Tag Archives: Isles of Scilly

Scilly Swim Challenge – the big day!

12 Sep
Osmo preload

Osmo preload

We’d got everything ready the night before, so just needed to get dressed and eat breakfast. I opted for porridge with protein powder (as usual), and a bottle of Osmo preload (kindly provided by ProBikeKit). The night before, Roelie and I had drunk a bottle each of Osmo preload hydration in pineapple margarita flavour. I could taste the pineapple, but hadn’t realised it was margarita flavour, so it was tangier than I expected. It is recommended that female endurance athletes drink a bottle the night before extreme endurance exercise and some more 30 minutes before exercise. I figured that it might be more than 30 minutes before I started exercising, but that a bit early would be better than not at all.

Unfortunately, we weren’t quite as organised as we’d hoped and when Chris, the swimmer in the apartment next to us, knocked on the door, we weren’t ready. Five minutes later, we headed down the path towards the beach, where everyone was waiting. The sky was grey and the water looked cold and uninviting, but it was too late to back out now. Jane, our host, arrived with her camera and took a photo of the group of us. I also spotted someone with a SUTRI hat on, so we went over and said hello.


Soon, we saw the kayaks appear, so we finished putting our wetsuits on and clambered down onto the beach. There, three flags were set up and the baggage boat had arrived. I took my bag over and was then asked by a ‘skins’ swimmer if I could deposit her bag – this made me so nervous as I was afraid that I might drop it in the water.

I’d made the decision to wear my new wetsuit, with bootees, gloves and two hats. I chose not to wear my neoprene hat as it’s just not very comfortable. (Later in the day I spoke to a swimmer who had a strapless neoprene hat. She explained that it was made by P-Bear, who custom make a variety of neoprene swimming hats – that’s now been added to my Amazon wish list!)

We were told that we would set off in waves with the red/fast group going first, followed by orange/medium and then the green/slow group last. I gave Stu a final hug and the adventure started.

Stuart's pre-event selfie

Stuart’s pre-event selfie

Swim 1. Bar Point, St Mary’s to Higher Town, St Martins (2 miles; 3.2k)

There was about 10 minutes between each of the waves, so there was plenty of time to get nervous. I tried to set off at the front of the group, but it was a bit like the mass start in a triathlon. The water didn’t feel terribly warm and I realised that I hadn’t used my inhaler – oops. I did my best to keep up, but could see others pulling away, so I decided to try to keep as many people within my sight as possible.

I didn’t really have a clear idea of where I was heading, but felt that following others should be OK. After we had got a little distance from the shore, I realised just how choppy it was. I felt like I was constantly being slapped by the water, so I had to change my breathing. For a short while, I was breathing on every other stroke, just to avoid being hit in the face.

Luckily, everything started to settled down and I swam for quite a long time. Sadly, I was approached by a kayaker and was told that I needed to be picked up by a boat. I had been aware that this was a possibility, but it was somewhat disappointing. The adverse weather conditions and the late start meant that it was necessary to hurry some of the group up. I climbed into a boat that already had two swimmers in it and was moved about 300m, where I was offered the chance to get back in to rejoin the other swimmers. One of the ladies was too cold and didn’t want to get in, but I literally jumped at the chance. Usually, I lower myself very carefully into water, as I hate being submerged, but I didn’t want to miss out, so I closed my eyes, held my nose and launched myself off the side of the boat. I then swam as quickly as I could to catch up with the other swimmers.

When I climbed up the steps on the quay, I saw my bag, but couldn’t see Stu or Roelie who had already headed off. I got my flip-flops out and put them on over my swim socks, which fortunately have a split toe. I then saw Bryony. It was nice to see a familiar face and she was incredibly positive.

When I arrived at the cricket pitch, people were eating and ranking everywhere. I had a small piece of cake and a veggie hot dog, along with a cup of tea. I then drank some more Osmo mango during exercise drink. Maybe technically I should have been drinking it whilst swimming, but I figured that between swims would also count as ‘during exercise’.

A bad picture of Stu at the cricket pitch

A bad picture of Stu at the cricket pitch

Roelie enjoying a cup of tea

Roelie enjoying a cup of tea

I removed my bootees for the walk to Lower Town; swapping them for a cosy pair of socks and some Skechers. The weather was starting to brighten up, but I wanted to stay warm.

