North Sea Swimming Lessons

Black Dot Drowning

Lesson No 1: Scrap any plans for cross channel swimming attempts.

Swimming in the sea is tough. It started well, the wetsuit protected me from the staggering chill but the moment I put my face in the water I ingested enough salt to raise my blood pressure to alarming levels. I quickly raised my head and adopted the side to side waggle that gets me nowhere very fast.

(I do appear in this photo – search for the black dot)

Lesson No 2: I do not require any additional buoyancy in my backside.

What with the head wiggle and the 3mm rubber padding I felt like I was trying to swim in the yoga bow position. I couldn’t seem to keep my legs in the water and am seriously considering cutting the buttocks out of my wetsuit and turning it in to a fancy set of chaps.

Lesson No 3: Waves are for surfer dudes.

I bobbed up and down fairly happily until I started seeing the incoming waves breaking on their way towards me.

Then the panic started.

I went out twice over the weekend, trying out different areas of the beach in search of calm deep water but only managed a cumulative distance of 1.5km.

I need to get myself in the pool next week and start training, I also need to get over my reluctance to put my head in open water but I’m not sure how to practice that without sticking my face in puddles.

World Rubber Crisis

OGB may well have left London in search of science but he hasn’t stopped harassing me. The last email I got from him went along the lines of “how do you fancy doing a 10k race in Cardiff?”

Cardiff? That’s in a whole different country, why would you bother?

He obviously thinks I’ve gone soft and will sign up for any old event, I did afterall allow myself be bullied into the “Great North Swim“. Yup, I did say SWIM.
It’s apparently the first mass participation swim event ever, styled by the organisers of the Great North Run, and involves thousands of folk jumping into Lake Windermere and trying to swim over each other to reach the other side – a mere 1 mile away.

Sounds like great fun if you don’t drown.

Wiley Coyote

One minor problem with this event is that it requires a wetsuit. Not surprisingly there is a huge shortage of off the peg wetsuits in my size so I’ve had to go down the made-to-measure path. How scary is that?
I’ve just gone through the measuring process and sent the figures off to Snugg for verification, I can see them now with calculators in hand, trying to determine if they possess that much rubber.

I’m not looking forward to the receipt of this item, it will require me to come face to face with my excesses. This suit will presumably be the size of a rolled flat me, where the hell am I going to store it?

What’s more, I can’t spend 200 quid on an outfit for 1 event. This is going to be the start of numerous wetsuit donning activities, OGB is just going to have to invest in a bike, I see triathlons ahead.

Hairball Drowning Incident

Can someone remind me why I thought accountancy would be such a good wheeze? I feel like a gerbil trapped in a wheel, spinning it relentlessly from month end to month end. My days seem to be an endless cycle of prepare for month end, month end, recover from month end, prepare for month end, month end, recover from month end…… I’m going to blink one day and find myself aged 65.


At least now that I’ve recovered from my cold, I can break free a bit in the evening and run home again.

I joined the gym just before Christmas. My intention was to use the weights for a bit of serious muscle building but I got scared off by the hoards of inflated popeyes that preen on the mats. Having paid for 6 months in advance I’ve had to find some use for the place. Not much point using the treadmills, so that leaves me with the pool. I am now swimming and then running home and will therefore be a wafer thin racing whippet in no time!

I’ve forgotten all my immersion technique prowess of last year and am back to floundering. Managed a bit of a desperate sinking doggy paddle today as well. I have a near phobia of unattached hairs, a bit of an occupational hazard in communal showering/swimming areas, and every time I swim I go through a period when I feel sure that a hairball is just grazing my lips.


Immediately I flip onto my back, clawing frenziedly at my mouth. Then begins the death roll and flailing that invariably propels me to the bottom of the pool.

Soon enough I bob back up, decide I was probably thrown into a panic by a stray bubble and wonder why all the life guards seem to have sprung into action.

40 lengths today – enough to leave me roaring with hunger. What is it with swimming, I always come out of the pool feeling as though someone whipped out my stomach?

Run, bike, swim

Sundays now seem to be the day for upside down triathlons. This morning I nipped out for a short run around Chswick and Barnes Bridge to check out the aftermath of the boat race.

