week 3 and I was still to hit my long swim distance. I swam 4000 yards at the lido on the Sunday on my own and afterwards I was convinced I had bitten off more than I could chew. The only person I admitted this to was Josie. She was also training for Coniston and this was going to be her longest swim to date so unlike the usual gang she could sympathise with what I was going through. I decided to take it easy the following week and as much as it pained me I was at the lido again the next day but didn’t swim. Maybe I was learning or maybe I was just scared of the midwife?!?

Week 4

Plan: Long swim: 5500 / Total distance: 8800
Actual: Long swim: 5000 / Total distance: 9400

With my Guernsey trip coming up I wanted to get in a long swim the day I was flying off. This was a great plan until I was half way to Gatwick with a 2 month year old and I was exhausted from swimming 5000 yards, 800 yds of which was a SLSC race. With the 5000 yards banked I was quietly optimistic that Coniston was a quickly things had changed.

Week 5

Plan: Long swim: 4400 / Total distance: 8800
Actual: Long swim: 3000m / Total distance: 3800m

I went off to Guernsey this week and training was a bit of a farce. The local leisure centre and only place for public pool swimming was shut to be extended by half a centimetre and they instead had sessions (for 2 hours and 2 lanes!) every other day at a school. The first time I turned up my sister was driving my son around in the car whilst I swam and when I got onto pool side it was carnage. The limited time and space meant everyone on the island was in the pool! I managed 800m before I got out and my sister got me. I did make it back for another 3000m one day but the rest of the time, when the weather allowed, I swam on the beach but this was a no googles, no hat, no watch type affair… but I loved it.

Week 6

Plan: Long swim: 6600 / Total distance: 8800
Actual: Long swim: 6600 / Total distance: 13800

Hoorah.. With 1 week to go I hit my long swim target for the first time. I felt ok after the swim, so much so that I managed a full day of activities afterwards but then proceeded to crash and burn the next day.


Plan: Long swim: 3300 / Total distance: 5500
Actual: Long swim: 2200 / Total distance: 3600

Tapering consisted of some splashing around at the lido with Katie, Josie and Laura and some serious burger consumption to ensure optimal fuelling for what lay ahead. At this point I knew I had done all I could to get myself ready for the 5.25 mile swim and I would just have to see how things would go. It was too late to do anything else….