Beth French Ocean’s 7 Swim Challenge : It’s ok to not get where you thought you were going.

One final pre women’s adventure expo blog, catching up with headline speaker Beth French. We’re looking forward to hearing more tomorrow.
Beth embarked on a challenge to swim the Oceans 7 in 12 months. Having completed the Catalina Channel, Gibraltar Strait, Cook Strait (making a successful crossing just days after a thwarted first attempt,), Molokai Channel (including a close encounter with a shark at 1am in the morningBeth was well on course to achieve this epic challenge.
Then 7.5 hours and over 23km in to the 30km crossing  of the Tsugaru Strait, Beth made the decision to get out of the water, and on to the boat, marking the end of her Oceans 7 in 12 months challenge.
We caught up with Beth to find out more about the bold decision to stop, what she has learnt from her experiences and its impact on her life and plans for the future.

Why did you decide to get out of the water?
Getting out the water was not a snap decision. I got in the water intending to complete the swim. But after a couple Of hours, when my mind settled, the only thing i couldnt get rid of was the realisation of the detrimental impact the stress of all this was having on my autistic son over months. His stress levels meant that he was no longer coping with everyday life very well. I needed to show him he was more important than anything else. Reaching the other side was not just irrelevant at that stage, but was exactly the wrong thing to do. Telling him was not enough. I needed to show him. I swam for a further 5 hours to make sure that it wasn’t a blip, but it all came crashing down- the months we had both been coping, trying to juggle the stress and my trying to just carry him until the end of the project. I got out with a smile on my face, sure i was doing the right thing for my family. I have nothing to prove.

dyl and i

What have been the highs and lows of your oceans 7 journey?
The highs are without doubt the amazing swimming community i have encountered around the world. People getting in touch and sharing my challenge, offering encouragement. And reaching a place in my life where i feel empowered and free, to change or remain as i see fit, in a life that i love. I think the lows will always be the concerns i had about Dylan not feeling safe when i was in the water. Its a horrible feeling knowing that what you are doing could be damaging your child. Luckily, dylan and i are incredibly close and we are looking forward to adventuring together more. It has taught him so much and i am immensely proud of him for managing to cope for 5 years of my channel swimming!

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What have you learnt? How do you feel physically and emotionally?

The biggest surprise to myself is that i feel stronger and better now than I did in September. With only 5weeks between each of the first 3 channels, it was a gamble as to whether the body can recover enough- add to that jetlag again and again! I feel physically better than i thought i had any right to feel. Its an amazing sensation. Emotionally, it’s been a bit up and down- i feel completely fine about my decision and happy with my ‘journey’ and all i have learned. After any major event, there is a slump. I have had 5 major events in a very short period of time. I am exactly where i need to be. In recovery. I am just surprised by how little my body is requiring rest. Yay!

What impact has this journey had on your understanding of challenge and adventure? What advice do you have for anyone embarking on a personal challenge?

I think a single channel swim teaches you about yourself. So many major swims so close together, yes, i learned about myself but i also learned about the very nature of challenge. The goal is somewhere to aim, passion and drive move you towards it, but the very personal reason to want to reach the end is different. It is like an unformed question, and if you find the answer to why you were there in the first place, the end result becomes irrelevant and so there is no failure, you have arrived!! I think i would advise people to know why you want your goal, and give it your all, without losing sight of why you wanted it in the first place.

How has your relationship with swimming and water changed, if at all?

I am so grateful for my relationship with water- it is where the world makes sense to me. I am free of all landbased external demands and expectations so i am free to explore my inner landscape. It is solace and my forum for challenge, all rolled into one.

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What next?
Enjoy getting wet, take time to adventure with dylan; wait for something to grab me. Its amazing knowing i have the capacity to go extreme, but i have nothing to prove. I have been adventuring since i was 18, so who knows what direction it will take me in next!

Cake was an integral part of your training. In your opinion, what, so far is the best swim cake for optimum swim performance?

The best performance cake ended up being a completely made up recipe that i called protein power. It was coconut flour, cocoa powder, condensed milk and egg. The texture was like fudge, but was so filled with energy!

What swimming costume did you wear for your swims and why?
For the swims i wore a tyr fusion swimsuit. I found they held up really well with all the Vaseline which usually trashes the suits and they were comfortable and didnt rub.

