Swimming Lessons Learnt So Far

IMG-20160303-WA0001I used to think I was quite good at swimming. Turns out I was basically cleaving my way through the pool with the grace and efficiency of a breezeblock.

I only found this out after joining a local club around 7 weeks ago, just after I had started training. After seeing me swim, Kevin, the coach, said something along the lines of:

“We’ve got a lot of work to do here. But to start with, try this…”

And with each new session, he has given me something to focus on for the upcoming week, a change here, an alteration there, sometimes something small, sometimes something big. With each tip I have been amazed at the difference it has made to my swimming. Although there is still lots to learn with each passing week I am feeling more fluid in the water.


Lesson 01: Slow stroke rate, make legs higher in the water, rotate shoulders less when breathing, breath alternate sides with each breath to encourage better form.

Lesson 02: Keep bum and legs higher up in the water, relax feet and legs when kicking.

Lesson 03: Angle head up more in the water.

Lesson 04: Keep head raised more in water, practice touching armpit with thumb during over stroke to encourage better arm form.

Lesson 05: Make elbows higher on the overstroke and glide hands into the water, rotate hand slightly at the start of the pull back, and focus on pulling back till exiting the water.

Lesson 06: Keep legs closer together when kicking.

Lesson 07: Scoop even more with hands at start of the pullback, keep hand perpendicular to body throughout the whole pull back till exiting the water.



IWG Exped 05: Conservation Trip – Jungfruskär Island, Finnish Archipelago


This is one of two trip reports that I did not get round to publishing from my time training in Finland. In May 2015, we spent a week on Jungfruskär Island, which is situated in the archipelagos to the south west of Finland. We were here to do some conservation work and study the local flora and fauna. The college has a deal with the Forest and Parks service that allows the class to stay on the island and use the facilities in return for doing some conservation work.

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A Brief Encounter with A Swimming Legend


About a month ago I went to the Adventure Travel Show and saw Sean Conway talk about his swim from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

I thought it was a perfect opportunity to ask for some advice for my upcoming Thames Swim, so after his talk I popped down to the front to say hello. I asked if I could ask him a few quick questions. He shook my hand and said of course. He was shorter than I thought and had a pixie like face with small features and glinting eyes, which were surrounded by a wild thicket of ginger hair and a huge bushy beard, he listened attentively as I told him my plans. His response was positive and encouraging, and his main bits of advice were to eat everything, improve my stroke & train lots and start cold water training immediately – as the Thames water is 13 degrees, 2 degrees colder than the channel, brilliant!

I thanked him for his time, shook his hand and walked back to my seat smiling to myself. It was good to have some positive encouragement, rather than people saying you’re completely mad. So, some immediate things I needed to act on:

Cold Water Training – Helping my body get used to water temp of the Thames.
Swim Training – Improving my stroke, fitness and stamina
Eating Everything – To put on weight and to provide more insulation against the cold.

Updates to come.