January 13th, 2016

Epic Taupo RealSwim Adventure

20160107_100002January is always an exciting time in New Zealand. Summer is in full swing, holidays are upon us and it’s a great time to be open water swimming. We have just completed our Epic Taupo RealSwim trip which was hands down our best to date. We can put a trip itinerary together but who books on the trip and the magic that happens is totally unscripted and when it all comes together; great people, awesome location, perfect weather and fun swimming – well that’s the magic. But rather than us telling the story here is some feedback from guests this January 2016 …

“I returned for the second year running after an outstanding time the first year and this year continued to provide new and exciting adventures, challenges,friendships and accomplishments! As someone new to swimming as an adult and lacking some confidence in the water, I always leave Taupo feeling confident and grateful for the experience ! Each year we have swam in different part of Lake Taupo and the experiences encountered varied so much but all of them spectacular! Lake Taupo water is crystal clear and has to be experienced! The scenery and sportive nature of the swim gives you the chance to swim for enjoyment, relax in the water, build confidence and experience new world class experiences!  To finish the trip, we have the chance to participate in The Epic Taupo swim race.  You can take this at your own pace and challenge yourself to  your own level! I surprised myself by being able to swim 5km and this is something I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for this swim camp.  There are plenty of events for all levels. The support you receive from the Realswim adventures team is outstanding, fun and supportive! The preparation and skills they give you have provided me with good knowledge and tools to be successful in other endeavours.   Bring on Epic Taupo 2017!”DCIM100GOPRO

“Firstly, thank you Dan…I know I have already said this but I am sincerely grateful for all that you have helped me with. As always you were the voice in my head all the way around Saturdays race and then to have you hanging off the edge of the jetty with words of encouragement…well that was a massive boost. I went into that with two goals- one was to finish and the second was to finish in under three hours. Thank you for helping me achieve these.

Secondly, the whole trip — what a magnificent trip you have set up. The fun of sportive swimming is mind blowing and your enthusiasm for it is contagious. I cannot imagine a more fun way to see Lake Taupo than the way you have shown us. Cruising along the lake edge in and out of those cliffs and caves was a breathtaking experience. And then in the middle of the lake, well I could’ve spent hours just pottering around there happily. You really have done a brilliant job putting this together and it really is an EPIC trip :) You deserve a pat on the back for the work you have put into organising these trips! This is a worthwhile trip that I would recommend to everyone.”DCIM100GOPRO

You can view Epic Taupo RealSwim 2016 Album pictures click here Epic Taupo RealSwim Adventures 2017 is now open – strictly  limited spaces. To book http://www.realswimadventures.com/adventure-tours/epic-taupo/

*Note that after signing up for our trip you must then enter your weekend Epic swim races events via http://www.epicswim.nz/ ,  make sure you have our RealSwim Epic discount code before you do!

Contact us info@fitandabel.com


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November 29th, 2015

What’s Up?

#FitandAbel.com and ‪#‎RealSwimAdventures‬; helping bored pool swimmers enjoy swimming again, since years ago.

#FitandAbel.com and ‪#‎RealSwimAdventures‬; helping bored pool swimmers enjoy swimming again, since years ago.

After a great summer in the UK and a successful October Cook Islands RealSwim  we are pleased the warmer weather has finally arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand. Yes another summer is on the cards for FitandAbels  head coach, much to the chagrin of the team at http://www.h2openmagazine.com

The earlier a swimmer returns to the open water in the spring the more comfortable they start to feel as the water warms up. Shorter swims earlier ensuring you get out before the cold becomes too much are the key when starting out. Longer swims become more possible over time with adaptation and improved water temperatures. It doesn’t matter what stage of the year a swimmer gets in the open water if you haven’t been in for some time it will feel a lot different ~ don’t wait until the week of your event to make the transition!

What’s happening in Christchurch and New Zealand with FitandAbel and RealSwim Adventures this summer?

We are very excited to have launched the KPMG RealSwim Race series last week at Corsair bay. There is racing throughout December and into January and Feb. In January we will be racing at Naval Point on 27 Jan for the first time.