On the way across the island, a car wanted to go past. Most people stepped off the road, and I managed to walk into a patch of stinging nettles – ouch! If I hadn’t removed my bootees, I would have been OK. I didn’t have any cream to put on my leg, but I figured that the cold water would be soothing!

Stuart and Roelie having a laugh in the sun

Stuart and Roelie having a laugh in the sun

Stuart and Roelie

Stuart and Roelie

The view towards Tresco fomr St Martin's

The views were stunning

Tamsyn and Stuart

A rare picture of Stu and I together.

View towards Tresco from St. Martin's

There aren’t many photos of me from the day, but whenever I wasn’t in the water, I had on my cherished Team SOAS beanie to keep me warm 🙂

View towards Tresco from St. Martin's View towards Tresco from St. Martin's

Swim 2. Lower Town, St Martins to New Grimsby, Tresco (1.8 miles; 2.9k) (lunch)

At Lower Town, I decided not to put my bootees back on as I’m never convinced that they help with my swimming, even if they do keep my feet warm. I think the problem is that they were a great bargain (£5), but I would probably have been better off with a slightly smaller size.

This was a tough swim. Every time that I thought I could see the beach that we were heading towards, we had to swim away from it and through some rocks. However, I managed to stay calm and reminded myself of Dory’s catchphrase: ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’

When we arrived at Tresco, the sun came out which was lovely. People started to warm up and as it was quite a long walk, there were a lot of opportunities to chat to people. I had a chat with the amazing swimming ambassador, Beth French. She explained that her next challenge is to swim the Seven Channels and that she is currently seeking sponsorship for this endeavour.

The weather was really grey when we arrived at Tresco and there were even a few spots of rain.

Tamsyn in the sea

That’s me emerging in the background

Tamsyn in the seaTamsyn in the sea

People were sitting around in the field by the community centre eating and drinking, but the mood was slightly more subdued.

Roelie and Tamsyn

Roelie and I enjoying a well-earned break

I didn’t fancy a pasty (and didn’t think there were any veggie ones), so I had a small cup of soup and a snickers. Then I rummaged around in my bag and found the nectar of the gods: Honey Stinger energy chews in cherry cola flavour. I was sent them by ProBikeKit and was keen to try them. They tasted good and were easy to digest. They also had the benefit of having caffeine in them, which helped to perk me up.

Swim 3. Old Grimsby, Tresco to Annaquay, Bryher (1 mile; 1.6k)

As the swim from Tresco to Bryher is very short, we were told that we would be setting off very close together. The green group went first. We were told what to aim for and were horrified to discover that the spectator boat had suddenly decided to start moving and was going through the pack of swimmers :-O It was only afterwards that we realised that this was simply our impression, and that actually it was because the current was so strong that some of us were pushed towards the boat.

I really enjoyed this swim as the water was very calm and the sun was out. It didn’t take long and we could easily see where we were heading. It was also nice not to be one of the last.


Yes, you are seeing correctly – the cakes are on the altar!


Swimmers in church

Sitting in church surrounded by swimmers in lycra and neoprene with swimming hats still on their heads is probably the strangest thing that I’ve ever witnessed

Stained glass window

The stained glass windows showed scenes from the Scillies with appropriate text, rather than traditional religious images.


Stu warming up in the sun



Roelie discovered that it wasn’t easy to remove her wetsuit whilst wearing her Garmin!

Swim 4. Rushy Bay, Bryher to Samson (no stopping) (1/2 mile; 800m)

In the briefing before this swim we were told that if we were considering not doing the long swim, we shouldn’t do this one as it would be difficult to pick people up. Lots of people decided to pull out and the green group ended up waiting for about 20 minutes for the bags to be loaded onto a boat, the other swimmers to set off and for the new spectators/retired swimmers to be picked up.

Weed Scilly

As you can see in this picture, there was a lot of long seaweed! © Joanna Clegg

I had a chat with the team and explained how keen I was to give it all a go, but that I appreciated that they had to consider everyone’s safety, so if I needed to be picked up, that would be OK.

The short swim over to Samson was fine. I crossed the sandbar with a skins swimmer and then we were into a rocky/seaweedy area.

