Tri50 Swim Camp – The End

Subject: Blog from an Old Dog!!

On Day 1 it quickly became clear to me that I was about the weakest swimmer of this happy group of 13 – and I was pretty daunted by that! Could Jo and Sandra really teach ‘an old dog new tricks’ in 5 days!

So here we are on Day 5: we have exercised our Core, we have swum every possible drill in the pool and completed a long sea swim challenge.

Over the week we have swum a total of 12916 metres in the lovely Lanzarote sunshine! And how do I feel as that ‘mature dog’ in need of complete swim technique overhaul and confidence lacking?

I’ve been challenged and pushed, drilled and repositioned to establish that optimal front crawl. It’s been hard – but never boring! Jo and Sandra have been Great Coaches and SO positive and made me feel as though I Really COULD be better!

The group has been friendly and supportive of each other and it’s been great fun – new firm friends made!

I’d like to say I overtook a few today – but as everyone has improved massively – I’m still towards the back – but that doesn’t matter as I’m faster and much better equipped to keep improving and build on my new found skills. With a training plan in place I’m looking forward to some miraculous swim times in 2018!!!

Swim Camp Day 4

Day 4 on the Lanzarote swim camp

Just to put day 4 in to context, here’s my brief personal experience of days 1 – 3…

Day 0
Wow, what an amazing bunch of ladies (and gentle man) I’m here with. Totally intimidated by every one of them and out of place, but hey, I’m sure it’ll be fine!

Day 1
Shit. What have I done? This isn’t me. I want to cry. I’m the worst swimmer by far. I shouldn’t be here. What was I thinking? Watching myself on video was horrendous – I look like a floundering, drowning ape when I swim (it’s never looked that bad in my head when I’ve pictured what I might look like).

Day 2
A much better day. My first sea swim – yay!! Dead chuffed with myself. I didn’t panic. I swam. It was beautiful in fact, I really enjoyed it. Then also really enjoyed drills in the pool. Actually give me the feeling of what this swimming lark should feel like. Not worried about what I look like today – it feels better – and my stroke must be improving.

Day 3
I am so tired. So very tired. My body and my brain! There’s just so much to think about – I want to get it all right and there are so many things I want to improve on.

Day 4
Jo and Sandra said there would be tears at some point. And they were mine! Today.

Started off great – pool session. Really enjoyed the drills. So good to understand what one aspect of the stroke should feel like. And glad to be learning some drills to focus more on when I get home too.

I am finding it difficult to focus on one thing at a time though. That seems like it shouldn’t be as tough as it is! But as much as I start out down the lane trying to just focus on cadence, my thoughts turn to whether I’m rotating my body, am I breathing out through my nose AND my mouth, am I lifting my head too high on the breathing, bilateral breathing, dropping my shoulder when I breathe and the thoughts go on……. No wonder this is so exhausting, frankly. And that’s without the massive physical effort swimming all this distance is for me. I reckon I’ve probably swum as far this week in one week than I have my entire life before put together!!

Then a sea swim this afternoon. Just amazing – totally loved it. Every time I get in the sea it’s getting better. There was more going on this afternoon, we learned how to turn efficiently around a buoy. I spent a good 10 minutes without the comfort blanket of my swim secure float, even swum with others around me – all meaning I’m gaining massive confidence in open water, which I’ve never had before.

After all that excitement though, walking back to the pool, overheating in my wetsuit, exhausted, hungry… I have no idea what came over me, other than suddenly feeling overwhelmed by it all. Instead of jumping eagerly back in the pool with everyone else, I couldn’t hold back the tears, much as I tried. I did eventually manage to pull myself together and joined everyone else for a few more drills. Albeit not with the greatest of energy or zest!

Thank goodness for the core and TLC session to end the day off – back firmly within my comfort zone and a lovely beautiful stretch for some of my aching muscles.

I have to say though; this week is just totally amazing. I’m sad there’s only a day left, even though I probably wouldn’t be capable of continuing a day longer! I’m just so impatient though – I want to be able to glide gracefully and speedily through the water, with wonderful efficient technique. I know rationally that’s several years off (8 years average swimming journey according to Jo), but I want it now! Still, I’ll get home and get in that pool regularly this winter, practice, practice, practice what I’ve learned this week and I’ll be a huge leap forward from where I was before I came out here! And the bonus is, I’ve also got to know some fabulous people.

