We have some great partners and swim opportunities this summer and if the first few weeks are anything to go by we are in for an action packed summer of open water swimming. We have started our Open Water Technique swims and our Ocean Skills swims. It’s not a silly idea to get your stroke sorted before heading into the Open Water, we are passionate about personalising technique training to YOU which is why we also offer 121 swim lessons.
Man-made Pegasus Lake in is great condition and is a perfect newbie open water swim venue, minimal hazards and pleasant water temperatures http://www.pegasustown.com/webcam
We have coached Fitness and Technique sessions at Pegasus every Tuesday evening at 7pm. http://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/fitabel-summer-201213-series/open-water-fitness-and-technique-series/
Our other regular Open Water venue is Corsair Bay in Lyttelton Harbour. Check out the picture on the registration page and you will see how beautiful this location can be early morning or late evening. http://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/fitabel-summer-201213-series/sea-swim-fitness-series/ We swim here every Thursday evening at 6.30pm.
Our mantra for this summer for new open water swimmers: Race day is not the time to figure out that your wetsuit doesn’t fit right, you can’t swim in a straight line or you feel uncomfortable not being able to touch the bottom.
Fit&Abel will be providing the swim coaching services for a great outfit called Complete Performance http://www.completeperformance.co.nz/ they are a team of expert multisport and triathlon coaches. If you’re looking for some help out of the water, some run coaching or maybe a group to ride with, do look them up.
For those planning on using wetsuits in their open water this summer; Yes they help you float and cut down on drag so you swim faster, they keep you warm too. Get the right wetsuit and the right fit and you will love swimming in your wetsuit. Get it wrong and it can make your swim miserable. Try and size before you buy. Ask me if you need help or go to the Frontrunner store on Colombo St, Christchurch http://www.thefrontrunner.co.nz/ and ask for JC. He has the knowledge and the communication skills to help get you in the right wetsuit.
Last point from a slightly different tact; The South Island of New Zealand has some gorgeous open water swim locations. We would like to keep it that way. There have been some non-local weed species introduced to the waterways over the last few years. They are not harmful to us but are to the eco system. We don’t want any more and we don’t want to spread these new plants. If you swim in one fresh water location at a minimum allow 48 hours for your swim gear to dry before swimming in the next location, it needs to be bone dry. If you can’t wait 48 hours you must soak everything in a solution of water and 5% dish washing liquid to clean it properly. When you finish an open water swim check for any weed on your kit, clean it and dry.
New Zealand summer is here, it is time to get swimming Open Water.
I spent the majority of my swimmer career competing against and comparing myself to other swimmers. There are many factors that now entice me to open water swimming , one of the big draw cards is a desire take on and beat my toughest critic and competitor – myself. That is one of the reasons I can relate to the challenge that fellow open water swimmer Kate Willoughby is about to embark on as she sets out to become the first to ‘swim around the world’. Kate will be taking on that toughest of swimmer partners – her own mental spirit and fortitude.
Kates swim has caught my attention for a number of reasons. Kate will be swimming around the world, not the actual globe, but the group of man-made Islands off Dubai that comprise Islands representing countries of the world. Apart from battling the elements it can also be very challenging to get permission to do this type of swim. Others have tried for swim approval and failed. Open Water swims are heavy on logistics and planning. This is an oft overlooked point when discussing marathon swims. The fact that Kate has even gained permission from the relevant authorities is testimony to her commitment to making this swim happen.
The vast majority of the time when open water swimmers talk about ‘acclimatising’ to water temperatures for a swim we think of cold water swimming , think English channel 14C water . Kates swim stands out as unique as she will have to endure water temperatures of around 28 degrees Celsius for her approximate 30km, 12 hours swim. Her first training swims resulted in moderate heat exhaustion and vomiting. Now Kates drink bottles come out of the boat freezer fully frozen! This will also be Kates first full marathon swim. She is preparing for the swim while putting together her own team, holding down a full time job and doing the necessary training. There are have been a number of notable open water swims happen in the world this year and Kates looks set to be one of them. Follow her preparation and swim (scheduled for 21 Nov) at http://www.swimaroundtheworld.me/
Thanks to Simon for sharing his account of his recent ‘Little Red Lighthouse Swim’ Hudson Rover, NYC, 22 Sep…
I write with beer in hand, reflecting on having recently completed my first 10km (10.2 if you must ask) swim down the mighty Hudson river in New York. 2 hrs 33 total swim time, resplendent (in my opinion) sans wetsuit in ‘kiwi’ branded speedo’s and with a gel pack for the in-swim pep talk and company. Swimmer 208, Wave 3. A summary of events follows…
Race guidelines were to take your own water if you wanted it. Some of our TBec swim squad members may have seen my ridiculous lido green canvas £3 ‘fanny’ pack (US name) containing a £30 H20 bladder fail to do the job at swim squad 48 hrs out from swim time. Unfortunately, the kiwi no 8 wire ‘can do’ approach didn’t appear to make it to London with me this time. F&A’s last minute offer of the ISHOF Safe swimmer float (as seen on TV and used by swim around the world’s Kate Willoughby) swimmers buddy/float, it was perfect and welcomed.
