Next big challenge…

Over the last few months, I’ve filled this blog, with generally waffle posts. 

This year I am going to undertake Marie Curie Swimathon, the 30th one, and a swimming challenge to raise funds for Arthritis Care, Gateshead Branch. 

My aim is, and I think I’ve mentioned this previously, is to swim “a marathon in a month, with a marathon in a week”.

I know this sounds  a little confusing, but I will explain. 

A marathon,  when ran, is 26.195 miles or just under, 42200m. A swimming marathon, is 10km. So my plan is to swim 42200m in a month (1688 lengths of a 25 pool), with at least 10km (400 lengths) being swam in the final week. Arthritis Care week. 

Obviously, I can’t just dive in there and swim it. It will take 2-3 months before hand of training, building up my distances and further increasing my fitness.

Training, of any kind, is a bit tougher right now, because the pools are busier and some people seem unfamiliar with the “rules of the pool”. 

Last Saturday, I was swimming on the pools “training lanes” only to have someone swim into me, head first, as they were swmiming on the wrong side of the lane.

On Monday, I was forced to abandon my plan to swim 2km, after I was joined by two social swimmers, who swam a slow “breast stroke” side by side, while chatting, making it impossible to swim at any pace but theirs. Overtaking resulted in being kicked, as the had a wide legged, scissor kick, in opposed to a frog type kick, resulting in flailing legs!

The life guards are supposed to intervene in situations like this, but failed to and speaking to their manager didn’t help either. 

Anyway, my focus over the next fews will be on my training and preparation for this challenge and this blog, I hope, will help chart some of this.

First swim of 2017

Today, here in the UK, it’s a “bank holiday”… it’s a kind of hangover, as it were, from New Year. New Years Day fell on a Sunday, therefore today is a bank holiday. Which means most of the pools are shut and there’s no post (though Veron Dursley, from Harry Potter might be happy with that).

However, South Tyneside Leisure, opened two of their pools till three, so I enjoyed are leisurely lie in, till half past 11 (hardly necessary, as I barely moved yesterday!). I scoffed two weetabix (supermarket brand), had a yoghurt and set off to the pool.

It was are little busy, as to be expected, with a mixture of children, people trying to keep their New Years resolutions, leisure swimmer and people, like me, who just want to get in there and swim. 

One lane was taken, by three leisure swimmers, one of whom I couldn’t help sniggering at, as she lectured her friend how to swim properly. Before then setting off, head up, thrashing down the pool. I then remembered, I used to swim like that and I thought I could swim! We are often ignorant till correctly taught!

I bagged the spare lane, with the intention of swimming 2.5km.I was later joined, in the same lane, by another swimmer. A far better swimmer than I, that was until he stopped, to have a gossip with the woman, in the next lane. Consequently, I accidently put to boot in, when I did a tumble turn. It was totally unintented, but I am pretty sure he’ll be sporting a bruise or two, tomorrow!

My swim was initially, frustrating, I can not get my new goggles, right. They are either so tight, it feels like they are sucking my eye balls out of their sockets, or I loosen then, a little, then they leak and I find myself squinting against the chlorinated water, sloshing about in them! Things got even more uncomfortable,  when I tumble turn, as the force of the water, slid my goggles up my face!

Eventually my goggles were sorted and I was off. The battery level in my watch was concerning, sitting at only 10%. Thankfully, it lasted the course and hopefully, unless all of Garmins UK staff, have taken an extended break and don’t return to work, till after the festivities are over, the new charger should arrive tomorrow! 

It was a tough swim, throughout my swim I experienced pain in my back, hands, shoulder and elbow and right knee. It’s hard to keep going, when you’re hurting. Everything within me was saying “stop, stop!”

I know though, I can manage the pain. I can’t and won’t allow it to stop me. Pain is part of having arthritis and though unpleasent, not a reason to stop. The less I use these joints, the worse my flexibility and mobility becomes. The challenge is, knowing when you really need to stop! It’s difficult too, to focus on my swim and the enjoyment of it, when pain is clouding the experience. 

There’s a real sense of exhilaration, achievement and accomplishment though, as I push myself onwards. I relish the significantly increased fitness levels, that swimming regularly, has given to me. 