Swim 5. Stony Ledge, Samson to Porth Conger, St Agnes (3.3 miles; 5.3k)

When we had crossed Samson, the water wasn’t deep enough to swim, but it was hard to see the bottom because of the long strands of seaweed, so some people tried to swim. I was grateful that I had my bootees on and managed to keep wading. It was difficult for the kayakers, so they went around the side. Unfortunately, we didn’t properly regroup before starting again. By this stage, we could’t see the previous waves.

It was getting quite cold and the wind had got up, so the sea became increasingly rough. I did everything I could to keep other swimmers in my sights. I managed to hang onto another swimmer, which gave me some confidence as I’ve realised that I really hate feeling alone at sea when I’m quite a long way from the shore.

I think I swam for 1.5-2km before a kayaker came near. I really struggle to hear when I have ear plus in and with the rough sea, I really couldn’t understand what the kayaker was saying. I thought they were directing me to the boat, so I swam over.

The people in the boat were surprised and asked me whether I wanted to be picked up, which caused a bit of a dilemma. There were already two swimmers huddled in the boat and I didn’t want to quit, but I had now lost my swimming buddy, I reluctantly climbed aboard, managing to severely bruise my shins.

I felt like a quitter, but felt slightly better when I heard calls go out on the radio to start picking up the rest of the green wave. We were transferred to the spectator boat, where everyone was very generous. We were offered dry robes, scarves, hats and various other items of clothing, which I declined as I really didn’t feel cold.

When we got to the quay at St Agnes, we were just in time to see the first of the red wave swimmers arrive.

I disembarked and found my bag. I was then asked to keep an eye on a swimmer who was crouched on the quay with a dry robe on. He was a skins swimmer who was shaking with the cold. I asked a spectator if they would be able to get the man a hot drink and they generously gave their hot drink. Unfortunately, the swimmer’s hands were shaking so badly that he was unable to drink it.

Swimmers on St Agnes

There were bags all over the quay

Some of the few swimmers who made it to St Agnes

Some of the few swimmers who made it to St Agnes

I put on my dry robe and headed up the quay to where the hot drinks and cake were. I then walked down to look for Stu’s bag to help him when he arrived, but I was too late – he was already there. He said that he had done 4km, but although his arms and legs were moving, the sea was so rough and the current was so strong that he had not been moving and had been fished out. I later learned that half of the orange wave had been picked up (Roelie was also picked up) and several other red wave swimmers. I was disappointed, but it made me feel less bad about being collected.

I decided to refuel with a few more Honey Stinger energy chews and some Osmo so that I would have enough energy to keep swimming. I was pleased that I wasn’t feeling too fatgiued. I hadn’t been sure of what my nutrition strategy should be, but everything I ate seemed to work well.

A decision then needed to be made about the final leg. I was determined to do my best to finish what I had started, but in the end, the decision was taken out of my hands. Some of the swimmers were close to hypothermia, the wind had become much stronger and the light was failing, so it was decided that it was not safe for us to try to finish the event.

Roelie and Tamsyn

I really need to work on my selfie skills!

Roelie, Tamsyn and Stuart

Selfie with Roelie and Stuart

I’m not sure that these pictures from the boat trip back show just how rough it was.

IMG_6264 IMG_6262 IMG_6261   IMG_6258

When we got back, we then had the trek across the island. We had forgotten to bring a torch with us, but were able to enjoy the sunset.


In the evening when I got back, I showered and then slathered on some Flexiseq sport. I wasn’t sure whether it would work, but my muscles and joints were aching and I knew I needed to be ready to swim again in the morning.

Swim 6. Porth Conger, St Agnes to Porthcressa, St Mary’s (2.2 miles; 3.5k)

I had been looking forward to celebrating on Saturday night, but a good night’s sleep meant that I was ready to tackle the final swim. I wasn’t aching particularly, although my legs were very bruised and my neck was chafed – I’m taking the lack of weary muscles as being a sign that the Flexiseq worked. Roelie also felt prepared, but Stu’s arms were shot from his valiant effort the night before. As he has a torn calf muscle, he is unable to kick, so his entire swim had been arms only.

Morning briefing Scilly

The morning briefing © Gordon Adair

Stuart accompanied Roelie and I on our walk to the other side of St. Mary’s. I had a much smaller bag than the day before as I knew I wouldn’t need multiple pairs of shoes or lots of nutrition. There was also a much smaller group of swimmers than the previous day; I noticed several of the slower swimmers had decided not to do the final leg.