Thanks Beth – we can’t wait to hear more at the Women’s Adventure Expo. And even more excited now, following the release of her awesome Oceans 7 feature Documentary Trailer too!

 

 

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Long Distance and Channel Training Camp: 0-6 Hours in 7 Days

Long distance and channel training swim ‘holidays’ are one of those things I’ve talked about doing ‘one day’… Happily the other week I found myself enjoying not just one, but 7 days of distance swimming, in the turquoise waters of Formentera with SwimQuest.

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We love swimming!

In my heart I’ve always wanted to experience long distance swims and I booked the trip because I wanted to explore what I can do and get some perspective on my swimming aspirations.

Add to that, Swimquest’s Alice (in Waterland) Todd told me that I would be rewarded with a mojito at the end of the week, and as an elite endurance athlete that’s the kind of thing I take very seriously.

This trip is a great opportunity to put winter training into practice and assist with acclimatisation – the swim plan for the week is tailored to each person (keen novice and experienced long distance swimmers are catered for), but in general you build up each day with 1-2 swims; each increasing the time in the 14-16 degree water – providing a great platform to kick off the northern hemisphere summer swim season.

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BRING IT ON!

For those with distance swim objectives on the horizon, the week is also the chance to get a confidence boost for the challenges ahead and perhaps get some paper work done by ticking off qualifying swims: For an English Channel Solo ,that’s a 6 hour swim at 16 degrees or lower; and for and English Channel Relay that’s a 2 hour swim at the same temperature.

Of course it’s not all about the English Channel – Lake Zurich and S.C.A.R were amongst the imminent swimming objectives of participants. I’d booked the trip without a specific objective in mind, but a few weeks ago joined a 4 women Channel relay team setting out in late June, so this was now a great opportunity to get my 2 hour qualifier done.

In between swims there is food and workshops on key topics for long distance swims like training plans, nutrition and feeding, fatigue, mental preparation and swim technique analysis (including footage taken towards the end of our swims in order to get an insight on how well we were able to maintain technique over time).

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The scene is set for an epic week!

An Open Mind

For some reason until we started to swim, I hadn’t really appreciated the cumulative nature of the week and as we notched up more and more time in the water, it began to dawn on me what a big step this was.

However instead of freaking out at the potential volume of swimming , I enjoyed each swim as it came and kept in the moment, concentrating on technique, exploring the wildlife (beautiful fish, coral, sea grass and even an octopus!), enjoying the changing rhythm of the sea and taking every opportunity I could to learn from those around me.

That enabled me to consolidate and trust my potential, and, ignoring the slight hiccup where I managed to beach myself on a rock and was incapacitated with giggles for about 10 minutes (#eliteenduranceathlete), I found myself completing a 1.5 hour, then 2 hour, then 4 hour and then a 6 hour channel qualifying swim (my longest swim ever!) all with a big smile on my face. Proper wicked.

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We did it ! Chris, Stephen, James and Alice celebrating finishing our longest swims of the week!

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Wicked!

Team Work 

What a team! It’s the people that make these weeks. Swimquest’s John Coningham Rolls and Charlie of course (how many armpits can one smother with Vaseline in one week – quite a few it seems!) but also my fellow guests, all working towards amazing swimming goals and sharing their knowledge and inspirational stories along the way.

As the hours of swimming progressed, each of us met different challenges, gained new perspectives and surpassed personal goals and expectations.

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Post 4 hour swim and ice cream team selfie!

To complete a four hour swim one day and then go into a 6 hour the next, did require a couple of deep breaths and I was somewhat wide eyed with expectation  – but as John said “It’s just a 2 hour swim, you’ve already done the 4 hours.” –  so rather like the rest of the week, that’s how I looked at it; in bite sized chunks, and any nerves translated into excitement – I was going to do my first six hour!

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The experience also brought home to me how important support crew are.  Often when I swim my mind goes to magical places, and keeping track of time or anything more than a high five, cup of UCan and a jelly baby, can be tricky.

Things got particularly surreal when at 5 hours I spotted an octopus. I spent the next 30 mins with ‘An Octopuses Garden’ by the Beatles going around my head and talking to fish.

This was a gear change for my mind’s juke box which had previously been playing classic hits like Wham! Club Tropicana and Ant and Dec’s ‘Lets Get Ready To Rumble’.

