5hr 22mins

(Strange photo that )

I’m pleased to have completed  the BLDSA Champion of Champions swim in Dover harbour today .

9 miles (5, 3 and 1 mile races) in overall time of 5 hrs 22 mins. Not the fastest time, I came 17th, but then my main objective was simply to complete the course.

After months of going slow to accomodate various injuries and not being not in the best form, I found it a difficult swim. I’m told however that even the hardiest and most accomplished of swimmers find it difficult.

My hip flexors were really tight and painful, so I didn’t really use my kick and for the first time ever I had a sharp pain in my elbows.

The water was 15 degrees and it was raining and overcast, so not much comfort from the sun .

It might have been easier as one long continuous swim rather than three swims with breaks in between as this made the whole event some 8 hours in total . The problem though  is with feeds.

During my channel swim my coach will manage and give me feeds . In this event however,  i had to carry my nutrition with me. I had loads of energy gels stuffed  down the back of my trunks. There’s is only so much space for gels in there , so this wouldn’t work on a long continuous swim.

It was a useful training exercise however. It gave me an idea what kind of condition I am in and the areas  I need to focus on to improve my performance for the channel.

Nutrition, flexibility and shoulder stability need attention.

I have two weeks to prepare for my next swim in Torbay. That will be a continuous 8 miles swim in the sea. I will be accompanied by a kayaker who will carry my feeds for me.

I am about to go to sleep. I’m feeling quite sore. Tomorrow I imagine it will feel even worse.

Fortunately seeing Mel Denyer for a massage on Monday. More pain

Then, release


Here is a video clip of the 1 mile race made by one of the kayakers . I’m  not too keen on the soundtrack he has added but the video gives some indication of what it was like


Never go swimming on a full stomach!

Never go swimming on a full stomach!

I have followed this advice since childhood, yet last Thursday  I  decided to swim with digestive problems and ended up straining my groin and neck!

My groin strain doesn’t seem to be too bad . With ice and rest it should be OK to exercise within a week.

My neck muscles however have seized up and are excruciatingly painful when I turn my head. My osteopath did some manipulations to release some of the tension

but said it would take some time before it calms down .

I am now taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets and muscle relaxants that make me drowsy.

So apart from being unable to swim, I have had to take time off work and incurred costs of treatment and medication.

Hopefully it will all pass quickly and I will have full mobility within 10 days.

A week without training, after swimming 3 hours a day,  is a bit of a setback however. I’m very annoyed at myself about this.

Watch your diet!

Correct diet and timing of feeds are key factors to consider when training and competing and facilitate good swimming technique and energy  production


Did a quick web search for “swimmers diet ” and got these .

Have yet to distill info as nutritional strategies vary on the individual and type of swimming.

Usually I just eat bananas, nuts and raisins during long sea swims. Bananas in particular give me a fast sugar hit. Drinks wise I usually drink water with a gel  or two.

It’s good to have a sip of a warm drink ( just a little ) and a jelly baby and raisins to counter the taste of salt water. Also the different taste sensations can be quite refreshing and give one something to look forward to on next feed.

What I need to work out is what other types of nutrition my stomach  can handle, if there are any side effects – vomiting for example, and how it affects my performance.

Best to work this out during training – but also during the swim should have a choice of things to consume.

Have yet to discuss with Tim but meanwhile





Maxim (maltodextrin)

Pre exercise _ early morning training use Mixim Carbo LoaderMaxim Carbo Loader is a neutral-flavored powder that contains high quality carbohydrates (maltodextrin). This will increase the carbohydrate level significantly without adding bulk. It is an ideal product to add to warm and cold (non-carbonated) drinks. Add Maxim Carbo Loader to water, milk, juice, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, etc. Due to its neutral taste it can also be mixed with foods such as cereals, oatmeal, pasta sauce, etc.

What if I train or race early in the morning?

Some athletes, like swimmers, have to exercise early in the morning. For them it is not easy to eat 2-3 hours before exercise. Most athletes do not want to eat just before practice, so they skip breakfast, which lowers energy stores. This usually causes a decrease in performance. There is a way to eat breakfast without getting up in the middle of the night. Just opt for a high carbohydrate snack before exercise and then eat a proper breakfast after exercise.   Some suggestions for a high carbohydrate snack before training or racing:

  • Small bowl of cereal with skimmed milk; or
  • Banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter; or
  • Two pieces of toast with juice; or
  • Bagel with a small amount of cream cheese; or
  • 16-24 ounces Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink

Eat a proper breakfast after exercise, preferably within 30 minutes for a faster recovery process.  