Come race day in New York on the edge of a tan brown Hudson, in the absence of any FAQs and knowledge that there ahead been a pre race web conference (as only the yanks would do that) I noticed a distinct lack of drinking vessels near any swimmers, it appeared through conversation that others were going sans hydration. I had been eating plenty of pizza and hydrating well, so I followed suit.
All shapes and sizes were partaking in the 300 strong field. A stunning day on the Hudson, water temp was 20 C, warmer than air at that stage of the morning, a blessing after the frigid TBec Lido. It was perfect.
I was parched early on and remained that way until the end. I went wide in the Hudson with F&A’s wise tenant of ‘the strong currents are always out in the middle of the river young swimmer’ sharp in my mind, high elbow, calm hands entering the water, nice controlled breathing. It was early and my form was nothing short of Spitz’tacular (self visualisation/delusion was key) 1hr 20 mins later I was thinking about burgers and beers and my style was definitely more Mick Jagger than Mark Spitz. I rolled over at that time and summonsed up a sugary gel. As a true amateur, I gulped in more of the Hudson than I did my gel, my frantic struggle to get the damn thing down the hatch with one eye on swimmers overtaking me.
I was now even more thirsty than before. As I took off again my Spitz form returned..I cant believe I ever doubted myself ‘I am an amazing swimmer, sure I swallow lots of water but my arms feel great, my kick the strongest its ever been’ and so the sun beat down down……the swimmer I had been attacking for the last 40 mins was the same swimmer that would never get further or near’er to me, no matter what I changed in my technique. Without naming names, no.171 (go to NYC swim website to see the final race times/numbers/names) was the constant, the irritating constant reminding you ‘that no mate, you aren’t getting any better’ like at swim squad, we all have them, you know who I am talking about. I was happy I wasn’t getting any worse.
As we approached George Washington Bridge (circa 9.5km) swimmers were rolling onto their back to look up at the bridge and doing backstroke to take in the view. My backstroke is about effective as a fanny pack on a long distance swim. I pounced on the opportunity to attack no.171 once again. Swearing and inhaling the Hudson all in one glorious moment. Picture your favourite WW2 war movie, with an allied mustachc’ioed pilot (me) & spitfire attacking an enemy destroyer (no 171) from the air. The current, which was allegedly a lot less favourable than in previous years for the first 3/4 of the race kicked in. Up until now, at several stage’s it felt like I was going with a current backward. But not now. The last 1km was the most pleasing/easy ever. The current also meant a lot of swimmers over’cooked landing on the finish line and had to swim back against the current to finish.
In the soup at the finish line, red cap no. 171 would finish before me. Damn, but good on her. I finished ahead of most of my pod. The leader did it in 1hr 48 (13 others < 2 hrs, of those 5 > 42yr, 12th was 57yr..inspiring) I came in 177 out of 300, 15 DNF. Hard to know truly how good a swim for me it was, I chatted with others and we agreed it was choppy ‘n slow for most of the early to mid section, but super quick at the end.
Thrilled with the result, one yr ago was my first OWS > 3k. One massive burger and a few beers later I slept solidly for a good few hours. Hats off to any swimmer doing anything more or up to a 10k. I aspire to be one of you ultra distance people! It’s a few days on and I am still in NY on holidays, eating big…fries with everything including salads.
