Friday, March 27, 2009

Swimtrek Countdown

It's been a really fun couple of weeks with everyone finding out about my big plans! Some people have been surprised, many suspected something was going on anyway with all the extra training I've been doing. Everyone has been really supportive though which is great-I've had lots of encouragement and offers of help-people offering to keep me company during my long swims in the summer and even a couple of people offering me boat/kayak support so that I can do some longer swims or get away from Sandycove for a bit (although I'm dying to get down there full-time now, I'm sure I'll get tired of it fast when I'm spending hours there every day!). It's been really great to have such a positive reaction. I've even got a few big donations on my charity page, which is great...keep those coming!

The next big thing in my training is the Swimtrek long distance training camp, which starts this Sunday. So I'm currently in Malta...I travelled here yesterday to get a couple of days of sun before the camp starts! It's beautiful here, the weather is like nice Irish summer weather-not quite as warm as I would like but it is only March! And it's looking like it's going to get nicer over the next few days, which is good. I've already got tanlines from the last two days anyway so it's probably a good thing that it's not any warmer! The sea looks gorgeous you can see from the pictures below...clear and sparkling today (although I didn't venture further than sticking my toes in yet-it wasn't quite as warm as I was hoping for-I'm sure it will be lovely for swimming but not for paddling anyway!).

Beautiful clear water in Malta!

Back in August I talked with Julieann about Swimtrek, at that stage I was thinking that it would be a good boost to my training and it would be nice to have a bit of a holiday too! When she said that she was thinking of doing the long distance camp too we decided to try to book in for the same week. So we meet our Swimtrek guides on Saturday to talk about the week and also about our swimming plans for the year and our reasons for doing the camp. Then on Sunday we have a stroke analysis session where they video our stroke above and under water. I haven't had that done in a few years now so it should be interesting! On Monday we have two swims-not sure yet how long they're going to be-they say that the distance will vary according to the swimmer and what they are training for...but I'm guessing they won't be too long since we have our 6-hour swim on Tuesday. That was one of my main reasons for doing the camp-we get our Channel qualitifation swim swim out of the way nice and early in the year. I'm looking forward to that, it's so long since I've done a decent length swim in the sea. It's not going to be an easy swim I'm sure but I'm not worrying about it-I've done longer in the pool and I know that I'm going to have much longer swims to face this summer so I'm just taking each one as it comes, no point in stressing over a training swim I figure! Wednesday and Thursday are gonna be more or less recovery swims after that I think. Hopefully we should find out more tomorrow evening about distances and stuff...

I'm really looking forward to this week to get lots of time in the sea, it will be a welcome change from blue lines and constant tumble-turning. It will be really nice to be able to really enjoy swimming in the sea for a while without having to think about the cold-it might be getting warmer at home but it's still gonna take a couple of degrees more before it's comfortable to swim in for a decent length of time. And on top of all that it's a break from everything else for 10 PhD, no work, no rushing from one thing to another...all is good :)

The plan for now is to meet Julieann when she flies in tomorrow and head to Gozo, which is a little island off Malta where the camp is based. We've got that meeting tomorrow evening and I'd say we might try to take a dip before then to test the waters so to speak! I'll try to update from the camp during the week...fingers crossed that we'll have internet access over there!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big News!

In September I'm swimming from England to France. You all know that. What most people don't know (until now!) is that when I get to France I'm going to turn around...AND SWIM BACK! I'm attempting to be the first Irish person to complete a two-way Channel swim. So that's why I've been doing all that crazy training!

I decided this back in December-I always knew that I wanted to do it but my original plan was to do a one-way first and then try for the two-way next year or the year after. But when I talked to EilĂ­s about it she suggested doing it this year instead. I've got the time to train at the moment whereas I'm not sure what I'll be doing workwise next year or the year after. And I was well ahead in my training at that stage. Plus, I've got nothing to lose besides the extra cost. If I don't make it back, I'll still have swum the Channel. So maybe I'm mad, but I'm going for it! 

What it all means basically is that I'll be swimming non-stop for over 30 hours. My original goal is now the half-way mark. I have no idea what it's going to be like to swim through a whole night's sleep and still keep going. But what I do know is that I can't wait to find out!