Nicky Runeckles

Tri50 Swim Training Camp – Day 3 (Christine)

Day 3 started off rather cloudy and as it was half a day didn’t look very inviting to sunbathe later. However, we all met up early at 07:45 (eeks) and a short walk to the sandy beach. Into wetsuits and then Jo explained that we needed to put our sighting that we learned yesterday into practice, so we were to head out to a diving platform, then onto a white buoy that was out there somewhere, couldn’t see it myself, but I thought no doubt I’ll see if eventually. Made the white buoy and quite surprised myself at how comfortable I felt, the tuition is paying off. Then we had to pair up and swim alongside each other and sight again, then a little bit of drafting and back to the shore. It was a first for me – 1500 metres which I thought I’d never do that without drowning.

Breakfast afterwards, I was certainly ravenous and a much needed coffee restored my energy levels. Then back into pool for some drills. It was a new experience for me trying to get my head around the touch turn, and is something that I’ll have to practise, but I can see how much more efficient and fast it would be in a race.

This afternoon is a much needed rest and the sun is out for a spot of sunbathing. Happy days.

I have learned SO much and it’s only Day 3, I feel that my stroke is improving and hopefully I am slightly faster 🙂

Chris T

Tri50 Swim Training Camp – Day 3 (Chris)

The swim camp will be good for your swimming they said !
The swim camp is getting sold out they said !
Drills they said !
Technic they said!
Sea swimming they said !
You can share accommodation they said !
The weather is fantastic they said !
So I booked and when I got there I was the only man in the group …..they never said that!
12 girls and me 😁
I was a bit shaken first day but not stirred ….
Best way to handle this I think is to keep my mouth shut 😉
I came to improve my endurance and breathing technique and so I’ll concentrate on that! Forget the fact there are 12 fit girls in swim suits and get on and swim and boy can some of them swim!

Loads of great coaching from Jo and Sandra lots of handy tech tips and best of all lots of swimming in the pool and sea.
This morning we did a 1500m sea swim 1st thing as a group and in buddy pairs and it was brilliant , I felt it was my best
open water swim to date , I was paired with Caroline who kept an eye out for me and me her , we even managed a bit of synchronised swimming! …then breakfast and eat eat eat.
Then back into the pool at 11.00 for another 1500 m of drills and stuff …phew!

Back to my room for lunch and maybe a snooze!

15.30 running with Sandra and Ted ( another man ….Jo’s partner) and a few others.

A quick shower then dinner with a few of the ladies !

21.00 collapse into bed !

This is hard work but fantastic and I feel I have been learning and learning , I feel I’m swimming much better now and far more confident than before….

A really great bunch of people and I would deffo do it again 🤓

Chris Marchand

Tri50 Swim Training Camp – Day 2

Day two couldn’t have started any better – an early rise and a sea swim. That’s what we thought, anyway. First though there was some open water practice in the seawater lido, also known as “combat swimming”: avoiding the shallow bottom and coming out of the slime section looking like a commando troop. Laughing, mind, always laughing! All warmed up, and the sea just footsteps away, we paired up and swam a circuit of the bay, a gang of yellow heads and orange tow floats bouncing in the waves. It was brilliant and tough to stop there, but breakfast and the next pool session called.

Back to the pool – drills for rotation, catch and sighting. I’m sure I can feel the change in my swimming already, even after only two days. Two hours fly by and Jo’s instruction has definitely stuck!

With a 2 hour break until our workshop, Alison and I went for a comedy bike ride, as our random wanderings brought us right back to our hotel within half an hour. Direction sense of fleas! But some great roads, with so little traffic, and it was brilliant to get an hour on the bike in the middle of the day.

The workshop afterwards was on training and recovery. It was brilliant for a newbie like me. Having listened to how all the major gains of our training come in recovery, I then went straight out on a run. Gah! BUT…. I had taken on board some of the other tips and tricks: I definitely took it easy, and ran at an RPE of 5-6. Some of this is is sinking in.

The core workout in the sun, next to the pool as the sun went down topped off the day perfectly. Only a few more hours until we get back in the sea again.