Keeping going, isn’t so much physical as psychological. It’s about having and keeping the right mental attitude. It’s easy (and to a point, dangerous) to focus on the pain, or rather how much pain you’re in. Focusing on the pain, makes it easier to give in and harder to continue, it’s saps your energy and turns your focus to a less positive one. Yes we all have, and are entitled, to have our bad days, days were it’s too much to deal with, where we struggle. It’s when this becomes our key focus, where negative thoughts processes dominate and we become largely fixated on the struggles we face, this is when I feel it becomes difficult to even consider ways of finding ways to overcome, manage and deal with the challenges and curveballs that life with a long term condition throws at you.

But, my swim was also good. I posted a good time for my 200IM, just outside my PB (which is a rubbish time, when compared to Olympians). 

In April I am undertaking, like last year, Swimathon. This year for Marie Curie, in opposed to Sport relief. Last year, I didn’t care how I completed it, I just wanted to get through it. Last year I swam 1.5km, this year, it’s the more challenging 2.5km and I want to smash my PB of 1hr 50. This year I have a “game plan”. 

Swimming 2.5km is a decent distance and consequently, more psychologically challenging. One hundred lengths seems like a long distance, at the start, so I work in sets of 100m. Twenty-five sets, seems far more palitable. This year I hope to swim 100m breast stroke and 100m freestyle, alternating. 

My freestyle endurance is still pretty limited, so starting at 1000m, I will increase the distance by 200m each week. I also really need to work on my breast stroke kick, which is, to put it simply,  rubbish. This isn’t helped, by my arthritis and more especially, the nerve and muscle damage in my left hip. I also need to work, on improving my overall stamina and fitness levels, though they are pretty good now and this shows in my general endurance, there’s still, improvements that can be made! 

I successfully swam 1200m, in this manner, the last 100m of freestyle was particularly challenging, as my asthma caused me to become breathless. On completion, it was just before 2.50pm. I clarified, that the closing time was 3pm, the lifeguard replied, “yes”, before adding “so you’ve got time for a few more lengths”. 

At previous pools I’ve swam at the closing time, isn’t the time they boot you out the pool, it’s the time they boot you out the building! I’ve known in the past, where I’ve acrally been swimming in the dark, because they’ve turned the lights out (long before their advertised closing time)! 

Stealing a glance at the clock, I decided to go for another 300m, I was at 2.2km and needed just those few more lengths to make it to, too 2.5km. I knew that staying in, would mean joining the mad dash and melee, for the showers, when I did get out. But hey ho, I was off again!

Alas, I didn’t make it to 2.5km…I completed 250m making it, 2,450m only to find a lifeguard peering at me, from the side of the pool “time to get out love”, “can I just do another 50m I pleaded”, my pleas fell on deaf ears. They were shut and it was time to leave! 

I spent the next two hours only focused on the fact that I hadn’t completed 2500m as I’d hoped to and disappointed by the missed 50m, before realising, I was focusing only on the negative. I had, had a good swim, achieved a lot and I needed to be happy with what I had done, the 2450m and had swam and not focused on the fact that I hadn’t been able to swim the last 50m, to take me to 2500m!

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. 

Tough times and set backs

Sorry for the delay in posting, theres been a lot happening!

The last few weeks have been challenging for me, at times it’s been a roller coater of emotions. As a consequence, no swimming has been completed. 

The 17th November, was the last day I swam and it could still be another week before I head back into the pool. I am missing it so much!

In the few days leading up to the 17th November, I had, had a small spot on the top of my leg. It was mildly uncomfortable, it was rubbing on my clothes, but other than that, I gave it very little thought. 

On the Thursday, the 17th, it was was becoming painful, but it failed to stop me swimming, I had considered not swimming, but then told myself “get a grip woman, it’s just a spot!”. I had a really good swim, completing 100m butterfly and a 400m IM.

I went home and took my usual evening pain relief, paracetamol and codeine, but I didn’t feel well, with little appetite. 

Half an hour later, I became aware that the pain in my leg, was worsening. I decided a hot bath was in order, in the hope that this would encourage it to burst. This failed. 

I realised  something more was wrong, than an “infected spot”. A quick check revealed a lump, that was not only painful, but around inch long and 3/4 inch wide (2.5cm x 1.5cm). It was also a deep purple/black colour. I decided I needed to see my GP in the morning. 

An hour later, the pain was excruciating and “the thing” was getting bigger! even the though I felt that I would be wasting their time, I decided the go to the out of hours medical service, known as the “walk in centre” in the UK.

I hobbled in to the walk in centre at 9.30pm, by this point I was close to tears and was unable to sit. When I was triaged,  I immediately apologised for wasting their time!! However, a quick examination revealed three things: I had an abscess, I may need surgery and finally, I wasn’t wasting their time! I was then transferred to A and E, also know as casualty. 

