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Socialising with Swimming Club

In this last week I’ve been to two swimming club social events (and only one swimming club swim session – is that balance?) and had so much fun. I’ve been inspired by all my friends from the club and am rethinking my thoughts from the other week. I think I just needed to be reminded that it’s okay to do what I need to do and take part with the club when it works for me. It’s funny how we sometimes let fear control us without realising. I was afraid what I want to do wouldn’t fit in, but it wasn’t that at all. I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in anymore and I have no idea where that came from!

Anyway back to the social events as they are obviously just as important as the swimming itself, when it comes to being part of a club ūüėČ

The first event this week was a big birthday for our social secretary. She is normally the one organising all of us to do different things outside of the pool, so this time someone else organised a meal for her and it was great fun and a chance to catch up with lots of people.

The next was the annual awards night. This links back to the swimming races I took part in back in November as part of the Club Championships each year. I did less in 2015 then 2014, but still did quite well and beat a couple of my previous records. I also won the ladies achievement award and jointly won the Ladies Overall Champion. It’s really nice to remind yourself of the work you put into the year and see the results a while later. It’s also great to see the kids I coach going up to get their medals and trophies and having a great time being kids away from the pool.

The night started off quite civilised, but being at the only adult table with the masters swimmers soon turned into drinking way more than I should and included drinking shots of jagermeister! One friend was kind enough to take burst of photos showing how much we loved this experience.



This was a great night and an excellent reminder of why I love my swimming club. It doesn’t all have to be about swimming and it’s okay to take some time out from the club sessions to work on what I need to work on. Looking ahead I see myself not doing all the sessions each week, but making sure one or two form part of my training as I fit everything around work and lake swimming. I’m feeling really positive about my swimming year ahead.

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Blog Inspiration

I’ve been having a sort out of who and what I follow when it comes to blogs and on Twitter and Instagram. I want follow people and brands that inspire me to be the best me I can possibly be, by being who I am. I want to smile and laugh when things are funny, but I also want to be made to think and become more informed about topics I know less about. I want to be introduced to new things or be reminded that going back to basics is the best step to take. That is what I want to do for other people, so I need to follow people are like that.

It’s so easy to keep adding people to follow, but I really recommend taking the time every now and then to do through the list and take out people you don’t need any more. I usually go by the rule of thumb that if I can’t remember seeing your tweets, it’s time to go. I find that sometime I’m then introduced back to them when someone I do follow reintroduces their content, so I don’t worry about missing anything. I also find some people you don’t see their tweets as they are on the other side of the world and running in completely different time zones so your paths never cross. It’s okay to stop following people, as you can always re-follow them another time.

Lately I’ve been getting back into reading blogs for inspiration and have found I always return to the same three and search back through their archives for posts I remember and need to re-read. It feels familiar, but also going back and realising you are now in a similar place to where they were at some point in their life. I like these for all different reasons as they all have different content, but they are all strong women doing their thing and that’s what I love.

Love Lexi Life – I love Alex’s blog and social media feeds for her beauty updates (thank you for introducing me to Stila liquid eye liner) and the constant geekness I aspire to. I am currently inspired to work on my make up skills and up my geekness by bringing into my daily life.

Healthy Happier Bear – I love Ashley’s blog for her dedication to fitness and career, both of which are important to me. I love that Ashley has picked a sport (running in this case) and is working to make herself a better runner, which is what I want to do with swimming. I also love that she is dedicated to her career and is making a life of balance between working hard and enjoying life, another thing I aspire to in my own life.

Superlatively Rude – I love Laura’s work and she inspires me by writing with passion. I wish I could articulate my thoughts as Laura does, with no-nonsense and a level of vulnerability that I feel I am seeing into her mind with each piece she shares. I purchased her ebook, ‘The Book of Brave’ and cannot wait for her first book to be published this year. She inspires me to look at life as a journey and realise that every bit happens for a reason, but if you want to change it you can, you just have to work for it.

I want my blog to do what these blogs do for me. It only has to be one person and I would be so happy. My blog is an outlet for my thoughts and have never been about the numbers. This year I am going to work on improving my blog and being more consistent with content, while improving my writing skills. So watch out for more updates on where my improvement ideas take me.