We walked to the  quay at St. Mary’s and were loaded into a boat to go to St. Agnes. Stuart wasn’t able to come so he headed off towards the garrison to be able to watch the swimmers.

When we got to St Agnes, we put our warm clothes and bags onto the boat and got into our groups. As usual, the green wave was the last to leave

Waiting for the start of the final swim. I can be seen near the front of the group in a wetsuit with purple cuffs and ankles.

We were asked to try to stick together a group as much as possible. I went to the front of the group near to Beth French, in the hope that I would get a good start and would be able to stick with some of the other swimmers.

© Joanna Clegg

It wasn’t long before the majority of the group started pulling away from me. I saw two swimmers off to my left, so I decided to keep them in my sight and try to make my way towards then. Not long after, a kayaker pulled in front of us and pointed out that we were swimming as a 2, a solo (me), and another two with Beth and that we would be better off sticking together. This seemed logical to me, so we had to tired water until the other had caught up. We then set off again, but one woman decided to strike out on her own. A second swimmer and I tried to keep up but we couldn’t catch her. Unfortunately, this meant that we pulled away from the skins swimmers.

When we got into the most open part of the channel (where the Scillonian goes), it was again very choppy. I wasn’t really sure where I was aiming. I had been keeping an eye on the swimmer on my left, but I lost her in the swell. After a few minutes, I started to panic (if you’ve read any f my other blog posts about sea swimming, you’ll notice that this is a common theme – I really hate the feeling of loneliness when I out at sea). I knew I had to keep moving, but negative thoughts started to enter my mind and I was considering attracting the attention of a kayaker or a boat (although I couldn’t see them either). Just as I got to my most panicky, I spied the other swimmer who was now on my right. Her appearance was enough to calm me down a bitIMG_6293IMG_6295

A short while later, the two of us got to calmer water nearer to land. A kayaker gave us some instructions – I didn’t understand a word – and I set off with the other swimmer. It is so reassuring to know that there are other people around.

I could finally see Porthcressa beach in the distance. The sun was shining and the water was calmer and warmer. I knew it was quite a way off, but I started to feel much happier – the same feeling when you get to 23 miles in a marathon and you know you can do the last bit!

Stuart was up on the cliffs, so he took a lot of photos of the swimmers coming in.

We then got to a very seaweedy bit. The water is so clear by the Isles of Scilly, so I could easily see the bottom, even though it was very deep. This distracted me quite a lot as there was so much to look at. I saw lots of fish, a couple of jellyfish and some crabs 🙂

After a while, I got through the seaweed bit, and then I got very cold. I wondered whether I had pushed myself too hard and I didn’t want to be removed for the water, but it was the coldest water I had encountered during the weekend. I decided to try to pick up the speed in the hope of warming up. I started kicking quite hard and making my strokes as long as possible.


Finally, I made it. I went to put my feet down… oops… the deceptively clear water meant it was still too deep. I swam a few more strokes and then stumbled onto the beach.


I went over for a hot drink, and another slice of cake and watched the last swimmers arrive. It had been a tough weekend, but I achieved a seemingly impossible goal.

Tamsyn and Bryony Lishman

Celebrating with Bryony at the end


I watched the last swimmers come in and then we headed off for some more food!

When I got back, I had a shower and used some more Flexiseq Sport.

In the evening, we went over to St Martins for the celebration event.

looking back towards St. Mary's

This shot was intended to give an impression of how far apart the islands are.

Karma at St Martin's

Arriving for the party

It was really nice to have a celebratory drink and some food with everyone who had taken part in the event, but to be honest, we were all so tired that we wanted to go home and go to sleep!



the harbour at St. Mary's

The harbour at St. Mary’s

So, that was the end of an amazing week. Below are some images that I took on the Scillonian on the way back from St Mary’s to Penzance.

Tamsyn and Stuart

Selfie with Stu

Land's End

Land’s End

St. Michael's Mount

St. Michael’s Mount



When we finally got back into the harbour, there were sailing boats everywhere. The wind that had plagued us for the week had finally gone and the boats were becalmed.