I waited round a bit, it was like a war zone and I really felt for the staff working there. Eventually, I was called in, to see the doctor, who decided to refer me to a surgeon, despite it bursting on examination, as “it was deep”. It was later to found, thanks to the district nurse, picking a stick into it, to be 2.5cm deep!

I was given further pain relief and assisted on to a trolley for comfort. I have to say, at this point, the care I received was amazing. I then waited to see the surgeon, who appeared two hours later, straight from theatre. A quick examination, confirmed that surgery was needed.

By this point it was 2am and I was told to return at 7.30am. So off I hobbled off home, tired and in pain, which prevented me sleeping! At 6.30am, I hobbled off to the bus stop and back to the hospital.

Thankfully, by 12 noon, I was out of theatre and all had gone well. I was also of my tree on fentanyl and the after effects of a GA. My friend came to collect me, in a taxi, we headed to her house, where I stayed for the next two days, been waited on hand and foot!

The pain was still pretty bad and the daily packing of the wound, was agonising.  It also meant no bath, no shower and no swimming. I don’t know which was worse! 

The wound healed well, and three weeks later, I was dressing free and allowed a bath! Swimming has to wait a while longer, but hopefully, this week, I’ll be back in the pool. I’m so looking forward to it. I miss it so much.

However, this wasn’t the only set back to my swimming, that I experienced. Two weeks ago, I went out to my car, with the intention of driving to the surgery for my dressing change, to discover my car had been broken into. 

The culprits, has stolen a number of items, including two pillows I’d just bought that day and a bag of shopping.  They also stole a purse, containing loose change and my drivers licence. Finally, they stole my swimming bag, that contained most of my swimming and training items. This was devastating.

Luckily, later that day, driving round my estate I found and number of items. However, I still lost nearly £200 worth of gear including: two swim hats (including my much loved “Pride Power” hat), good quality shampoo and conditioner, two pairs of googles and, most importantly, my Garmin swim watch, vital to both my training and counting my laps for next year’s,  swimming challenge. It’s of no real use to anyone without the wireless ANT stick, which I still have in my possession. It’s loss is something I feel most keenly. 

The cost to, replace, is a £140. Money I don’t have, right now, it’s Christmas. I also need to spend an extended time with my family, this Christmas, as a close family member is sick, this brings extra costs with it.

In addition, just to add to this, on the day my car was broken into, because I wasn’t  concentrating properly, I ran a red light. Though I realised and quickly stopped, unfortunately, there’s a traffic enforcement camera, sitting at these lights and I now have a fine to pay, as well! 

I’ve started a “just giving” crowdfunding page, on the advice of my friend, but I’ve done it because A suggested it. It feels like begging and I am not expecting to raise anything from it, there are far worthier causes, out there, this Christmas. 

So, I will just have to wait and hope, that my fairy godmother turns up this Christmas or Garmin have a 90% off sale! Neither are likely, but it is Christmas and Christmas is supposedly about, amongst other things, miracles! This is one miracle, that’s unlikely to come true, along with the culprits actually getting caught! 

 I wasn’t going to add my “just giving” page, it feels like begging and I feel uncomfortable with “putting it out there”  preferring people to “just find it” and give if they want. 

But, if people do want to know what it is.


It’s been a few days since I last posted, I have several posts, planned. 

First of all, let me say congratulations to my friends’, P and L who celebrate their first wedding anniversary, today. 

Secondly, I dedicate this post to a very special lady, my grandma. 

My gran, recently celebrated her 80th birthday and it was to her house, I headed last weekend. 

My grandma is a great believer in “exercise and fresh air”. Twice daily, she puts her coat on, wheels her walking frame out the door and heads off for a mile long walk, sometimes longer, accompanied by her partner in crime, Bertie, her dog. 

This is a pretty good accomplishment, for someone her age, but even more so when you learn of the health problems she has.

I will always remember my grandma, walking for miles, working hard and cycling everywhere. This was despite severe asthma, both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and being diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, in her mid-forties. Then, in 1989 and at the age of only 52, she suffered her first stroke.

This came completely out of the blue, she had come home from work, gone to bed and woke with limited movement in her right side. Following her stroke, her ability to walk was left significantly impaired and she was never able to work again. 

Three and half years later, in the summer of 1992, she suffered a second and much bigger stroke. This left her confined to a wheelchair and with limited movement down her right side. 

My gran waged her own personal battle, to recover and slowly over the coming months and years, she regained some of her mobility. I’ll never forget my shock, visiting her 18 months later and witnessing her, get out of her chair and walk! 