Our evening open water group fitness swims are happening every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through until the end of Feb. These are filling up fast – you need to pre-register http://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/fitabel-summer-series/open-water-fitness-and-technique-series/

RealSwim Adventures ; Locally we have Quail island http://www.realswimadventures.com/adventure-tours/quail-island/  with swims happening throughout the summer. In January we’ll be at Epic Taupo  followed by Nelson Lakes  and later in 2016 we’ll be off to the Cook Islands again!

And don’t forget our Xmas stocking fillers … RealSwim Bags, Quail Island RealSwim Vouchers or a Private 121 swim coaching voucher are all swimmer pleasing Christmas ideas for loved ones and friends. Just ask us info@fitandabel.com

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October 22nd, 2015

The Cook Islands

DSC_3570We are just back from an amazing RealSwim Adventure week set in the clear and warm waters of the Cook Islands. It is an amazing trip and we aren’t just talking about the swimming. Read on to see the latest package and itinerary for our 2016 Cook Islands RealSwim Adventure.

Introducing our brand new Cook Islands RealSwim Adventures package. The Basics provides just that – $1500NZD gets you a week of swim guides, safety cover, event hosting for the week, charter boats, refreshments and nutrition while on the charter boats. For flights and accommodation you have the option of booking yourself or we can help  … we have partnered up with Destination Management Cook Islands, DMCK . With The Basics at the minimum all you have to do is turn up to our swim start time/location each day, or you can ask us via DMCK to an accommodation and flights package together for you.  The Basics gives you the most flexibility (arrive early / stay longer / flights and accommodation of your choice and Budget).

It’s not just about the swimming. Don’t get us wrong, the water is clear along with guaranteed warm weather makes for fantastic swim conditions. However the Cook Islands RealSwim  week is all about getting to know the real Cook Islands; friendly locals, fantastic lagoons, cultural dinner evenings, fire pit theme dinner, a multitude of other activities and we’ll always make sure you have time to simply lay in the sun, read a book and simply enjoy being in paradise.DSC_3555

Day 1 & 2

Our Cook Islands RealSwim starts on Sunday in Rarotonga. Our trip briefing and first intro swim in the Muri lagoon is on the Sunday. We can work with you if you need to arrive on the Monday morning arrival of the Air New Zealand LA – Rarotonga flight. Our Sunday and Monday swims are all conducted in the beautiful Muri Lagoon. Dinner on Sunday night is at the Muri night markets where food stalls provide an exciting array of local cuisine

Day 3

Day three Tuesday starts with the locally famous ‘Boiler swim’. After lunch we fly 50 minutes to Aitutaki. With The Basics responsible for booking your flights to Aitutaki (Tues afternoon) and out of Aitutaki (Saturday afternoon). This is not covered in the trip price. We recommend you contact our Cook Islands partners , Destination Management Cook Islands by e-mail events@dmck.co.ck for assistance with connecting flights. You can book all flights direct with Air New Zealand. Accommodation in Aitutaki is also your responsibility with The Basics option. We recommend accommodation at or in proximity to Aitutaki Lagoon Resort or Aitutaki Village or Rangis.


Day 4

Starts with the exciting ‘source’ swim in the channel of One Foot Island and is followed with a lunch on a remote ‘Motu’ (Island). The afternoon you swim off the beach on the amazing white sands. The evening meals on our RealSwim are ‘pay as you go’ and gives you the chance to choose. The guides will organise a meal each evening and those want to attend are most welcome.

Day 5

For this exciting swim we venture into the rich almost purple waters of the outer reef. Sometimes scary, exciting and beautiful. Not to be missed. We’ll have lunch with Trina and Steve at their lovely Koru Café and a free afternoon to rest, lounge, sunbathe or rent a motor scooter and explore Aitutaki.

Day 6

This is the big one – Island to Island swim which is 4-5km depending on how straight you swim  Followed by an amazing picnic lunch on One Foot Island and then a short Motu to Motu afternoon swim . We head back to the hotel to get ready for our final night and an exciting dining experience. In the evening we celebrate our week with a fire pit dinner at the local Toa Moana oe vaka club.