How do I enhance glycogen stores in the days prior to racing or competition?

You can enhance your glycogen store by changing to a 70% carbohydrate diet, 3 days before your race or competition, and lowering training intensity. This way your glycogen store can almost be doubled. You still have to replenish carbohydrates during exercise longer than 90 minutes.

During exercise – Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink or Total Hydration tabs Maxim Total Hydration Tabs and Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink have been scientifically developed as fluid, mineral and energy replacement formulas for athletes.

  • Maxim Total Hydration Tabs are uniquely formulated for training and racing lasting up to 2 hours.
  • Maxim Hypotonic Sports Drink is uniquely formulated for training and racing lasting longer than 2 hours.

Both the tabs and sports drink contain the ideal amount of carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals to optimize your performance. They are hypotonic thirst quenchers.


Suggested solid foods during exercise

Other than using drinks, you can also use solid foods to replenish carbohydrate stores. Some suitable snacks are:

  • bananas; or
  • sandwiches; or
  • crackers with jam or honey; or
  • pureed fruit and vegetables (squeezable baby food);
  • rice cakes; or
  • energy bars or gels.

Maxim Products source

The 7th hour

In order to qualify to swim the channel under CSA rules swimmers must first do a 6 hour sea swim without a wetsuit. I did one in the summer of 2012 with Coldwater Culture in Folkestone, but have not done one since, so I have to do it again. I need and want to, largely to assess my condition.

Tim  is confident I can swim the channel, but I still to convince myself. My thinking is the sooner I get those long hauls out of the way the clearer I will be about where I am and if I’m on target.

There is question I will not be able to answer until the day of my swim however. After passing the 6 hour mark what then? Is it plain sailing or plain pain?

The thing is I don’t know what state I will be in seven hours into my swim. I might have found a good stroke that I can hold onto right up to the end, but the chances are that as I run out of energy I will also slow and cool down. With the cooling there is the serious risk of hypothermia. Even if I manage to continue swimming my concentration is likely to falter. This is why nutrition is so important.

In addition to all the swim training, managing ones energy supplies properly is the only way of sustaining mental and physical form.

As Haruki Murakami writes in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by 15miles into a marathon run he thinks he can run forever. However by the 17th mile all of a sudden his energy goes and the only way for him to continue is to endure unbelievable pain. By the end of his 26 miles he does not feel elated or celebratory. He feels relieved.

When  I’ve spent 10 hours being smashed by high waves and my arms and shoulders ache and I’ve lost my. sense of direction and place, I wonder what reason will I  give myself to continue? What will I draw on to keep moving forward?

When I ask myself now why I swim and why swimming the channel is so important I can’t come up with a clear answer . I have to think long and hard about it.

I need to work on the why.


Why swim? why suffer? What is the point?

Stay home. Plod. Plod along. Do nothing.

There is the beginning of my answer. It is to show myself that I still have capacity, that I can perform, that I am active participant.

I can do it . I will do it.

Yeah! (shakes fist in the air, plunges flag into mountain top)

Another answer: To keep myself awake!

But why not paint? Why not make art? Surely you will get as much if not more mileage from that?

I don’t know. Yes, I should do that. I can still do that. I am still doing that

and I’m doing this. They’re kind of the same.

There are a number of connections between my swimming and art interests which largely concerned with movement, circulation, connectivity, time and energy management. Many things I hope to get to grips with via this blog.

studio work

  Mostly drills today

butterfly kick 300m

front crawl kick 300m

backstroke kick 300m

sculling on front 300M

doggie paddle 100m

sculling on back feet first 50m

single arm crawl 300m

single arm fly 400m

fly break stroke drill 300m

Backstroke front crawl 300m

some other stuff (stopped counting)

not particularly taxing on heart and lungs.

technique is improving though. Sculling definitely helps and the 333 mix of butterfly, Brest stroke and crawl.

the best set for cardio

100m alternating front crawl full stroke and backstroke kick.

*tomorrow to swim 1000m alternating backstroke kick and front crawl full.  No resting


The thing about all this writing is that it follows hours of swimming, which often involves thinking about nothing but swimming, in particular technique, breathing; trying to maintain good form over a long distance.

I’m not sure if it makes for particularly interesting reading however.

Often after swimming I feel quite drained and the first thing I think about on leaving the water is hydration and nutrition.

The trick is to have quality nutrition to hand: bananas, nuts, water and then to eat a hearty meal, lots of protein!

“stay away from chocolates and cake” i keep telling myself as i lunge at the nearest sugar fix