Over the coming years, she had further mini strokes, or a TIA as they are otherwise known, along with further, small strokes, otherwise known as a CVA.

In 2001, her husband, my grandad, passed away, which was a real body blow for my gran. We all expected that she would probably need to go into a nursing home. She eventuality, however settled into sheltered housing and with the support  of carers, managed well. 

It was her carer that found her, in 2008, unconscious. She’d suffered a massive stroke in her sleep. Unbeknown to us, she’d had a significant TIA, the previous Wednesday, but had refused to go to hospital as she didn’t want to miss our visit on the Sunday. Late in our visit, on the Sunday, we had noticed our grans facial expression change and her behaviour became “slightly odd”.

On arrival, at hospital, her heart stopped and she had to be given CPR, this left her heart permanently damaged.

We, as a family, where advised to get down there quick, as they weren’t expecting her to survive. She did, but the first weeks were awful, she was unable to carry out the simplest of tasks,  her mobility was gone and she had little awareness of the world around her, her reactions and speach slowed and she had to be fed through a tube.

Physiotherapy started and as soon as she was given a walking frame, she was off! Her recovery was little short of miraculous, after six weeks she moved to a rehab unit. It was here, she has a further set back, a further stroke that left her partially sighted. 

My gran returned home, she was largely confined to a wheelchair, able only to walk around the house and garden. She kept going, working hard to increase her mobility, a further set back came later that year, when she suffered a further small stroke, unfortunately she sustained a burns to her hands, she was holding a newly boiled kettle as she fell.

Despite all this, she attended my sisters wedding, demanding to be wheeled on to the dance floor and assisted to be pushed, in her wheelchair, in time with the music. She finally crawled off to bed, at midnight, with balloons tied to her wheelchair, taking great delight in been carried up the stairs, assisted by he groom, best man and a group of his friends. 

As the years passed by, my gran was to experience further small strokes and TIA’s. Then, five years ago, she had a heart attack, in an ambulance, while on a bridge spanning a river. She shot through, the toll booth, at speed! 

Despite the many struggles she’s faced, she has remained fiercely independent and determined to regain, some of mobility she lost. 

She’s now had 7 or 8 strokes, numerous TIAs, two heart attacks, has asthma and widespread and severe arthritis, lived with Parkinsons disease for over 30 years and has only one kidney. Many people give up, with far less, and take the easy route. My gran, steadfastly determined, keeps going! 

You will hear the odd “complaint” that she’s in pain, in reality, she’s in agony. She is steadfastly determinated, no matter what and as stubborn as a mule, there are a few things she can’t do, but by and large, with most things she’ll give it a go, “because she wants to”.

Often, she’ll say, I know I’m going to be in pain tonight and I know I’m going to have a bad night, but I don’t care, because I want to do this and it doesn’t matter, because I’ve really enjoyed myself. My gran rarely lets, her health problems stop her or hold her back. She puts many people in the shade. I’m proud of her.

The real turning point in her life, was three years ago, when she was asked to care for a “friend of a friends” dog. A dog who had been neglected, named Bertie, Bertie has revolutionised her life. 

She and Bertie are inseparable, he follows her everywhere. He goes into the bathroom with her, sleeps on her bed and their life’s revolve around each other. Bertie, is a busy, active dog who loves a walk. So my gran started taking him for regular walks and their walks together, gradually got longer.

As a result of Bertie, her mobilty improved, as did her social life. She regularly meets up with othet dog walkers, in the park, and stops and has a natter with them.

Last weekend, we went out on the Saturday. I was astounded, when she walked the best part of two miles and then, on her return home, took Bertie for a walk, despite my protestations, to rest and that I would walk him. 

She really is an amazing lady, watching her determined efforts to keep active and maintain her independence, through the most challening of times, is inspirational. I know thst there will be dsy, weeks even, where swimming is impossible, but my gran is a constant reminder. 

Never say, I can’t and never give up!!

Looking for excuses…flying meat missile!

So, tonight it was on to my second training swim…

Last night, pretty much cemented my decision to leave my existing gym and pool and seek out an alternative. Namely it’s too small and crowded! 

Today, I made the decision to drive to Hebburn Pool, after work, to ask about monthly membership options and to also, have swim.

Hebburn Pool, is not my nearest pool. It’s actually, several miles away, but the pool is new, clean and modern and the staff, excellent. My local pool, is currently closed, due to someone who had D and V swimming in it and passing it on to others, not content with infecting one pool, they also infected a second. The public health bods, have not laid any blame, on the way the pools are run, managed and maintained, I say this because it has now has hit the local press and it’s out there, in he media.