Day 7

Provides the opportunity to refine technique and learn more about your stroke and open water swim skills as we round out the week with some coaching in one of the channels of the Samade loop.  The guides will book a location for a lunch which you can choose to attend as a final farewell. The evening flight for LA leaves late from Rarotonga. Of course many of you will want to stay on and enjoy some more beach time. Aituktai and Rarotonga provide more than enough opportunity to fulfill a relaxing post RealSwim holiday option.


Next Cook Island
RealSwim Adventures

April 17 – 23, 2016  
Spaces remaining

Oct 9 – 15, 2016  
Spaces remaining

E-mail – info@fitandabel.com


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September 2nd, 2015

Ruths Story

Ruth on the right

Ruth on the right

Swimming, and swimming outdoors in particular, gives me a wonderful feeling of wellbeing in mind and body.  Coming to the Lido, either for Rio training squad sessions or a lesson with Dan is time out of life, a little window of relaxation where nothing is more important than working on your stroke or your breathing.  That’s not to say that swimming doesn’t come with its own trials and tribulations.  Learning to swim (again) as an adult has been hard work.  An hour of concentrating on my ‘elbow driven recovery’ demands considerable effort, both mental and physical, and the learning curve never seems to level off any.  Some lessons I learnt the hard way.  I rather rashly signed up to do my first open water swim, a 3k event in early July, without realistically considering either how a rather sedentary winter had impacted on my fitness or quite how different the open water experience would be from pool swimming.  Early in the race I started to panic and to struggle with my navigation, the next marker buoy always seemed to be a million miles away.  My pacing went awry, I blew what Dan would call my ‘fou fou valve’ and had to get out after completing only half the course.  I was distraught – frustrated and embarrassed by my ‘DNF’.  it was such a thoroughly miserable experience that I started to wonder if I even liked swimming, but I was nonetheless determined to do better next time, and to be properly prepared.  After five more weeks of getting fit and having a laugh with the group, and lots of one-on-one physical and psychological coaching from Dan, I was ready to go for my next event.  This time I completed the course with ease, feeling relaxed and enjoying myself.  My time didn’t break any records, but I swam the swim I set out to do and was thrilled with my achievement.

I initially chose swimming partly because it was a sport I could do on my own, but one of the unexpected benefits of coming to the Rio Squad sessions is the wonderfully friendly and supportive community I have found myself a part of at the Lido.  Being an active member of this group and joining in the fun give me the motivation to drag myself out of bed at 5.30 in the morning to brave the great British summer weather and a sometimes chilly (sorry, ‘invigorating’) pool.  The amazing athletes I share the water with sometimes leave me awestruck and painfully aware of my own limitations, but their good company and Dan’s fantastic teaching always leave me feeling encouraged and inspired. And where else can you find ladders called Kevin and enough tasty cake to keep even Mary Berry happy?  The Rio Squad might have soggy bottoms but their baking doesn’t.



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August 19th, 2015

I Swim Because …


Some thoughts on swimming, written by members of the Rio Talent Squad…

Tooting Bec Lido. Londons Oasis.

Tooting Bec Lido. Londons Oasis.


“I’ll be honest, I don’t like swimming. This may sound odd as a member of Dan’s sessions but I’ve never been a big fan and didn’t go in a pool for 18 years before I started swimming with Dan. Getting up at 6.00am every Tuesday and Thursday might not seem like fun but when I decided to not swim in 2014 there was a massive gap in my summer. Tooting Bec Lido is an incredible pool which at times feels almost otherworldly (the strangest occasion was when I was the only person in this vast space and poolside there was a folk band playing beneath a gazebo and a woman skipping around the pool). When you put the lido together with Dan it transforms. Dan’s sessions are hard but fun and funny and he may often confuse people with his strange terms and funny accent but they make me get out of bed and feel great at that end of each session and for the rest of the day. Who needs more motivation than that? Even on my off days when I’m not swimming well it’s still a great place to be as the sun comes up and you’re under open blue skies. The Rio Talent Squad is a great bunch with mixed abilities and Dan makes it work. The cake is also a great addition although the quizzes have been missed this year. The lido is great to swim in, by yourself or with others, and I won’t go in an indoor pool because it’s just not the same. South London is lucky to have such an amazing facility and who can believe it’s 109 years old?” Mark M