Swim Community

I know that completing a week of swimming like this culminating in a 6 hour channel qualifier would not have happened without the laughter, encouragement and insights of everyone who I meet along the way.

In January when I was swimming at the Jinan international winter swimming festival in China, Ranie Pearce gave me her South End Rowing Club pool parker. I’m sure it’s a pool parker with super powers and I wore it religiously throughout this distance swim week – before and after swims.

To me it represents the love and encouragement of the swim community, the people who don’t laugh at another person’s dreams, but have faith and see potential in them and share that all important spirit of adventure

I wear that parker with pride as well as it being rather comforting and toasty – thank you Ranie!

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South End Rowing Club Pool Parker in action!

Once upon a time I was a wetsuit only swimmer and thought non wetsuit swimmers were nuts and that whole skins swimming thing seemed daunting. I still wear a wetsuit from time to time, but somehow via fun swims, mentors and encouragement at the Serpentine and South London Swimming Club, along with events like Chillswim, The UK Cold Water Swimming Championships, The Dart 10k, Henley Swims and others, I have become an all year round skins open water swimmer.

Swimming with my mates means acclimatisation to cooler temperatures has happened naturally through fun swims that have also lead me to explore different waterways, all at my own pace, rather than being on a rushed pass or fail mission.

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Celebrating the 50m head up breast stroke at the Taierzhuang International Winter Swimming Festival in China – Tiara, earrings and sunglasses optional.

My comfort level with distance is also progressing, along with a love of meditation that gives me a freedom of mind and body I cherish, and I reflected very much on the A Lotus Rises interview with endurance swimmer Beth French, about mindfulness and swimming, throughout the week.

All of that enabled me to enjoy and progress through the week.

Rest, Food and Recuperation

During the week I had two massages, ate a huge amount of food, and slept A LOT. I’m still taking things pretty easy and I make sure I get to my physio regularly. As my roommate Emma said, you need to build a team around you. Juggling swimming dreams with the demands everyday life is not simple – I don’t get it ‘right’ all the time.

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Post swim ice cream and developing swim hat tan line nicely (watch out Anna Wardley!)

Equally I am not in a rush – give or take a few global environmental challenges, the Channel et al ain’t going anywhere…Swimming is a sport for life and I want to have fun, be kind to myself and look after my body and mind as this journey progresses.

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Rest, rest, rest!

Overall this Swimquest week is about realising your potential and finding out what suits you as a swimmer on your individual path. It provided me with some important general advice and has empowered me to explore what’s best for me too – for example, a lot of people really like maxim as their main feed for long distance swims, but it seems I get on better with UCan.

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Post swim potatoes bravas – Note. This is just a starter #eliteenduranceathlete

Life in and out of the water

Last year when I was at the Camp Eton long distance swim training weekend, John described how in life there can be two types of people: “Drainers and radiators…Surround yourself with radiators” – and that resonated throughout the week – thank you to my fellow swimmers and in particular Emma and James who often kept me company and embraced my somewhat Dory – like qualities when in the water.

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Emma awesome room mate and super radiator 🙂

Other things I learnt:

  • No matter how long you spend in the water, however acclimatised or however warm the climate, when you spray p20 sunscreen on your back it feels really cold!
  • Long distance swimming is a team sport.
  • Doing your bra up after a 6 hour swim in 15 degree water is a significant challenge.
  • Never underestimate the importance of a powerfully named nail varnish. My room mate Emma has a selection of nail varnish with fantastic names for her big swims. For the six hour swim she let me borrow one entitled “Up the Anti”…And I did!

 

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The night before the 6 hour swim: Up the Anti Nail Varnish applied and sleeping in pajamas entitled “You Are Awesome” – elite preparation for an elite endurance athlete

  • An open and positive mind unlocks potential
  • Anything is possible
  • I love swimming

…. Thank you SwimQuest!

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Mojito Accomplished – Cheers Alice Todd!

 

At A Lotus Rises we’re celebrating  women in open water, from your first splash, through to wild swims and marathon swimming.

Many more inspirational stories, advice and adventures can be found on our Blog, and Facebook page and please don’t hesitate to get in touch via Twitter or  alotusrises@gmail.com. We want to share your stories, so we can support you and inspire others!

