Category Archives: Swimming for fun!

Back by popular demand….

Well Ali asked me if I would start my blog again. So that is one request. But Ali is very popular and she demanded it! What could I say? She had read some in her memories on facebook and told me she had missed it.  

Coincidentally we had also met for a swim on Sunny Sands. 8.30am on a Sunday morning (well really 9.30 as the clocks had gone back the night before. Why do we always say that? And express surprise that it is dark an hour earlier that evening!) 

Any way we had arranged to meet on the beach. High tide was 10.30 (adjusted for daylight saving time) so we had around 90 minutes of beach left from which to swim. 

Ali was a little late, only ten minutes or so. There had been a thick fog which had made driving tricky. Yet the beach was bathed in bright sunshine.  

I had taken a chair to the beach. It is the time of year where dogs are allowed back on the beach. They seem to be attracted by seemingly abandoned bags and will often cock a leg on them. At least if the bag is on the chair there is less chance of it being actually peed on. 

I was ready. Ali had her cossie on under her clothes. We were raring to go. Ali searched through her belongings several times before exclaiming that she had forgotten her goggles and her hat! (She has only been swimming for a lifetime!) I did not have any spares. In fact Ali has my spares and she had forgotten that too! I offered her my hat but need the goggles to see as they are prescription ones. She declined. We agreed we would just Angel Swim. That is a style of swimming where you lay on your back with your arms out and float. It is very comfortable. Victoria invented it. Well named it really as I had seen other people do this type of swimming while I was training for events. It always looked very relaxing. 

We moved our things further up the beach away from the tide (which had crept up on us) and decided to get in. 

We entered the water and stood around talking for some time. Those that know us well will realise that this is most unusual as we are more inclined to JFDI! We had not seen each other for a while so decided to catch up a bit. 

Topics inlcuded

1) Our friend Victoria had had a baby a couple of weeks before. She had named her after my swim safety device. I was most touched. Bably Flo(rence) named after Flo my swim float. How cute is that? 

2) Lack of swim mojo – Ali suggested that starting my blog up again would help with the swim mojo. (So here I am and I will let you know)

3) Jobs – changes of jobs and how working gets in the way of swimming

4) If Neal the seal turned up Ali said she would scream, push me between Neal and her and make good her escape

5) Richards birthday breakfast. I believed he was overly extending his birthday by several weeks but Ali informed me that this was someone who he vaguely knew. Chosing breakfast over swimming in the sea early on a sunday morning! Fancy that. 

6) What swim events we may or may not do next year. 

My attention was distracted as Ali pointed toward the beach.  When I turned back Ali had fully immersed. She got in before me! Nooooooo! There was nothing for it but to join her. 

The water was in fact a balmy 14.8 degrees. It did not even take my breath away. The sun was shining and all was good in the world. The air temperature was about 11 degrees and it felt warm (ish). Certainly not cold though. 

As Ali had no goggles or no hat we decided to bob about a bit and have a chat. My goggles were misting up. Something caught my eye. It was a head. I thought someone perhaps had got in without my noticing. I was shoved towards it by a screaming banshee. "Its Neal the seal!!" screached Ali and with that she made good her escape. Ali took herself to knee height in the water and looked out to sea. Neal had disappeared but he came back to say hello again a short while later. 

We were in the water for about 30 minutes. I demonstrated my new technique to Ali and she demonstrated air crawl. It was pleasing to be able to swim for the love of it rather than to train. 

We agreed that we would do the following

1) Start brutal Saturdays (swim training followed by food prepared by Mich)

2) Find an event to do

3) Find a weekend we can do for a swim/ christmas do. 

4) Pick a weekend for a double dip in February (for old times sake) 

5) I would start my blog again. 

 

And so here is the first installment for over a year!

