I will be swimming between 8-20 July 2016.

All my training and preparation is for this one event:

A single width of the English Channel;

no stopping and starting;

no resting for TV dinners;

no kissing or cuddling.

One width.

One continuous, uninterrupted line.

(After Merz)



There is no specific date for my swim  because  other swimmers are cued to cross before me.

If their swims are delayed due to bad weather, this affects the timing of my swim. So I have to be ready, flexible, adaptable.

Unlike a marathon run where the course route and distance  are fixed , the distance, timing and path of a Channel swim are governed by swim speed, changing weather conditions and tide.

The shortest distance from England to France is 21 miles in a straight line. When I swim however,  the distance covered will be much longer due to the force of the current which will force me off course. The line I take will be in the form of an S-shape.

There is also the matter of the changing tide. One hears of swimmers arriving within a couple of miles of the French coast and having to swim on the spot for hours because the tide has turned against them.

The question is,  how will I perform when my mind and body at their limits. How will I cope with losing my sense of gravity and place?  With pain?


I’ve been there before, all those endless nights working in my studio, running on empty. 

the point where words stop working and pictures follow

sensory deprivation


More about this to follow.


Fear and Fury -Adapting to the terrain

I was thinking today that perhaps many of the inconsistencies in my swimming technique and performance are related to the abilities of the other swimmers in the lane. If I want to swim faster I need to swim with faster swimmers. If I want to improve my stroke I need to swim with more technically proficient swimmers.

This is one of the advantages of club swimming. One is able to evaluate and correct ones technique by comparing oneself and getting feedback from other club members and, of course, the coach.

 In public swims people have different training agendas and swim at different speeds,  often in the same lane. 

Overtaking can be quite stressful because I worry about colliding with oncoming swimmers. Stress makes me tense up and affects my form. 

Rather than focus on my technique  I worry about injury. It’s not good.  I get frustrated and angry. Angry swimming is a waste of energy. It’s also unpleasant and negative.

So I need to find a way of avoiding or managing stress. I need to either find a safer swimming environment or learn to swim confidently in unpredictable and potentially perilous conditions.

Key problem: Currently when overtaking or swimming crawl in a public swim rather that keep my head in a neutral position i am forever turning to check for swimmers swimming at me, over and under me.

My erratic head movement contributes to drag , poor shoulder rotation and generally bad form.

Solution :
Experiment with changing head position to enable you to see ahead and to the side while maintaining steady, streamline body position.

Incorporate water polo heads up technique in phases of swim  to help with sighting.

Try to get more sensitive and controlled connection with water. The objective is to be able to change speed and direction while maintaining good form and minimal splash!


I swam just under 3 hours yesterday and 3.5 hours today . In the last 5 days I’ve swum about 25-30km.

I notice my form goes in and out of whack quite a lot over the course of a long swim.
I think I might be swimming too much.

I need to do more drills using on high elbow, hand entry and pull to improve power and efficiency and avoid injury.

The advantage of doing this regularly after warm up is that it stays in ones short term memory; which means its easier to recall and perform during the main set.

As a corrective measure.

Probably best to concentrate on stroke and speed for next few days at least. Otherwise I risk injury and developing bad technique.

Relax. Streamline, 6 beat kick.  No splashing!

Do catch up drill to improve catch and pull.

Do not let elbows drop below water level.

Keep body close to surface




I have done two two hour continuous swims in the last couple of days.

I mention these swims because it’s actually been quite some time since I last swam without stopping. Since the summer time I’ve got into the habit of doing short sprints and lots of drills.  This is the kind of  training Tim recommends – interval training,  which is all about beating the clock – doing the same distance but at higher speeds.

The problem for me however, has been that mentally I’ve been feeling  somewhat out of tune with distance swimming and I’ve been struggling to swim more than 200m at a time.  So these longer swims  are intended to test my stamina and concentration.

During the swims, to counter the onset of boredom and fatigue, I found myself cycling through different styles of front crawl every 50 to 200 metres. This allowed me to rest and stretch different muscle groups  and test and refresh connection with the water. Changes in my stroke were largely prompted by having to do lengths.  Turns can interrupt ones rhythm but  also offer the opportunity to reboot and rethink ones stroke. It was quite an enjoyable swim and I’m pleased not to have injured myself. Also I think I have reduced the amount of splash I create on hand entry. I hope this is the case and I wasn’t imagining it.

In the course of long swims one needs to continually test and correct ones form in order to maintain an efficient stroke.

The swims were  useful in building my self confidence and made me think that I need to do at least two or three long swims a week in addition to  my interval training. This will help me assess the impact the interval training on my speed and form over a longer course.

Will speak with Tim about this tomorrow.

Also need to stay hydrated and time my swims!

Time is important Iacono! The faster you swim the quicker you can get out of the water, which for a channel swim is particularly important.

Slow swims increase exposure to cold and increase risk of hypothermia-

Stay warm – swim fast!

Alexander Popov – Kayak Principle

Relaxation at Top Speed
This short documentary looks at Olympic gold medallist, Alexander Popov’s front crawl swimming technique, and the way he balances propulsion and  resistance to minimise drag and create fluid relaxed motion at top speed.

Gennadi Touretski, Popov’s coach: “The kayak principle is based on the theory of using two arms simultaneously to provide continuous propulsion.”

“Drills that encourage the Kayak principle include freestyle head up, with a dolphin kick.”

“Relaxation is the key for excellence, because if your skill is automatic you will be relaxed. Relaxation decreases the energy cost of locomotion.

“Performance is the only real measure of effective swimming and Speed through the water is a combination of rhythm, range and relaxation”

“Gennadi believes that the future of sprint swimming is in creating ways to take advantage of muscle elasticity and to redevelop the swimming stroke to enable the swimming body to move as a single unit, not as a number of independently moving parts.

In short technical efficiency becomes more important than increasing propulsive forces.”