Tuesday, 16 July 2013

#SwimforSusan and the spirit of the open water

I will be joining Kate in swimming for both Jonathan and Susan. The open water community has lost two amazing people and swimmers and Kate and I together will be remembering their determination and sheer love of the deep blue.


its nearly time... #SwimForSusan

This saturday sees Justine and I attempt our Lake Windermere swim... and I can't wait!

Training has been pretty boring but i feel ready and the recent heatwave has made me desperate to get in the water!

We have shifted our last couple of weeks of training to the pool on account of getting really bad swimmers itch which has been keeping me awake at night... theres no point in training for months for something only to rock up half asleep because you have been scratching all night.. so we have been avoiding all our local lakes!

Recently the open water swimming community has lost 2 inspirational and lovely souls; Jonathan Joyce and more recently Susan Taylor who sadly passed away on sunday nearing the end of her channel swim.  I will be swimming Lake Windermere in memory of both these swimmers, writing  their names on each arm so they are with me every stroke.

Our pilot Colin Hill unfortunately can't make it on saturday so we will  have The 2 Daves onboard the boat and Claire in a Kayak keeping an eye on Justine.

Don't forget its not too late to sponsor us... all money is going to the Teenage Cancer Trust


Thanks for all the support and messages.. and not least for all the money that has already come in!


Thursday, 30 May 2013

bloomin' freezing!

so Wales and i have been training hard trying to get as much open water swimming in as possible... the problem is, its blooming freezing!!  Temperatures are struggling to get up to 15 (which is pretty tropical) in our local rivers and lakes... but in Windermere temperatures have been reported as 9c ...

so we have had a think and weighed up all the pros and cons and decided that we really want to make the distance .. and don't want to risk getting pulled out with hyperthermia!  We are both carrying less fat than we were for the channel and despite eating everything in site, this doesn't seem to be changing.  We are also doing everything we can to get acclimatised, but at the moment even an hour is a real challenge.  So we have decided not to rule out wearing our wetsuits on the day.

I know this is frowned upon by some members of the ow swimming community but this is something we do for fun and to try to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust ... so if we feel like rubbering up.. we're gonna blooming well do it!!!

7 weeks to go.. so a few decent weeks of solid training and then we can start to rest up:-)

its been a long slog so far and has proved to both of us that we don't enjoy training for this kind of event... we both find it really boring!!!! so the next challenge may well take the form of another kind of relay or something a bit less isolating!!

catch you later


Thursday, 9 May 2013


So, April 26th 2013 saw my return to Guildford Lido to attempt the 2swim4life 24 hour swim (swim a mile every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours... simples!). Those of you that have followed our journey over the past few years will know that Justine and I attempted this challenge in 2011 and found that after 12 miles we could do no more due to the cold and the fact that we were mid training cycle and didn't want to risk any illness or injury before our channel swim.

Those of you that know me will know that I HATE not achieving what I set out to do... even when there are sensible and valid reasons why... which is exactly why I entered the 24 hour swim this year... to try and beat it!

Training before the event had been a bit more hap hazard than I would have liked due to an impending house move and weekends clearing the loft instead of banking some decent miles, or getting valuable rest days. The British weather had also scuppered my plans to get acclimitising in preparation for this event. I had done a few ice swims in january, but since then I hadn't managed to get outdoors at all!

I rocked up to the pool on Thursday to set up our pop up tent and was delighted to bump into a few familiar faces and meet several people that I know through various swimming groups on facebook. The weather was holding out but it was still colder than our 2011 attempt which concerned me a bit, but I was feeling relaxed and ready to give it my best shot. This time round I knew exactly what to expect so knew that it would be no picnic, but I had learnt a lot from my previous attempt which stood me in good stead for this one.

So it was back to the hotel for a goodnights sleep... this time we opted for the Premier Inn, which was spitting distance from the lido. It was a good decision, I slept really well and woke up feeling fresh.

9:30 am marked the start of my first mile, which apparently I swam pretty fast! I had decided before starting that I wasn't bothered about knowing my times for each mile as I didn't want to put any pressure on myself to pick up the pace etc when I started to feel tired. I felt comfortable in the pool, but it was cold, so my pace was probably faster than it should have been to try and keep warm. With an event like this its about finding the right balance between steady enough to maintain, and fast enough to keep warm.

