Can I swim the channel in a week?

2 Mar

Linked to Source

No, I don’t mean I’m thinking of swimming the channel in a week’s time – I’d be sliiightly under prepared if I did – rather that I’m wondering if I can complete the distance (22 miles) in the pool (1408 lengths) by the end of next week.

My local pool is hosting a challenge where swimmers can log the miles they swim between now and August, towards the goal of 22 miles. Apparently there are prizes, but I don’t know what yet. Of course, as soon my ‘stealth competitive’ side heard this (this is the side of me that likes racing people in the pool whilst they’re unaware that we’re racing) it perked right up. Swim the channel? Against elderly breaststrokers? Let’s obliterate theeeem!! (Don’t ask me where this comes from, I’m not particularly proud of it. Maybe I’m an attention seeker.)

Anyway, I’ll need to complete 260 lengths a day for 5 days, to add to the 112 I did today (I’ll most certainly be including my warm-ups and cool-downs, which I don’t count for my Lifeboat Challenge).

Think I can do it?

(Oh, BTW, completed mile 105 today)

Well-a, Rrrr have swum. One. Hun. Dred. Miles. And-a Rrrr will swim. One. Hun. Dred. Mooore.

24 Feb

Dun-da-dun-Daah (Dun-da-dun-Daah).   Naah, too many syllables to write the rest of that out.

By Anvica (linked to source)

 Yes, I’m halfway there(ish)! And in way of celebration, yesterday I set a new PB for 400m of 6.06.

I haven’t really laboured too much on the fundraising side of things, mainly to give family and friend’s pockets a break from last year, but now the first half is out of the way, it’s time to start raising that total! Not that I haven’t had and sponsors recently – big thanks to Kat C, Alex M and Victoria S for their generous donations.

By Choconancy1

So with 101.2 miles to go and 22 weeks til the Olympics, that means I’m very much still on target. Just to break that down, it’s 4.6 miles a week, or around 300 lengths of a 25m pool.

I’ve got 3 open water events lined up so far this year:

Great London Swim – 26 May
Great North Swim – 24 June
Great Manchester Swim – 1 July

I’m really looking forward to them all, especially as my good friends from ‘Betty’s Buoys’ will be joining me for the Windermere swim – back where it all started in Sept ’09.

By Leo Reynolds (linked to source)

Right, I’m going to have a nice relax this weekend, then it’s on with the journey on Monday.

Have a great weekend and Happy Swimming to you all!

Lifeboat Swim Wk 18: Donkey Rides and Water Slides

16 Feb

The two rules of procrastination: 1) Do it today. 2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow.

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I scream for ice cream! (by Weelakeo)

(Ah, dear blog – I thought I’d lost you down the back of the sofa.)

Here we are then in the ‘big year’ – the inspiration for my challenge target. And it seems we have a lot of news to catch up on…

Xmas in our household was most pleasant indeed and didn’t have too much of an impact on the swimming, even if I did spend the first 2 weeks of 2012 catching up on those missed 4 days of laps. I ended up catching a stinking cold later in January and was back in the same boat playing catch-up – that was worse though as I had to really allow my body to continue it’s recovery on those first few swims back.

My sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew bought me an excellent book for Xmas: Complete Conditioning for Swimming by Dave Salo (available on Amazon). It contains many exercises for general body strengthening, injury prevention, core strength, stretching and stroke specific conditioning, as well as information on diet, and structured routines. Since getting the book I’ve acquired a Swiss Ball, Medicine Ball and stretch cords that are required for a lot of the exercises. For the past few weeks I’ve been following some of the set routines, twice a week for about an hour each time, and I’m really starting to notice the difference. Some exercises, that to begin with I couldn’t do many reps on, are now much easier and some moves I’ve moved to higher resistance cords.

