Monday 26 April 2010

IOWSA featured on 'The Daily News of Open Water Swimming' and 'The Water is Open' websites

Above: Item 3 (right) IOWSA and The Wash swims featured on the Monday April 26, 2010 page of

Above: IOWSA and The Wash is featured at on Monday April 26, 2010.

Thank you to the inspirational Steve Munatones, author of both websites, for including our stories and for his undying enthusiasm to the sport of Open Water Swimming around the world.

Click on each picture to access the story directly.

Slowly building in the pool and the launch of

Above: Felixstowe Beach Crew, Sunday April 25, 2010. Left to right, my mum Vera Hopfensperger, Luca and Beccy.

The pool work was building well on Monday and Tuesday last week. Steadily building. Monday was 60 lengths, 1,500 Metres, Tuesday was 70 lengths, 1,750 Metres, then a hiccup. Luca started teething again (he now has 6) and we were up all night for 3 nights. Very tiring I can assure you! This meant I did not get back in the pool until Saturday, when I made up for it by completing 90 lengths, 2,250 Metres. I felt surprisingly strong, and it is all coming back together nicely.

Earlier in the day I had setup a Facebook group at which already has 35 members, some of them, very illustrious in open water swimming circles. If you would like to join, please feel free. We are now training every Sunday morning in Felixstowe.

Sunday, we set off for Felixstowe, and had a wonderful day out. It really was one of those great days out. I had two swims, separated by about 15 minutes, and the water temperature was 8 Degrees Centigrade. Still cold, but 1 degree warmer than last week.

Above: Psyching myself up ready to get in the cold water once again.

Swim Number 1

Swim Number 2

We then had some great fish and chips at the Fludyer Arms Hotel, followed by a trip to the wet fish mongers where we bought some great fish which I cooked when we got home. To cap it all, I got an e-mail from someone in Bury St Edmunds asking if I knew of anywhere Open Water Swimmers could train in Suffolk! It just so happened that I did:-

Thursday 22 April 2010

Suffolk Open Water Swimming - Felixstowe 2010

Above: Training area from The Fludyer Arms Hotel Beach to Felixstowe Pier (1.5KM each way - 3KM Total).

Above: Close up of the beach and location of Fludyer Arms Hotel. There is car parking along the front as can be seen.

Above: Felixstowe Pier, the turning point for the swim back to the Fludyer Arms Hotel beach.

During my 2007 & 2008 English Channel swim training sessions, as well as travelling to Dover each weekend, I did in fact train in Felixstowe, Suffolk which is only 45 miles from where we live as opposed to 145 miles to Dover. I swum from The Fludyer Arms Hotel beach to the pier and back, a swim of 3KM round trip.

Following many hits on our website for people looking for "Suffolk Open Water Swimming" and similar, Beccy and I are now going to train regularly at this location. If anyone would like to join us, we will be starting this Sunday morning, April 25th at 11.00am for an initial "dip". We will meet on the Fludyer Arms Hotel Beach at about 10.45am.

If anyone would like to join us whether you are training for the channel or any other open water swim, or even if you are a Triathlete who wants to train in the open water with like minded people, please feel free to join us. It is important to stress that this is not an organised event, and all swimmers will be swimming at their own risk, so should be confident swimmers and able to swim in the sea without supervision.

Call me on 07887 711333 or e-mail me at if you have any questions or would like to join us, or join our Facebook group at:-

Sunday 18 April 2010

End of first week back in training ends in 7 Degrees Centigrade swim at Felixstowe

Above: With Luca prior to getting in the sea for a swim at Felixstowe, Suffolk on Saturday April 17, 2010.

After such a long break from swimming, it was always going to be tough getting fully back into it again. After my inaugural pool training session on Tuesday, I was back in the pool on Friday morning for my second session which I completed successfully with the following session:-

12 Lengths Freestyle Full Stroke Warm Up (300 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Arms Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Legs Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Arms Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Full Stroke (250 Metres)
2 Lengths Backstroke warm down (50 Metres)

Mission accomplished, 54 lengths, 1,350 Metres which was 100 Metres more than Tuesday's session. Next, step was to get back into the sea, so on Saturday we set off for Felixstowe, which unlike the previous attempt at Wells-Next-The-Sea (or should it be called Wells-Nowhere-Near-The Sea!?), was guaranteed water I could swim in.

