Sport relief swim, Mark ll…smashing targets, achieving challenges and a test of determination!

On Friday, 29th April, I headed to the pool to undertake my second “Sport relief challenge”.

I had, originally signed up for “swimathon”, with the aim of raising £100. I, quite quickly, doubled that. So I decided  to double my challenge. As you do!

Swimathon is an organised event, you turn up at a set pool, on a set day, at a set time. With “simply swim” you choose a date, from the middle of March to 30th April, a time that suits you and the most appropriate pool.

So, on the 29th April I went over to Blaydon Pool. As informed on my paper work, I went, literally cap in hand; carrying my swimming hat I informed the gentleman on reception of my intentions. His responce was “what’s that? Never heard of it”.

I changed and headed to the pool, I had a quick chat with the life guard on duty, fortunately he was a bit more clued up and knew what I was referring too. He advised, where in the pool would be the best place to swim as to avoid the “Aquafitters”. He then informed me, “it was a long way”, yes I knew and I felt slightly sick at the thought of swimming 100 lengths.

So off I went, breaking it down in to small chunks, 25 sets of 100 metres, only think about each 500 metre set, set little challenges, don’t think about the time. It was made even even more challenging, by the absence of being in a lane, I had to keep swerving to miss others and I had to contend with two children who kept leaping in the pool next to me, as I swam, which really tested my patience.

I started out with breaststroke, I’ll do 500m to warm up, now can I do 800m of breaststroke? yes I can. Can I manage 1000m? How about 1500m? At 1200m the pain started to kick in, can I work through the pain, distract myself? I focused on the sunlight, dappling through the water, the pounding music from the Aqua fit group. I made it to 1500m, can I do a mile of breaststroke? Yes, I made it, my first mile swimming a single stroke. One thousand, one hundred metres to go…

Time for some backstroke, rest the bits that ache, my swim watch got confused, I got confused. Three times it claimed I’d done two lengths, when I did only one (the time it claimed I’d swam the length in would of made me Olympic standard), another length, it clearly didn’t recognise me turn and push off the wall!

Nine hundred metres to go…feeling good, then I had a wobble. My energy levels dipped, I felt dizzy and struggled to focus. Thirty second rest, a drink, feeling better I’m off again. Determined. A couple of lengths front crawl, a bit more breaststroke. Feeling much better now, focused, the light outside is fading. Two thousand metres done.

Another couple of lengths backstroke, the flags strung across the ceiling a clear indicator of another length nearly finished. I’m happy with my swim, enjoying it. Two thousand one hundred, the ends in sight, I feel like there’s plenty in the tank, maybe I can get to 3km, my penultimate goal!

Two thousand, two hundred metres, I turn, another breaststroke length. Halfway up the pool, agony…cramp hits in the back of my right calf. I’m in trouble. I make my way to side of the pool, my right calf solid. I deal with it, I set off again, with a metre or two, the cramp hits again. I make it to the steps, frustration kicks in, my swim is over. I hit the pause button on my swim watch, but accidently save it. So near, yet so far. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

The life gaurd comes over, she knows straight away what’s wrong, I express my frustration to her. “Rest” she says, “give it a few minutes, you can do it”. I believe her, I have to believe her. I stretch my leg out, I don’t want to get out the pool. The cramp eases, tentatively I set off again, no cramp. I’m off again.

Two hundred metres completed, my leg twinges a little, I keep going. One hundred metres to go. Time for front crawl 25, 50, 75, 100 metres….I’ve done it, I’ve swam 2500m, I’ve achieved my challenge. I smile and keep swimming.

I’ve never got much beyond 100 metres of front crawl, how far can I manage 100 metres, 150, 200, 250, 300, 350, 400 metres. I’m delighted with this, I’ve over doubled my PB front crawl distance, so many challenges achieved in one swim. Now for the big one 3km, by this point I’m exhausted, in my fuddled brain is realise I need to swim only another 100 metres to achieve this challenge. I push off from the wall, water rising either side of me, I can do it and I know I can. I have confidence, I trust my abilities. I achieve it.

