Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hoffy's Chilly Dip 2014 - Getting closer...


Well, preparations for the 2014 Chilly Dip are well under way, but I have hit a slight snag. I am on a course in London on the day off the actual swim, so I will be doing it on my own on the previous Friday, February 21st, 2014. Just gives me two less days to prepare!

I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so far, having already reached £190 of my £250 target! Thank you again, and if you would like to sponsor me, please do so by clicking on the link below:-


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Hoffy's Chilly Dip 2014!

 Hoffy's JustGiving Page
Well, it's been a long time since my last cold water swim, but when the lovely Lucy Alfred, Design and Events Officer at St. Nicholas Hospice Care (SNHC) in Bury St Edmunds, e-mailed me and asked if I would be interested in a 10 length swim at 6 degrees Centigrade, how could I possibly refuse? So, here we are, with just over a month until the big day, on a positively beautiful sunny but cold January day, launching the event.

This morning at 11:00am 5 barmy people, myself included, wearing nothing but speedos, bikinis, swimming costumes, snorkles, goggles, ear muffs, hats and scarves, assembled in an inflatable paddling pool at St Nicholas Hospice before the town's media, well a photographer from the Bury Free Press at least, to encourage people to raise money for this fantastic charity - my favourite!

Left to right: Simon Bridle & Lucy Alfred (SNHC), Yours Truly, Camille Ives and Aaron Bridgeforth (SNHC) dipping our toes into the pool earlier today to launch the swim.

St Nicholas Hospice Care in my hometown of Bury St Edmunds, works compassionately in the fields of life-threatening illness, death and bereavement and needs to raise a staggering £11,000 per day to cover their costs. The hospice provides practical, medical and spiritual support to local people and their families living with an illness that is life threatening; such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, heart or lung disease. I am hoping to raise a minimum of £250 toward this cost, and would appreciate your help with sponsorship.

It really is not a challenge for the faint hearted, as the water will be very cold, but it will certainly be invigorating and satisfying one we have completed the challenge.  Please feel free to sponsor me on my just giving website which can be found here:-


If you would like to join in this swim, then you can do so by filling in the application form online here:-


Event Details:-

Sunday 23rd February at Moreton Hall Health Club, Mount Road, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP32 7BL at 11:00am.

I would like to thank Culford School Sports and Tennis Centre for the use of their fantastic swimming facilities to train for this event.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

A huge congratulations to Louise Stratford, 2013 English Channel Swimmer, from all at Body and Mind Studio!

Above: 2013 English Channel Swimmer, Louise Stratford with Body and Mind Studio's Sports and Advanced Clinical Massage Therapist, Paul Hopfensperger, less than 36 hours after her epic 17 Hour 9 minute swim across The English Channel on September 03, 2013.

I first met Louise when she telephoned to book a massage with us on February 20, 2012. We had been recommended to her by multiple channel swimmer and Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation President Nick Adams. Louise told me that she had been training for about 1.5 years and had completed many open water events. Over the past 1.75 years, I have had the pleasure and the honour of treating Louise with both Advanced Clinical Massage and Sports Massage as well as giving her tips, motivation and some advice from my own personal experiences as an open water swimmer.


   
At 06: 41 Hrs on the morning of September 03, 2013, Louise set off from Shakespeare Beach in Dover (pictured above) on her epic journey to France. During our last pre-swim Swedish Massage treatment I had given her one of my most important pieces of mental advice for any Channel Swimmer to succeed. Advice which had been give to me in 2007 and most certainly got me across both of my two English Channel solo swims (want to know what it was - then come and see me!). I followed her all day via the Internet and it was a very emotional and exciting experience to watch her progress throughout the day!



12 hours and 26 minutes into the swim and with night starting to fall, having been across this stretch of water quite a few times now as both a swimmer and crew member, I could see exactly what was happening. I could see that the swim was going to go on for a few hours yet! This is where the advice I gave her would possibly help her.

Above: Louise Stratford swimming strongly in the dark of night just off the coast of France near Cap-Gris-Nez.
Eventually, at just before midnight, a comment on her Facebook page read "Has landed! and running up the beach!". I was totally ecstatic for her! An awesome swim by an awesome swimmer in 17 hours and 9 minutes to become a member of The English Channel Swimming Club!

If you would like to sponsor her, please do so on her JustGiving webpage:-




I was delighted to receive a "Thank You" card from Louise. No thanks needed Louise, you are an amazingly strong person both mentally and physically, and I am proud to have been able to help you in a small way. The hard part you did all by yourself. Well done and welcome to the club!

