April 1st, 2015

Our Top Ten for the Open Water

20150327_101947Preparation is key; get your swim technique refined and rehearse it often enough before you hit the open water. In the open water all you want to concentrate on is open water skills and having fun not what your arms and legs are doing.

Swim with others/Buddy up; it’s more fun, you’ll have more confidence and reassurance

Self-talk is everything. If you say it often enough you’ll believe it… “The water is refreshing, invigorating and exciting” versus “The water is freezing and I’m scared”

Do some research or ask a local; measure the distance on a map (Judging distance over water is difficult), check the tides, ask about local hazards.

Be safe be seen; bright swim caps (orange, red, yellow, pink) and a Realswim bag make you more visible to other water users. Boat traffic / other water users are one of the biggest hazards to an open water swimmer.

Protect your heat; The only heat you’ll have when you get in the open water is the heat you take with you. Keep hats and shoes on until the last minute. Don’t stand around letting wind chill cool you down before you get in.

Have the right kit; Goggles that are comfortable and don’t fog, a swim suit or wetsuit that isn’t restrictive and fits correctly, these items can really affect the quality of your swim expereince.

Acclimatise; You will go from vertical in a full gravity environment to horizontal, low gravity and perhaps salt water if in the ocean. The difference in air temperature to water could be in the vicinity of 10 – 15C. Hold yourself back and allow the body to adjust to the new environment. It takes time.

Tell someone where you are going and if in doubt don’t go out; Leave your intentions with a family or friend. Deciding not to swim is perfectly OK. Always er on the side of caution.

Enjoy your swim; Do what makes you happy. Ocean or Lake swimming. Short or long distance. Stopping and enjoying the scenery. Swimming continuously and getting lost in the Zen like moment. Sharing a swim with a group. Find out what gets you most excited about open water swimming.


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March 19th, 2015

Swim Family


Swim Family

Our Swim Family

I have been reading a number negative media posts this week about swimming, specifically the big kahuna of swimming administrators – FINA.  Some serious and important questions are being asked about where their priorities lay http://www.swimvortex.com/specials/fina-future/  I care a lot about the outcome of such issues. Also I don’t care at all. Why? Because swimming is swimming. And even if one organisation is influenced more by money than the true spirit of the sport, the true spirit of the sport will continue to live on. What is that spirit? A genuine love of the water, a simple desire to swim and the genuine camaraderie and friendships that are built throughout our global swim fraternity.


Our swim family are global. For me it is my former club mates, my former competitors, college mates. Swimmers in New Zealand, USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Slovenia (the list goes on) whom I can count as friends. Whom I can turn up on their doorstep and be met with a friendly smile, a conversation like we last caught up last week not ten years ago. These people are my swim family and an important part of my life.  One of the important things about any family is that you are there for each other in times of need. One of our swim family members is in need at this time. I refer to one very cool guy, Jon ‘Split’ Winter. His resume takes some reading ; former NZ Olympic and x3 Commonwealth games swimmer, former World Short Course Relay Champion, Olympic swim coach,  and swim club coach for a long time. Jon has always been a positive influence on the kids he coaches and the other athletes of his generation (including myself). He represents to me what swimming is all about, enjoyment, positive, being active, friendships, loyalty, passion and a love for the water.


And right now Jon could do with our help. Like all true champions he is modest about asking for it. I had to inquire about these details. You see Jon’s youngest boy Joesf (4years) has ongoing heart issues. He is currently in Starship Hospital recovering from open heart surgery. Both Jon and his wife Rebekah have to take time off work to look after their family of four kids including their wee man Joesf. It’s a tough time for them. But these are the times I love. When the swim community comes together at its roots and directly supports one of their own. Created by Raumati Swim Club in Wellington is this givealittle page for Jon and his family http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/josefwinter this is how we show that actually the roots of swimming remain strong and true. Let’s show our love of swimming by supporting Jon and his lovely family, one of our important swim family members. Thank you.


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March 11th, 2015


DCIM100GOPROThe four seasons, they come and they go. We hope for the spring water to warm up. We rejoice when summer heats up the open water. We pray that summer temperatures remain in autumn and we pine as autumnal lows slowly rob the open water of the summer heat.