Champion is obviously a biter (by Pondspider)

In the last quarter of 2011 I’d been focussing a lot on building endurance through critical swim speed (CSS) sets, but decided to shift some focus back on technique. As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of times before I swim I watch a short video of Jono Van Hazel from the SwimSmooth Catch Masterclass dvd, but realised that his is not the only technique out there – since not everyone swims the, same perhaps I should be looking at other swimmers too! So yes, it was back to good ol’ Youtube. It was when watching some videos of Grant Hackett and a few other Olympic freestylers I noticed that they all show a particular way of completing the catch/pull – it’s called Early Vertical Forearm (EVF). I’d avoided this before as it’s considered a bit of an advanced technique due to a higher risk of injury if done wrong. Thankfully there are a lot of videos on the net with clear demonstrations and drills for building the stroke up. I should point out that some swimmers use a very extreme version of EVF where the elbows remain almost at the water’s surface – I think this is only possible if you have incredible flexibility, hence why I use a much shallower version. The supposed (I say supposed because once upon a time the ‘S Pull’ was considered to be correct and has since been debunked) benefits are that there is less surface area to create drag (the upper arm is much higher in the water) and also that it allows more force to be exerted. I’ve certainly found that it’s allowed me to make one of those ‘quantum leaps’ in technique level. My sprint times have dropped, quite dramatically in some instances. At the end of last year my 100m PB was 1:26 – now it’s 1:21. My 200m was around 2:58 – that’s down to 2:53. Not only that, but I’m quite consistently swimming 3:04 for my steady 200m. I’m sure that all the core and general body exercises I’ve been doing have contributed greatly too -I really feel like I’m gliding through the water now.

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The management at my local pool were kind enough to allow David and I to take a bit of film footage for something charity related I’m putting together for work. You know how you can close your eyes and picture yourself doing an action, then when you see yourself on video you realise you look nothing like that? Well yeah, I watched the footage and I didn’t like what I saw. In my mind’s eye I was Van Hazel, Hackett, Thorpe, etc. In reality I was like Moussambani. Ok, maybe not that bad. My main beef was with that stupid little whip-kick that I thought I’d stopped doing months ago. Cue daily kick drills with the Finis float. I made a lot of progress, but just couldn’t get the timing of a 4/6 beat kick right – I’d always felt that a 2 beat kick felt more natural for me, but never really gave it much attention. For the last week I’ve actually been doing it pretty consistently (making sure to point those toes!) and much like the EVF, it seems to have made quite a difference – I’m now gliding along even more. Obviously there’s still pleeenty of room for improvement, but I’m hopeful that with a bit more CSS training I can break the 6 min barrier for 400m within a week or two. I haven’t swum a mile in a while, but I’m confident that I can beat my previous 25:46 time – my aim is to get into the 24s by the Great London Swim at the end of May.

As you can see from the route map and progress board from last Friday, I’m still well on track for my challenge – I may have to pop into Great Yarmouth for a 99 with a flake very soon. I’ve only got 8 more swims to do to reach 100 miles – I might have to have a mini-celebration when I do (or perhaps another 99).

I’ve got plenty more to write, so stay tuned!

UPDATE:  Yesterday I hit 6000 lengths!  That’s 150,000m.  Nearly half way…

Lifeboat Swim – Week 10: The Big 50 & Bigger 25!

19 Dec

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Season’s Greetings!

The mulled wine may be flowing and mince pies a’going (?!), but all is still on track here at ‘Lifeboat Olympic Swim Challenge’ HQ. In fact, just last Friday I reached a significant milestone, as you can see from my progress board. That’s right, 50 miles completed! On my virtual swim route that means I’ve so far made it down the coast from Grimsby and all the way across the Wash. However, the past few weeks have thrown up a few hurdles (just swim under them!).

For two weeks out of the past four I’ve only been able to fit in three days swimming, having been on training courses and a short holiday. Thanks to some planning ahead this hasn’t been a problem as I’ve been able to pick up the slack the week before and after. As it turns out, one of the training courses was of significant benefit to my swimming. The course was about building confidence and I learnt that if you believe you can do something, there will be subconscious changes in your body and behaviour that will assist you. This is all part of the ‘ideomotor response’. The popular example is if you hold a key on a piece of string if front of you and will it to move, it will. This isn’t magic, it’s your subconscious making slight movements in your hand to make the key swing. So, how does this help with swimming? Well, often before I swim I watch a short clip of Olympic swimmer Jono Van Hazel (Mr Smooth!) on my phone, then when I’m swimming I imagine that I’m him in the clip. I’ve found that through this visualization, my conscious and subconscious are able to pick up on the obvious, but also the more subtle movements he makes. I find this area of psychology fascinating (as the amount of books I’ve bought on the subject recently testify to).