Caroline Mulligan

Tri50 Swim Training Camp – Day 1

Sunday evening saw everyone gathering in the bar for a welcome meeting at the start of our Tri50 swim training camp. A chance to get to know one another and find out a bit about each other’s swimming ‘history’. And also the ‘amazing fact’ that we all had to come up with: it seems that several of our number have mixed with members of the Royal family in various settings!

Monday morning was set aside for Jo to calculate all our ‘Critical Swim Speeds’ which would give her an idea of how to group us in the forthcoming week of swim training. And also for Sandra to film us all from every angle imaginable. Jo and Sandra then led us through an analysis of our videos, picking out three points for each of us to work on during the week. A short break for some lunch and it was back to the pool again by mid-afternoon to start on the swim drills. After repeated lengths of the pool under the watchful eye of Jo and Sandra we were all improving our ability to remember all the teaching points at the same time: torpedo push off the wall, introduce the kick, bring in the arms – and then finally (but quite importantly!) add in the breathing. It felt a lot smoother at the end of the session than it had done at the start.

Final session of the day was some upper body work with Sandra – designed to improve our flexibility and strength in those all-important shoulder muscles.

And we’ve got open-water swimming to look forward to in the morning :-).

Julie Gadsden

Coach To Athlete?

At the beginning of 2017, when my arthritic knee was letting me know in no uncertain terms, that it didn’t like me running very far, I decided to rise to a new personal challenge – an Aquabike competition! You may well ask, what is this – just as it sounds – an open water swim followed by a cycle leg – distances, 3kms swim, 120 kms on the bike! Little impact through the knee joints was what was required ……………

The first ITU World Multisports Festival was launched in Pentincton, Canada, in August this year, to include the inaugural World Long Distance Aquabike Championships, so I decided to enter and have a go. All too often as a Coach we find (good!) excuses not to train (too busy looking after our athletes, never enough time), however, I thought it would be sensible to know and feel the “experience” in readiness for bespoke athletes asking me what the race involved, and was it a realistic/sensible Goal A for them?

As Spring sprung, I committed to cycling 3-4 times a week – varying distances, strength work, 1 x group indoor cycle class, which I instruct, and mountain bike trail rides. I combined this with some weekly Strength & Conditioning exercises, technique drills in the pool, and an endurance set in open water, building up the swim swim distance. My Open Water coaching also contributed in a small way to cold water acclimatisation (not that this would be necessary in Canada!). A few Sportives of varying distances also helped me to focus on upping the cycling mileage gradually, week by week.

A week before departing for Canada, my knee wasn’t at all happy (too much overload, probably) and an emergency Consultant’s appointment fortunately sorted me out – fluid was drained from the knee and a steroid injection given with strict instructions to rest the leg for a few days, and allow it to settle down. Advice I heeded, and infact I swum loads and hardly cycled for over two weeks as I was frightened of causing untold knee damage. Not the ideal tapering, I know, for a World Championships.

Race day dawned – Silly O’Clock racking and Transition organisation. The sun was breaking through, a very still and calm day, temperatures rising fast! 15 ladies in my Age Group 60-64 were lined up, two of us representing Great Britain. The 3k swim was wetsuit optional, just (phew!) and was one lap around Okanagan Lake – huge yellow buoys marked out the course, not exciting, infact I found the swim rather tedious! As I swam, I had to give myself a good talking to and remind myself that I was racing, not poodling, and to get a move on. My 3 kms swim time was purposely conservative, good enough, we were assisted with the removal of our wetsuit (I reminded my helper that if I lay down on the grass, I would find it difficult to get up again!), needn’t have worried, I was lifted up and sent on my way through the Transition marquee where we could sit down on a chair and take our time getting ready for the cycle section – this was luxury.

Out onto the bike course with my race head on (and helmet!), and I was on it – I simply loved the two lap course, undulating, scenic, beautifully dry and warm, and technical aspects through Pentincton itself, where the spectators were cheering us on! I cycled my little socks off, overtook many competitors, and felt strong throughout, averaging 18.9 mph for the 72 miles! I knew I could transfer my training to racing, I had trained sensibly for the past six months. Hydration and nutrition were key throughout, and I kept my Coach’s head on, avoided “blowing up” and gave everything I could possibly give through to the end. The finish funnel was separate to the Long Distance Triathlon, so we peeled off, our finishing time was recorded, and we were allowed to take our time through Transition 2, put on our run trainers, and then go through the official Finish funnel. I was pretty shaky at the end, so knew I was totally spent, although not entirely sure where I had finished in my Age Group, one can never tell. The Americans were the strong force across all age groups, so I was delighted to learn that I had won a World Bronze medal, behind two Americans, and my fellow GB competitor was in 4th position.