A video showing what it was like for the fast swimmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4Snz-Hf-pE

Write up on the event by Beth French: http://www.h2openmagazine.com/features/scilly-swim-takes-biscuitand-cakeand-pasty/#sthash.jUB75Jnv.dpbs



2 Sep

Well, the adventure has a started 🙂

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks. I’ve been busy trying to get everything ready for work as it’s the start of the academic year, whilst also preparing for two conferences, and also getting stressed about the Big Swim. Disaster has also struck… I first bought a MacBook Pro in 2006 and was very happy with it, but in 2011, the battery overheated and warped the laptop, so I got it replaced. Sadly, my newer laptop has befallen a similar fate. It has overheated and has damaged the graphics card, so it has gone away to the Apple Store to be repaired. This is hugely inconvenient for many reasons, but it also means that I’ve been struggling to blog (I am in awe of anyone who regularly manages to blog on a phone).

Since getting back from Dublin, I’ve done nothing but swim. There have been no running sessions, and my cycling has been limited to my daily commute. Unfortunately, I was more fatigued from Dublin than I realised and I’ve had some awful swims, which has dented my confidence a little. I also went to a tri club swimming session with a coach I hadn’t met before. I knew I wasn’t swimming well. At the end of the session, the coach asked me how long I had been swimming for and I replied, “Two years”. His response, “Hmmm. I just don’t know where to start.” which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

I sat down with my coach, Olly, and worked out what training I would do in the fortnight leading up to the swim. I decided to go for more pool sessions, rather than lake swimming as I’m more concerned about my speed than my endurance and I know I’ll be OK in the sea. Olly reassured me that I would be fine, but I know how slow I am.

Sunday was Lymington Sprint Triathlon, which was my club’s championship race. I really wanted to do it, but Olly firmly advised against it (“No!” Was his exact guidance), so I was sensible and just spectated. It looked like a lot of fun, with a 500m swim in the saltwater baths.

Monday was a Bank Holiday, which was great as it gave me an extra day at home, but it also meant that there was no Tri Club swim in the evening. As a consequence, Roelie, Stuart and I decided to go to Boscombe (where I recently did a 3.8km swim) for an hour of swimming.

I thought Boscombe should be relatively safe as it’s where sea swim events are held. There is a long promenade with some brightly coloured beach huts, and also a shower area. On Monday, there was a beach volleyball tournament taking place… However, it was raining, so most participants were wearing more than skimpy bikinis!

There were quite a few jellyfish in the sea when I last swam here, but the sea was a little colder and it was overcast, so I didn’t see any. Another positive, was that it was not at all breezy, so the sea as beautifully calm and still and it was easy to see the bottom. As we walked down the cliff path, we could see a couple of open water swimmers in the sea.

We arrived on the promenade by the lifeguard hut, which had red and yellow flags outside, however, the area marked out for bathing is only about 25m wide, so we decided to ignore it. As there were no waves, we knew that we did not have to go very far out to swim. We chose to swim parallel to the shore, so that if anyone had a problem, it would be easy to get back to the beach. I also agreed with Stuart that he would loop back to keep an eye on me as he’s a much stronger swimmer than I am. (Although I’m a terrible swimmer, I’ve always felt reasonably confident about my ability to float or do backstroke. However, the tragedy of Paul Gallihawk – a novice triathlete who drowned during the swim of his first race – has struck a chord and has reminded me of just how dangerous open water swimming can be). The positive of swimming close to shore is that there were no boats or jet skis around, so I wasn’t afraid that I would be run over and die like Kirsty MacColl (one of my greatest swimming fears).

I had realised in the car that I had forgotten my Garmin, but Stuart kindly agreed that I could borrow his, as I wanted to see what my pace was like.

We started by the pier and swam 500m down to the lifeguard hut. I had a quick look at my watch and was pleased to see that I had swum the 500m faster than in 2:29/100m (40 minute/mile). I wasn’t sure which way the current was going – this had also been the easy section during my last swim here. I turned around and saw that Stuart had joined me. He decided to do some lazy backstroke and I followed him. I didn’t think I was drafting particularly, but was amazed to find that my pace for the second 500m was 2:01/100m – that’s faster than I do in the pool!!! I did 500m in 10:04 🙂

I turned around and did another 500m, pausing briefly to smile and wave at another open water swimmer. At the lifeguard hut, I turned around and swam back, keeping an eye on Roelie who was swimming to my left. Roelie and Stuart stopped, but I kept swimming around in circles to get the final 10m that I needed to finish at 2000m. My final time was 45:23. I really enjoyed this swim as a I had felt calm and had not pushed too hard, but had swum at the necessary pace. Bizarrely, when Stu uploaded the data onto his computer, it said I had only swum 1999m, and we he exported the file and sent it to me, the data was different again. How can that happen?!