Oh yes, there’s another piece of news to tell. Quite a big one in fact. I have a new PB for a mile…

25.55

Yes, just last Thursday I achieved my goal of breaking into the 25s by xmas! I was very surprised considering I’ve been getting over the lurgey recently. My plan of attack was to set my tempo trainer on 24.5s a length, rather than the 24.3ish time that, if kept consistent, would result in a sub-26 time. My reasoning was that I tend to go off well, struggle in the middle, then pick up pace towards the last third. If I was on 24.3s, I knew I’d end up being behind the beep midway and start struggling to catch up again. It seemed better in my head to be ahead of the beep, drop back to being on it, then see how far ahead of it I could get. In terms of pacing this is probably not the best approach, but it seems realistic considering my history of mid-mile slump. I’d be interested to hear what any fellow swimmers think about this.

Anyway, it’s been a great way to end the year, particularly considering how modest my goals at the start of the year now seem.

Merry xmas to you all and here’s to more PBs in 2012!

Lifeboat Olympic Challenge – Week 6

21 Nov

imageDon’t worry people, despite my lack of an update last week I’m still swimming towards my target!

First off, big thank yous to Ros, Peter and David for their generous donations – total is now up to £175!

I realised a very valuable thing just this week – sometimes you need to take a step back to move a few steps forward. I’ve been very focussed on interval training (typically I’ll do 8 x 200m, with ~25sec rests) and the odd non-stop mile, but little to no technique work. As we know, swimming is a very technique based sport so it’s really important to maintain that.

On Wednesday I decided to just swim an easy mile without my Tempo Trainer, focussing entirely on technique (drills work just as well here). The main thing I found was that I’d slipped back into not rolling enough to be able to utilise my larger pecs and lats for the pull. If you’re not using these then you’re using smaller muscles that just won’t give you enough power or last as long.

Sure enough, once I’d refreshed that part of my technique the times I’d been struggling with the week before were easy. In my interval set on Friday I had my tempo set on 24.25 secs a length, but was actually able to do 24 secs consistently for the 8 sets. Here’s the thing – if I can manage 24.25 secs over 64 lengths, I’ll be into the 25 mins. Pretty crazy considering my goal this year was to complete a mile in under 30mins (open water admittedly)!!

So what do you think – into the 25s by Xmas?

Lifeboats Swim – Wk 4: Welcome to Miami!

7 Nov

Miami Beach, Sutton-on-Sea that is.

4 weeks down and 20 miles (1,296 lengths) complete – phew!.  That’s just a tenth of the total done but I’m well on my way as you can see from my virtual route map.  My challenge has now been advertised in a department-wide bulletin at work to senior staff , by fellow swimmers at my pool and also by my good friend DJ Einstein from the hip-hop group Ugly Duckling – thanks to Jon, Jamie and Rod for their help.

The fund-raising is going well and with thanks to some generous donations this week from Jon, Rob and Sally at work we’re now up to £112!  Here’s that justgiving link again:

http://www.justgiving.com/nickybuoy

Right, off to swim another mile…

P.S. I know I said this blog was going to feature gadget reviews and I promise one is on the way soon!

Lifeboats Olympic Challenge – Week 3

1 Nov

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First off: Happy Hallowe’en! Happy Día de los Muertos!

Bit late my update this time around – it’s been a pretty busy weekend at my house, as you can see from here!

So week 3 down and another 5 miles logged. I had to get a few extra laps banked early in the week as I went to hang out with one of my favourite bands, Ugly Duckling, Wednesday night and was anticipating being a little worse for wear the day after. I was not wrong.

Still, it’s been a good week and yet another PB set: a mile in 26.44.  At this rate I might be in the 25s by xmas…

On the sponsor side I need to thank Jonathan Stones at DH who has not only donated, but also helped with promoting my challenge – thanks Jonathan!