 

69km, 32 Hours and 52 Minutes. A Lotus Rises meets Marathon Swimmer and Winter Swimming Champion Jaimie Monahan

On August 26th and 27th, 2015, Jaimie Monahan from New York City, swam the 42.8 miles (69km) across Lake Geneva in 32 hours and 52 minutes. It was the 53rd longest solo swim in human history – and she is the first American to complete a solo crossing of the lake.

This is another chapter in an incredible swimming journey that has taken Jaimie across the globe from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle, from Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier to frozen lakes in Siberia and Vermont to the Sahara Desert and the towering mountains and crystal blue waters of Switzerland.  And that’s just in 2015.

Jaimie has also just become the overall female winner of the 2015-2016 International Winter Swimming World Cup.

Paradise Bay Antarctica Courtesy of Arik Thormahlen

Paradise Bay Antarctica Courtesy of Arik Thormahlen

What inspired you to undertake this swim?

In February of 2015 I got an email through the English Channel swimmers distribution list about a new organization, the Lake Geneva Swim Association (LGSA) (http://www.lakegenevaswimmingassociation.com/) that was starting to organize swims across Lake Geneva in Switzerland for the coming summer.  I’d been focusing on ice swimming and winter swimming for the past year and hadn’t done any long swims for a while.  Lake Geneva was much longer than any swim I’d ever done and less than six months away, but something about it just called to me.  I researched for a few minutes about the lake, the surrounding landmarks, and the water, and decided to go for it.

I registered my interest on the website and within a few minutes was in correspondence with Ben Barham, the founder of the Lake Geneva Swimming Association (LGSA).  He was great and we locked down a date that same day!  In general, I try to only pursue swims that are exciting or meaningful to me personally rather than try and check off swims on arbitrary lists.

Lake Geneva Photo Courtesy of Ben Barham LGSA

Jaimie in her element in Lake Geneva

How did you prepare physically and mentally? 

Physically I swam as much as I could, and did a lot of yoga.  For me, yoga helps a lot mentally too because it’s taught me to just show up to the mat (or the water) and breathe through whatever happens.  I also thought it was important to get a long freshwater swim under my belt a few months in advance, so I signed up for Extreme North Dakota Racing’s Watersports Endurance Test END-WET http://endracing.com/end-wet), a 36 mile swim down the Red River of the North.  I had never swum much in fresh water, so END-WET was a great learning experience for me, as well as a lot of fun with swimming friends and the amazing people of Great Forks, North Dakota.  Definitely a great community race!

How important are logistics and support crew? Were there any particular instructions you gave to them? What did you eat?

Logistics are a very big factor on a swim this long. We planned for up to 48 hours worth of feeds which is a LOT of bottled water and carbohydrate powder.  Watching us load a huge shopping trolley cart of groceries onto the boat the day prior must have been really funny for the people watching us from Geneva’s stylish waterfront cafes.

Support crew is so important, perhaps THE most important thing.  I had a small but dedicated and experienced personal crew of one, the amazing Arik Thormahlen, and a wonderful team organized by the LGSA of our pilots Gérard Schoch and Jacques Massard and observers Ben Barham and Tim Davies.

I fed every 30 minutes on warm carbohydrate drink, interspersed with black tea and even some flat Coca-Cola at the end for variety. I don’t eat solids during swims but the drinks provide warmth and enough calories to keep me going, even for a long time.

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Jaimie and her super support crew Arik Thormahlen and Ben Barham, Observer and LGSA Founder

 

How much sunscreen and vaseline did you have to apply etc?

I could go on for ages on the topic of sunscreen but for this swim I used La Roche-Posay Anthelios factor 60 as a base layer with a thick layer of Desitin Maximum Strength brand diaper/nappy cream. It’s messy and we come prepared with latex gloves for a neater application, but with 40% zinc oxide, it is the only thing that works for me. It also prevents chafing so no need for vaseline! It was very effective and stayed (mostly) on, even after almost 33 hours in the water. I still daydream about ways to reapply in the water for even better coverage but haven’t found a good method yet.

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WICKED!

What goes on in your head on a 32 hour, 52 minute swim?

