Looking back at September
September is a funny month. It signifies the end of the holiday season, the start of new terms at schools in the UK, the start of autumn, yet channel swimming carries on in full flow and we often have a bit of an Indian summer. So, how was September for you? Please do share.
Dover Channel Training
We saw another set of impressive achievements within Dover Channel Training, showing that it’s not just about the channel! Like last month I thought it would be useful to show a summary of the dreams that became reality for swimmers this month:
6 x English Channel solos
3 x English Channel relays
3 x Windermere solos
1 x Loch Ness solo
1 x Catalina solo
1 x Jersey to France solo
1 x Round Jersey solo
1 x Wash solo
1 x 3 person 2 way English Channel Relay
There has also been a lot of frustration and disappointment as people have patiently waited for their turn to do a channel event only to find that the weather has been very poor. The challenges of the remnants of US storms impacting the UK. There are 30 days in September, only 8 of these were suitable for English Channel swims. The Indian summer that we often get hasn’t happened (yet). Some have now decided to wait until next year which must be so disappointing after training so hard.
I’ve mentioned before that I theme training sessions, our themes for September have been:
Week 19: Superheroes
Week 20: Sea creatures
Week 21: Choice of favourite theme from the year so far
Week 22: Anything associated with the letter D, C or T.
September also saw the final training sessions and our end of season celebrations. It’s so nice to get so many people together once more to celebrate all the achievements of the season, better than just letting the season fade away.
When I added up all of the achievements from the season (so far) I counted 109 successful events, I’m probably missing some. What an amazingly group of high achievers.
I continue to get requests for support with event preparation. For some people this is about the whole package - i.e. structuring a training programme often when time is limited and we need to maximise the impact of training. Sometimes it’s that the person knows they have one chance to do this and they want to give it their absolute best. Sometimes, it’s focused purely around mindset training. Mindset training can be aimed at tackling a single specific issue or the person recognises that a big event like a channel solo is 80% mental and 20% everything else!
I absolutely love the intellectual challenge of unpicking the mindset challenges or working out how to get someone ready for a big swim when there are other competing priorities.
The celebrities in the Sink or Swim challenge (below) may not have consciously realised that there was a lot of subtle mindset support alongside the swim coaching.
If you think this is for you, please get in touch. I’d love to help you.
Sink or Swim
All four episodes have now aired, including the big swim itself. Did you watch it? If so, did you enjoy it? Apart from a couple of comments that were factually incorrect, I think it was extremely well put together and really did portray the challenge that the celebrities faced. Whilst I wasn’t on the boat on the big day I did see them off and did chat with the pilot afterwards and the only reason they didn’t make it was because the weather deteriorated.
If you consider that 12 weeks previously that they couldn’t swim, I think that what they did achieve was phenomenal. I hope they come back again next year. I love the fact that I am seeing social media updates from several of them showing that they are still swimming, how amazing is that!
I will do a separate behind the scenes blog, but in the meantime here are a few behind the scenes photos from episodes 2-4.
I am so utterly impressed by them all and although my role was small, I had an absolute blast.
Episode 2 (Burgh Island):
Just before their night swim (episode 3) I had the pleasure of another 1:1 coaching session with Linford Christie. This time it was in Shepperton Lake. I was blown away by his progress. Just a couple of weeks before he took 3 minutes 47 seconds to do 100m in a pool, stopping at each end. This time he confidently swam entire laps of the lake without stopping and with a pretty decent stroke. We covered 2km in well under an hour.
He did make me chuckle when I asked him if he would consider a triathlon. His answer was a clear ‘no’ but the reason was one I didn’t expect - it was the running that put him off!! I guess it makes sense, 5km is a long way for someone who is a sprinter, but I had naively thought that it would be the cycling that was now the gap!
Episode 3 (Shepperton Lake):
Episode 4 (The Big Day):
What about what I’ve been up to?
I’m super proud of my son who has just been offered a new job. He is going to be a call handler for the Ambulance Service. Another step closer to career that he’s been working so very hard to get into. He doesn’t start until the beginning of November so between now and then he will continue to teach swimming.
Training has been tricky this season for a few reasons. Firstly, I had planned to spend most of the season on the beach so that Paul & Mandi who had covered the beach last year could swim. Also because I have been extremely tired, which just makes everything a bit more difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, I have done some training, just not as much as would make me feel confident. Not as much pool training and not as much sea swimming.
Big swim plans
I have started doing some land conditioning and yoga / pilates though, which is a good compromise when I am away from work and can’t make masters training. This month I did also have a session with Ray and Swim Canary Wharf which is always enlightening and enjoyable. I highly recommend finding a coach that you 100% trust. I am extremely lucky to have Ray as a coach and also amazing club coaches in my masters squad.
I was due to do three channel relays this year:
4 person relay in June
6 person relay in July
3 person two way relay in September
Well, the first two haven’t yet started because the weather was not good enough at the right time and we went on hold.
I started to get a bit twitchy that I wouldn’t do a swim this season and that really didn’t sit well with me. Despite the fact that I had planned to have a year off big swims, that also didn’t sit well. So I spoke to Freda and asked her whether she thought I would be able to do Windermere on last year’s training. She thought it was possible and I hatched a plan. With the support of Paul & Kevin, we headed north!
You can read about the Windermere adventure here.
The Lion, The New Witch and the Same Old Dryrobe
Just like buses, you don’t just get one swim, they come together! 9 days after Windermere and within our planned window, our three person two way relay went ahead. Guess which swimmer I was! This is a swim that I have wanted to do since 2008. Read all about it here.
What made this even more special was knowing that Sarah Thomas started her epic 4 way English Channel solo whilst we were swimming. To be in the water whilst history was in the making was pretty special. I can also say that she achieved her phenomenal swim in good but far from perfect conditions. If you’ve not heard about this swim you should google it - unbelievable!!
So that was my September outside of my corporate role. I wonder what October will hold?
Whatever you do, have fun!