Any how, moving on, as I referred to earlier, I decided to go to Hebburn Pool, after work. Then I thought, I really can’t be bothered…and started thinking up excuses!

Last night, I was putting my shopping away. I shoved a pork joint in the freezer and shut the door on it, only for it to slide down the freezer, hit the door, resulting in the door flying open and my pork joint hurtling towards me. This all happened in a split second, as did my reaction to it. 

I “threw myself backwards” as  to avoid contact with this flying meat missile, in doing my head made contact with the door frame, with a resounding thunk! I swore, quickly checked my head and ascertained that a trip to casualty was not required, it did not necessitate neither a bandage or stitches, just two paratacemol!

Consequently though, along with a bruise on my head, I’ve had a thumping headache all day. I’m pretty sure, that getting hit with a low flying pork joint, would of proved less painful!

Despite regular pain relief, it’s hung around all not, despite not being not being welcome. For this reason, I felt that, maybe it would be a good idea to have a “night off”.

It was the classic “angel and devil” scenario on the one side “no don’t swim, you’ve got a headache etc” and on the other “go for a swim, it will do you good,you need to swim”.  The Angel won!

On arrival at Hebburn pool, I was greeted by a lovely receptionist, I enquired about monthly membership, with South Tyneside Leisure. I was informed that it was £17.50 a month, on acount of being “registered disabled”. I signed up, immediately…it’s a saving of  £7.50 on the gym and more to the point, the pools are much better. 

Having sorted that out and signed on the dotted line, it was time for a swim. 

It was a good swim, but I realise how much fitness I’ve lost since August. I’ve lost a total of seven weeks through injury and ill health. I really want to get back up to swimming a mile, without stopping, but it’s hard going at the minute. 

I managed 1000m, in various sets, including a 400m and a couple of 200m IM, I am really happy with that. It’s only my second training swim, there’s a long way to go, yet! 

And we’re off…training begins here!

The “silly swim hat marathon challenge” is six months in the future, but my training has to begin now. I will, without a doubt, loose training time due to my asthma and this has to be taken into account. Last winter, I was out the pool for 14 weeks, from November to April.

The first thing I need to be doing, is creating the time and getting into the habit of swimming five times a week. To complete the challenge I have set myself, I will need to swim on at least 5 days out of 7.

The next thing I need to be doing, is swimming at least a mile each time, building up to 2k. 

Tonight I completed my first training swim, I was planning on swimming a mile, but in an 18 metre pool this is monotentous! This is not helped by the fact that, pool is in the basement, with no natural light!

Half the pool was roped off, for childrens’ swimming lessons, though I’ve never actually seen the children swim a length. They seem to get verbal instruction, allowed to practice swimming a couple of metres then it’s back to sitting on the steps, while the next one has a go! 

That meant that the actual space for swimming was 18m long, by 3.5m wide. It takes very few people, for the pool to become very crowded. 

The pool itself, has it’s wall’s flanking three of its sides, meaning that it can soon get very choppy as the waves hit the walls and then bounce back. In a conventional pool, the water sloshed over the side and into the drain. This further adds to creating a challenging place to swim!

The pool, soon became crowded and busy. Most people were leisure swimmers, gently swimming up and down, heads up, hair and make up perfect, while chatting to their mates. (Obviously the make element applied largely to females!)

There were one or two, more serious swimmers, but trying to smash a distance, proved to be impossible. Then I had technical difficulties…

First of all, I couldn’t get my “swim watch” to work and being so dark, the pool is illunated with only small spot lights, it was near impossible to fix this issue. In the end I gave up and decided just to enjoy swimming, irrespective of my distance.

 Then my goggles began to leak, it’s pretty uncomfy swimming along with your goggles full of chlorinated water, it also results in looking like Mike, from Monsters Inc, after he sprayed deroderant in his eye!

I’ve never yet found a pair of goggles that didn’t leak after six months and I’m not yet convinced that I’ve found the right pair of goggle’s for me. However, I quickly realised, that part of the problem was that I was wearing a new swim hat, which sits lower down my forhead, hence preventing a tight seal for my goggle’s.  Having sorted that out, I was off and swimming.

It was a really good swim, though I didn’t complete the distance I wanted too. I did accomplish swimming six lengths (108m) front crawl, using tumble turns throughout. 