What a lovely memory of my first significant Aquabike competition, and in such a wonderful location – I will always hold in my thoughts the stunning views across the lakes as we cycled, the sweeping downhill sections in such a vast country, the friendly Canadians, and the guaranteed sunny weather – what more could an Aquabiker ask for?!

Denmark it is in 2018 – I have pre-qualified, and will hope for a repeat experience.

Now back to coaching …………………………………!


Coming in from the cold



Becoming an outdoor swimmer can completely change

your view of swimming pools. What you once thought of as warm becomes stifling; the walls you used to hang on to for a rest are now barriers, forcing you turn repeatedly; the aroma of chlorine now seems sterile and dead rather than sanitising. Some people, once they’ve caught the open water bug, can never go back indoors. They can no longer cope with the smell, the crowds, the cost or the lane rage. Still, swimming pools have their uses. Approached wisely, they are good places to practise technique and train in a controlled environment. In winter, it can be difficult to swim for long enough outside to improve or maintain fitness. So, if you are venturing into the chlorine box, here are our tips to make the most of it.

1. Swim with friends


Swimming with others always seems to make it more enjoyable. It also makes it easier to complete a training set or session. It’s all too easy to give up when you start to feel tired if you swim on your own. Having someone else in the lane doing the same thing gives you that extra bit of motivation you sometimes need to keep going.

2. Have a goal or a dream

It doesn’t matter whether it’s maintaining your fitness, recovering from injury, building your confidence for your first open water swim or doing the Oceans Seven, having a goal or dream will give you added reason (apart from the sheer pleasure of swimming) to swim and keep to your schedule.

3. Have a plan for each swim session

As well as your big goal or dream, have a plan for each swim. This could be a simple target distance to swim or a complicated session plan with detailed instructions for warming up, drills, main set and cool-down. If you know beforehand what you want to do, you’ll be more likely to do it.

4. Be flexible


Compared to open wall, pools are very predictable. You know what the water temperature will be and the length of the pool. If it’s inside, it doesn’t matter what the weather is doing. What you can’t control, however, is other people. If the presence of other swimmers makes your planned session impossible, don’t get angry, be flexible. What can you change to make it easier to fit in with the other swimmers?

5. Pick your time

This will require trial and error as every pool has its own schedules, and you will have to find slots that fit with your life and other demands on your time. If you want a decent practice session, you will need to find a relatively quiet slot with lane swimming, and when the other people swimming are of a similar speed. There are definitely times when public pools are less busy than others.

6. Establish a routine


If you frequently swim at the same time and place each week you’ll get to know the other people who do the same. With a bit of luck and some polite communication efforts on your part, you should be able to reach agreement on how to share the lane in a way that allows you all to do the swim you want to do. We don’t want to be prescriptive about lane etiquette and who should do what when as we know that will result in inconclusive (and vitriolic) debate but if you’re considerate and friendly it should be fine.

7. Join a club or swimming group


Swimming with a club or organised group can be a big boost to your swimming. Yes, you’ll need to do what you’re told to fit in with everyone else in your lane but the flip side is you can have a swim uninterrupted by people pushing off in front of you, swimming breaststroke in the freestyle lane (or vice versa) or all the other annoyances that come with a public session. If you can’t find a suitable masters swimming club then (dare we say it), a triathlon group can be a great choice. In fact, for people who haven’t swum at a high level as kids, triathlon groups are often more accommodating.

8. Always work on technique

Technique shouldn’t be something you reserve for doing


drills or exercises. Work on it with every stroke you take. Choose a technique point you want to improve and keep focused on it all the time you swim. Be selective. There are many things you could work on to swim faster, but you can’t change them all at once. Get advice from a good coach, select your top three learning points and focus only on those, preferably one at a time. After you’ve worked on those for a few weeks, see the coach again and get some new things to work on. Don’t switch off and just swim.

9. Measure and monitor

Keep track of how fast you swim and how many strokes you take per length. As you make changes to your technique, monitor to see what happens to how long it takes you to swim a certain distance, how many strokes it takes you and how much effort you have to put in. This will give you immediate feedback on whether or not you’re improving.