If I can help anyone else who is thinking of swimming The English Channel, please do not hesitate to contact me. Contact details can be found by clicking here.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Great week's swimming in Lindos, Rhodes, Greece, June 13-23, 2012

Above: Just completing my 'two-way crossing' of the stunningly beautiful St Paul's Bay, Lindos Rhodes, June 2012.
 
Not wanting to harp on too much about things, but you will note that I haven't posted since February 6th. There are numerous reasons, but from a pure swimming perspective there was one big reason. As stated in my previous post, it was my intention to compete in the 2012 BLDSA Grand Prix. To do this, I had a set plan and goal in mind and was very excited about it. It is what I tell my clients on a daily basis, have a plan and stick to it. Jim Rohn says, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". With that in mind, my plan was simple. Book and pay for the events I wanted to compete in, book and pay for the necessary accommodation around the country, put it all in my diary and train for the events. Big problem. The BLDSA website wouldn't allow me to do that, and despite contacting senior members of the BLDSA by e-mail and Facebook, no response! In the end, out of pure frustration I said, "So be it!" (or something similar) and booked a family holiday to Lindos, Rhodes, somewhere Beccy and I went on our first holiday together back in 1996.
 
It was a much needed holiday, in fact, due to starting the new business in Novemer 2008, it was the first time we had been away anywhere since the FINA World Cup race in Mexico in October 2008. Apart from our first full family holiday, I had the intention of completing a couple of open water swims - a 'Two-way St Paul's Bay' and a 'Two-way Lindos Bay'. Nothing major in terms of distance at all, but something I wanted to do to add to my mileage for 2012.
       
Above: St Paul's Bay, taken from The Acropolis. Seeing this from such a height, was simply amazing and I couldn't wait to swim it.

Above: Completing my 'two-way' crossing of the stunningly beautiful St. Paul's Bay, Lindos, Rhodes, June 2012. The world famous Acropolis on the mountain in the background.
Above:  'Blast from the past" shot. This was taken by Beccy when I finished my first 'two-way crossing of St Paul's Bay between July 15 and 30, 1996. I can't believe it was 16 years ago!
 
Above: Lindos Bay taken from the other side of The Acropolis. I completed this two way crossing for the first time on the last day of our holiday, June 23, 2012.
 
Above: Swimming and completing my swim across Lindos Bay and back (wearing my Culford swimming hat of course).
 
As well as my sea swims I spent every day in the pool and clocked up about 5,000 Metres total during the week. Still a fair way to go to reach my goal, but it all adds up.

My mum is still hanging in there, but has been confined to bed since her debilitating stroke in January. She is in a fantastic home, looked after by some fantastic nursing staff. She will however, never get out of bed again, never walk, never eat or drink, just lay in bed, fed by a peg and tube in the stomach. A terrible way to end a life so full of love, happiness, laughter and enjoyment.
 
If you would like to sponsor me for my swimming this year, just please click on the link below and donate. Thank you in advance.
 
Hoffy.
 

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Challenging Morning in Arctic Conditions!

On Saturday I renewed my British Long Distance Swimming Association membership with the intention of competing in the 2012 Grand Prix as part of my efforts to complete 212 miles to raise £2,012 for The Stroke Association. The final events for 2012 haven't yet been finalised, but Vince Classen, the BLDSA membership secretary e-mailed me last year's championship races which were as follows:-

Wykeham - 5KM
Champion of Champions (Dover Harbour) - 9 Miles
Torbay - 8 Miles
Llyn Tegid - 6 Miles
Coniston - 5.25 Miles
Ullswater - 7 Miles
Derwentwater - 5 Miles
Lake Winermere - 10.5 Miles
Lynn Regis - 3 Miles

So at present, that is my preliminary plan. To complete all of these races in the championship. I will post when I know the 2012 final plan.

So today I had planned to get back in the pool at Culford Sports and Tennis Centre at 7am. It didn't go exactly to plan, but I managed to get 70 lengths (1,750 Metres) in - eventually. Due to the heavy snow yesterday, I hadn't been out in the car, so I hadn't allowed enough time to dig it out of the snow! Having eventually completed the dig, I then had to clear the driveway to get the gate open! I finally arrived at the pool at 7.00am only to find the car slipping backwards down a very snowy slope near the pool. I therefore parked it in front of the main school building and ran up to the pool, finally getting in at just before 7:15am.