I also achieve swimming 3 lengths  (54m) butterfly, this I am particularly pleased about. When I started learning butterfly, it was deemed that, my chronic back injury rendered it too risky to swim more than 10m. In time, this was increased to 25m, as my strength improved and only last week, it was suggested to me, while I was at the pool, that I maybe try increasing it to 50m. Butterfly is a difficult stroke, for anyone and and anti-social one!!! 

Then having cracked 50m butterly,  I decided to see if I could increase my individual medley distance to 200m. Individual medley,  often shortened to IM, consists of an equal distance of Butterfly, Backstroke, Breast stroke and Freestyle.  It was hard, but I achieved it and now, I have another PB to improve on, along with my 1600m and 100m front crawl.

My asthma, really struggled towards he end of the swim, my chest was really tight and it took a good couple of hours for my lungs to calm down, but I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow! 

Slightly panicking….

I’ve sat down with my calculator, this morning, to work out out a swimming plan for “my big swim challenge”. I’ve realised that, that if I’m going to have any chance of completing it, I’m going to have to be in the pool, at least five days a week and swim around 80 lengths, each time.

Because of my arthritis I will need to factor in, regular rest days and also, not cramming my distances. That is, not doing 3.5km in a day, so I can have an extra day off, because as I’ve already learnt, this will potentially lead to injury and a flair up of my arthritis. 

Completing this challenge, for Arthritis Care, will be largely psychological. Believing I can do it, not focusing on the negative, not concentrating on the pain, not thinking of what might go wrong and just keeping going.

It’s going to be a massive challenge, both physically and mentally, but with determination and the right attitude I know I will succeed! 

I’ve six months to go, so my primary focus right now, is to get as much support as I can, get as fit as I can, eat well, look after myself and get in the right place, mentally. 


Tonight, I was back in the pool for the first time in two weeks. 

I was a bit concerned, at first,  my peak flow suggested that there is still some airway obstruction. However, I did as I always do and took a few puffs of salbutamol and then, away I went. 

The first length was tough, I learnt tumble turns some months ago, for those who are familiar with tumble turns (or flip turns as they are sometimes known) they are far from easy to learn. For those who see them on the telly and think, they look easy take it from me, they’re not! You have to get your distance, positioning and breathing right, in a split second! Get it wrong and you either, kick out at water and look silly, breathe in under water, come up gasping with snot running down your face or worse, injure yourself. 

Tumble turns, take hours and hours of practice, the first few weeks proved tough, in fact I hated them, but now they are second nature and getting easier. Tonight, however I saw the wall and panicked. I was so annoyed with myself, my flip turn had flipped back, two months.
So tonight, I concerned myself with swimming widths, doing a tumble turn, swimming another width and so on. Pushing myself and working hard to regain confidence. 

I also took the oppurtunity to do some balance and strenghthening work, to help my creaking joints. Arthritis is crap, it hurts and you feel as stiff as an old carthorse, this has been my life for 15 years, but determined not to focus on the negative and spend my days bemoaning my lot,  fixated on the pain I’m in, though I hold my hands up, of being guilty of this, somedays, I try to translate this into something with a more positiv.

Finally, as still have a nagging fear of deep water, I decided to pencil jump, into to pool, the pool is 10 ft deep. What actually happened was that, force of the water, shot my goggles over my face and I got my eyes full stinging, chlorinated water. The result was that I came spluttering back to the surface looking very uncool indead! 

Swimming in silly hats…

OK, so I’m still awake, so I may as well write my next post…

Arthritis Care Gateshead is a charity that is  close to my heart, though I rarely attend meetings, owing to other commitments. It’s a place that’s given me so much: acceptance, cconfidence, friendship and the ability to manage my arthritis better. In short, they help pick me up, at my lowest point, when I was told I needed a walking stick, at 38. 

Now it’s time to give something back…

It’s a massive challenge that I’ve set myself: a marathon in a month, with a marathon in a month. 

Sound confusing…well let me explain!

A marathon, in running terms, is 26.2 miles, while a swimming marathon is 10km, so the plan is to swim 26.2 miles in a month, with 10km being swam in one week, which will take place during Arthritis Care Week in May 2017. It’s going to be a massive challenge!

The plan was to source a swimming hat, on which could be printed “Arthritis Care Gateshead” with my name printed on it, but it would seem that this only possible if ordering 500! So the idea is, to swim it in “silly swimming hats” the sillier the better. 

I’ve already sourced 3 and I’m on the hunt for more, I’m hoping I can get the branch involved in this and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.