Ten days ago, I completed a course of prednisolone and anti-biotics, I inwardly celebrated as I seemed to have recovered from the infection pretty quickly and within ten days, all was back to a state of “normality for me”. Excellent.

Yesterday, I removed my swimming gear, from my suitcase, and chucked it in the car. I was planning on a swim after work.

Just after lunchtime, I noticed some slight breathless, unconcerned I had a couple of puffs of my inhaler and carried on with my day. An hour later, I suddenly became very breathless, uncomfortably so. Concerned, I considered having a nebuliser, but settled for 10 puffs of ventolin. It worked. I also noticed my throat felt “itchy”.

Deciding that, the most likely cause, was an allergic reaction, to the elevated pollen levels. Though they are not particularly high, everything is coming into bud and bloom, I headed to the pharmacy. I purchased some “over the counter” anti-histamines, obviously took one, then got on with my day, feeling much better. I decided to abandon the plan of going for a swim, deciding my asthma, was too unstable.

Last night, I had a rough night, needing my nebuliser in the early hours. This morning I have awoken, to a painful, sore throat and feeling breathless and wheezy. It’s now, quite evident, that something unwelcome,  has set up home and is busy growing. It’s too early to start my second course of prednisolone and anti-biotics, but I know it’s going to be the likely outcome. So is not being able to swim for at least two weeks. Frustrated doesn’t come close!


Sorry for the lack of posts over the last week, I’ve been on holiday.

To Clacton…

Clacton, UK in March is not a particularly warm place to be, so no outdoor swimming, but the the holiday village had an indoor pool, so swimming  was an activity option, that was taken.

What the holiday village didn’t have, was a reliable mobile internet. The mobile connection was at best, variable, slight movements of my phone, saw me go from a half decent connection, to absolutely no connection so I gave up on any plans of updating my blog.

I had a great holiday, throughly enjoyed myself. It was a much needed break.

I went on holiday with my friends Lucy and Peter Barrett, Peter very kindly agreed, with the permission of the lifeguards, to take some underwater photos of me, as I swam, which I will share on this blog on a future post.

I am heading home tonight, so I will update my blog, properly, over the Easter Weekend.

I did it!

I can not think of a more appropriate title, than this, I did it, I completed it, swam 1.5km without stopping, in 1 hour 51 seconds, and raised over £200 for Sport relief foundation.

I’m incredibly proud, of my achievement. I am also so, so grateful to the army of people who supported me and sponsored me.

I will dedicate a post to the event, once I have come back down to earth a bit. But here’s a photo, to start with, smiling proudly, with my finishers medal.


9 hours to go

I can’t believe, the days finally here, I am so excited.

Yes I’m nervous, as well, but I know I can do this, smash this.

I’ve got a busy day ahead, at work, which in a way is a good thing, far better than sitting around, in nervous anticipation.

Breakfast is eaten and the rest of the day’s food is planned…bring on the jelly babies!!!

Final training, swim

Tonight, I headed back to the pool. This time to Washington Pool, where I will undertaking,  my Swimathon.

I wanted to be confident, that I knew where to go, what the parking was like, what facilities were available what the pool was like.

It soon proved to be a good move, as it took me ages to locate it, round the back of Asda. Parking, I discovered, was horrendous, with little room to manouver round the car park, no disabled bays were available, filled with, as so often happens, several people not displaying blue badges. If you want my parking space, you can have my disability! It infuriates me!

Once I’d  parked  up, I spent a few minutes outside,  just thinking and centemplating. It’s over-whelming, to think that in a couple of days time, I’ll be back here for swimathon. Where has the last 10 weeks gone?

I headed indoors and first, had a perusal at the range of swimming goodies on sale, but didn’t purchase anything. I then wandered up to the reception desk, offering my “Sunderland Council Active Card”

I was informed, the card was no longer valid, as the pool is now ran by “Everyone Active”, would I like a replacement, without thinking, I replied “yes”. I nearly had heart failure when I was charged over £17, for a card and a swim. Talk about taking your eyes out and coming back for the sockets! My Sunderland Active Card was only 10 months old!