Catching up on coffee 2016 Part 1

Like with my book posts, I’m very behind on my coffee updates. Although I seem to be taking longer to get through coffee than normal. I have reduced the amount I drink slightly, but I’m also more consistent in having at least one every single day.

I have also been drinking coffee out a bit more and have been enjoying some very nice flat white coffees, which makes a change from my standard americano or if I want milk a latte.

Rave Fudge Blend – this has been my staple over the last year. Every time I go and visit Rave I stock up on this and a new one I haven’t tried. I still have this in my stock so will be continuing to enjoy until my next visit at the end of the month.

Starbucks Christmas Blend – a tradition in my house is to buy this blend every Christmas and take round to my parents every year to get them to drink nice coffee instead of instant (I know!). This year I also the espresso blend, which I felt was slightly stronger than the standard blend, but I admit I didn’t try them side by side.

Hope and Glory Spiced Winter Coffee – an impulse buy as I don’t normally pre-ground coffees, but I couldn’t resist a spiced coffee. I could totally do this myself next year as it is juts a nice coffee with added spices. I liked the warming impact of this coffee and it felt very festive over the Christmas period.

Rave Hurrave Blend – This is the second year I’ve bought this blend and I like it a lot. ¬†It was a nice one to drink going into January while it was grey and wet. This was very warming and lovely to use as a french press or pour over coffee.

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I have one Christmas coffee left, the Wonderland Espresso Blend from Hope and Glory. I’m looking forward to opening this one and enjoying at home this month.

I also bought myself a new mug on my recent trip to Bruges. I try to find local places to drink, but will always pop into a Starbucks to get their city series mugs as I like the style, size and practically of them as a souvenir.

On another note I have booked on a barista skills course being put on by Rave at the end of the month and I cannot wait. I really want to take my home coffee brewing to the next level and need to learn about grinding properly and the ratios of water to coffee. I’m aware of both, but have never been shown what to do and reading about it has not been a huge priority, even though I know I want to learn.

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Video analysis take two

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This week I went back to my swimming coach from last year – Jason at South West Swim – and had another video analysis session. I was mean to do this after my Solent swim, but had a niggle in my shoulder so put it off and the next thing I know it’s 4 months later!

This time round I got to swim in an endless pool – side note, I’ve added one of these to my wishlist for what I want in my next house! It was a weird experience, but I picked it up quite well and was able to swim properly straight away. It’s like a treadmill and to begin with I kept trying to keep up with the speed as Jason adjusted it to get me in the right position in the centre of the pool. Once I got used to it and stopped worrying about being sucked into the motor, I was able to swim normally and then work on some drills.

I swam for a warm up and then a couple of filmed sets so that we could see what I was swimming like after a good few months of limited swimming. After that we looked at the video and recorded our conversation so that I can watch it back afterwards to remind myself of what I need to do. We looked at the things I need to work on to be more efficient and the ways to correct some issues, again to make me more efficient.

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We also looked at comparisons to some elite swimmers. As you can see below the angle of my arm is a bit different from that of Rebecca Adlington’s – something to aim for!

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What I need to work on:

  • Catch at entry – I have the tendency¬†to push forward, then down, rather than back straight away. I corrected this last year so with a bit of focus this should be a quick win.
  • Breathing rhythm and head position – I seem to lift my head, mainly on one side, so we looked at my head position as I look forward quite bit, so I need to look down more, which is another quick fix.
  • Angle of arm on the pull through – as you can see from the screen shots above I sweep my arm quite close under my body and I need to adjust this so that my fingers point down towards the bottom of the pool.

Once we had looked at the video and also drills, I got back in the pool to give the drills a go so I could take them away with me to practice, all from the Swim Smooth coaching technique. If you google these you will find out more about them I’m sure, but I’m not going to risk copyright by telling you how to do them (Sorry!).

  • Unco (or uncoordinated)
  • Skull 1
  • Skull 2
  • Skull 3
  • Doggy paddle

Those are the main things and I have a number of drills I am going to focus on over the next month, while I work on my fitness, to correct those. I also need to do a CSS (critical swim speed) test to see where I currently am to be able to compare to in a month’s time. So I’ll let you know how that goes!