“With Rio less than 12 months away ‘Swim Club 15’ is the last chance saloon for selection! Best way to start a day with a rousing swim, a bit of banter and the occasional slice of cake.  Rio ’16 has set me up for my two long swims of the season with a great Bridge to Bridge under my belt (or drawstring on my trunks) and a 10 miler down in Devon as a finale to the season.  The easiest and most enjoyable way to keep in shape over the summer and the ideal way to set up your day.” Richard K


It makes me feel alive”. Sue R


“ Summer sun shines through Rippled water, fresh and cool. I smile and swim on”. Stu W

Emma + Cake

Emma + Cake

 “I swim because I eat cake”  Emma


Getting mildly hypothermic and warming up on the bike on the way to work. A great way to start the day!” Chris 


Strip/Stretch/Scary Dan/Submerge/Suspend /Stroke/Shiver/Sprint/Scull/Shiver/Snozzle/Swallow/Struggle/Sink/Shiver/Streamline/Share/SMILE/Sod it/Just swim. Pip


I have never been happier this summer than when Ive been having a giggle in freezing cold water at one end or the other. Nicola




“The water demands swimmers.  The swimmers need a coach.  Add 1 cone of speed, 1 blue clock, 2 black lines, 1 unforgiving laser beam and 91.5m of cool water.  Mix well with a happy diversity of swimmers, some wetsuits removed, and add a pinch of lane discipline. Combine with a generous dollop of learning, laughter, enthusiasm and encouragement.  Sprinkle with sunshine and garnish with a touch of kiwi inspired magic.  Best served chilled during the summer months.  For me the recipe was the springboard into open water this season (think more fish out of water than the ease and streamlined movement of an otter).  A taste of joy (or was that a taste of lake!?).  Truly inspired!! “ Karen W

 “Another summer is soon ending, which also mean the countdown for my next group session will begging. Next June seems so far away! (well this was what happened for the last few years. Sadly I won’t be living in London anymore by next term)I used to be a runner and kept injuring myself until a feet surgery where I had to rest for few months. This is when I felt no choice to start swimming. Believe me I never liked the idea of doing lane swimming and found that very boring at the start. That was until I found the FitandAbel fitness group session at Tooting Bec Lido. I got hooked from session 1 and have never had so much fun training. This year I join the early bird group for the 6:10am session, people think I am crazy, I do to when I hear my alarm going off but after 2 minutes being in the water it always feels the right choice and the day feels lighter and I have much more energy after.Fun, laugh, friendship, outdoor fresh air, no more injuries since I learn to swim properly, cakes, I love my group training! What am I going to do in Montreal ? I will think about everything I have learn when I will go back to swim in our lakes. Thank you! Will miss you all next year.” Roxanne

“I swim because swimming makes me a better and happier person, and because it puts me amongst the best, kindest, bravest, finest, loveliest bunch of people you could ever wish to meet.” Barbara


 Thank you to all the amazing swimmers of the Rio Talent Squad / Tooting Bec Lido


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July 16th, 2015

Moving to the Dark Side

Leigh Davidson pictured also says "Thumbs up for the wetsuit"

Leigh Davidson pictured also says “Thumbs up for the wetsuit”

Nancy Shaw is a regular Tooting Bec Lido swimmer who has just been through a very thorough process in purchasing a wetsuit. She’s made a lot of good decisions on the way and learnt some good lessons. I asked Nancy if she would kindly share her wetsuit journey with our readers. Thank you Nancy. Ed

I am an Open Water Swimmer (plus many other things), I have swam competitively since age 5 (that’s 30 years ), pretty much all that time has been without a wetsuit apart from 3 years when I competed in triathlons at University. I have been a member of South London Swimming Club at Tooting Bec Lido for 10 years and have never worn a wetsuit in the Lido… until recently