10. Swim other strokes

Whatever your preferred stroke in open water, try to mix it


up more when you’re in the pool. It’s fun.

11. Look out for discounts


Pool swimming can be expensive but many pools offer memberships or other discount options to help reduce the cost a little. If you swim at a leisure centre but never use the gym, ask if there’s a swim-only membership option or see if you can you get discounted membership through your work. If your pool is owned by the local council, see if they have discount schemes for residents or people who work in the borough

USA Adventure. 5 weeks, 7000 miles, 10 states, trains, planes and automobiles, a solar eclipse and one cheeky triathlon to round it all off.

I had been planning to visit the USA to witness the total eclipse of the sun on August 21st for some time, mulling over the route, the viewing location and which of my far-flung relatives I would visit. At the start of the year it was beginning to come together centred on an Eclipse tour to a climate favoured area of Oregon state. Then I read an article in Triathlete’s World about racing in the USA and discovered there was a featured race in Washington DC that fit with my schedule. I was settled, I would do it. The route of the bike and run passed all of the Iconic Washington sights, and the swim was in the Potomac River. It could be hot, and humid, I filed in my head the possibility of downgrading to a sprint if conditions demanded.More of an issue: how would I stay race fit through 5 weeks of traveling around?

First stop, Washington to unpack and build my bike before setting off. Then San Francisco; my in laws live right by Golden Gate Park and have two sporty sons, They had organised the loan of a bike and challenged me to some hilly Franciscan rides as well as a Sunday morning running club time trial. Off to Portland to join my Eclipse tour. Ten days on a coach looked challenging, but our first stop was on the coast where a six mile expanse of beach encouraged morning and evening runs. The tour began and ended in Portland, possibly the most cycle friendly city in the USA- but I was missing out on swims. Next stop Chicago where a magnificent hotel pool was available, and Cleveland where my Cousin’s gym boasted an Olympic sized facility. Best of all in Kentucky where another cousin treated me to a ride on his boat in the enormous Lake Cumberland, which was comfortably warm enough for swimsuit swimming.

So at dawn on the 10th September there I was with a thousand others lined up in the shadow of the Washington Monument, shivering in unseasonably chilly temperatures. After the singing of the National Anthem we filed onto the pontoon in order of expected time to jump in at 3 second intervals and begin swimming. No warm up! Best marked course ever- buoys every 100 metres, with distance marked on each. easy ladder exit and grassy run into transition. Closed road cycle which took us past the Lincoln Memorial and out across the river to the Pentagon and finally a one loop run around East Potomac Golf Course, passing even more iconic Washington sights. Mercifully it remained cool throughout- a great boon for the run. Result- Just a smidgen over 4 hours ( I have done much better) but second in age, and the honour of GB upheld.

Daybreak over the Washington Monument

Altogether a very well run event, with roomy transition, technical support,plenty of kayacs in the river, adequate water stations and generous goody bag and athlete expo village. The organisers are also the organisers of Escape from Alcatraz, and clearly know what they are doing. US athelets are friendly and welcoming. Next time a holiday In the US coincides with a race, do it.
Oh, and the Eclipse was pretty cool as well .


Familiar faces at the Samaritan’s Charity Sportive – 1st July 2017

We’ve been counting down the days to this one as it was organised by our own Alli Dempsey – the first, of hopefully many, Sportives to raise money for the local Samaritans branch. Great planning and organisation by a legion of volunteers and so happy to see they exceeded their expectations. A hoped for 300 riders turned into over 400 who came to face the challenge of the Chiltern hills. From the instant we left the marshalling area to go straight up the first hill it was a continuous up, down and up again finishing with Whiteleaf – just under a mile of 10% on average with a nice little kick at 20%. Thanks! Whether 25, 50 or 80miles we were helped all the way by amazing, smiling volunteers and fabulous flapjacks and brownies at the feed station – volunteers again, and then it was all topped off with beer, burger and massage at the end. Well done to all our Tri50 riders – Dee Philpott, Janet Harper, Maureen Pedri, Sandra and Stefan Barden, Ted Hamilton and Jo Lewis and a huge well done to the Samaritans (with the help of Hemel Cycling club) for organising a brilliant event. Here’s to the next one……