Time to look forward to next year

Time to look forward to next year
Time to look forward to next year

Roll on 2017.

It seems odd that I find myself counting down the days of this year. I usually chastise people for wishing their life away and for the spontaneous among us – I think I am the King in this respect – it really unseats me having to think about what I will be doing next year , let alone NEXT BLOODY WEEK.  My absence from various pools, lakes and rivers has been mentioned quite a few times. Well, a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks and the future looks both daunting and exciting all at the same time.

Firstly, a wedding is on the horizon. Slimhippo and Zimhippo will be the relevant parties of aforementioned Hippo Hitchup. As you can imagine, planning is well underway and we at least have a honeymoon destination booked – so I think my job is now done. Sadly these people actually want some money for our honeymoon. Honestly, how rude!!  We will figure it out. Audra is now moving up to full speed in organizing the wedding. So the daunting side is the fact that we will be having a very quiet couple of months as Paying for a wedding is a pretty eyewatering, not too mention wallet sapping task. Quiet is good though, gives me time to keep my training going now that I have a few  swim oriented goals in mind. I will have to step up the gears pretty quickly. The initial dalliances in the water look promising so roll on December.

Looks utterly Horrendous!!

Looks utterly Horrendous!!

Africa Only 25 miles away

Africa Only 25 miles away

the-residence-zanzibar

As we will be honeymooning on an island a mere 25 miles off the coast of Africa. I did pose the question that maybe, on one of the days I can do a swim to the mainland. Surprisingly, the suggestion was not met with the same enthusiasm by the Slimhippo. I am lucky to still be alive – with all my body parts in tact. Note to self:- it is a Bad plan winding up people who operate scalpels for a living!! So it will be the first time the Hippos have spent 10 Days ON HOLIDAY  – TOGETHER – which does not involve a swim, safari with friends or catching up with Family. Watch this space, there is still a possibility one of us might not make it back to Sunny Blighty. The rest of this diatribe could be well and truly redundant.

So where does that leave my training and swimming?

Again, I am utterly aghast as the popularity of this sport. There are now so many swims to choose from. It looks like it will be a very busy one. Starting early in Mid December. Last year, a Friend of mine, and awesome swimmer ,Mark Sheirdan, did a swim with some buddies. I was invited, but chose not too do it as it is a horrible set. 10km, nothing out of the ordinary, but broken into 100 x 100m set. I have done this once and hated it!  Very sadly, one of the people who did that swim was fatally injured whilst out training on his bike earlier this year. So Mark is organising a Memorial fund raising swim. All donations go towards the

Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust

In true Mark style, he has coerced some pretty legendary Open water swimmers from around the globe to join him. Somehow, I have been invited. I am over the moon albeit perplexed as to why I will be there, considering the talent I will be sharing the pool with. It is a set I hate and have done once before – on my own – and the tedium of it is just immense. This time I will be with some pretty amazing people. So It is back to the pool and try to get myself fit again – dodgy ankle or not, I will give it my best. I thank Mark and his team for the invite and am really happy to have a goal to work towards. A few People have told me that I will breeze it – which I suspect I will but I will have to go back to the drawing board mentally to reprogram my mind for this one. Training set planning is a bit of a doddle – not that I ever plan ANY of my training sets anyway. There is always a good time to start. Started on 20 x 100m (adjusting pace every 5) and just add 5 – 10 more every time I go to the pool. I am now up to 30. You do the maths

steve-wand3

The Original group

I am also looking quite seriously at getting into Ice swimming. This will take a huge effort in the mental workshop to get my head up to this level of commitment and control. Always good to have a challenge and if the saying about Open Water is true –  “20% physical and 80% mental.” – I think Ice swimming must be close to 90% mental.  This is something I have often thought about in the past, and dabbled in with short swims, but I am seriously thinking of a Ice Mile. We will try and start with a 1km swim in water of about 3 -4 degrees Celcius. I have done shorter distances at this temp but they are easy. Going from my standard 122m to 1km – at those temperatures is HUGE!!! With Christmas on the horizon, it will be an excellent excuse to keep my bioprene reserves up.

Whilst I have already signed up for one swim, I missed a swim sign up due to my amazing skills at procrastination, I will look to book two others with one being the week before my wedding – I was going to sign up the Slimhippo as well but seeing as it is a river swim, she felt it better she does not do it for fear of getting ill. This is the Jubilee River swim. Having done it three times on my own I want to share the love and will be doing it in a relay. I will then be otherwise occupied for about 6 weeks getting married, catching up with Family and honeymooning.

Once back, it is into the fray doing the Henley Bridge to bridge – YES, I FINALLY secured a Bioprene space on this swim. it has only taken me 3 years of trying to get into it. Apart from the palaver of booking onto it, I am now in, I even have my bright orange “Fart bag” or Tow-float – not a fan of these – but they are becoming more common with some swims not allowing you to participate without them. I have heard good and bad reports on this swim but figured I am not going to pass judgement on it until I have done it.

The other swim I have planned is a double Windermere. 21 miles of awesomeness in the lakes. I have not signed up to this yet but got the forms through yesterday so back to saving to be able to afford this.. Unlike a lot of the swims, this one is still readily available and I have even let the organisers know of my intention to swim it.  This adds an interesting scenario in August in that I will have two big swims on succesive weekends. so Bridge to Bridge (14km) will be a bit of a warm up for double Windermere. The latter being a swim that I have signed up for before but was unable to do it and had to pull out.

So it looks like I will be having a busy year ahead. Just hope that all goes according to plan! The way it is looking at the moment, things seem to be falling into place pretty well. To keep the fitness up, I will also be taking on some other minor swims along the way. I will also try to get back into my Pilates. The two sports that have afforded me the ability to change my life are swimming and Pilates. An interesting article that has just arrived in my in box, is the perennial bar stool debate about ranking the toughest outdoor sports. Good to see that the sport I like to call my hobby  is possibly the toughest out there, backed up by the fact that some of the most amazing people I know do it. An interesting read if you want to take a look

Ranking the worlds toughest outdoor sports

I still have to pinch myself everytime I mention that I am involved in this sport. All from the humble beginnings of swimming in a Horse swimming pool whilst training our horses.

About the author

Ameteur Endurance athlete and marathon swimmer Having taken up marathon swimmng in 2008 with the challenge of the English Channel, I then continued on to Cycle up Britain, Kayak across Scotland and run a few marathons. None of those held the draw that marathon swimming held so in 2014 I was back in the water to Swim the longest swim in Switzerland and then, in 2015 I opted to take on my biggest swim to date. SCAR challenge.- 4 lakes in 4 days with distances Ranging from 6 miles to 18 miles.

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