Beccy and Luca were both hungry so first stop was the seafront fish and chip shop. Glorious sunshine, and fish and chips on the beach, what more could you want? The sea did however, look particularly uninviting. It looked a really wintry colour, as if it had come from a melted glacier. I got undressed and headed down to the water.

As I stepped in it was cold, but I was totally prepared mentally to get in the water, and it didn't bother me.

I did my usual which was to bend over and splash the icy cold water over my body, and kept walking in up to my waist, then dived in and sped off.

I was swimming and being conscious of what my body was telling me. I could feel the cold starting to penetrate through the top layers of the skin, then the ice cream headache started, and my left hand and arm really started to hurt through coldness. I have had this before and it is a weird thing, so I turned round and headed back to shore being satisfied with my first swim.

I got out and walked up the beach where Beccy and Luca were sitting, and was really pleased with my first swim. Having sat out in the sun for about 10 minutes, I headed off for my second swim.

The second swim was much better, and I felt that I had acclimatised already to the temperature. Don't get me wrong, it did feel cold (7 Degrees Centigrade according to the web) but I was OK. I did sprint this time around, at about 70% effort, and it did make a difference mentally. I got out again, and was very pleased with things.

Above: Back on dry land with Luca, Beccy and 'Bump 2' after two successful 7 Degrees Centigrade swims.
After the swim, we went to The Fludyer Arms hotel, where we had a useful meeting with a couple of people and have some great ideas for IOWSA events. When I have discussed it with the committee, I will update the blog. All in all, a very good first week back.

Total swim Distance 2010 - 3,000 Metres.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Back in the pool preparing for the long journey ahead...

Above: Training in my favourite pool at my old school, Culford School Suffolk, starting on the long journey to swim The Wash in 2010.

My late mentor Jim Rohn once said "Life expects us to take reasonable steps in measurable time". But the most important step is the first one. If you don't take the first step, the others cannot follow. Jim also stresses the importance of setting goals and planning to achieve them. He said "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail". Today, I started on my plan to swim The Wash by taking the first step, I got back in the pool for a session for the first time in nearly 18 months.

I set myself a short term goal of swimming 50 lengths. This may not seem many, but at the moment it's the best I can do. Whenever I have come back into swimming, I always set myself a target for the first swim, then gradually increase the distance on the front end of the warm up. Today, having got up at 6am, I headed for the pool and was in the water for 7am. My session was as follows:-

10 Length Freestyle Full Stroke Warm Up (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Arms Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Legs Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Arms Only (250 Metres)
10 Lengths Freestyle Full Stroke (250 Metres)

Mission accomplished. 50 Lengths as per my plan. It felt absolutely awful, totally alien. My arms had very little strength and my stroke felt poor. But this is my starting point. It can only get better from here. Next session will be 52 lengths minimum, gradually increasing as my body re-acclimatise to the water, and my strength increases.

I feel really happy to be back on track, and what a way to start the day!

Total swim Distance 2010 - 1,250 Metres.

Monday 5 April 2010

First 'Dip' in "The Wash", Easter Saturday 2010, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk

Above: Google map of 'The Wash' with route of proposed swim from Hunstanton to Skegness and Wells-Next-The-Sea where I took a dip on Saturday April 03, 2010.

Since my last major swim, which was in The Sumidero Canyon, Mexico on October 18, 2008, so much has happened, and Beccy and I have gone through some majorly tough financial times due to the world-wide recession, which hit our business like so many others. I have not completed a training session in a pool since Thursday October 16, 2008 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. We had to sell our IT business after 12 years. We both totally re-trained and started a new business from scratch, investing every penny we earned into training courses and equipment. We had to cancel all swims last year due to the afore-mentioned, and Beccy gave birth to our son Luca in July 2009. We then formed IOWSA and have struggled to find a suitably qualified pilot who was willing to pilot me across my proposed swim of The Wash in 2010. We are now delighted that Beccy is expecting our second child in October 2010. What a year of mixed emotions and difficulties. But that's what life is all about is it not? Opportunity mixed with difficulty. You just have to keep going, set your goals and believe in what you are doing, no matter what. That said, we set off for the North Norfolk coast on a cool but sunny Easter Saturday, April 03, 2010. Mission: 1) To find a pilot boat. 2) To take my first swim in the sea for 2010.

