Tag Archives: Open Water

Having fun fly boarding by being body positive

This was just going to be a straight forward review of my experience, but I went through some body image stuff in the lead up to going fly boarding and after I’d done it. So I thought I would make it a bit of both!

My sister bought me a voucher to go fly boarding for 30 minutes for last Christmas and Birthday and I admit I was putting it off, because of my swim and all the training I needed to do. However she reminded me and I realised it was starting to get near the expiry date and therefore I could not put it off any longer.

Why was a worried? I was freaking out because of my weight and not having done it before. I had also looked on the website and there was a weight limit and since I have not weighed myself since I took the focus off weight and dieting, I had no idea what I actually weighed. I was feeling good about myself and my clothes fitting well, but this was totally out of my comfort zone. I decided to take my own wetsuit as I knew it fit me and it would take away the awkward bit of selecting a wetsuit when you arrive, which is normally some guy looking at you and then looking at a rack of wetsuit – not the most inspiring time in any process. Also my sister had said she had wished she had taken her own wetsuit when she went last year.

So off we went to Big Crazy at the National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow. I was nervous, but on arrival the weather was extremely wet and that meant all the spectators were in the cafe and not wandering around the site, so my audience would be small. They guys from Big Crazy were also amazingly nice and encouraging. I was in a group starting at 3pm and I was the only girl (but I think I was the best out of all of us!) and when we were changed and walked down to the jetty I ended up going first – they asked who had the smallest foot size and I was the only girl!

The rest of the experience can be found in my Go Pro videos below!


Side note – I now really really want a Go Pro as I would use it swimming and for other things like this!

I had the most amazingly fun time doing this! I honestly can’t believe I was worried! But since then I’ve begun to understand why and it all about how we think about our bodies and what we think other people think. I look back at the videos and see a woman having fun and being really good at fly boarding the first time. I didn’t look at how I looked in the wetsuit until later, when I realised I hadn’t noticed. I was laughing the whole time (some was a nervous laugh as that is what I do) and focused on making the most of being in the water and doing something different.

I came away form the experience with a new appreciation of what my body is capable of. It also showed me some of the areas I need to work on with how I see myself and giving less of a shit about what other people think. It’s always going to be a journey I think, it won’t end, but I hope to get to a place where it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not going to change how society sees larger bodies, but I can keep doing my bit to prove those bodies are capable of anything!

A couple of weeks after this I went to the doctor as I’ve been struggling in circuits class with light headedness and almost fainting a few times. Its very frustrating and I was worried it was something serious. Again I went into that completely expecting the outcome to be told I needed to lose weight, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The doctor told me I have an athletic resting heart rate and didn’t mention my weight once. We talked about all the endurance swimming I’ve been doing and after testing my heart rates and looking for problems with valves he thinks it’s just that I am not used to the high intensity and I need to start slow and build up so my body can get used to it. It was amazing feeling to come out of the doctors surgery and not feel bad about myself. I know I want to treat myself well and that means dealing with my issues with food by understanding them, not sweeping them under a rug by going on another restriction diet. I am active and strong and want to learn and grow as a person and I need to do that through positive challenges and joy, not punishment!

Life is good and my body is loved and capable of anything!

Adventures in Swimming… Henley Classic 2015

Last weekend I had one very early night followed by a very early morning to go swim in the Thames for the Henley Classic.

My day started on Saturday night with a 7:30pm bedtime. I can say I was asleep by 8pm as was exhausted from my teaching course that day. I actually slept really well. My alarm went off at 1:30am and I got up with some bleary eyed cats wondering what the hell I was doing, grabbed my bag and headed out.

I had to drive for just over an hour to get to the swim, but it was lovely and quiet and when I got close I joined a stream of cars heading the same way so didn’t have to worry about getting lost.

The thing to note with this swim is that there is some walking involved. The registration is pretty much in the middles of the 2.1km course, so you have to walk to the start and then walk back from the finish. However the bonus is that this means there are no turns on the swim!

The swim started with a torch lit walk to the start and briefing. They only did one briefing for all the waves, but as the waves started fairly soon after each other that worked great. I was in the women’s open wave, which meant I had a pink hat and would be timed. There were also elite, means, and non-timed waves depending on your preference.

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It gradually got lighter, but we weren’t able to see the sun rise as it was very cloudy. The first wave started at 4:30am and my wave went off at 4:48am. I started near the front, but let a couple rows be ahead of me as didn’t know the field. I realised this was the wrong move and I should have just gone at the front when I quickly caught up with people and had to work my way around them for a first 5 minutes of the swim. I wasn’t racing, but I wanted to swim well, so didn’t want people holding me up.

I felt strong during the swim and it went quite quickly. I only saw one distance marker at about half way as I was over to the right and they were on the left side of the river. It didn’t worry me as I just kept the pace I was comfortable at while pushing slightly. I easily caught up the back of the previous wave and then even caught up with some of the men from the wave in front of that. I knew there were around 20 women ahead of me from my wave so I felt in a really good position.

The only trouble I had was that my had decided slip upwards during the second half of the swim and it pulled my googles tighter. I could feel the pressure, but refused to stop to sort it out as it wasn’t coming off completely. The last quarter of the swim felt hard and I wanted it reach the end. I was catching up with more people so lost my clear water and the hat issue was annoying.

I then could see people further ahead moving left so knew the finish gantry would be somewhere, but it seemed to take ages to appear. Then suddenly I was swimming under the gantry and batting my wrist against the timing device to record my finish. Just after this was where they were taking the finishing photos, but I needed to pull my hat off and keep moving out of the way so it really looks like I’m drowning. They didn’t catch my thumbs up, which am sad about, but for once I actually quite like the photos as I can see the smile in my eye.