I really don’t mind paying £16.00 for a lesson, because it’s worth every penny, but I thought that, that was a tad excessive. It’s all relative, I guess.

The “changing village” proved to be, an experience in itself. The cubicles, each, have two doors, come out the wrong one and your faced with a metal fence, it was a bit of a nightmare, to negotiate, to be honest. However, the changing rooms had one advantage; a shelf. A shelf for bunging all your essentials on, as you get ready, no scrabbling around, trying to locate everything you need, in limited space, dropping stuff on the floor, into puddles, as you go


Eventually, once changed, I located a locker, stowed my gear in it and headed to the pool.

On entering the pool, two things caught my eye. The pool was rammed and secondly, the two amazing and fun looking slides. Can adults have a go, I thought? On Friday, I may bomb down them both, in celebration of completing my swim. They looked ace!

I leapt into the pool, to a bit of a suprise, the deep end, is at the opposite end to what I’m used to.

Thankfully, there was a lane avaliable and I bagged it, it was good to see people observing lane etiquette and not using the lane for their personal space, for a natter with their mates, as happened a few weeks ago.

As soon as I started to swim, I was able to recognise that tonight’s swim, felt much better than what it had the previous night, maybe because I felt better, more confident and assured.  A few lengths to warm up and then I then I set off, on a longer swim. I set myself the target of swimming for forty-five minutes continuous.

It was, at times, hard going. I am learning now, if breathless becomes an issue, to always switch to a “slow breast stroke” that way I can focus on  getting my breathing, back under control. At the same time, I’m thinking, in my head, relax, relax, relax! as advised by J. I am beginning to recognise,  that trying to speed up, to reach the end of the lane, when I am feeling puffed, actually makes it worse. It’s a continual learning process and not one that’s easy. It’s about being aware of me, my body, my stroke, everything.

The time, crept round, I kept going, up and down the pool.  At the same time, identifying the landmarks, telling me where I am in the pool, how far up the lane I am. Washington pool, I found is great for this, it has a number of posters along the side if the pool advising parents and participants of different ASA levels, where to meet. I just need to remember, which way round they go, That’s not to say, I don’t know how to count!

As I swam, I felt myself, fall back into my regular rythym and pattern, it started to feel really comfortable again. The time slipped by, suddenly fourty  minutes had elapsed.  I determined to swim another six lengths. And then I stopped.

Fifty two minutes had elapsed, since I had started, I had swam 1250m. I was happy with that, pleasantly suprised in fact, yet disappointed at the same time. I had another 10 lengths to complete, to reach 1500m,  meaning that I would not of completed my challenge sub-one hour, my goal.

However, there is little point, in me being unhappy, with where I am. It’s not a race, it’s a challenge, 10 months ago I could barely swim, three months ago I could manage 800m,  I’ve come a long way. I need to be proud, happy, not disappointed. Last week, I was unwell, too unwell to swim, this week I’m better, but asthma is still not great.

I finished with a cool down, of a few more lengths, meaning that I totalled 1650 metres. I decided, that this was it, enough was enough, it’s time to call it a day on my training.

I’ve trained for 10 weeks, I’ve worked with my tutors, I’m continuing to make progress. My technique, is better every week. This week, I’ve swam three days, another day will make no real difference, I know I can do it, rest would be better.

So, my decision was made, rest on Thursday, there’s no point taking a tired, aching body into the pool, on Friday. A rested one, will be far more productive, so my aim for Thursday: eat well, drink plenty, rest lots.

The kindness of strangers

Yet again, I find myself with two post’s waiting in the wings, but first I want to post this.