 

 

 

First Sea Swim 2015

I have been out of the water since the New Year. I had flu followed by a baking injury. The flu lasted a couple of weeks and then I inadvertantly blended my finger. I will spare the photos but I had to stay out of the water until it had healed.
My van (aka The Nest) opened in mid February. I have visited but have not been able to swim. It is most frustrating.

On Saturday 14 March, I decided I would brave the elements and have a swim. The tide was going out. The weather bouy reported the sea temperature as 7.9. The air temperature was 7 but with the wind chill it felt like 2. (It actually feels much colder when you are stood in your cossie on the beach)

I decided I would swim for 15 minutes only. I was on my own and had neither a swim buddy or a beach butler. The wind was bitter and it is a fair way to the car so I decided it was better to stay in a short while and still be able to drive.

Since January I have lost 8kg (probably a bit more by now). I was a bit worried about how much of the cold I would feel. I needn’t have worried. I still have a layer of bioprene and I also was desperate to be in the water. I got in without too much ado and swam. The waves were coming fast and breaking quickly and some were quite big. It was great. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. I got out reluctantly as being alone I did not want to push my luck. Getting dry was quite chilly but to be honest I was so exhilarated I did not really notice. I knew I could have stayed in longer. I did not get the shivers and did not lose the use of my fingers. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The sea has to be respected. Its a tad foolish going on your own. No need to be even more foolish and over do it.

Prior to the March swim I had swum in The Strand at Gillingham with Victoria. The water was just above 1 degree and the air probably not much more. Sadly the week after I was ill then I blended my finger so I was only to swim once in the Strand. It would be a good place to go and I am sorry to have missed it. I am also envious of Victoria’s consistency this year. The ice mile we had hoped to do became a non starter the minute I got flu. The water temperatures will be seeking up now and i just of not have the acclimatisation. Still, always next year.

My other Blue Tit buddies have chosen to stay out of the really cold stuff this year. Ali has been proper poorly. She as in hospital and has not been fit. She is now back in the pool and turning out 2k swims. Not only that she has stopped smoking. So I am well proud of her. Princess Fiona and Claire swim at David Lloyd. Claire is training for Dorney 10k and Princess Fiona is mainly drinking wine!

We are having an adventure to the Swim Show. Emma (previously known as Min) is going to meet us in the evening for eats and drinks but she is a cycling tit. She is training for a 100 mile time trial. So there is lots going on and to aim for.

I am looking forward to keeping the blog up to date again (it being November since I last wrote). A swim adventure of note would be the Boxing Day Dip. Kaz joined me in the sea. We dressed up as jelly fish for the event. I carried on swimming after the even was over. The sea was 9 degrees that day but it was quite mild in the air. It was a great day. Kaz said she was glad of the costume as the bubble wrap had kept us warm. We were originally going as jilted brides. I think the outfits were multi purpose as a few people thought that is what we were. Judge for yourself. We are quite clearly jelly fish!!

 

jelly fish or brides

And the special award goes to…

A couple of pool swims have happened this week. A Critical Swim Speed set and a drill set. I swim at David Lloyd and my home club is Beckenham. It is extortionately priced but is handy for on my way to or from work. Whilst I could possibly change my membership to another club, they charge the membership to the club you use most. Other gyms are not so easy to get to and it is the pool I use most anyway. On the plus side, the spa is beautiful although I rarely use it. Perhaps I will start now I am swimming mainly for fun. I also get a visitor pass every month but I have only used two this year so far. 

There had been some refurbishment but I am not really sure what has been refurbished. The lockers are the same although the stools that used to be in front of the mirrors have been changed for chairs.  I think perhaps they will finish the painting later. The roof in the ladies changing room is full of mildew. What ever they have done, the under floor heating does not appear to be working (if it has been switched on) as the floors are now all wet from the showers and the spa. 

The pool is good though and seldom very busy. I sometimes have to share a lane but rarely. 