I am still a swimmer who has plenty of drag creating habits to unlearn. Plenty of work to do yet and plenty of time. Thanks to F&A for the swim squad tuition over the London summer. All the while I have your ‘young swimmer, to swim faster you must swim slower’ ringing my mind. Training continues…
Nb: No illness experienced post passively drinking ghe Hudson, unlike the Bridge to Bridge’
And so draws to a close an historical summer in London. Not that London is short of historical but this summer has certainly been one for the books. London 2012; Some of the most competitive and entertaining Olympic swimming ever, both in the pool and to my surprise the Serpentine delivered an amazing event in the 10km open water. The support and noise at the Paralympics has been at least equal to the Olympics. For us part time swimmers we have had a plethora of swim events, many unfortunately were postponed or cancelled due to the wettest summer in the last century; how ironic that as I write it is 26C 79F. One of the best swims for me was the 14km Bridge to Bridge. You can read more about this swim in my article in an upcoming publication of Outdoor Fitness Magazine www.outdoorfitnessmag.co.uk . If you are interested in the bridge to bridge swim it will be happening again 11 Aug 2013 http://www.henleyswim.com/bridge-to-bridge/ .
The biggest highlight for me this summer has been introducing SwimTreks www.swimtrek.com open water swim coaching program at the Iconic Tooting Bec lido, very big (92M long) beautiful and with its own culture of friendly swimmers. Tooting Bec is the perfect place to start your transition from the pool to the open water. I am really sorry to announce that our Tooting Bec private lessons are sold out for the rest of the season. Booking for the next summer will be open in Feb.
Where to for Fit&Abel from here? New Zealand bound for the southern hemisphere summer, with a full program of open water coaching and clinics plus this February for those who also like to bike and run a real chance to have some fun with WildTri. WildTri is a Queenstown http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/ based camp showcasing the best New Zealand has to offer, beautiful landscape , fantastic off the track swim locations, biking and running. To bring you WildTri I have teamed up with ex National swimmer, triathlete and now ultra-distance runner Tom Macdonald to bring you you WildTri.
WildTri is based on our shared passion for the New Zealand outdoors and our current level of sporting focus which is balanced; the chance to share a good solid day of training followed by a ‘de brief’ over great food, wine and company. Tom knows Queenstown like the back of his hand. WildTri clients will be treated to the best dining on offer to help replace energy burnt during a days swim biking and running. You’ll be joined on these evenings by some former world champs and world record holders. A chance to get to know and learn from the best, enough said hope to see you there http://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/wild-tri-2013/
You’ll also see me about in New Zealand helping athletes prepare and compete in the State NZ swim series http://www.oceanswim.co.nz/ and the Epic swim http://www.epicswim.co.nz/ . You might even see me in the water at some stage.
Whatever your swim goals over the next 12 months, make sure you plan ahead and prepare well. If you have questions or need some help please check out what we have on offer http://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/ or drop us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Now get out there and get swimming. That’s a wrap.
August 2012 and we have just finished the pool events of what is arguably the most exciting swim meet in recent times. No matter what you’re swimming background it is hard not to get excited about Olympic swimming. I was lucky enough to attend some of the swim sessions, here are some thoughts…
My Olympic opinion…
On Ye Shiwen’s dominating win in the womans 400IM and subsequent speculation… At one point in history walking on the moon was unbelievable. From a swimmers perspective Phelps 8 gold medals in 2008 is also amazing almost unbelievable . Certainly Mary T. Meagher’s amazing World Record 200 fly swim in 1979 was unbelievable (the record stood until 2000). Katie Ledecky’s 800M win at the Olympics is also comparable. If I applied the doubters Ye Shiwen logic to these cases you could also call them frauds, impossible , cheats. All Ye Shiwen is ‘guilty’ of is being associated with a swim program that has historically had drug cheats. Should she be considered guilty by association? Unbelievable things do happen especially at the Olympics. Unless proven otherwise Ye Shiwen simply had a brilliant swim nothing more. Good on her.
On Michael Phelps …
He has finished this meet with 18 Olympic gold medals, 22 medals total. London 2012 has shown how tough it is to be dominant in a single event let alone 8. It really puts his career achievements into perspective: The greatest swimmer, ever. Truly amazing; what he has achieved for himself and what he has done for the sport of swimming. Well done MP.
On the basics …
Olympic swimming is a great place to watch and learn. Already we have seen a bad finish cost a World Record and a great finishes (Le Clos beats Phelps 200 Butterfly at the finish, Adrian beats Magnusson 100 Freestyle). Ryan Lochte can go from last position to first position with one great turn. Sun Yang has such a great body position, relaxed and efficient. None of these swimmers learnt these skills overnight. Hours of perfect practice makes a perfect performance.