I am training for a 7 mile lake swim quite early in the season (July 18th).  My 6am swims at the Lido started on the 3rd May – it was pretty ‘fresh’ many days and I struggled to build up my mileage, I started getting jealous when I saw swimmers in wetsuits enjoying their swims, coming out looking comparatively warm to me, swimming longer, being faster – I was jealous and frustrated that I couldn’t get my mileage up. After a few weeks I decided to explore the idea of investing in a wetsuit, I emailed Dan Abel, he had a very helpful response:

“The key is getting a wetsuit that is best for you not the best wetsuit if that make sense. I recommend trying Ocean Leisure near Waterloo as they have a good range. We all want a nice comfy wetsuit that doesn’t impact too much on shoulder flexibility or impinge the neck. The only way to know for sure is to try them on. Try the Huub Aura 3:3 women’s suit:


My research started; google searches, wiggle reviews, various wetsuit manufacturer website exploring particularly their technical data, triathlon and H2O magazine reviews, asking wetsuit-wearers at the Lido – some were very forthcoming answering my questions – thank you to them! A week of research I knew what I wanted to try on. I chose Sigma Sport shop in Kingston as I knew they had an option to try in a lake before you buy, wetsuit’s can be a big investment so I thought this would be a great opportunity to get the right one for me. Sigma Sport have specially trained wetsuit fitting staff, I turned up with my swimsuit and got fitting. I tried on the Huub Aura 3:3, Orca Sonar, 2XU Z1 and Zone 3 Aspire – all ladies suits which is fantastic range to choose from all varying prices too and they had many more. The Zone 3 Aspire felt the best fit for me,  I asked them if they could bring a Large (which felt more comfortable on) and a medium to Shepperton Lake for me to try on in the water.

Saturday morning came, at Shepperton Lake, I paid my £10 deposit (refundable if you buy a suit) put on the Zone 3 Aspire wetsuit Large and off I went. Within swimming 200m I knew it was far too big. I did a lap (750m), go out & swapped it for an Orca Sonar Large, again too big, water was billowing all around my upper body, it was such a drag, I then tried on a Huub – too tight on my neck, finally I went for the Zone 3 Aspire medium – this fitted perfectly but I wasn’t convinced, did I ‘REALLY’ need a wetsuit? So I did a lap without…oh my goodness, I nearly drowned, amazingly I had already got used to the buoyancy that the wetsuit provided and I found it really hard to move my arms – it was a very odd feeling, by the end of the lap I starting to feel cold. I realised that if I wanted to do this 7mile swim well and comfortably I needed the Zone 3 Aspire wetsuit – I got out and bought it!


Dan Abel and Sigma Sport have been a huge support , enabling me to buy a wetsuit that fits well and enhances my swimming performance. This is an email I sent to Dan after my first training session at the Lido in my wetsuit:

“We had training last night at the lido, at the end of the session I swam a 300yd time trial to see how fast I could swim wearing my new wetsuit! On Sunday I swam flat out, managing 3:50, I was nearly sick at the end…last night after 50mins training in the suit, I managed 3:24 – a whole 26 seconds faster over 300yds, that’s almost 9 seconds a length/100yds – that is nuts! I went fast but wasn’t feeling sick at the end so I think I had a little more in me!…I cannot believe it, cannot believe it. So I now need to build how long I can wear a wetsuit for, it was hard for 1hour last night..”

Last weekend I swam the 3.8km Seahorse race in my wetsuit, I did it in 51:08, coming 3rd overall, 1st women and 7mins ahead of Brian Daly who normally would beat me – so the wetsuit is a great swimming aid! It keeps you lovely and warm, buoyant and saves years of training to reduce your times (OK that is cheating, but how else could you legally drop 26seconds over 1 week?)! The only issue I have had is that I didn’t grease up enough around my neck, sadly my neck got ripped to shreds in the salty sea water from the friction caused by the wetsuit. I had a pretty awful few days after, it has taken a week to repair…just in time for my 7miles this Saturday…watch this space!

Nancy Shaw


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