I was stood in the queue of my local pharmacy, in typical North-East England style, the lady in front of my started chatting to me. She made reference to the fact that she had just come from the gym, I responded that I was preparing to undertake, Sport Relief, Swimathon.

The next thing I know, £2.00 was being placed in my hand, accompanied with the words “good luck”. She explained she had no-one to sponsor this year and therefore, she would like to sponsor me.

It was such a lovely gesture, given in complete trust, she didn’t know me from Adam and had know way of knowing if I was telling the truth, yet she, without question, handed me £2.00.

My total sponsorship is now up to £182.00

My sponsorship form can be found here

Tough training swim

Well, it’s less than 72 hours to “Sport Relief” and the nerves are really starting to kick in, but I’m excited at the same time.

Yesterday, I had a swimming lesson, it was a great lesson and there’s a post in progress, about it, but first I want to blog about tonight’s training swim.

My throat is still sore, my voice still squeaky, five people at work are now down with it. It’s almost like a role-call each day, as we identify each “new victim”.  It’s actually, becoming highly amusing, laughing at each others attempts at communicating, through squeaky, tortured, whispered voices.

I prepared for tonight’s training swim, taking my blue inhaler before I got in the pool. I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated, by the fact I quickly found myself really struggling. A minute, to swim 20 metres…what’s all that about? Five lengths in, had to stop. I started to worry, a 100 metres and I’m struggling. I’ve got to do 15 times that in three days time.

Ten minutes in, my chest was tight and sore. I thought “that’s it, I have to give up”. I conceded, that Sports Relief, was out of my grasp and decided to get out the pool.

Then I thought, “don’t be such a stupid idiot”. I stopped myself, mid-track to the steps, had a think and gave myself a good talking too.

I have been unwell, I am still not great, I’ve had to take time out and I’m still recovering. I had only taken my inhaler, just as I got into the pool, it takes 20 minutes to properly kick in, I’d been in only 10.

I decided, that I needed to stop being a “over-dramatic idiot” and get on with it. There are a lot of people out there, supporting me, sponsoring for me and my friend M is determined to be there for me, despite being barely able to walk herself, she’s planning on getting the Metro over to where I work 10 miles away. Hoe amazing is that?

I re-focused my thinking and set back off, up the pool, short sets, let myself warm up, keeping positive. I know I can do it. Focus on what my tutors have taught me.

After each set, I felt better, stronger, more positive. I can do this, I can smash it! Don’t let the negative thoughts creep in. Times were coming down, 45 seconds for breast stroke, thirty for front crawl.

Feeling happier and more confident, I decided to try a longer swim. I comfortably managed 400m, without stopping. I could of gone further, but I my decision is, to focus on sets of 400m, not to push myself too hard, not to exhaust myself ahead of the “big night”.

I am so glad, I worked my way through the massive brick wall I hit. That I didn’t just look at it and react like “Rex” in Toy Story 2, when faced with the busy road, turn round, give up, declaring “Oh well I tried”. Deep down, I know that if I’d taken that view point, I wouldn’t really of tried, I would of actually given up before I tried. I’m learning more and more, that learning to swim, like I guess many sports, is as much about psychological ability to cope with difficulties as well as physical. My mantra,  is becoming g more and more, “I’m nothing if not determined”

By the time I came out the pool, I’d managed a total of 900 metres, I’m really proud of that, really proud.

I’m exhausted now and my balance is shot, I’m really wobbly on my feet. Time to rest, tomorrow I’m heading, back in again. I am not and can not give up.

Following on from tonight’s swim, I received and E mail from swimathon, and news of another sponsor. It was just what I needed, both reminded me of why I am doing this. Why I am doing this.

I will swim myself proud!

What must the neighbours think….

What must the neighbours think,  when they see my car parked up, alongside a number of others?

My car, is the only car, with its windows steamed up, on the inside. There are certain connotations, with cars that have steamed up windows…mine is down to the simple fact, that I left my wet swimming gear lying round the car!