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Thursday, 21 August 2014

LIFE OF A SWIMMER AND COACH!

LIFE OF A SWIMMER AND COACH



Who would have thought that those few tentative lessons with my dad (Bill Sherman) would have led to the wonderful career that i now have. My dad from the time i was very young, introduced and fuelled my love of swimming, one of my earliest memoires was swimming across the Moselle river with my dad on a camping holiday!

My LOVE of swimming and being in the water is all encompassing. Its what i love to do and what i live for, and in that i have developed a passion for helping others feel the same.  But oh my word no one warned me how addictive it is...and well if you thought you didn't need much stuff...just a cossie, goggles, hat and a towel you would think!!!

Think again!!!...and then think some more! I think i possibly have more swim kit than clothing.....well ok i am a woman.....maybe not but getting there!!!!! But each an every bit of swim kit tells its own story, miles and hours of swimming, races completed, distance and temperature conquered, each is special in how it has seen me through and been essential to me completion. Would i part with any of it....not a chance!



My love of the water is well known, it brings me to life, gives me life and makes life what it is for me today. It helps me breathe, others turn to music, they dance, they sing, they cook, they eat...for me its the water, its healing, warming even at its lowest temperatures, the mind slows, the body accepts its caress, the breathing becomes easier, for me to swim is a blessing, water really is the giver of life. How do you express a feeling that is all encompassing, so overpowering that it can not be compared with any other emotion, to not swim for me is to not breathe.

My history of swimming is diverse and i have been lucky to swim in some of the world's most amazing waters, Australia and Mauritius to name a few. Regardless of the location, although it has to be admitted some are better than others, its the water that draws me. The wildlife, fresh air, conditions and temperature are all part of the challenge, i have raced, swam at leisure and enjoyed every minute of it. And now i am lucky enough to be able to help others to do the same.

Swimming brings me in contact with some amazing people as well, from those that are just starting out on their aquatic journey to those like me who consider it a way of life. It is amazing to see the transformation of fearful of the unknown, to competing and not forgetting those that want to laze in amazing places and let the sun warm them as they swim. There are also the ultra swimmers, those that do the channel, most of whom do it for charity. Words cant express the instant satisfaction of seeing a swimmer become at one with the water, the grin is spontaneous, the 'wows' a blessing to the ear....and then the ultimate words....'can i do it again', music to the ears. To coach any person and help them discover a love of water is the rare privilege of a coach, the open water tends to bring out all your vulnerabilities, it exposes emotions and brings them to the surface. For most the open water gives them the chance to be themselves, to please them selves and induces a sense of achievement regardless of whether you have swam 100 metres or 100 miles, in water of 20 degrees or 2, we all go through the same process of development and as a coach to be a part of that is exceptional - i am one of the lucky ones, i genuinely love my work!

Swimming solo is special, and yes i do know that some condone it, however, the joys of finding that special spot where nobody goes and dipping in is like finding hidden gold amongst the mountains, equally the fun and giggles not to mention the shared memories when swimming with others can make for many a special day out. As with most open water swimmers the tag line should be ' just add water!' we can have fun in a teaspoon of water if its there to get in!!!  The advancements of technology mean that now we can record our dips and dives with underwater cameras and Go-pro's, i love mine and use them constantly. As a swimmer its wonderful to get a picture of yourself swimming and if taken unexpectedly, can form a great surprise.



One of the beauties about swimming is regardless of age or ability we can all get in the water...so whats not to like....fancy giving it a go...well grab your kit and join me, you are all welcome....and who knows you might get addicted to it too!!!!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

MINGARY CASTLE SWIM

MINGARY CASTLE SWIM

For many years i have been visiting a wonderfully serene place called Kilchoan. Set on the furthest point west of Scotland nestled amongst some of the clearest waters and whitest beaches. The peninsular houses a dormant volcano, lochs and more wild life than is possible to see in one go, from deer to eagles, otters to orcas all available to the patient observer. 


Mingary castle originates from the 13th century and has rang in the changes as times and history dictates and yet remains standing amongst the stunning backdrop of opulent green and brown fauna and flora which forms the surrounding landscape. The castle is home to a rich and diverse history of battle and dispute as well as control made possible by its prominent position on the peninsular of Adnamurchan. Over the last few years the castle has been undertaking a dramatic change under the watchful eye of Donald Houston of Adnamurchan estate. More information on the history of the castle can be found here - http://kilchoan.blogspot.co.uk/p/mingary-castle.html. The blog also tells you more of the happenings in the area and of the lives of its wonderful inhabitants. 