The second mile Paul Bates joined me and Michaela in our lane (as we were the only 2 swimmers in a lovely big, wide end lane!) The miles went on, every third mile I threw in a bit of backstroke and breaststroke to break things up a bit... it seemed to do the trick as I found myself looking forward to every 3rd mile, in addition to every 4th mile where my friend Paul Smith would join me for his relay leg!

By mile 6 I was struggling to get warm between miles... I was wrapped up in the tent and still shivering … I made the decision after mile 7 to put my wetsuit on. I knew from my previous attempt that I would have no chance of making it if I didn't make this move as it was only going to get colder! The water temperature, I hear was around 18c in the day... which sounds warm but it didn't feel it!

I was hardly eating or drinking, but again, my previous experiences of this event when I have obsessed about food intake, had shown me that I just needed to eat if I felt like it... so thats what I did! I never felt hungry and didn't cramp up like last time! My total food intake for the whole event was;
Half a tube of Pringles
Half a packet of cookies
2 pain au chocolats
A banana
A muller rice
6 capri sun drinks
and a hot chocolate

I ate like an absolute machine when I got home tho!

Once the wetsuit was on I started to feel much happier... I am going to share this next bit of info for anyone who does this event in 2015 so I apologise in advance! Once the wetsuit was on, it obviously made going for a wee a bit tricky... so what I ended up doing was going and standing in the mens showers after my mile and having a wee in there! Between miles I was keeping my wetsuit on and just pulling the the top half down as I couldn't face the battle of getting it on and off in the 35 mins 'rest time' I was getting. Its worth pointing out, again, for anyone planning on doing this even in 2015, that because of this a lot of my warm clothes ended up getting wet from the folded down bit of my wetsuit... so take WAY more clothes than you think you are going to need. I ended up going home in my onesie as it was all I had left at the end!

After mile 12 I had a bit of a wobble... I was in the tent and said to Emma (my 'buddy' (a person that is there to make sure you are safe, and warm and alive throughout!)) that I didn't think I could do it. I felt tired and cold and kept thinking that it would be so easy to just go home. This event isn't like a marathon, or a channel swim where you are going from point A to point B, and because of this its really easy to stop and call it a day. You need to be mentally tough (or just mental!!) to fight these voices and keep going. Emma knows exactly how to motivate me, i'm not someone that responds well to an ass kicking, so she simply said that I was doing really well, and she would support me whatever I decided to do. I decided to keep going and take each mile as it came.

As the sun disappeared and nighttime fell so did the air temperature … it was getting so cold... there was frost on our tent boxes!. Emma started filling my hot water bottle so I could try and get warm again between miles, but it would take just 20 seconds on the poolside waiting to get back in the pool for my body to resume 'the shakes'. As the miles went on, fewer and fewer people were lining up to start their miles as hyperthermia, injury and sickness was effecting many of the swimmers. I was the only swimmer left in my lane from mile 16 onwards... apart from when paul was doing his relay leg.

I was still making each mile in under 25 mins and managing to throw in a few lengths of drills to try and loosen off my arms that were starting to feel like lead weights!. My leg kick was non existent (mainly because of the wetsuit making me a bit too high in the water!)

I got to mile 20 and knew that there was no way I wasn't going to make this.. the sun was coming up … it was still cold but psychologically seeing the sunshine makes a HUGE difference. The thought of ever having to do this challenge again was also motivating me as I knew that if I didn't do it this time, I would only bloomin enter again till I did it!!

I finished mile 23 and spent my rest time in the hot tub as Emma started to pack the tent away and put things in the car (I was SO glad she did this as I couldn't face packing all this stuff away after swimming 24 miles!!) In the hot tub I started to take stock of what I was about to achieve... I was blown away that I was about to complete this hellish challenge!

Mile 24 was a steady plod until the last length when I tried to up the pace a bit for a strong finish! I hit the wall (real one not mental one!) and looked up to see all my friends clapping and saying well done.. it was a feeling like no other... I had done it (and despite the best effort of my wetsuit, my neck was still (only just) in one piece!)!

It was an amazing event with amazing people and I would happily go again, but probably just to buddy someone! It exhausting, its painful, and its pretty evil to be honest... but its more than worth it when you touch the wall for the final time!