We at FitandAbel.com swim coaching work with the many different open water groups: triathletes, open water racers, open water enthusiasts, sportive swimmers, neoprene addicts, the open water purest. Some groups overlap extremely well. Some groups remain clear of each other. Regardless of differences … we all have one conversation in common; The water temperature.

How do we get used to the ‘natural’ water temperatures the open water offers? Acclimatisation acclimatisation acclimatisation. If you went overseas for a holiday to a hot humid country from a cold climate and stepped off the plane the heat would hit you. The more days you were there the more comfortable you would become.  No we are not saying you should spend days on end in the open water. We are saying you need to get in the open water regularly. You need to get in early in the season and spend a little time, often, and slowly build up the duration in the water.

At FitandAbel.com we like to think we get along well with all the swim groups mentioned above. The most important thing is that swimmers are comfortable in the water . For some that means just a bathing suit. For some that means a wetsuit. For some it may require a skull cap and booties. Frankly, unless you are doing an official open water marathon swim that requires only bathers, cap and goggles to be worn, we don’t care. As long as you are comfortable, swimming and having fun.

One thing we have noticed that has occurred regularly this season was swimmers starting open water training early (good) wearing swim gear they prefer to keep warm (no problem) . Then as the water heats up 1°C or 5° or 10°C they are still wearing exactly the same clothing. Heard of the winter coat theory? If you wear a winter coat and it is warm what are you going to put on when it gets cold? Another winter coat?

It’s the same principle with swimming. If you continue to wear your entire collection of neoprene warm gear as the water temperature heats up you will acclimatise in that swim gear. The worse case scenario is then you travel for an open water swim event (Kiwis read Challenge Wanaka!) and you have to swim in water 10°+Celsius cooler than you have been training in wearing your usual wetsuit cap and booties. What are you going to put on another wetsuit, cap and booties?

One of the reasons folks tell me they swim in a wetsuit all the time is that they enjoy the security a wetsuit provides – yes it is basically a form fitting life jacket. If you learn to swim well without a wetsuit you are going to be better placed to take full advantage of the qualities a wetsuit provides. If you can’t or choose not to try swimming sans wetsuit, your technical issues may continue to be hidden by the wetsuit design, but they can still hinder the swim.

Let’s start in the spring; Early open water swimming. Cooler temperatures. Wear what you need to in order to keep warm, for some that may be an under garment and a wetsuit. The water heats up and you can remove the under garment. The water heats up some more… You can remove the under garment and just swim in a wetsuit. The water heats up even more why not remove the wetsuit and just wear the under garment. The water heats up even and it is time for the speedos. That’s four different levels of swim wear, five if you swim nude. Not that we are advocating that!

Now you’ll be comfortably acclimatised AND if you travel to cooler climates OR when that autumnal feel sneaks up you can put on a wetsuit or an under garment and you’ll appreciate the full effect. We call it layering. It works.

We've had a bit of fun product testing this summer.

We’ve had a bit of fun product testing this summer.

*We’ve been working with our friends at SeventhWave  http://www.seventhwave.co.nz/  to develop our preferred  non wetsuit  middle level garment . Developed by swimmers for swimmers. We call them RealSwim Skins. They’ll be in our online store soon available to folks only in Australia, NZ and the USA (UK availability to follow) . Flick us an e-mail if you’re interested to hear more info@realswimadventures.com


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January 6th, 2015

Local Race Series

DCIM104GOPROFitandAbel swim coaches Dan Abel and Ollie Hansen are pleased to announce the launch of RealSwim Race Series Christchurch in 2015.

“The Realswim Race Series creates excitement and adventure through the medium of swimming.  It is a community and family orientated event aimed at giving everyone an exciting, affordable and well-structured way to get active in the open water.  Family and friends can enjoy a picnic on Corsair Beach while cheering and supporting participants in the RealSwim Race.”

It will be following a very similar format to previous swim series held at Corsair on Wednesday nights with 500m, 1000m, and 2000m races. The 500m race involves one lap of the triangular course, the 1000m race is two laps, and the 2000m is 4 laps of the course. Each distance has a male and female category for individuals. There will also be the exciting addition of the RealSwim TopTeam : A team of 4 can enter the 2000M , their combined 2000M times puts them in the draw for the nightly and series ‘RealSwim Top Team’ prize.