My Critical Swim speed is back to 2mins per 100m. This is fairly slow as I had got it to min 47 at my fastest. My plan is to work on speed and endurance over the winter. Keep up with the acclimatisation and cold water swimming as I enjoy the lifestyle. 

I don’t love the pool but I do enjoy swimming. Plus I enjoy seeing my swim speed improve. Not that I am competitive but Clare is leaving me for dead these days. And we used to be able to swim together. I would like to be able to keep up with her (aka swim faster than her!). Not that I am competitive. 

I worked Wednesday so did not have an afternoon swim with Claire. But we had arranged to meet at the lake. Victoria had a pass, Princess Fiona and Claire all arranged to meet at 10am. When I arrived Princess Fiona and Victoria were already there. I spied Victoria’s boot clad leg as she leaned into her car. My immediate thought was “WTF is she wearing today?” I parked up and she was out of the car. She had on a fleece onesie. As I was driving I had missed her “I am winning the special prize today” message. 

 

special friends

 

With a straight face she explained to Princess Fiona and I that this was the way forward for winter warmth. She had her thermals to put on after the swim. Claire arrived and rather worryingly did not bat an eyelid. Well as my oldest friend Debi  (oldest as in I have known her the longest. I do have other older friends)  and I used to say “there are no points for fashion when winter warmth is at stake”. This would be all well and good but it was forecast to be 21 degrees later and sunny.

I have to confess to some onesie envy. I am sure you will agree it is a good look. Particularly the pom pom placement when the zip is undone. 

pom pom placement

 

Will was looking after the safety boat today. He took the temperature of the lake. It was still 13.5 degrees. This is mild for the time of year (1 November)  but we have had some beautiful weather. 

So the four of us swam a lap. Claire was miles ahead (see above). But Victoria, Princess Fiona and I kept a fairly steady pace that was evenly matched. It was not quite cold enough to take my breath away yet. But it will not be long before it does. And with the warm weather there was no shivering afterwards. That delight is still to come. 

We had a natter and a hot chocolate after. We were joined by Helen and Steve who came over for a chat.  They live local to the lake. They have started swimming in the pool now for the winter. It was lovely to see them. 

With promises to catch up soon we all went our separate ways. There will no doubt be many more swim adventures before Christmas. Plus, there is some onesie shopping to be done. Now I wonder if Frizbees can do embroidery on a onesie……

Halloween Swims (sort of)

It is strange not to be swimming quite so much. And really only for enjoyment. 

I arranged to meet Claire and Ali at the lake. So I was really pleased to find that Sam was also there. Ali decided to come for the social only and planned to arrive around 12.30. So Sam, Claire and I having arrived at 11.30 decided to get on with it. 

Well get on with it might be overstating the point. But we decided to swim so that when Ali arrived she would not be waiting too long for us to finish our swim. 

The temperature was recorded at 13.9. so it was significantly cooler than the previous week when it was around 16. (Believe me 2 degrees makes a difference at these temperatures).

We were ready to swim. It was warmer in than out as the thermometer on my car read 12 degrees. But as we were about to get in the sun came out. Lovely. 

Claire claimed the water was toasty. She commented that she had admired Heather and Julie’s approach the previous week (for the naked swim) when they had just gone for it.  I followed her in and I made a leap for it and immediately submerged. (Not wanting to be out done by Heather and Julie – not that I am competitive. Oh no!)

Sam made a hesitant entrance. She was finding it cold as well she would as she had not been swimming for weeks. Claire said that she would like to swim a lap. Sam decided that as she was not as acclimatised as us she would try a 400m. I nearly persuaded her to come with us.  But when she said she would have hot drinks for us when we got out, I thought better of it. 

Claire set of at pace. I cannot keep up with her these days. At least not to begin with. And to be honest, even later I would have a job on. Perhaps after about two hours  I could. (As I said, I am not competitive)

The sun was on our backs and the water felt lovely. I would say it was a bit warmer than 13.9 – perhaps about 15? But that may have just been the sun.