On staying relaxed …
James Magnusson in the 4 x 100 free relay … Got himself psyched beyond belief for this relay. You could see the effort and we all saw the results. Make sure your energies are channelled, think about technique, entry, catch, pull and rhythm. Focussing on something substantive in your swimming is more important than unleashing pure adrenaline into your system.
On the US swim team and the NCAA collegiate swim scene…
The Americans have almost dominated Olympic swimming. They have by far been the best but thankfully there have been victors from other countries, which one of the reasons why this has been such an amazing swim meet. Americans have always had strength in their swim program, why? As a former American collegiate swimmer I know what it is like to experience one of the toughest swim circuits in the world. But for American swimmers it doesn’t start there, even at high school level teams train and compete at a level of intensity not equalled elsewhere. I believe the rest of the world is comparable to the USA as far as training but for competition, race toughness and taking care of business (the Americans by far had the fastest turns) NCAA swimming is the best.
Swim Equality 1500 vs 800… There has been plenty of rumblings about equality of the sexes. The 800 for woman was born from sexism ‘woman aren’t as tough as men’ . You would be hard pushed to find anyone today who would dare make that argument. I understand the 800 for women wasn’t substituted at this meet for the 1500 in part to give Rebecca Addlington a chance to defend her 800M title in front of the home crowd. But for the future (Rio, 2016) the race may well be replaced with the 1500M. I completely understand those who want equality for the sexes, for those people I ask you this; do the current crop of 800M swimmers actually want to change? What about decades of 800M history? It would mean leaving all the famous names behind Evans, Addlington and now Ledecky and starting again. Is this what we want?
Opinions are purely the authors. Feel free to share yours.
Having the right equipment when swimming open water is so important; I am regularly giving tips to swimmers on what gear they should be using. At the end of the day it’s all about comfort and personal choice. If you are racing don’t save any new bit of kit for race day, test it in training first. If you are a recreational swimmer having good equipment can still make the difference between a good swim experience and a great one. No you don’t need to spend a fortune on gear. Here are my top tips:
Seeing where you’re going is so important. All goggles have anti fog film to start … all that anti fog film in your new goggles … well it breaks down in UV/Chlorine/Saltwater) sometimes after just a few swims . Get some anti fog spray such as; http://www.wiggle.co.uk/aqua-sphere-antifog-solution-30cc/ It works.
I use Many pairs of goggles, my favourite is the Kayenne Small Fit http://www.aquasphereswim.com/uk/index.php/products/eye-protection/adults Why? They are comfortable and don’t leak – always important. Also they are very easy to adjust both to tighten and to loosen. I don’t know about you but depending on the situation I might adjust the tension and some goggles can be a pain to adjust. Ever broken the strap trying to tension the goggle? I have. I keep a bag of goggles for clients to try (or when they forget their own) and the Kayenne are the pair 90% will select. We all have different shaped faces, don’t expect what works for someone else will work for you. Try on many pairs of goggles. If it’s comfortable that’s a good sign.
Favourite swimming wetsuit, handsdown the blueseventy Helix www.blueseventy.com Why? Two reasons the top down zip has reduced all chaffing around my neck because there is no fat zip pressing and rubbing on the back of my neck. And most important shoulder flexibility – it’s awesome, the feeling of freedom around the shoulders means no additional resistance, I can simply swim. In the interests of full disclosure I have a working relationship with Blueseventy however I asked them for the Helix I am not obligated to write about it or use it. If you think you can do better on comfort and performance good luck.
Swim cap … these days they are generally swim made of latex or silicone. A swim cap helps keep your hair out of the way (not that I have that problem), it reduces drag and it helps with heat retention. I would recommend silicone every time; They’re way more comfortable, easy to put on and last longer.
Last tip – now that you have some good equipment look after it. Rinse goggles, swim suits, wetsuits and cap out after each swim. Let them drip dry out of the sun. Keep your goggles in the case you bought them in – they’re no good to you if the lenses are scratched.
If you are going to go swimming outdoors you want to be comfortable and concentrate on what you are there to do… swim, not worry about your kit. If you have your own top equipment pointers I’d love to hear them.