The in-betweeny bit 

Christmas is done and over, for another year. I had an amazing time, with my family, who live in the Midlands and we celebrated, not just Christmas, but making it to Christmas. 

This year, has been one of the most challenging ones, ever for my family, with several members having faced life threatening illnesses and personal tragedies. 

I returned home, on the 27th December and returned to work on the 28th. Feeling like the proverbial, post Christmas, beached whale that comes with having, ate too much and drank too much (though daily dog walking and running after four toddlers, burned some of the excess off). I needed to swim! 

On the 28th I made two, unfortunate discoveries…one I have mis-placed the charger for my new swimming watch! As it has a step counter, I tend to wear it all the time. A new charger has been ordered, but it’s stuck in the bottle neck that is the Christmas and New Year post. My watch is now switched off, to reserve battery for essential operations, like swimming. Consequently, the app on my phone thinks I’m doing absolutely b@@ @@er all and it keeps shouting at me to move! 

The other, was rather more frustrating than the first…I chucked my swimming back in my car, before work, excited about my evening swim.

I pulled up, outside the pool, to find the place in darkness. Realising that this was not some, sort of cost cutting on behalf of the council,  or setting a new “swimming in the dark” challenge I resorted to modern technology and Google. The pool was shut, after five, till 3rd January, when normal operations re-commence! 

Not to be thwarted by one shut pool, I frantically searched other pools, in the vacuity. I quickly discovered that three other pools: Washington, Haven Point and Jarrow, all closed their doors at 5pm. The situation, in Gateshead, was even more dire; their staff had left the building and gone home at four, at all four pools! 

What the…..

Now, living where I do, I’m surrounded by water…but the River Tyne is a bit grim and the North Sea, bloody cold, at this this time of year, so swimming was not happening! 


However, later that night, I had a brain wave…the Aquatic Centre in Sunderland. It’s far from my favourite pool, for a number of reasons, but it was a pool and as I quickly learnt, it was open till eight on Friday. 

So on Friday, I went to the Aquatic Centre, I returned to the place where my swimming journey began, where I had my first lesson eighteen months earlier…what a journey it’s been! 

Unfortunately, group lessons didn’t work out and I switched to Swim NE and another venue and then, only then did I really begin to learn to swim and my journey began. 

So here we are 2017 and I am looking forward to seeing where the journey will take me, this year.

Reflections in the pool…

Reflecting back on 2016 and my swimming achievements, I can’t help, but feel a sense of pride.

Despite my ongoing heatlh problems and injury, resulting in me having to take a break, from swimming, on no less than 7 occasions, in addition to having my swimming bag stolen, I have been able to achieve so much. This, however is not just down to me, it’s also thanks to the wonderful staff at Swim NE and my swimming teachers/coaches. Thanks also need to be extended to the many people who have supported and encouraged me; friends, colleagues, family and even random strangers.

So, now reflecting back, here is list of what I feel have been my main achievements this year.

Passing ASA level 7, at the beginning of the year, and completing the competencies for level 10, at the end of the year.

Completing all my distance badges to 3000m and all my rainbow 100m distance awards (I bought these, myself).

Finally cracking butterfly, being able to swim 100m butterfly and being able swim a 400m IM.

Completing two “sport relief swimathons” 1.5km in 1h 8 seconds, just days after recovering from a chest infection and, a month later, just after recovering from a further chest infection, swimming 2.5km in 1h 50mins and 28 seconds. In doing so I raised over £200. I handed over, one of my medals and my swim hat, to my nana!

Featuring on a Arthritis Care DVD, showcasing people living arthritis, in a positive way. Arthritis Care, chose to focus on my swimming.

Swimming a 200m IM in less that 7m 30s and a mile in just 57 mins, hardly a recording breaking figure, but significant achievement all the same.

Featuring on an Arthritis Care promotional DVD, show casing people living with arthritis.

Cracking “tumble turns” they look easy, but believe me, they take months of practise to get right. It’s frustating progress.

This isn’t an achievement, as such, but still amusing. When I was in Lanzarote, a cocky bloke went round all the women and asked if they could swim, in an attempt to show them off, that he could and they couldn’t. Before he could get to me, I set off, butterfly first, then front crawl, with a few tumble turns. He sharp shut up and disappeared, which I was happy with as he was loud, obnoxious and drunk!

Having the opportunity to pass, some of what I’ve learnt, on to others. I was approached, at the pool by someone who asked me, how he could improve his front crawl. I’m definitely no expert nor am I swim teacher, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to pass some knowledge on. 

Featuring in the “This Girl can” campaign, appearing both on their FB site and their website. 

Finally, volunteering for the “swim safe project”, I was frequently cold, wet and covered in sand. As a volunteer I was a Gopher and a jack of all trades, volunteers were expected to muck in were needed, but it was great fun. 

I had the pleasure of working with an amazing team, who between them, helped to improve over 700 children and young people improve their knowledge of water safety, which may in turn help save a life one day.

So what of 2017…next year, I will be focusing far less on gaining certificates and so forth and more focused on improving my times and completing a number of swimming challenges, to raise money for a variety of charities, information of which, I will post about in early January.