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Then was the walk back to the main area to get my time and medal. I was really pleased with my time of 38 minutes as I had never done this swim before or even swum upstream of a river before so didn’t know what to expect. I think I could have gone quicker, but was not worried about that really, I just wanted a good swim and that is what I had.

I then changed, and headed home and back to bed. The prize giving was not untik 7:30am and I was on my own and was finished and changed by 6am I decided not to hang around. SO I was home by 7:30am and was back in bed for 8am to catch up on sleep.

Overall it was a good event. I was jealous of the people who didn’t have far to come, but not so of the people who had camped. I would definitely recommend this event to any swimmer as it was a nice distance to swim and as there were no corners I can say there was no hassle or risk of being pushed under, even at the start as it is a wide course everyone was spread out. A great swim in conclusion and one I would do again, but I would like to have a driver next time!


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Adventures in Swimming… ASA Wiltshire Open Water Race 2015

Last weekend on top of doing my swimming course and the Solstice at Avebury I competed in the Wilsthire ASA Open Water race. There was the option of doing the 1.5km or the 3km, but due to my schedule I knew I would struggle if I did the 3km, so went for the 1.5km and was very glad I did.

It was a lovely evening and lots of people had turned up to take part, mainly kids from the lcoal swimming clubs. What I like about this event is that you have to be a certain level of ASA membership to take part, so that means it’s restricted for those who enter, making it a much smaller event and really much more enjoyable than standard open water events.

We started by doing a deep water start, which is something i love as I am not a fan of beach starts. We then headed off on two laps of the course. I felt really good on the first lap, but during the second my tiredness really hit and I lost the two people I was swimming with. I struggled to keep the pace up on the second lap so just concentrated on steady and strong swimming.

I finished in time of 27 minutes 59 seconds. I was happy with that, but also disappointed as I found the last time I swam this even back in 2009 I swam in 26 minutes 16 seconds. I know I was at my lowest weight when I did that back in 2009 and I wouldn’t have spent the weekend on a course or at the Solstice, but I was still disappointed. Next year I want to beat that time.

Overall it was great to be back in an ASA open water event and I look forward to getting some of swimming club friends taking part next year.

Adventures in Swimming… Pool vs Open Water

It’s no secret I love swimming. I love swimming everywhere. Maybe a little less I the sea, but I still would swim there.  A lot of people I know love on or the other. Usually they swim in a pool and thought of open water is a big no.

Not with me. I like swimming in the pool and I like swimming in open water.  I just think of them as very different styles of swimming. Essentially the same activity, but different techniques and attitudes are required.

For me it depends what I fancy doing. In the lake I get in for a long steady swim. In the pool I get in to do a mix of strokes and a mix of speed. It’s only recently I’ve been doing drills and speed work in the lake. It also depends on how social I want to be. There are times when I just want to swim and be internal for a while.

I’ve always thought of swimming as an ‘alone’ type sport. You don’t need anyone else with you to go to the pool for example. However it is also a big part of my social life, but again the pool and lake are very different. In the pool you might stop and chat after a set or a section of the program, whereas in the lake you might not chat until after your swim.

I am also someone though who can’t just get in for a dip. It has to be worth it for me to get in. I rarely do less than a mile or 30 minutes, whether that is in the lake or the pool.

There is a huge difference between swimming in a pool and swimming in any kind of open water and confidence in your swimming ability has a lot to do with how successful you are I think. If you spend your whole swim worrying about fish, you won’t enjoy the freedom that comes from having no lanes ropes or walls. However as a sufferer of anxiety for other things I totally get that it is not simple to get over your fears or worries.

If you want to go from the pool to open water the first thing I would recommend is to get help. Don’t go on your own and have someone stay with you for the whole of that first swim. I’ve been the support many a time and it is lovely to see people overcome their initial worries and then enjoy their swims. It’s hard when someone struggles, but being able to provide reassurance and encouragement is also good. If you can take part in a group session that focuses on an introduction to open water. I would also say this is a good thing to do when changing from one kind of open water to a another – for me that would be for going from the lake and into the sea.

Swimming is essentially the same. There are certain things you need to do in open water that will make it much better and I am getting coached on such as sighting and drafting. But to begin with it’s just about enjoying the different experiences you have in different places.

I would hope everyone would give open water swimming a go at least once, and that is more than a dip in the sea on holiday! But I also hope that open water enthusiasts don’t put pool swimming down. Each to their own and as long as everyone is enjoying what they are doing, what does it matter where they are?!

Back in the Lake

This weekend, the first weekend of April, I set as the date I wanted to get back in the lake, and that is exactly what I did.

Saturday it was a chilly 7 degrees Celsius outside and warmer 8.7 degrees Celsius in the water. I joined the Cotswold Open Water Swimmers for their breakfast swim. This involved swimming in three lakes and then going for breakfast.

I made it into the first two lakes, but as the third was a drive away I decided to skip that one. I was a little chilly by this point. I managed about 100m in each lake, maybe slightly more, but as my aim was to get in and see how it went, that was a great start.

I then went back today and it was glorious. The sunshine was out and it felt warm out on the side. The lake hadn’t warmed up at all, but it was nowhere near as bad with sun out. Today I managed the 400m route and got my face full in the water on the way back to shore. My friends Carol and Sue (who are now doing the 70.3 with me as a relay) cycled over to see me swim. I want to be first out of the lake from the club at the 70.3 so I am training now!

Sue snapped some action shots of me!

The worst bit is the first dip under when the water enters the wetsuit through the zip. I was fully kitted up gloves, booties, and gloves!

Now I’ve started I will be in every week and will be building up distance. I would like to get up to swimming 5km this year, with the aim of doing a couple of 10km events next year. I also want to build speed for the 70.3 so have plenty to work on 🙂

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