Everything and anything!  I have a really slow stroke count so I often try to keep faster paced songs in my head to increase my turnover.  I felt quite sick for most of the Lake Geneva swim so I spent a lot of time monitoring myself…making sure my feeds were absorbing, that the cold I was feeling wasn’t hypothermia, just discomfort, etc. For this swim the scenery was a great distraction for me, beautiful vineyards, stunning mountains, and the water itself was ridiculously lovely so I tried to focus on that too.

Do you have a mantra? What keeps you motivated?

I don’t have a mantra.  Sometimes I count to myself, but always lose track.  It’s kind of calming though.  In terms of motivation, I just swim to the next feed, or sunrise, or some other landmark.  For long swims I try not to even think about being done until the very end.  It’s always the last 10% of every swim that’s the hardest for me, because my mind switches from swimming and being in the moment to wanting to be done.

How do you recover from a swim that big?

It sounds a little funny but for me swimming at my typical pace for long solo swims is not very tough on my body – even after swimming for so long I was only sore for about 24 hours afterwards.  Slept in the next morning, had a nice social swim on the second day and went on a (leisurely!) hike with friends before heading back to NYC.

Perito Moreno Glacier Photo Courtesy of Mariia Yrjo-Koskinen

The Perito Moreno Glacier: Jaimie Monahan overall female winner of the 2015-16 International Winter Swimming World Cup

We know that you love cold water swimming.  What are your top tips? Please refer to fancy dress in your answer.

Good question!  For training, my best advice is to ramp up gradually.  Start swimming in the summer or autumn and then just keep swimming outdoors as the water gets colder.  Keep your breathing under control, relax, and as you’re going in, try counting to 100.  By then it usually feels okay.  Don’t push your limits, get used to how your body feels and reacts and be conservative with temperatures and length of swim until you are familiar with what “normal” and “not normal” feels like for you.  And never swim alone!

Specific to winter swimming events and competitions – my best advice is bring as many swim costumes as you can, more than you think you need.  Keeping on a wet swimsuit between events can take a toll over the course of a long day of events.  In a similar vein, always dry off and get dressed immediately after a cold swim. You may feel amazing and want to hang out in the cold air, but dry off, cover your head, and get dressed including warm comfortable footwear as soon as possible.

And yes, fancy dress wherever/whenever possible!  I highly recommend a sheep hat.

Tooting Bec UK Winter Swimming Champs- photo courtesy Tolga Akmen

Sheep hats – The millinery of winter swimming champions!

A Lotus Rises is a community of women who inspire and are inspired by a love of open water.

More inspirational stories, advice and adventures can be found on our Blog,  Facebook and Instagram and  Twitter – we’d love to hear from you at alotusrises@gmail.com. We want to share your stories, so we can support you and inspire others!

Camp Eton: The Best of the Best!

At the end of January an incredibly exciting email arrived from Nick and Sakura Adams, announcing Camp Eaton 3: The third year of their swim training camp held at Eton College in April, and aimed at aspiring long distance swimmers from the Serpentine Swimming Club and beyond. It costs £60 and any profits are donated to the RNLI.

Over the course of the weekend, workshops include: Feeding and Hydration; Hypothermia and Fatigue; Mental Preparation; The Four ‘P’s; (Channel) Pilots, Booking, Tides and Swim Course; and A Guide to Swims Around the Globe.

Swimming! Credit: Nick Adams

Camp Eton Swimmers in action. Credit: Nick Adams

These are long days and in between workshops there are swim sessions, helping participants notch up 20km of swimming over the weekend, including an epic 100 x 100m session starting at 6am on the Sunday morning.

100 x 100 Never Forget your Abacus! Credit: Nick Adams

100 x 100 Never Forget your Abacus! Credit: Nick Adams

I know this may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but to me this was the long distance swimming equivalent of Top Gun meets the excitement of Snow on Christmas Day.

But was I ready? 18 months of injury, fatigue, rehab and health checks made me think perhaps not.

“This is wonderful – fingers crossed, one for me for next year I hope  :)”

To which came Nick’s response: “Why next year? Get on it now, and learn now; you’d love it.”

Good point.

Although every time anyone mentioned the words “Camp Eton”, the Top Gun guitar rift started playing in my head, participating in this weekend isn’t about being an elite; Camp Eton is about the swimming community pooling resources, knowledge and experience to inspire one another and equip people with the information they need to realise their swimming dreams and support others to do the same.

That’s what makes it the best of the best.