I decide to keep going, just enjoy swimming, I’ve achieved so much tonight, now I just “want to swim”, I manage another 225m, I decide it’s time to get out. I’ve swam a total of 3.3km tonight, I’m exhausted, I’m wobbly, I’m sore, but I’m happy, exuberant. There’s no fanfare, no sense of occasion, but I’ve done it……and I’m happy.

My aim was to swim 2.5km in under two hours, I came home and uploaded my swims onto my computer, I then calculated my time from my two swims…one hour, fifty minutes ad 28 seconds. I’m as delighted with my time, as I am my achievements.

Now I need some new challenges…

A pain in the….

Last week, the weather was glorious, this week not so! Glorious sunshine amd warm weather, has been replaced by temperatures more commonly experienced in January, along with hail, snow and ice!

Many people with arthritis, will tell you the weather affects their joints. The research, claims otherwise, stating “there’s no conclusive proof”.

Irrespective of this, apparent lack of evidence, my arthritis kicks off, big style if a) it’s damp or b) the weather suddenly fluctuates from warm to cold. Both are currently relevant, consequently I ache and my joints are stiff. I feel like the tin man, from the Wizard of Oz!

On Sunday, when I went swimming, I experienced something, I’ve never  have before. When I was doing the over arm pull, in front crawl and as I  swept my arms round in breast stroke,  I experienced a considerable amount of pain in the base of my fingers on my right hand. I know I have arthritis, in this hand and I suspect this to be the culprit.

I debated whether to give up, stop swimming, but I’d decided to keep going. I found myself starting to guard against the pain, curling my hand up.

It’s a battle to keep going when the pain is bad, this is where psychology comes in. I try to focus on what I am doing, on something positive about my swim, the enjoyment of moving through the water.

I manage 600m, which I was pleased with, really pleased with. The following day, by the next morning, the flair up was in full swing and that night, I had a lesson. But that’s the subject for another post.

Sunday swim

Yesterday,  I headed off to the pool for a practice session. The pool, at the gym, was really busy, this could hardly be called suprising, given that it was a Sunday morning.

I really encourage that children be given the opportunity to learn to swim. I  genuinely love seeing children enjoying themselves in the pool, but it does get frustrating, constantly dodging little one. However, I do not advocate we banish them from the pool, but rather have made a mental note to choose a different time to head to the pool.

Back in the pool…

Last night, I made back to the pool. It was great to be back!

I decided, as I’d been out for three weeks, to stay in half an hour (I usually aim for an hour).

It was great to be back in the pool and I’m happy with the half an hour I spent i spent swimming, no significant distances were swum. The longest distance, I swam was 200m. Not because that’s all I could manage, but rather due to the fact I felt that I needed to gradually build my distances back up.

I found it hard going, I’ve lost quite a bit of fitness in just three weeks and the following morning I woke up to a lot of pain in my right shoulder. I refuse to allow this to stop me, I just need to be careful as I slowly get myself  back into swimming.

Swim fit…

I am now, very much back in the pool, though obviously not right this minute as it’s 1.20am and I’m in bed. I was also asleep, that was, until Jeremy the guinea pig woke me up. I have no idea what he was up to, but it sounded, from the thumps and crashes coming from his cage, like he was weight training. Or trying to dig his way his way out, with a pick and shovel.

I decided, to sign up to “swim fit”, a swimming initiative that aims to set the swimmer a programme of 30 swims.

I thought that this would be a great idea,  as it would provide me with structure for my training sessions and a goal to work towards.

Thirty minutes later, I have identified only the fact that the “swim fit” website is rather unuser friendly. It appears fixated only on outdoor swims…swimming in the River Tyne, really isn’t my thing. It’s deep, cold and has strong,  scary currents and the North Sea is a tad too chilly too.

There are other challenges too, challenges that can be accomplished in the swimming pool. I have, however, made repeated attempts to sign up to these, but it won’t allow me to add them to my dash board and the links appear not to be working. 

It’s all rather frustrating, I shall attempt to return to sleep now, as Jezza, himself, appears to have gone back to bed.


Today, my first day off prednisolone, my asthma is still a little grumpy and my peak flow “so-so”.

I have to get back in the pool soon, I need to, I am missing it. I need too be in the pool for my mental and physical well-being.