Yesterday evening, we drove down to Cornwall. There were some very slow drivers on the road (30mph in a 60 zone!) so we didn’t arrive until nearly 11pm. This meant we had enough time for a quick cuppa before going to bed. This morning we had an early start and were quayside in Penzance by 7:40am.


In the queue for the Scillonian, we met another swimmer. He said that he has swum 5km in a pool, but his longest open water swim is 1 mile, which has made me feel a bit better.

The weather was relatively good and the sea wasn’t too rough, but I felt really queasy, so I spent quite a lot of the voyage up on deck in the fresh air.

It was such a relief when land came into view!


There were also a few sailing boats.





After we disembarked, we walked across the island to our apartment. We spent a little while unpacking and then headed out to find some lunch. Fortunately, there was a cafe not far away, with beautiful sea views.



Then we went for a walk into town. We intended to go for a practice swim, but it had turned a bit cold and we were feeling tired, so we decided just to go to Co-op to buy some food for our evening meal and for breakfast. After walking a short distance, e found we had some followers!


So, we’ve had our first day on St Mary’s. Tomorrow, we’ll probably go for a short swim and then on Friday there is an acclimatisation swim where we will be put into groups. I know I’ll be in the slowest group, but hopefully there will be others who swim at my pace.


Reflecting on the forthcoming Scilly Swim Challenge

19 Aug

It’s only 2.5 weeks until my “A-race” (*it’s not a race, it’s a challenge!) and I’m starting to get nervous.

I met with my coach, Olly, today to map out my training for the next two weeks. There are quite a few things that I’d like to do between now and 5th September – including an RR10 (club race), a sprint triathlon and some parkruns – but I need to be sensible and only focus on training that will help me and not doing junk miles that will fatigue me. I’ve scheduled in several swim sessions per week and have cut right back on the running and cycling (although I’ll still be cycling to work every day). I also have a brand new pair of trainers, so I may sneak in a slow jog to try them out.

We’ve received an outline plan for the Scilly Swim weekend, which starts on…

Fri 4 September:

1400 to 1600hrs – Registration for all, Porthmellon Beach, Hugh Town, St Mary’s. Please have identification and sign the disclaimer. You will receive your swim hat, some goodies and entry number, we will mark your number on your ankle and hand.

1800 to 1900hrs – event brief and 1 mile acclimatisation swim from Porthmellon beach (please note this is compulsory and will give you a feel for the water and allows us to confirm pods for each swimmer).

Stu, Roelie and I will already be on the island, so making the registration session shouldn’t be a problem. It’ll also be fun to see the event swimming hat. I’ve got lots of swimming hats from events that I’ve done and I’ve never worked out what to do with them – I’ve got plenty in my training bag and will never get through them all. I’m wondering whether to turn them into bunting for my training room. Anyone got any good suggestions?

ScillySwim hat2014

I’m thinking of taking my old 2XU wetsuit to use for the acclimatisation swim. This will mean that my new wetsuit will be dry for the first swim of the day on Saturday. I have no idea where the acclimatisation swim will go, but I’ll need to make sure that I can complete the mile within 40 minutes.

After the acclimatisation swim on the Friday night everyone will be allocated a swim pod (either Red, Amber or Green) with matching swim cap colour and allocated kayak and safety boat cover. I’m assuming that red will be the slow group, which will be me… but maybe we’ll be green.

Sat 5 September:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 16.35.31

  • 0700hrs –  Meet at Registration point, Porthmellon Beach. 3.5km walk to Bar Point carrying swim equipment.
  • 0830hrs –  Swim Bar Point to  Higher Town (St Martins)  – 2 miles (3.2k). Walk to Lower Town.
  • 1115hrs –  Swim  Lower Town to  Old Grimsby  (Tresco) – 1.8 miles (2.9k). Walk to New Grimsby. (Lunch stop here)
  • 1345hrs –  Swim New Grimsby to  Church Quay ( Bryher) – 1 mile (1.6k).  Walk to Rushy Bay.
  • 1500hrs –  Swim to Samson (800metres). Walk to Stony Ledge.
  • 1515hrs –  Swim to Porth Conger (St Agnes) – 3.3 miles (5.3k).
  • 1800hrs – Swim to Porthcressa (St Mary’s)- 2.2 miles (3.5k).