Lifeboats Olympic Challenge – Week 2

23 Oct

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Well it’s 2 weeks down and all is going great. My total number of lengths is up to 640 (10 miles) and just this Friday I set another PB for a mile in the pool of 27.29. You could say it was an ‘unaided’ swim as I decided not to use any of my metronome pacing gadgets and just do a gentle 64 lengths. My aim for next season is to break into 25 mins – think I can do it?!

On the fundraising side I’ve now had my first donations – woohoo! So that’s £65 raised for the Lifeboat Fund with thanks to my wife Katie and mum and dad.

Lifeboats Olympic Challenge – Week 1

15 Oct

320 down… 12,631 to go!

I’m now one week into my Olympic swim challenge in aid of the Lifeboat Fund, and so far, so good.  Over the course of the 42 weeks (now 41) between now and the Olympics I need to average around 4.8 miles a week (or 7,709m/308 lengths).  As you can see from the pic of my progress board I have up at work, I’ve totalled 320 lengths – so in fact I’m a little up.  Check my virtual route map to see where along the coast I am now!

This week has been a good demonstration of why this challenge is a real challenge – towards the end of the week the energy levels were a bit low and the thought of a half or 3/4 mile seemed quite enticing.  Maybe with a coach on the side of the deck pushing me on it would be different, but I have only myself and the thought of all the great work of the RNLI to keep me going.  But I will get there, have no doubt!

You can sponsor me here:  http://www.justgiving.com/NickyBuoy

Nicky Buoy Swims for Lifeboats – 201.2 miles to the Olympics

10 Oct

One week without swimming makes one weak

For my latest swimming challenge a week off is not an option.  To commemorate the 2012 Olympics, and to raise money for the Lifeboat Fund, I shall be swimming a total of 201.2 miles between today, 10 Oct, and the opening ceremony in July 2012.

Over the next 42 weeks I’ll be hitting the pool and the open water events to cover the equivalent of almost 13,000 lengths of a 25m pool.  That’s around 5 miles, or 308 lengths a week.  In fact, it’s like me hopping on the train from Leeds over to Grimsby and swimming down along the coast and up the Thames to the Olympic Village (well, in nautical miles)!  You can keep track of my progress by clicking on the map at the top of my blog page.

So, please head on over to my Justgiving page if you want to donate!

So, why the Lifeboat Fund?  Well, I’ve been a civil servant for 11 years and it’s our official charity.  Here’s a bit from their website:

“The Communications and Public Service Lifeboat Fund (The Lifeboat Fund, for short) is proud to be the single largest regular contributor to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the charity that saves lives at sea.  The Fund is registered with the official regulators as a charity which fundraises throughout the UK.

The Fund was formed in 1866 by civil servants who wanted to donate and now, in the 21 century, its mission continues, to ensure there is a source of help for those who find themselves in situations of panic and distress in the UK’s coastal waters.  Often, their only source of help is the courageous and selfless body of RNLI volunteers, always ready to respond to ‘shouts’ in any weather and all times of the day and night.  Sometimes, they owe their lives to them.

All money raised by The Fund goes directly to support the RNLI. We are by far its largest contributor. Since it was formed, The Lifeboat Fund has provided the RNLI with 52 new lifeboats and lots of other assistance.  The RNLI survives solely on voluntary contributions and legacies.  So it needs our help to maintain over 330 lifeboats in its active fleet, working out of 235 lifeboat stations.  In each of 2009 and 2010, the volunteer crews rescued well over 8,000 people – an average of 22 every single day.

The Lifeboat Fund is an official charity of the Civil Service, the Royal Mail and British Telecom.  It benefits from giving by serving and retired employees and from legacies.  Civil servants the length and breadth of the UK organise fundraising collections and promote the lifesaving work of the RNLI.  Our Patron is HRH the Duke of Kent.”

And now a bit about the RNLI:

“The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. We provide a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service around the coasts of the UK and RoI, as well as a seasonal lifeguard service on many of the busiest beaches in England and Wales.  The RNLI has saved more than 139,000 since it’s foundation in 1824.

The RNLI also works to promote sea and beach safety.”

Here’s that Justgiving link once again.

Thanks,

Nicky Buoy

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