Wednesday 31 December 2008

Looking back at 2008...

2008 has been a fantastic year for swimming, probably my best ever. Below are a just a few of the highlights of the year, and at the end you will see the total we have raised so far for charity since we started this adventure in August 2006.

Above: Swimming with "Ice Bergs" in the 5.9 degrees Centigrade waters of the fabulous Tooting Bec Lido.

Above: The Ice man commeth... with Lewis Pugh, the first man in history to swim at -1.7 Degrees Centigrade at The North Pole.

Above: Tooting Bec Lido on an extremely warm February day, hosting the championships for the first time. Well done to all at South London Swimming Club. It was a fantastic weekend.

June 2008 - British Long Distance Swimming Association - Champion of Champions, Dover Harbour, England

Above: Competitors for the race line up on the beach in Dover Harbour prior to the race.

Above: Exiting the water having finished one of the three events.

Above: Keith Bartolo from Malta (centre), with my support crew for the weekend, James Patterson (left) and 'Little Hoffy' (right).

July 2008 - FINA World Cup Open Water Grand Prix - Serbia

Above: About to start my first training session in the River Sava in Sabac, Serbia. This was my first experience of what we affectionately started to call "Green".

Above: With English Channel World Record Holder and 8 times World Cup Open Water Swimming Champion, Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria, prior to the start of the race.

Above: Catching and overtaking Nikola Carradossi of Italy half way through the race.

Above: Finishing the race in 300mm thick "Green". A very interesting experience!

Above: The beautiful plaque presented to me by race director Vojislav Mijic after the race.

August 2008 - Dover Regatta 2000 Metre race

Above: About to enter Dover Harbour, my 'home pool' to start the 2008 Dover Regatta 2000 Metre sea race.

Above: Heading out to the start of the race.

Above: Running up the beach to cross the finish line and take 2nd place in the "Over 40's" event.

September 2008 - My second crossing of the English Channel in 13 Hours and 3 Minutes

Above: Battling the elements and the mental demons on a dark night, somewhere in the middle of the English Channel between England and France on Thursday September 11, 2008.

Above: Approaching Cap Gris-Nez, France on Friday September 12, 2008.

Above: Landing on a stony beach in France after 13 Hours and 3 Minutes with my support swimmer Mark Ransom, where we had a little 'discussion' about whether to swim back or not!

Above: A short video of the swim from England to France on September 11-12, 2008.

September 2008 - Winning my first British Long Distance Swimming Association title ... eventually!

Above: Out on my own in the 4.5KM race at Lynn Regis, Norfolk, England.

Above: Racing and beating Dee Llewelyn who finished in second place overall in the 2008 championship.

Above: Winning the "Veterans" trophy but not the "Senior Men's" trophy, which following an e-mail debate and a meeting of the BLDSA committee, was rectified when I was presented with....

...both trophies outside of my house by race organiser Stephen Smith in October 2008.

I was delighted to finish overall in 19th place out of 150 competitors in this years BLDSA Grand Prix, despite only competing in two events (Champion of Champions and Lynn Regis). A full set of results can be found by clicking on the link below:-

BLDSA Senior Grand Prix Results 2008

October 2008 - Eastern Region Masters Championships, Bury St Edmunds, UK.

Above: West Suffolk Masters Swim team who competed at the Eastern Region Masters Championships 2008.

Above: Starting one of my races at the championships.

Above: My 2008 medal haul from the championships.

October 2008 - FINA World Cup Open Water Grand Prix - Mexico

Above: Some of the competitors for the race, line up for the press at the end of a training swim. Left to right: Swimmer from Mexico, Stephan Gómez (France), Dörte Kamrau (Germany), Gabriel Villagois (Argentina), Stefanie Biller (Germany), Cesar Rodríguez (Argentina), Brendan Capel (Australia), Marianella Mendoza (Argentina), Tomi Stefanovski (Macedonia), Paul Hopfensperger (England), Larisa Ilchenko (Russia), Yury Kudinov (Russia), Natalya Pankina (Russia), Mariam Maricusi Sanchez (Panama), Brita Kamrau (Germany), Esther Nunez (Spain), Yuko Matsuzaki (Japan), Danil Serebrennikov (Russia), Damian Blaum (Argentina), German coach, Rodolfo Valenti (Italy). Front row kneeling - Shelley Clark (Australia), a Mexican swimmer, Noelia Petit (Argentina).

Above: Me with the 2008 Beijing Olympic 10KM Open Water Champion, Larisa Ilchenko from Russia.

Above: Preparing to enter the waters of the Sumidero Canyon, Mexico to start my second Grand Prix.

Above: During the race, and about to cross the finish line of the 15KM swim in energy sapping 27 Degrees Centigrade water.

I was pleased to finish ranked number 57 in the world in this event out of 65 total entrants, despite only completing 2 of the 9 possible events (Serbia and Mexico):-

Click here to download the final FINA rankings for 2008

Click here to download a full summary of my 2008 swims


The purpose of all these swims is to raise £50,000 for two UK based charities, CLIC Sargent, the UK's largest Children's Cancer charity, and St. Nicholas' Hospice in my home town of Bury St Edmunds. I would like to thank all of my 2008 corporate sponsors who helped pay for some of these swims, which has now enabled us to raise a total of:-


Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me, and please continue to do so as we still have another £34,393.87p to go! 2009's swims will be announced in January 2009. Happy New Year to everyone!

Saturday 27 December 2008

Boxing Day dip at Waldringfield raises over £6,500 for CLIC Sargent Children's Cancer Charity

Above: The registration desk at Waldringfield Sailing Club, the venue for the 2008 CLIC Sargent Boxing Day "Dip with a Nip".

As mentioned on the post before last, one of my two chosen charities for my open water swimming endeavours, CLIC Sargent, were holding a "Dip with a Nip" in the River Deben in the small Suffolk village of Waldringfield near Ipswich. So at 9am my wife Beccy, cousin Trevor Cole and me set off on a beautiful sunny, but frosty winter's morning to take a dip in the 8 degree Centigrade'ish water.

Above: With my cousin Trevor Cole from London in the Waldringfield sailing club, club house.

It was my job to motivate the 28 competitors to dive into the the icy waters of the River Deben. I was introduced by Claire from the CLIC Sargent Bury St Edmunds office. Having completed my Diploma in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) this year, I used a technique called a "Chained Anchor" to help them visualise their dip, and to make them mentally feel that when they entered the water, it would be hot rather than cold! They all participated and seem to enjoy it!

Above: Mentally preparing the swimmers for their icy dip using NLP techniques.

At 10.55am, we all left the warmth of the club house, to strip off and prepare ourselves to enter water.

There were roughly 50-60 people on the bank watching the event. We gathered by the waters edge, I shouted at them to "Fire the anchor", which would if used correctly, make them have warm feelings and thoughts, then after a 10-9-8-....2-1 countdown, we all entered the water!

I swum along the bank and back for about 5 minutes, and got out feeling remarkably warm. It was cold, but not that cold, especially after all the cold water training I have completed this year. In fact, it was positively refreshing!

Well done to all of the CLIC Sargent team for organising the event, and before they even started the dip, it was announced that they had so far raised over £6,500! I'm sure there will be more come in over the next month. Well done. Fantastic achievement to all who entered. If anyone would like to sponsor me for the event, please do so by clicking on the link below:-

Please sponsor me for Boxing Day "Dip with a Nip" 2008

East Anglian Daily Times - Saturday December 27, 2008:-

Click on the article above to download a higher resolution copy.