When we finished Ali was waiting for us. Sam had let us down with the drinks as she was still getting dry. You just cannot get the swim buddies these days. 

It was great to see Ali, whom I have missed this year. Due to her injury she has not been able to swim as much as she would like. And certainly not as much as I would like. We bullied her into saying that she will see her GP but I think she only agreed to shut us up!

 

sociable

 

It was good to be together. We reminisced about brutal Wednesdays and Saturdays. Especially the food on the Saturdays (courtesy of Miche’s Bistro – she makes marvellous meatballs.)

It was beautiful to sit in the sun and not feel cold after a swim in late October. We all supposed this was the last time we would be able to do it as the nights are drawing in and there is a nip in the air.

 

Sunday saw me meeting Victoria at 8am for an early morning dip. The tide was out and on its way in so we decided to swim to the bouy. We had tagged it with a sticker a few weeks before and wanted to go see if it was still there.

 

early start

 

It was a beautiful day and France was as clear as it as ever been. “it doesn’t look far” quipped Victoria, “22 miles” I replied. We decided not to swim to France just then though as Victoria had visitors for lunch and we did not think we would be back in time. 

Getting in with Victoria is always an event. She suffers from cold water tourettes and makes the most amazing noises as she gets in. But, for all her fuss, she invariably does get in. And then swims brilliantly.

It was Victoria who coined the phrase “flap attack” which I shall leave to the readers imagination. Suffice it to say, it has little to do with sharks. 

We swam to the bouy. It was quite breezy and the waves were brilliant. Victoria swallowed a few mouthfuls on the way but this did not put her of her stroke at all. We were disappointed to see that the vinyl tag and been washed away. There were the remnants of the paper sticker from several weeks earlier though.

 

we tagged the bouy.

Our plan was to swim into the waves toward the harbour wall. We used a crane as a sighting point and had a great swim into the waves. It was odd as on one hand the waves were against us but it did not seem too hard to swim. The tide was on its way in so was probably helping us toward the harbour.

The harbour wall is really tall. Particularly when you are lying down. I would think it was about the height of a house. The hover craft used to leave from Folkestone. For some reason (and not just because it is close to Halloween) the wall is really spooky. It provided protection from the wind so there were no waves but this just serves to make it spookier. We dared each other to touch the wall. Then laughed (hysterically) as we did not know what we were scared of. “I don’t think there is anything that an suck you under”. We laughed again even more hysterically. And then decided it was only a wall. 

 

spooky swim

I swam toward it and paused every so often. But then decided to go for it and I swam and touched the wall. Victoria swam behind me and aimed for the bit I had touched. We then had a look around. There is an installation that looks like something from war of the worlds. Then between two walls we could see the light house. We determined that one of these days we would swim through the gap. We thought it would be a good Coldwater Culture adventure. But not in winter when you are not only rigid with fear, but also rigid with cold!  Perhaps Kaz could kayak through with us I though to myself. I did not say this out loud though. 

 

me and the lighthouse

We then swam back to shore. We had been out for around an hour. The tide had passed the harbour (although it was not yet deep enough for boats to come and go) so we had timed it beautifully. 

Victoria decided that she would get a longer rope for her camera. I tried to take a picture of her but the reach was not quite right and the picture was a bit rubbish. Not known for my photography skills, I am not sure that a longer rope would have helped to be honest!

It was a bit chilly when we got out but not really cold. I had forgotten my shoes so had to walk back to my car in my swimming shoes. In Summer this is ok, but as it gets colder this a rookie mistake (and not one I will be making again). That said, it was mild enough not to be an issue today.

The sea was around 15 degrees. The air temperature was around 12 when we started but about 14 when we finished. So still quite mild. At least when you have your clothes on. 

With a promise that I would check the tides for next week, we went our separate ways. Both of us were probably hoping that the mild weather would remain so that we could avoid the shivers for a few more weeks.