Above: Alan Frary, Coxwain (or 'Coxun' as they pronounce it in Norfolk) of the R.N.L.I. Life Boat in Wells-Next-The-Sea.

After arriving in Wells, and meeting up with the in-laws and devouring some of Wells's finest fish and chips, we walked the incredibly long promenade to reach the beach. My oldest son Baz, was on his way down in the car, so I wanted to wait for him before I went in for a dip. The sun was out, it was a beautiful cool April day, and I couldn't wait to get in, however, I wanted to find a pilot boat, so headed for the R.N.L.I. station at the end of the promenade. Having spent about 15 minutes with R.N.L.I. Coxwain Alan Frary, he gave me three useful names and telephone numbers of fishermen who may be able to help me. He showed me some charts of 'The Wash', told me the water temperature today was 7 degrees Centigrade, and we could clearly see the wind farm off the coast of Skegness, the other side of 'The Wash'. I could now begin to visualise and feel the swim, and get a sense of the task ahead. I thanked him, and left to join up with the others who wanted to walk along the beach.

When Baz telephoned to say he was nearly there, I walked all the way back to the harbour to meet up with him and collect my swim bag. Then after a very tough walk through the sand, we met up with everyone on the beach. The tide had been out ever since we arrived, and when it goes out in Wells, it really goes out. Since I had walked back to the harbour and returned, it had gone out even further. So far in fact, that I could barely see the waters edge in the distance! I was determined to go in though.

My father-in-law carried Luca, and I battled for what seemed hours with the pushchair in the sand to get to the water's edge to get in the sea. However, the further we walked, it just kept getting further away!!! Eventually, I was so tired and hot, I undressed, got me Speedos, hat, goggles and earplugs on, and headed for the water. My legs were really tired. I felt as though I had been pushing a car up hill for about an hour. That's what it was like pushing a push chair through the sand.

Above: Undressed and heading out into the deep waters of 'The Wash' for my first sea swim of the year.

As I ran through the near 4 inches of water, the cool water splashed on my feet and it felt good! I could see the sand up ahead, and just as it got really deep (5 inches) it started to get shallower again, and I walked out onto the sand!

I kept going and going, but as I looked ahead, I could see the water still going out, and I could see that it really was not going to get much deeper without walking out for another couples of miles! It was just unbelievably shallow! I walked a bit further until I found a bit which was about a foot deep. I decided to kneel in it, and splash the water over my body. It really was all I was going to be able to achieve today. I was worried that the tide would start to come in again, and start surrounding my family who were all about a mile out from the beach. The tide is notoriously dangerous and fast in this area. Many people have been cut off and stranded when the tide starts to come in.

Above: Kneeling in 12 inches of water and splashing it over my body, the nearest I was going to get to a swim!

I ran back as fast as I could through the water, splashing it everywhere to ensure I got to feel 7 degree water on my body. I then had the incredibly arduous task of pushing the push chair all the way back again in the sand!

Above: Mission sort of accomplished. My first dip in 'The Wash', and it really was 'a dip!'.

Above: Beccy and 'Bump 2' show just how far the tide goes out here. When it is in, the waters edge is near the trees in the distance.

Above: Left to right - Father-in-law carrying Luca, Brother-in-law, Baz, Beccy, Sister-in-law and Mother-in-law followed by Coco (Dog-in-Law?).

Although I did not get to swim per se, I did achieve my two goals:-

1) I have three useful numbers for pilot boats.

2) I have a mental reference point of what 7 degrees Centigrade feels like again, having not swum in this temperature for many, many months.

A good and satisfying first step back in the water, and the start of the journey to swim 'The Wash' in September of this year.