Above: The driveway leading up to the Culford Sports and Tennis Centre swimming pool this morning at about 07:10am.

I was focused on building up my training to raise the money for The Stroke Association and of course for my dear mum, who after one week in hospital is not any better at all. Below is a picture of her with her feed which is going through a tube in her nose. To date she has had no food or drink properly due to not being able to swallow. I am doing these swims for her.
Above: My dad caring for my mum in hospital. He is still in shock at the entire experience, especially how sudden and out of the blue it all was.

In the time available I completed my swim, and for the last 15 minutes, I had the entire pool to myself. Just the lifeguard watching from her platform.

Above: My training ground this morning. 8 lanes wide, 25 Metres long and no one in it but me!
I returned to the changing rooms looking forward to a nice warm shower, only it wasn't warm. It was absolutely freezing! I may as well have gone outside and rolled naked in the snow, only I may have been arrested for doing so. So I had a cold shower. Great cold water acclimatisation session.

So I now have a provisional plan, and have completed a total of 10,650 Metres (6.6 Miles). Only 205.4 Miles to go!

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far. Please continue to do so so that I can raise as much money as possible for The Stroke Association:-

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Swimming for my mum - 212 Miles in 2012 to raise £2,012 for The Stroke Association

Above: Mum and Dad at the Bury St Edmunds Constitutional Club on Saturday January 21, 2012.

Above: Dad with Mum in the stroke ward of West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds on Monday January 30, 2012.

In the early hours of Monday January 31, 2012, my 88 year old dad telephoned me to say that my 90 year old mum had fallen over and he couldn't pick her up. I got out of bed, quickly dressed and drove round to find a doctor and ambulance crew putting her on a stretcher. They informed me that she had probably had a stroke. I was dumbstruck. Not my mum I thought. She's invincible. Never had a day's illness or complained. As the night progressed, our worse fears were confirmed, the whole of her left side had been affected. She is currently in the stroke ward in hospital. It is awful to see. It has totally changed our entire lives in one instant.

Mum is a carer for my dad who has also suffered two strokes. She also regularly looks after our two young boys when we attend meetings and work etc. It was a life changing moment, not just for her, but for my dad and for us also. I have to do something to help her.

As an Open Water Swimmer, I have therefore decided to swim at least 212 miles both in the pool and Open Water Races/Training in 2012, to raise a minimum of £2,012 for The Stroke Association. I really don't know what else to do as I feel so hopeless. She has always been there for me, and this is the only way I know how to help her.


Thank you in advance.

Hoffy. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Back in training! Back to where the journey began...

Above: Training @ Culford School swimming Pool, on August 19, 2006. The start of my first English Channel swim journey.

This week I took the plunge (sorry about the pun!) and decided to get back in the pool and see how I felt after 18 months out of the pool. So at 06:50am on Wednesday, I arrived back at my old school where it all started back in 2006, Culford School swimming pool. In the men's changing rooms, the same old face were all there. It was like I hadn't been away. Glynn who was one of the members of my 2007 Virtual Channel Swim team was the first person I saw and it was great to be back.

As always when I haven't swum for a while, I swim to see how far I can go in the one hour session from 7am to 8am. Whatever that may be is my starting point. My starting point turned out to be 50 lengths, or 1,250 Metres. Not bad, not good, but it was my starting point.

This morning I was really eager to get in again. Arriving early I was the second in the pool and my goal was to achieve 54 lengths, 4 more than Wednesday. I was therefore surprised when after 30 lengths I looked at the clock and only 22 minutes had passed. At 30 minutes I was already on 50, and so I carried on. At 07:55 I was delighted to have clocked up 100 lengths or 2,500 Metres. I was chuffed to bits to double my distance on only my second session back. Just goes to show how with good nutrition, massage and the right mental philosophy you can achieve anything, and that's how I feel right now. Focused.

As soon as I arrived home, I ensured that I practice what I preached and consumed a good quantity of protein about 1 hour and 10 minutes after my swim.

Building and protecting your muscles with protein


Swimming and indeed any exercise causes changes in the muscles, including breakdown as well as depletion of energy stores and some tissue damage. The proteins in muscle tissue are broken down into amino acids, and these are used by the body for energy during exercise. Any good sports regime will include a variety of nutrients to offset these effects and will not only rebuild muscle but build up the body's reserves of energy again as soon as possible. I use Nature's Sunshine Products (NSP) as my daily source of essential nutrients.