It’s a truly special learning opportunity and scrolling through the opening credits it’s pretty easy to see why.

Nick is president of the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation and has swum the channel ten times and across a lot of other intrepid stretches of water in between. As you can imagine, he can provide one or two helpful insights…

Sakura has swum all over the globe, including the Channel. She is also a doctor and talked us through her research on hypothermia and fatigue in cold water.

Swimming! Credit: Nick Adams

Swimming! Credit: Nick Adams

Swim analysis and technique sessions were provided by the wonderful Ray (Swim Canary Wharf) Gibbs and SwimQuest‘s John Cunningham Rolls, (solo Channel, Manhattan Island and Zurich swimmer and Vice President of the International Winter Swimming Association), shared his insight on the mental preparation for long swims:

“People can be ‘Drainers or Radiators’, surround yourself with ‘Radiators’.”

Wise words JCR!

Big Fish, Little Fish with Ray Gibbs. Credit: Nick Adams

Big Fish, Little Fish with Ray Gibbs. Credit: Nick Adams

Deirdre Ward (Manhattan Island, Zurich, two way Windermere and Channel swimmer) shared her experiences of organising support crew and throughout the weekend big smiles, sustenance and support were provided by the awesome Rod (he’s got your back) Newing, Doyley (taking Maxim to the max) and Tory (I’ve just come back from swimming Rottnest, because the Channel didn’t have enough sharks) Thorpedo.

Not a bad line up, and the participant swimmers were an eclectic and inspiring bunch too, including Doug embarking on his first open water swim (he had a few beers in a pub and ended up committed to swimming Lake Windermere) and Wendy Trehiou (two way Channel swimmer and all round swimming legend).

I had no idea where my swimming was at, and went into the weekend with a completely open mind. I would learn as much as I could, participate in the swimming as much as possible, and promised myself that I would get out of the water if I did not feel comfortable.

The weekend started at 7am with roughly 5km of swimming, so by 9am I had already completed my longest swim since summer 2013.

And I was already learning. Learning about setting a pace, swim sets for long distance swim training and taking my first gulps of Maxim. With each kilometre, faith in my body and swimming ability was restored.

Anything else from here was a bonus and I couldn’t stop smiling.

So what else did I learn?

So much. So, so much. Luckily a lot of the info is contained in the Camp Eton handbook (aka the Channel Swimming Bible). Everything from what brand of squash mixes best with Maxim, to suggested feed plans for swimmers, how to actually feed a swimmer, support crew briefings, directions to Dover Harbour swim training and Directions to Shakespeare beach (you wouldn’t want to get that wrong). It’s essential reading for anyone contemplating the Channel or any other ‘big’ swim for that matter.

The British Coast is that way

The British Coast is that way [NB that’s not Shakespeare Beach]

Other key things I took away from the weekend:

  • Long distance swimming is a team sport and is about way more than just swimming.
  • There are challenges and risks and it’s a lot of hard work, but good preparation means that you and your team can make good judgment calls.
  • I love swimming. Even 100 x 100 in a 25m pool.
  • I can do anything once I put my mind to it.
  • Don’t leave me alone in a room with a selection pack of Pringles.

It also reinforced how classic swims and things like the Oceans 7 can inspire, motivate and provide reference points, but overall long distance swimming isn’t about ticking boxes.

Ticking Boxes

Ticking Boxes

Just like Top Gun there are no points for second place, but unlike Top Gun there are also no points for first place, or any position for that matter. It’s about exploration: personal, physical, geographical.

Lampay Island, Isle of Skye. OSS Adventure Swim with the NWSSSG. Photo Credit: Gill Williams

Lampay Island, Isle of Skye. OSS Adventure Swim with the NWSSSG. Photo Credit: Gill Williams

One of the slides from the workshops that really stuck in my mind was a picture of a whale leaping out of the ocean, taken by Nick and Sakura on one of their swims. EXACTLY!

A world of swimming awaits and thank you everyone for a truly inspiring weekend.

Swimming!

Swimming!

芙蓉出水: (fúróng chūshuǐ) Out of the water a lotus rises

Get in touch:

At A Lotus Rises we’re celebrating  women in open water, from your first splash, through to wild swims and even swimming marathons.

You can get involved via the BlogFacebookTwitter and alotusrises@gmail.com. We want to share your stories, so we can support you and inspire others!