Boat Race 3

Gorgeous morning, the river seemed to be teeming with kayaks for a change.

After a longish transition involving the production of potato and gherkin salad and relaxation in a luxurious bath I headed out with the Stumpjumper only to return to the house a few minutes later to collect the forgotten helmet. I see a disqualification heading my way if I don’t sort out this mental block before Stratford. Bounced around Richmond Park for a bit before arriving at Hampton pool.

I am beginning to think that swimming is never going to be my thing. I haven’t really read any more of the total immersion book so I quickly flicked to chapter 8 (the drills section) while I was in the bath this morning, that just scared me so then I started flicking through in search of breathing tips. I saw a few references to yogic breathing which I know about but have never really tried under water. Book closed – non the wiser.

Started off in the pool “pushing the buoy”, then remembered to breath. Started the next length focusing on breathing. Breathing every third 3rd arm flap seems manageable but while I’m in this routine I seem to forget about pushing the chest down. Revert to pushing chest down then immediately stop breathing again. Bob up to the top gasping for oxygen after about 12 arm flaps. Finaly fall back into the ever so slow, vertical, head shaking, bilateral breathing technique that I started with before I wasted cash on umpteen books and special vacuum sealing goggles.

Got out of pool, devoured delicious potato salad and started smiling again.

Motorcycle Maintenance and Total Immersion

Bike Maintenance

It was time for some bike maintenance in the warriorwomen household today, very little zen involved just plenty of swearing. I clearly need a bigger flat – how am I supposed to watch the telly between all those spokes?

I headed out for Hampton outdoor pool this morning and I took the stumpjumper hoping that a little agitation on the dry trails in Richmond Park would dislodge the mudpack that has been covering her for the last month. It didn’t. Seemed to send plenty of sand between my disk pads though and I now have two bikes with dragging brakes. Hence the maintenance. Although I think it must be great training to ride with the rear brake permanently on, I really don’t won’t to compete in next months tri with any additional resistance. I won’t go into details about my workshop skills other than to say I broke my best tweezers, a pair of nail clippers, bent two forks and a knife, lost the skin off a knuckle and acquired two tiny little bruises on either hand.

After last weeks sorry attempt at swimming I’ve been reading up on the total immersion technique. I was too busy practising drills in the pool to count lengths but I’m kind of hoping I covered off stacks of them. I don’t like counting lengths, I always forget where I got to and then start arguing with myself about whether I should be on an odd or even number as I arrive at the side I started from and then I wonder how I ever managed to pass my maths exams.

The total immersion tecnique requires you to “push the buoy” which means pushing your lungs into the pool so your arse bobs out of the water like a cork, swim tall by keeping your arm outstretched until replaced by the t’other arm, and probably a few other things as well but I’ve only read the first few chapters. They don’t cover breathing in those few chapters so although I’ve sussed out how to swim with my head in the water I still have to flap around like a drowning thing every third of a pool.

Popped into a neighbouring pub on the way out for a mammoth sunday roast and a totally unnecessary but quite delightful apple crumble and custard. Made the ride home quite a struggle though.

I Float

I took advantage of my extra light hour this evening and cycled down to Pools in the Park for a little paddle.

Seems I can still remember how to float but forward progress is slow and quite painful actually. The front of my ankle hurts after a few lengths so I had to give up on the leg kick and just tickle my way forward with the arms. My lower back hurts as well but that’ll be because I’m bent in the middle trying to keep my head in the breathing zone.

I did 20 leisurely lengths in about 20 mins so that suggests my predicted time of 40 mins for 400m was a little pessimistic. If I can suss out how to handle the head in the water breathing I should improve matters a little.

I’ve been thinking about triathlon logistics recently, particulalry the transition stage. I reckon I could lose an hour at T1 and T2 if todays attempt to leave the house was anything to go by. I had to nip in and out twice to collect missing items from rucksac, like money and bra. I was half way down the road when I realised I’d forgotten my helmet. At the pool I was in my costume before I discovered I needed to purchase a token to retrieve the key from the locker so I had to get dressed again and go back out to the reception.  Dizzy ***!