2022 Training Blog is a go!


Training has finally kicked in full pelt and from now on I will do weekly training blogs!

Over the past few weeks I have slowly been building up the number of swims I am doing, the distance I have covered and also how many outdoor swims I get each week too. This week I have covered a total of 14km! The last time I was in this sort of training regime was when I was training for my 2 way Windermere swim last year so, I know I am on the right lines and that this sort of training works well for me and around my health conditions.

Monday started off with me coaching, in the morning I worked with my newest pupil; Elke, whom wants to work on front crawl, back crawl and breaststroke. She also wants to get into the open water and do some river swimming. Her main issue from what I can tell is simply her self-confidence. I made a few minor points on her breaststroke and front-crawl and she was already finding it much easier and more efficient. It won’t take much to get her confidently swimming and enjoying it rather than worrying she is doing something wrong and as always, I look forward to seeing her progress.

My second coaching session on Monday was the BRJ swim session at One Leisure in Huntingdon. As we are beginning to see lakes and other open water venues opening we have started to work on some techniques that will help swimmers in open water. We did two of these on Monday; sighting and recapping deep water starts. The previous week we had focused on ‘crocodile eyes’, this week it was head up front crawl. At first people didn’t seem to understand why you would do it, especially as it is more tiring and more difficult but the idea behind teaching this as well as crocodile eyes is that it gives the swimmer the option on which technique to use. 


When swimming the ‘catastrophic’ moment is when you breathe, it puts you out of line and almost creates a break in your stroke, with this in mind it is the best time to make use of it in a positive way. Crocodile eyes can be added into your stroke whilst you breathe, the idea being that you disrupt your stroke as little as possible, it is just a quick glance forwards to ensure you are going in the right direction and aiming for the correct point. It’s a similar concept to spotting whilst spinning when dancing. 

The other method of sighting is head-up front-crawl, this is used when you are unsure where you’re going. I discovered that quite a few of our swimmers either hadn’t swum head up before or they were struggling with it and didn’t fully understand it, after all, why would you use something that uses more energy and is hard work when you’re racing?

After explaining that doing head up front crawl means you don’t have to stop swimming when you try to work out where you need to go they did understand the reason behind doing it but they didn’t realise how much more exhausting it would be. Some people found it incredibly difficult to keep their head out of the water and were trying to make their head completely clear of the water, whereas when done properly the idea is you keep your chin on the water so you can continue to breathe whilst swimming and looking round to work out where you are and where you need to be heading. Once you have figured out where you are you then go back into your normal stroke and use crocodile eyes to ensure you stay on course. I personally swim a few strokes of head up front crawl every couple of minutes, that is unless I know I am way off course, apart from that I use crocodile eyes.

We also did a recap of deep water starts and did a few mass starts by taking all the lane ropes out and having everyone doing a deep water start and a 25m sprint at the same time, it was great fun for me to watch and gave those whom have never done an open water mass start an idea of what chaos they should expect!

Tuesday I did my first run/push in MONTHS. I used to do a lot of running/wheelchair racing and even have my own race chair but over the past couple of years have focused more on my swimming a strength because I felt useless at wheelchair racing and couldn’t compete. Being honest, I love/loved the sport, but I had 2 issues, the first; I had no official coach. There is a very specific technique to be used when you’re in a racing wheelchair and as I had no coach, I never really learnt/perfected it. Secondly im overweight; there is no way to put it other than I am fat, I have a big stomach and as a result I am unable to bend over flat so that I can reach properly and obviously, the heavier you are the more weight you have to move in the chair. However, I am trying to lose weight and have been for years but have never found an affective method to do so and part of my issue is the medication im on causes weight gain. I am working with a wellbeing advisor through my GP to try something new and part of it is to follow the couch to 5km app so Tuesday was my first ‘run’. I used my Invictus Active Rollers and I probably will till I get my confidence in pushing myself back. Theyre great, they allow me to push my chair as if it were on a treadmill or a bike turbo trainer.

Wednesday was what many call bat s**t crazy. I started the day catching up on and chasing various emails and writing lesson plans. Then I went for a wonderful river swim in Godmanchester with a friend, I couldn’t believe how much the temperature had gone up. We swam a nice 2km and then I went straight home, got changed and went to town for my weekly personal training session. Needless to say, I collapsed in a heap and fell asleep on the sofa as soon as I got home! 

I woke up on Thursday hurting like hell but I wanted to ensure I did my 2nd run of the week as told to by the couch to 5km app! So I managed to do that and then I spent the rest of the afternoon doing a bit of gardening, living in a flat, I don’t have much of a garden but I do have a front seated area that I am trying to make look nice so that as summer arrives I can spend days sitting there outside writing.

screen shot from couch to 5km app

Friday, I was still pretty sore, but I knew I needed to get an actual swim in because apart from 2km in the river I hadn’t actually swum at all. I worked hard during the swim session and ended up doing the session that I coached to BRJ on Monday. Despite the fact I know the best way for me to sight it is always worth practicing it in the pool, especially when doing crocodile eyes in terms of making the sighting fit in with your stroke. I also realised that one thing I have never done properly is practiced deep water starts myself and for me they can be little more tricky as I don’t have the sudden hard kick to start moving you forwards, all I have is my arms. I tried a few different ways to get going and actually took time to figure out the best way to get going from nothing for me.

I couldn’t wait for Saturday – Peterborough Lido is finally open! I did a lot of my training in Peterborough lido last year, it’s a 50m pool, is open to the elements and although its heated its no where near as hot as a normal pool is. Its great for doing long continuous swims and also multiple swims in one day. I decided to attempt a similar set up to the BLDSA Dover Champion of Champions event (but much shorter), so I did a 3km an hour break (for lunch), 2km and a 30min break and finally 1km. My pace was right down for some reason, maybe because its been so long since I did a full day of training but I covered the distance needed and got very sunburnt in the process. I also learnt that if you leave a twix out in the sun then when it melts you end up with a chocolately mess with 2 long biscuits…

Sunday Funday….aka EASTER Sunday! I wasn’t originally going to be at my parents but I wanted a roast dinner so stayed from Saturday to Sunday. It obviously meant I also got to play with and have doggy cuddles. We had a nice roast dinner and then my dad drove me to one of my favourite places; Lake Ashmore. The lake is open for the new season, it was around 14.5 degrees and an absolutely beautiful day for it. It was lovely to catch up with everyone that I haven’t seen since the end of the season last year and of course to have a swim in a lake. I added a further 2km distance to my total for the week, bringing it up to a nice, round, 14km! 

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