A complete protein source taken soon after finishing exercise is needed - ideally within 2 hours (20 minutes being optimal). If the body doesn't have this immediately available, it can take anything up to 2 weeks for the muscles to fully recover. Also, some tissue damage can occur during exercise, and protein is required to repair this efficiently.

In addition, every muscle movement involves both contraction and relaxation and a depletion of vital nutrients can lead to cramps and lactic acid build up.

I use SynerProTein on a daily basis after exercise and after my work as a sports massage therapist and diet and nutrition consultant. SynerProTein is a powerful protein supplement designed by Dr James Scala, nutritionist to NASA and the US Olympic team so I know it is good for me!

Having had two good sessions in the pool, I feel great and now can't wait for Monday when I will now have to better 100 lengths!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Mike Read receives an MBE in the Queens New Years Honour's Lits

Above and below: Mike Read MBE (centre) back in 1980 presenting the trophies to winners of the Bury St Edmunds Swimming Club (The Bury Beavers) annual club championships. Also in the picture starting at the back, left to right: Michael Ransom, me, Cheryl Cole, Andrew (Andy) Taylor, Lorraine Smith, Stephen Alan, Angela Stevenson. Middle row: Anna Gittus, Mike Read, Melanie Berry. Front, kneeling, Nigel Stemp.

I received an e-mail this morning stating that Mike Read had received an MBE for services to swimming in The Queens New Year's Honour's list (page 44 of document). Way back in 1980, I first met Mike when he presented the trophies to us at our annual club championships presentation evening. It was there that I first heard the title "King of The Channel". He explained how he had swum The English Channel 19 times then (now 33). My best friend, Nigel Stemp and I were simply amazed at this, and it was on that day, back in 1980 that the seed was planted for me wanting to swim the channel.

In 2006 when I decided I wanted to swim the channel, I hadn't seen or heard anything of Mike in all of those intervening 26 years. However, he was the obvious and first choice for me to "Google" and try to get in touch with, and he was extremely helpful and friendly when I did get in touch. I hadn't got involved in all of  Channel Swimming politics then, and didn't even realise there could be such a thing. I didn't know there were two organisations. When I found out about it all, it reminded me of the 'Monty Python' film 'The Life of Brian'. On one side you had 'The People's Front of Judea' (The Channel Swimming Association Limited) and on the other side you had 'The Judean People's Front' (The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation). Both doing the same thing, getting people across The English Channel, but both with different sets of viewpoints, and means of doing it. I had stepped out of the cauldron of the Bury St Edmunds Town Council versus the St Edmundsbury Borough Council, straight into another quite different political arena!

Mike Read was the Chairman of The Channel Swimming Association Limited, and it was with them that I successfully completed my first English Channel swim. Mike helped me along the way, turning up at Felixstowe on December 26, 2006 wearing his 'Bury Beavers' sweatshirt which he had been given on that night way back in 1980 (pictured below). He inspired me to complete my longest cold water swim at that time - 1 mile @ six degrees CentigradeI was so, so cold, that if he hadn't been there I think I would have got out after 5 minutes! I will never forget his words when I finished the 35 minute swim. He came running down the beach and said "If you can do that, you can swim The Channel". Those words really inspired me to achieve my goal.

Above: Mike Read and I in the icy waters of The North Sea at Felixstowe, Suffolk on Boxing Day, December 26, 2006.

When I organised a 'Virtual Channel Swim' on May 28, 2007, again, he was there to be part of my virtual channel swim team which raised over £1,800 for CLIC Sargent Children's Cancer charity.

Above: Top left to right: Don Neate, President of West Suffolk Swimming Club in 2007, me and Mike Read outside the CLIC Sargent offices in Bury St Edmunds. Bottom, left to right: Me, English Channel aspirant Tom Gunning and Mike Read after completing our Virtual Channel Swim.
  
Whatever the politics that has gone in in Channel Swimming circles since then, and there has been a lot, all I know is this. If it hadn't of been for Mike Read's inspiring talk at 'The Centa' in Bury St Edmunds, way back in 1980, I would not be sitting here writing this post now. I would never have swum The Channel or represented my country at open water swimming. So when Mike's son asked me to write about how he inspired me, some 2-3 years ago now so that they could secretly get him an award, I was only too pleased to do so. His swimming experiences speak for themselves and so I would just like to say congratulations to Mike on receiving this award - Mike Read - Member of The British Empire.