Race Dates


}  Race One:         28st January 2015

}  Race Two:         4th February 2015

}  Race Three:      11th February 2015

}  Race Four:         18th February 2015

}  Race Five:         25th February 2015

}  Race Six:           4 March




Option Cost
Top Team Series Pass (4 swimmers) $350 incl. Caps
Top Team Single Swim Pass (4 swimmers) $75 + $5 per Cap
Series Swim Pass $110 incl. Cap
Double Swim Pass $40 + $5 Cap
Single Swim Pass $22 + $5 Cap


Full details , rules and race entry: http://fitandabel.com/race-series/

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January 1st, 2015

Swimming in 2015

swimming-up-shit-creek-new-zealandHappy New Year. Welcome to 2015. We hope your swim adventures in 2015 are exciting, adventurous and safe in waters free from harmful pollutants. We wanted our first article of this year to be positive and inspiring for swimmers around the globe. We thought long and hard about discussing this topic as our first article of 2015. Although there is a negative context we decided that the quest for improved water quality and water standards is a positive and worthy start to the year.

In late 2014 FitandAbel NZ Ltd submitted to the commissioners appointed by the Canterbury Regional Council to hear the application by Silver Fern Farms Limited (SFF) to discharge treated industrial waste water into the Waimakariri river. It is not until you make clean water your business that you realise how much of a problem New Zealand has –







We opposed the SFF consent application on the grounds that the discharge of treated industrial waste into a major river system in any quantity in this day and age is irresponsible; socially, morally and environmentally. We are not kidding ourselves saying that SFF are the only ones saying it is ‘OK’.

The commissioners released their decision of the consent application on 20 December 2014. They approved it. The window to appeal ends 29 Jan 2015. Whether by design or by fault, this timeframe means most in a position to lodge an appeal at this point are on holiday, making an appeal extremely difficult. It’s an expensive process – we would likely go out of business following this appeal through the normal process.

There are some reasons why the commissioners have decided to grant the consent. They are trying to find a balance between business, a broken city sewage system, a need to clean up other fresh water locations (The Avon and Heathcote) and the wishes of the local populace. FitandAbel NZ has a number of concerns about the commissioners decision to grant the consent, not least the fact it green lights the dumping treated industrial waste into the Waimakarriri river due to ‘extraordinary events – the Christchurch earthquake of Feb 2011. You can read the entire report here http://ecan.govt.nz/news-and-notices/notices/hearingdecisions/decision-sff-191214.pdf

Our concerns regarding the Conditions of Consent include:

-          The standards for E Coli. Dr Meredith of the Regional Council suggested that 100cfu / 100Ml … where as SFF sought a standard of 1000 cfu/100ml. 1,000 cfu/100ml has been approved. This exceeds our governments own standards for recreational fresh water. http://www.mfe.govt.nz/more/environmental-reporting/fresh-water/suitability-swimming-indicator/suitability-swimming and http://maps.ecan.govt.nz/WaterQuality/ (Ecan uses a trigger level of 550) .

-          The only entities required to be formally notified of a discharge into the Waimakariri are Te Ngai Tuahuriri Rununga, the Canterbury District Health Board, the Waimakariri District Council, the Canterbury Regional Council and North Canterbury Fish and Game. We think this level of notification is inappropriate. It is not difficult to set up a database and river users could opt to provide their e-mail. An automated notification of a discharge could then be sent to them. Fisherman, kayakers, boaters, rowers, swimmers, surfers and in fact any interested party have a right to know.

-          “At all times when the discharge is occurring temporary signs shall be erected where the public has access to the river at the Old Highway Bridge and within 300M downstream on both banks. The signs shall indicate the presence of treated industrial waste in that section of the river… shall be able to be read from a distance of at least 10 metres” That’s it. The total amount of public notification unless you communicate with one of the five organisations above. How about more signs? Some further downstream as well?