Don't forget that a huge reason for me doing this is to raise money for my chosen charities...please support my goal by sponsoring me here! I'm swimming up to 70km a week to train for this swim (that's 2,800 lengths of a 25m swimming pool...mind-numbing stuff!). The least everyone can do is to sponsor me and make it worth my while :) 

And don't forget to pass on the charity link to your friends, family, work colleagues...anyone who will give me money!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Update 3: Money Stuff

This whole Channel swimming thing is really expensive, as most of you know. It's gonna cost me well over €5000 between booking the boat and getting my crew to Dover and staying there for a week. So I've been looking around for some sponsorship to help with these costs...and I'm happy to say that the ESB have been generous enough to help me out. I really appreciate it :)

Of course, if anyone else out there wants to become a corporate sponsor for my swim I'd be very happy-I've still got a long way to go in covering my costs! If anyone is interested I can be contacted at

On the fundraising side of things...I've been so busy that I haven't really had a chance to really get this going. Over the next few weeks I need to find time to send out emails and start getting sponsorship cards together and things like that. I really want to make some decent money for my charities-I know that it's not a great time to be asking for money from people, but times are tight for these organisations too-they've still got the same bills to pay and if we don't keep supporting them it's the people that are benefitting from their services that will ultimately lose out. So...if you're reading this, please visit my charity webpage here and donate-even €5 or €10 will be much appreciated! Thank you :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Update 2: Sea Swimming

All was going well in the sea up until that really cold snap we had a few weeks ago-snow, ice, frost-the works! And the sea dropped down to around 7deg C. Which, for the record, is REALLY cold!! The difference between 7deg and 8deg is unbelievable. The first lap I did at 7deg, all I could think about was getting out of there. I briefly adjusted to it at the first corner (enough to idiotically think that it was a good idea to go around!) but by the time I got to the second corner I was FREEZING...all that was going through my mind was to get back to the slip as fast as I could-I actually made it around in 30mins which is quite a fast time for me in cold water! It wasn't pleasant. At all. By any definition. And yet I went back in the following weekend, with the water still at 7deg. Don't ask me why. I think I'm just too stubborn for my own good! I did make the smart move of wearing fins this time though, for two reasons. First of all to keep my feet from getting quite so numb. It's kinda annoying when your feet are still cold two days after a sea swim! And second of all, to get around that little bit faster. This time I made it around in 28mins, and I'm not sure if it was that or the fact that I was a little more used to it or maybe the air was a little warmer, but it was much easier the second time around.

Luckily, the temperature has risen since then. Only to 8deg, but the difference is just unbelievable! When it was at 7deg, all I could think was 'get me out...NOW!'. But at 8deg I could actually enjoy the swim. It's just amazing the difference that one degree makes. It's also great that the temperatures are finally going in the right direction, Spring is on the way :)

The last couple of weekends I've been out of the sea-trying to rest this shoulder as much as I can. I'm going to have a whole week of it soon with my Swimtrek training camp so it's more important that I get rid of the injury and try to get some decent metres in before I head away. I'm hoping that I get enough done in the pool this week that I don't have to go there at the weekend though and can go to the sea instead...I'm sick of seeing blue and white tiles under me constantly, I need a change!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Update 1: Injuries

So I'm finally getting around to actually updating-things have just been so crazy with college and work stuff, I haven't had a chance to get near this! There's been lots going on in the last few weeks so I'm gonna update in stages-otherwise it will be ages again while I write a big long post!

So I've got good news and bad news on the injuries front...

My back is totally healed up. No pain, nothing. All is good with that :) my shoulder is acting up. It started getting sore about three weeks ago, but I didn't think much of it at the time-different muscles have been sore up until now on and off but they always got better so I assumed this would too. But it got worse and it wasn't going away. So I've spent the last few weeks cutting back on the metres and resting a lot, just trying to get it better. It does seem to be improving a lot thankfully-this is going to be my first long distance week in about a month now so it will tell a lot. It's just so frustrating that I just get one thing sorted and another comes along-and this one is taking so long to go away! I know that I've got ages to go yet before my swim and I keep telling myself that it will get better and I just need to be patient, but it's so hard not to get frustrated. I just need to stay positive and let it take the time it needs to heal so that I can get back to normal training again!

More updates soon...