We also had a quick chat about the Bridge to Bridge marathon in August as I am taking part in that as part of the South West Swim team and Jason is going to help us by outlining the distance we should be doing by when, which is what I really need. ¬†I’m feeling good about swimming again, which is nice. I’m stepping away from the swimming club to do what I need to do to train and focus and that is good right now.

I also need to get back into the lake soon. It’s currently around 4 degrees Celsius and I missed the last Chilly Dippers swim as I overslept, so it will likely be some ice breaker swims for the start of the season at the end of this month. I feel cold already!

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Recent Reads… Catching Up!

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It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post about books and I have a bit of catching up to do. I have a couple of books I finished at the end of last year and a my great start to this year so far!

Queen of Shadows РThe 4th in the series and I enjoyed it a lot. After heading off to another continent in the previous book Aelin is back in the Empire and ready for revenge. I love a series and being able to read them as they come out is both exciting and infuriating. I find these fairly fast to read and enjoy being transported to another world. Overall a good read in my opinion and worth starting the series if you like fantasy  with strong female heroines.

The Red Queen – This book kept coming up in various book blogs I follow on Tumblr and so when I decided to treat myself to a selection books for my birthday I chose to give a new series a go. This is set in what feels like a post apocalyptic¬†fantasy world where the world id divided between those with red blood and those with silver blood. I found it an engaging read and the class politics thrilling. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer – I have a soft spot for the Percy Jackson series so when a new series came out set in the same world, but based on the viking gods I couldn’t wait to read it. I was waiting for the paperback as although hardbacks are lovely books on shelves I’m not a fan of carrying them around, however this was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. I found this book good fun! I love how the author manages to teach you about the mythology while embed it within a really engaging story. Another series I am looking forward to reading as the books are published.

The Girl on the Train – A book I borrowed form a friend after she recommended it. I don’t think I would have chosen to pick it up if someone hadn’t recommended it. It’s a crime/thriller. I can’t say I really enjoyed it and I definitely skimmed some of the parts that felt like they were moving slow. I always base my opinions on these types of books on whether I can guess who did it, and with this one I didn’t until just before it was revealed and that’s good. I like it when they don’t give it away too quickly. However I didn’t really like any of the characters and found them in all honesty quite annoying. I’m not sure I will see the film when it comes out.

Blood Rites – An audiobook this time to change things up a bit. I’ve really gotten into listening to an audiobook when I get into bed. I love that I can put the sleep timer on and then usually find I just need to recap a couple of minutes from the previous chapter then next night to find where I fell asleep. Some nights I listen to quite a bit, other nights I drop off very quickly. I think I’ve said it before, for me it all comes down to the narrator for me with audiobooks and each night currently I have James Masters reading me to sleep. This was a good book and revealed some background about Harry, which I needed as it was all a bit of a mystery.

The Queen of Tearling – Another book with queen in the title! A little trend developed in my book purchasing in January I think. This was a wildcard for me, but I liked it a lot. It was a cross between chicklit and YA fantasy for me – chick fantasy – and I liked it a lot. A lost princess returned to her throne and the politics that surrounds it and the legacy of a mother she never knew. It was gripping and I am looking forward to reading the next one to find out happens with the countries on her border.

I’ve been reading a lot since January and am finding it relaxing. I needed to pick some books I really wanted to read, rather than force myself to read ones I have won or because it was a bookclub choice. For me reading should be fun and exciting and transport me to other worlds I can only imagine. So I’ve set my reading goal for 2016 to read 24 books. I’ve also set my budget to buy new books as 24 so I can enjoy going out and explorng book shops and buying the books that interest me.

Right now I am currently reading three books that fit that bill:

Strange Weather in Tokyo – a find on my birthday bookshop trip. It sounds intriguing because of my trip to Japan planned for later this year.

Dead Beat – Another audiobook and the next one in the Harry Dresden series.

The Miniaturist – a gift from bookclub and one I am intrigued by as I kept seeing it in shops, but hadn’t bought it. To me this is similar to The Night Circus, which I loved!

I have few books in my ‘to be read’ pile and I plan on buying some new ones in March when I go exploring some new bookshops.

Happy reading adventures everyone!

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