Plus there’s the slight issue of Sports Relief, Swimathon Mark II challenge! Yes, that’s right, I am planning on doing it all again, only this time 2.5km!

I had planned to complete this on the 21st April, the day we celebrate two very special girls, my nieces, birthday. I doubt that this will be possible now, as it’s a distance I am yet to successfully complete and I’ve been out the pool for three weeks. I did swim in the week, following swimathon challenge 1, but only short distances.

I am pretty fit now, thanks to swimming regularly, but it really is, going to be a massive challenge. Three weeks out of the pool, combined with a forced reduction in physical activity, means that fitness has been lost.

I need to come up with a training plan and stick to it, I also need to have a date set in mind, for the swim.

It’s not going to be easy, but I am determined  to do it, to find a way and then, proudly pass my medal on to, one of the most amazing ladies in my life nana.

Poorly again…out of the pool again!

I came back from my holiday (I must post those photo’s, my friend Peter took, soon) The Wednesday, following, I experienced a period of “sudden onset breathlessness”, a clear indication that something is wrong, with my asthma.

Initially, I had blamed the warmer weather and possible increased pollen levels, but it was evident, by Saturday night, that I had a cold. My peak flow dipped considerably.

I really didn’t want to resort to prednisolone, aka “the evil smarties”, but by Tuesday, it was obvious, I had no other choice. This is now my sixth course in a year and my second in less than three weeks. It’s certainly giving my asthma nurse the collywobbles!

I’ll spare you the details of my cold and it’s symptoms, I am sure you know, as readers, how unpleasant they are. Now over, a week has passed and the worse of the symptoms have subsided,  but my chest remains rattly and congested. Therefore, I still can’t swim!

It’s so frustrating, I love swimming, it’s vital not just for my physical fitness, but also my mental well-being.

I have always, tried to keep active, despite my asthma. Exercise is a trigger for me, fortunately I’ve learnt to manage the resulting symptoms and use my “blue inhaler”, appropriately.

That said, however I know there are, times where my asthma is too unstable, I am still finding that balance. Over this past year I’ve lost a total of 14 weeks in the pool, due to my lungs and it’s so annoying.

My asthma, is as I’ve referred “severe and difficult”, I’m on max meds, the next step is regular pred. Not a prospect I welcome. I know that some people question, the genuineness of my asthma, due to how physically active, I try to keep. If that’s the case, I let them. It’s far from easy and it would be so easy to give in to my asthma, stop when I become breathless or become fearful of an attack, but carry on I will.

I will be back in the pool this week!

A little rant, about disabled parking…

This is a non swimming post, though it does have a tentative link…

The law, governing blue badges and disabled parking is changing, according to this report on the BBC website. What the new legislation doesn’t go as far as to allow the issue of blue badges to people who are too lazy to walk the extra few yards from their parking space, to where they going.

I am a blue badge holder, it’s not a right nor is it a privelige to have blue badge. I have one on account of the severe, unpredictable nature of my asthma and the fact that my mobility is restricted due to neuropathy/arthritis. I often face questioning looks, when I step out of my car and have been, challenged as why I am using a blue badge.

I get so, frustrated with witnessing people abusing disabled spaces, but I have learnt the hard way, not to challenge people. My local Asda, frequently has a line of cars, parked in its disabled bays, none of which are displaying a blue badge. The security guards are powerless to do anything, as it’s “private land”. Asda, did nothing too, when I emailed them, aside from sending me a “computer chuck out e mail”.

I have witnessed disabled bays, been abused at work-yet I have been fined, on two occasions after my badge had fell off my dash board as I shut the car door and despite, sending in a picture of my blue badge, have had my appeal turned down.

My local leisure centre and gym, where I swim, are both places, where I see disabled spaces frequently abused. Again “it’s on private land”, despite several e mails, I was sent from one company to the next, nothing was done. In frustration, one day, I left a note on a frequent offenders car “if you want my parking space, you can have my disability”.

Yes, the scheme needs to be extended, but the law also needs to be tightened up, the abuse of disabled parking spaces is common and wide spread, there are websites, Facebook sites and Twitter accounts dedicated to identifying offenders yet, little seems to be done about it the issue.