I recommend this event to anyone attempting a channel swim or a channel relay... if you can survive this I think you can survive anything. Its definitely much harder than our 2 person channel relay that we did in 2011.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Windermere Awaits......

So a date's been set and Just and Kate are going to brave the cold water elements once again and swim across Windermere on 20th July 2013......yes,  this summer! We've enlisted our hero of the open water swimming world, Colin Hill, to guide us across along with our loyal support team. 

There's a few things that have changed since our channel crossing. Firstly I'm older which to be honest is proving an inconvenience as my body doesn't seem to recover quite as easily as I need it to and secondly our job changes have restricted the length of our OCD morning training sessions. But fear not, as usual Kate has constructed an epic training plan which takes all of this into account! So from now until then it's "go hard or go home"....................

..............I might go home some days.................well I am 40!

Follow our training from this week by clicking on Training Diary

Monday, 9 April 2012

DW Final Blog

Today is Easter Monday and we thought we should complete our blog for the weekend. We didn't manage to post a Day 3 blog so here is the final instalment to cover Day 3 and Day 4.

Day 3 was Easter Sunday and as our last blog said we had made a plan at the end of Day 2 to complete the 38 miles in under 7 hours. We started at 7.15am and set off on a mission of 6 miles per hour. Our support crew of Tom and Phil were on form to keep us motivated and on time - and they did a cracking job! - thanks boys :-)

We paddled the first 6 miles in under an hour, and by 3 hours of paddling we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule. We had a few mad moments including an interesting approach to the rollers at Sunbury Lock which resulted in an almost, but not quite, capsize which even the supporters classed as a "good recovery".

Phil produced the best motivator call from the bank of "Go Girlfriend" which made the lady in the Mr Whippy van next to him smile and made us laugh for quite sometime!

By 30 miles in we had overtaken all the other crews who had set off before us on Sunday morning, meaning we had to keep our stroke rate up on our own without the motivation of chasing anyone down. We have to admit to reverting to a bit of a sing song to keep us going "there were ten in the bed " proved quite inspiring in terms of keeping our stroke rate up and we even found ourselves singing the "12 days of christmas" to the people taking their Easter Sunday stroll by the river!

We crossed the finish line first of the day in a time of 6 hours 52 minutes.

That meant our time to Teddington was 21 hours 40 minutes and we were lying 7th in the Senior K2 Endeavour category.

Day 4 was always our biggest concern. We are not the most stable of paddlers and the tideway is very fast flowing and can be really difficult to paddle. We were worried and slept pretty rubbishly on Sunday evening especially as we had to get up at 3.45am with no breakfast! We were on the water by 5.45 in the dark but we managed through some low points in moral to get to Battersea Power Station with relative ease. Time seemed to go very slowly this morning even though the water was flowing very fast. We approached the finish line with the Houses of Parliament on the left and Big Ben chiming 8am. We were home and dry - literally!

I have to admit to hugging the man who placed the medal round my neck - I think I was the only person to do that as he looked quite surprised!! Our overall time was 23 hours and 56 minutes and we are vey proud. We hope we might inspire you to take a challenge and Challenge your Positivity!

It only remains for us to say a big thank you to everyone for their support and encouragement and all your wonderful donations. We have successfully raise £2155 for the oncology ward at Queens - if you wish to add a donation there is still time - visit our justgiving page at www.justgiving/Claire-Lis. Thanks for reading!

Claire and Liz signing off xx

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Day 2 - It Goes On........

So we set off this morning at 7.45am from Newbury, today we had 36 miles and 26 portages to complete. We had made a pact last night that if we improved our speed on the portages we could be home and in the bath half an hour quicker - so we were on a mission!

We were delighted to see some friends of ours at the first support point. Paul and Harriet are amazing paddlers who have the DW record for a mixed K2 over the none stop 24hour race. They ran a tag team support with us along the tow path for 11 miles, keeping us going, and providing us with some great tips and hints along the way. They did a sterling job of feeding us malt loaf, bananas, and jelly babies, sometimes all at the same time!! As a consequence we managed to paddle further today in less time - hooray!!!

Today passed without incident with the exception of the attacking swan at Reading. We are channeling our positivity brilliantly and we have a plan to go even faster tomorrow! We are AMAZING!!!