-          Although there is a daily limit of 3,500 cubic meters there is no limit to the amount of days discharges are allowed to occur nor is there a list of consequences should the conditions of the consent be exceeded.

-          The sole benefactor of this consent is Silver Fern Farms Limited at the expense of all other river users. We believe if a discharge goes ahead then a charge should apply. This should be paid into a trust established to improve the Waimakariri river system.

FitandAbel NZ Ltd believes New Zealand are more aware now than ever before of a need to balance the needs of business and the welfare and health of our amazing ‘backyard’. New Zealands waterways should be looked after and respected in balance with big business not at the expense of it.

What can you do in 2015 to make a difference?

In the matter of  Silver Fern Farms application to discharge?

-          Share this article with your friends. Discuss and educate yourselves and form a point of view. Become a voice.

-          If you submitted as part of the consent process you have until 10 January to appeal. If you have funds and the legal know how we would love to chat. Please contact us info@realswimadventures.com

-          Write to the local members of parliament and mayors; feel free to share our article with them.

Other Contacts: http://www.silverfernfarms.com/contact/make-an-enquiry

Wherever you are in the world is the water quality in your local district suitable for swimming? If not why not? We humans have a very ‘out of sight out of mind mentality. Open water swimmers are fast becoming the ‘canaries of the mine’ in respect of open water. If it’s polluted we find out about it pretty quickly when we get sick. What can you do to help improve a single waterway? One voice can make a difference. Make improving water quality part of your 2015 New Years resolution.

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December 13th, 2014

The Wetsuit Journey

Photography by Darren Atkin

Photography by Darren Atkin

My personal opinion is that swimming in normal swimsuit/bathers; the freedom of shoulders, the feel of the water, is the best form of open water swimming on earth. It’s a personal thing.

Why take a wetsuit journey?




-          To be able to swim further in colder water

-          To keep warm when swimming slower

-          To protect oneself from jellyfish and UV

-          To keep up with other wetsuit wearers

-          To understand what it’s like to swim in a wetsuit

A wetsuit journey is unique. Mine started with a mid-range (budget conscious) purchase, as it does for many of us. I bought without input from others,  without seeking expert advice. It felt comfortable and was fairly easy to get on. When swimming it filled with water and was like swimming with a sack of potatoes.

The next wetsuit came courtesy of some contacts in the industry. A top of the range blueseventy Helix wetsuit. A fantastic wetsuit. Lots of flexibility through the shoulders. Properly fitted. Very comfortable to put on. Built for performance. And for me, absolutely useless. I had two of my worst swims ever in this suit. I am very relaxed in the water and quite buoyant throughout the body including my legs. The Helix held my legs up so high I couldn’t swim properly anymore. It made swimming hard work.

Next I managed to get my hands on the Huub Archimedes. Another top of the range wetsuit. A very considered design with lots of good features . The 4mm neoprene (1mm less that the Helix in the leg) allowed my body to sit more naturally in the water. I couldn’t believe the difference 1mm less neoprene made. However, once again the results were very poor. Why? The equivalent size Huub wetsuit that I had in the blueseventy wetsuit was in fact to big. It filled with water invoking the ‘swimming like a sack of potatoes’ result once again. Dropping down two sizes in wetsuit I found my wetsuit swim nirvana.

What did I learn from this process?

-          A wetsuit that is going to be suitable for you needs to fit your swim style, body type and your budget.

-          If you are buoyant in the legs 5mm neoprene in the legs is most likely going to hinder rather than help & the reverse if you have sinking legs.

-          You are very unlikely to be able to size your first swim wetsuit correctly on your own.

-          The top range wetsuit isn’t always going to the best performing one for you.

-          A wetsuit that matches your body type, swim type and fits well can enhance your swim enjoyment in certain conditions and will greatly enhance your swim performance.

*The swim wetsuit manufacturing game is very competitive these days. Companies don’t survive long if they make rubbish; wetsuits are all of a pretty good standard. The key is finding the right wetsuit for you. Find a store with a range of brands. Go in with plenty of time in hand. Find a representative with the time, interest and knowledge to help you find the right wetsuit for you and your swimming.  You’ll find some helpful folk on our friends page http://fitandabel.com/friends/

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