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.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Patrick Thomas - English Channel Swim - Saturday September 08, 2012 - 13 Hrs. 56 Mins.

Above (left to right): Me, Patrick Thomas from Cape Town, South Africa and Dave Granger (Channel Swimmer 2011) on board Anastasia in Dover Marina on Saturday September 08, 2012 - about 2:30am.

On Thursday July 26th, an e-mail came into the Channel Swimmers 'chat group' asking for crew members to hep a guy from South Africa called Patrick Thomas to swim The English Channel on the September 07-14 tide. I contacted Patrick and following some e-mail conversations, on Sunday August 12th he e-mailed me and Dave Granger to say that he would like like us to crew for him. He also said that a close family friend called Janeen De Klerk would be coming with him from South Africa. He said that she had "no swimming experience ... but is an ultra marathon runner and a very calm and settled all round person". Ideal to compliment a couple of mad Channel Swimmers then!

Patrick and I liaised over the next few weeks until he finally arrived in England. I had been tentatively telling my massage and nutrition clients about crewing in The English Channel the following week, and explained that I may have to change their appointments at the last minute due to the nature of Channel Swimming. This is why it can be difficult to get crew. You literally have to be prepared to go, food, clothes etc., drop everything, head to Dover and crew at very short notice! Not an easy task for ayone when you have work and family comitments.

Here's how the conversation went by text:-

Mon 3 Sep 2012 - 11:46 - Patrick in London: "Hi there Paul. This is my UK number. Awesome day here today :) Cheers, Patrick Thomas".

Paul: "Excellent! Spoken to Eddie [the pilot] yet? If so what's the forecast for the weekend?"

Patrick: "Hi there. Just sms-ed briefly. No discussions as yet. Thursday and Friday look great wind picks up Saturday ... Not sure there is space for two pre weather turn. Heading to Varne Ridge tomorrow and will try have a chat to him tomorrow."    
Paul: "Cool. Stand at Varne Ridge and gaze across The Channel. It's an awesome view. Sends shivers of excitement down my spine just picturing it in my mind!".

Patrick: "Cool. Can't wait. Will be in touch tomorrow evening :)".

Tue 4 Sep 2012 - 21:27 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there. Spoke to Eddie today. He is confident 1st slot will do real early morning departure Friday. Makes me Saturday morning (EARLY) start ... Too early to read much into weather - aiming for then and updates on weather tomorrow evening. Cheers, Fatty Patty :)".

Paul: "Ok. Let's check again tomorrow. Cheers. Paul." 

Wed 5 Sep 2012 - 19:23 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there again. Just spoke to Eddie again. Still looking OK for Saturday real early (Around 02h30) ... No definite time as yet ... But that is our goal for now :D".

Paul: "Ok cool. Will plan for that at present. Exciting!".
Thu 6 Sep 2012 - 19:26 - Patrick at Varne Ridge: "Hi there ... again. Just spoke to Eddie. We are still on for Saturday very early. To meet at Harbour at 2h3. To be confirmed again at 19h00 tomorrow. He is 90% confident of that decision :)".

I then realised that we were very likely to be on for the swim early Saturday morning, but not certain. I had a bit of a difficult decision. I had purposely not booked any appointments in for Friday (pm) and would have to chance getting to Dover for about 7pm not actually knowing if we were going to swim or not. A 145 mile drive - maybe for nothing. I packed and ensured I had my swim kit because at least I could swim in the harbour on Saturday morning if we didn't go.    

To be completed...

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.


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 have recently started using 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!