That’s 10.8 miles/17.3k in total! I know it’s going to be really tough, so I’ll just have to do the best I can. I’ve read several blog posts and forum posts where people said they got picked up last year, so I think it will be surprising if I managed to complete the entire event. I hope this doesn’t sound defeatist – I’m just being realistic. It wasn’t long ago that I’d never done more than 2000m in one day. The toughest section will be the long swim from Samson to St Agnes. Even if I can’t do that, I hope I’ll be able to do the final swim to St. Mary’s.

Today the sea temperature off St Mary’s is 16.7°C (62°F). It would be good if it stays that warm, as we have been warned that it could be 13-15°C (55-59°F). Not everyone will be wearing wetsuits, but I think I’ll pack my neoprene gloves and booties in case I find the temperature too cold.

We’re expected to finish by 7:30pm. After that there will be a beach reception. I hope I have enough energy left to party!

Sun 6 September:

If the weather is bad on Saturday, the event will be moved to Sunday. In the evening there will be a reception on St Martins.

Then it’ll be back to the mainland on Monday, ready to head back to Southampton before flying to Manchester for a conference. I’ve found out that I’ll be near to the aquatic centre, but by that stage I may never want to swim again!

At the moment, I feel a mixture of nerves and excited anticipation for this event – I want more time to train, but I also just want to get started. Stu and Roelie are both much stronger swimmers than me, but they’re also both battling injuries, so I hope that they are fit and healthy enough to do the event… although if they slow down a bit, that’s fine too.

Sinking not swimming…

7 Feb

This year I need to focus on my swimming. A month of 2015 has gone by and I’ve really not achieved very much yet. If I’m going to complete the Scilly Swim Challenge, I’m going to need to start pushing myself soon.

I have to be able to swim a mile in 40 mins (consistently), which is just under 25 mins per km. My average for January was 26:32/km which isn’t good enough. I also only swam 2.8km in the whole month*. That’s the least I’ve swum in a month since I got my Garmin 910XT at Christmas in 2013. I’ve already swum 2km so far this month, so I should be able to surpass my January achievements.

*Maybe I should cut myself a little slack as I wasn’t allowed to swim for most of January as a consequence of having laser eye surgery in December.

cyanide and happiness laser eye surgery

I’m trying to work out what I should do as training for the Scilly Swim Challenge – I’ve got 30 weeks (7 months), but in that time, I need to train for: my cycling trip to Japan, Southampton Half Marathon and Ironman Dublin 70.3.

I’ve had a look at various training plans online:

The recommendation seems to be that I need to swim at least 15-20km a week. As a minimum, I want to be able to swim 6km in one go, so I’m going to need to get myself to the lake for a lot of open water swimming. However, the lake doesn’t open until April and I know that my lungs really dislike me being in cold water.

If anyone can recommend a training schedule (either online or a book), I’d love to hear from you. I’ve read plenty of training plans for iron distance swimming (3.8km) and for 5km swims, but there’s not a lot out there for the distance I want to do.

Several of the sites that I’ve read whilst looking for information have said that cycling and running won’t really help with swimming, but that Pilates or yoga will. I’ve not been able to go to yoga for a year now, but I’d love to go back. One of my yoga teachers has shared some short practices online. This one, yoga for neck and shoulder tension, is a nice five-minute practice:

If you enjoyed that, Laura has a YouTube channel, so you might want to subscribe.

I’m also on the look out for a new wetsuit. My 2XU wetsuit has done me well for the last couple of years, but it’s now too big for me, so I’m searching for something that fits me better, to get me through the 2015 season (and hopefully beyond!) I know that it will come down to what is available in my size, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on different brands and models.

If nothing else works, I’m hoping that this TED Talk by the completely awesome long distance swimmer Diana Nyad will inspire me to get back in teh water more frequently. It’s called ‘Never, ever give up’:

Stuart is doing the Scilly Swim Challenge with me. This event will take both of us out of our comfort zone, so we’re hoping to raise some money for an important charity (Chestnut Appeal for Prostate Cancer) along the way. If you’d like to sponsor us, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/TamsynandStuswim/