Parliament Hill Lido

Just had a gorgeous swim at Parliament Hill Lido

Air temp 17

Water 14! 


It was my first visit and I am planning to make regular visits as part of my training schedule.

The pool is 60 m long and has a metal basin which does quite extraordinary things to light in the water. 

The pool is is only .75m at the shallow end. My  first thought was that it was too shallow for me to achieve a proper pull. 

After a few lengths of experimenting with my stroke I found this quite a useful restriction. In order to swim crawl in .75m I had to pull with my fingers close to the surface and focus on my high elbow catch . A blessing in disguise really. 

If I dropped my elbows or pulled too deep I’d stub my finger tips  on the bottom of the pool. It was v sore! So a good way of keeping my stroke in check. 

I aim to go at least twice a week, to get acclimatised to the cold. The other advantage is that in comparison to London Fields Lido it’s a very quiet and stress free pool. There were only 10 people in the water when I swam today. 

Also worth noting, there are no lane ropes. People swim lengths and widths. Some stand, others walk and doggie paddle . Some people swim the perimeter of the pool. 

Looking forward to returning! 



Get on with it

Yes, after almost two months of taking it easy in the hope of recovering from my groin injury I seem to aggravated it again. 

It’s incredibly frustrating not to be able to sprint or swim hard. I’m hoping that with a bit of rest and more hip flexor + adductor stretches  I can get back up to speed. My anxiety however is that I might not be in the best shape for the channel. Fortunately   I still have a few months ahead of me to recover and get in shape.

My coach, Tim Denyer, seems confident that I can do it, but I may need to make more changes to my stroke if this injury persists. 

So far I have been focusing on my hand entry, high elbow and arm pull, but I may need to reduce my kicking to a two beat kick as opposed to a six or four beat kick. 

Kicking plays a key role in regulating rhythm and timing of the arm stroke and breathing. It’s useful to be able to change kick rate to control my overall speed through the water.

The English Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world and there are particular areas of it I need to get across very quickly in order to avoid getting run over by ferries, cargo ships and the like. I also need to be able to up tempo to beat the changing tide. 

I am encouraged however by the accomplishments of Paralympic swimmers and think, well, yes I may not be able to kick,  but I’m not going to let that stop me from achieving my goal! 

It’s not uncommon for athletes to train and compete with injury . The challenge for me is to use my training to develop physical and mental flexibility that will enable me to adapt to a wide variety of scenarios, whether it is high waves, cold winds, pain or injury . 

In fact, Tim was telling me  how, after leading the field in a lake swim, he sustained an arm injury and ended up having to complete the swim using one arm only.

So yes, it’s a pain not being able to kick. It really is. But I just have to change my stroke. I can do it . I know I can. I just  have to get on with it. 

Here’s a video of some amazing swimmers getting on with it:

Stroke Analysis and Correction

Had a 1 to 1 training session with Tim at St Georges pool today.

We looked at improving my catch and pull.

Tim seems to think the EVF drills I’ve been doing have really improved my pull since our last session. I have a better feel of the water, bending at the elbow,   pulling in down the centre   and ending at the back.

Its still not perfect, but better. He keeps saying “better”. Sometimes he says “Awful”. Thats usually when I’ve reverted back to my old style of swimming :/

Today however we looked at trying to correct the cross over of my hands on entry.

Basically, in order for me to enter at the correct point and not cross over the midline, I need to aim at entering really wide.

When i do this my hand enters at the correct position in front of me, not wide  and not across my body line.

I also need to focus on keeping my head still.

Heres a video clip of my swimming at the end of the session.


“The main objective of swimming the English Channel is not to have a pretty stroke, but to get across!” Tim Denyer

This is just as well, because i do not have a pretty stroke. As a friend pointed out, I’m a splosher.

If I can adopt a more efficient stroke however, for at least part of the swim, then it will contribute to a faster and more enjoyable swim.

The keyword there is *joy*



I had a 1:1 training session with Tim yesterday. 

He says if there is one word I should think about in order to maintain good form during my swim it’s *STREAMLINE*

“Keep it streamline” That’s what he said. 

OK Tim! 

And here are some links he gave me to study which will help me get a better catch and pull:

Check out the drill below and also remember the double arm drill with thumbs touching.

EVF drill (slightly different to how we did it today):

Secret Tip: How to Pull Underwater Drills

This general clip is also pretty good to break down the EVF concept further:

Check out the links below of great Olympic swimmers and focus on their EVF.

Sun Yang – multi angle:

Ian Thorpe – side:

Michael Phelps – multi angle:

Camera-less film

I did some training with Red Top at London Fields Lido this morning. I was in two minds about going as I’m injured. In the end I decided to swim. Not that it was a difficult decision to make. I can’t *not swim!

See water and swim! That’s me.

Anyway, Tim wants to film me swimming, to show me areas of my stroke that need correcting.

Apparently on crawl I pull with a straight arm, which puts a lot of strain on my shoulder and neck! 😕 If I don’t bend my elbow on the catch I’m likely to seriously injure myself.

The idea of filming is to let me see myself. I’m probably going to be  shocked at the state I’m in!

The last time I was filmed it was on my backstroke and my left arm was bent in the weirdest way, as if I was trying to scratch my back! I used to have a strong backstroke but now, for various reasons, probably through lack of stretching or not getting feedback from an observer, it’s all gone nuts.

What I could do with however, is help getting at sense of my body position and movement *in the water, while I’m swimming.

So I can check that my hand entry is not too wide and that I’m not over extending or splashing, for example. Ways of seeing myself without a camera, so that I can continuously monitor and adjust my stroke while swimming. 

A camera-less selfie that is continuously refreshed

I wrote about this earlier: Systems Check and Pings

Go Softly 

The reason why you almost chopped your finger off slicing onions Ricky is because your heart was racing and you were in a bad mood, not thinking about the task at hand, but things outside of your control instead.

You have a tendency to be over zealous and heavy handed. Go easy. Go softly. 

Perhaps if you swam less and increased the intensity of your training over a longer period of time you would not be incurring so many injuries. Your groin strain, neck strain, back strain are clear signs that you are doing something wrong! 

Now you have cut your finger, and it is affecting your stroke and it’s taking time to heal because it’s always getting wet. What are you like?! Are you going to carry on swimming with your injuries and risk making them worse or are you going to find an alternative form of exercise?

(Mumbles) find an alternative form of exercise..

Yes! (Good idea!) Do some dry side stretching excercises instead. Take the opportunity to read and write and draw!!

When you do return to swimming remember not to overdo it.

Remember :

soft hand entry

No Splashing!

6 beat kick