Last year i was extremely lucky to have a private viewing of the inside of the castle as both archaeology and restoration took place. To state that its remarkable is an understatement, stepping past the then water filled moat through the thick stone walls even to the lay person the sheer workmanship of years gone by is breath taking. Ask the modern builder to emulate such workmanship and i doubt such a building would still be standing in 300 years time. 

This trip up and i was determined to finally swim next to the castle....who knows i might even find hidden treasures!!!! Well a girl can hope, given that cannon balls have been found embedded into the external walls of the castle who exciting would it have been to find one in the water...or other oddities as discarded over the walls during battle. Heading towards the castle with my good friend Alison, we were looking forward to all that lay ahead....after all what could possibly go wrong!!!


Gaining access to the waters edge by a guillotine gate, and gently walking down the grassy slope it was hard not to wonder who had walked the same path over the centuries. The water although beautiful looked a little bouncy, not that that would deter me...a woman on a mission...to swim where battles have been fought, won and lost. Finding our access point into the water seemed easy  as we came across what can only be described as steps cut out of the rock face. 


Steps which as we discovered continued under the water some considerable way. For us it was like stepping into our our outdoor private pool. Sat on the last dry 'step' we donned snorkel mask and fins' and stood up to survey our swim spot, simply breathtaking does not do it justice nor can works embrace the craggy mollusc ridden rock face that threatened both skin and wetsuit if we got our entry or exit wrong!


Starting our decent into the cool depths of the water we spied the dreaded lions mane jelly fish - the rumours of the sheer size of them had clearly not been exaggerated, this one the size of a dustbin lid. We deduced that the flow of the current would keep its dreaded mane with its vile sting away from us...but taking no precautions we entered and vowed to steer clear of it. 


As stated the 'steps' appeared to travel quite away down into the water....with fins on these were almost impossible but we would have a go once we had finished our swim. The water was remarkably choppy for a bay which appeared to all intents and purposes to be sheltered. But that said we were in and that is all that mattered to us. Now to treasure hunt!
Ok no treasure found other than discovering the geology of the land beneath the castle itself which was pretty spectacular, from giant boulders to rocks which appeared to be carved and may have possibly fallen into that water as the castle fell to the perils of sea, weather and battle. 






The water teemed with blue fish and orange fish, who were undisturbed by either our presence or that of the large mackerel who swam around the kelp this gently swayed in the current. 






The water full of fish (although no seals decided to join us) and the rocks were a mass of all different wildlife, glinting and showing their colours as the sun hit them through the water. 



Having snorkelled all round the bay, been bounced against the rocks, played with kelp and fish it was time to get out...what a special swim, the treasure is the water itself and all that it holds, clearly any pearls from history where hiding that day and had we found any we would have simply grinned, took pictures and given ourselves and internal hug....loved every bit of it!!!




Did we swim there again....yes next bay along...more treasure hunting!!!!

Windermere swim number 2

WINDERMERE SWIM NUMBER 2



And so following on from our first swim Alison and I sat bellies plump from delicious scones and nicely warmed from the open fires and in walks the man himself, none other than the Gladiator, Thomas Noblett. After the normal welcome greeting including bear hug, Thomas stood aside to reveal a gentleman he wished to introduce me to. 

A rather dapper tall looking gentleman stood in front of me...a personal hero and yet what do i do...go on wobble mode! Why....because this swimmer extraordinaire stated that he read my blogs and loved them! So there you go, at my tender age i turn into a mode that can only be described as a teenager at a pop concert!

So who was this amazing man - none other than Michael Read MBE, KING OF THE CHANNEL (http://www.kingofthechannel.com/michael-read), this is the man that has swim the English channel no less than 33 times...yes you did read that correctly 33 times....and that is not including all his other achievements. At times the water almost held and kept him and as you will know if you ever have the pleasure of meeting him ...he would not let it beat him...and i for one am glad. For there in front of me was the man himself, amazing sparkly eyes and a wicked grin....and as i was to find out a sense of humour to match. What an absolute treat!

Had it not been for the water i suspect that we could have sat over a glass of wine, and a rather fine meal and chatted all night as he regaled me with stories of his swims, but low and behold other swimmers turned up...the great and the best of the BLDSA (British Long Distance Swimming Association -http://www.bldsa.org.uk/)  and channel swimming world!!! What a fantastic afternoon this was turning out to be. Then came the invitation to swim...Alison and i explained that we had already swam...but...well the water was there and the company was great so what was to refuse. Heading downstairs into the swim cave, the intrepid long distance swimmers donning mere costumes, hats and goggles, Alison and I in neoprene, having already swam less than an hour ago we were still chilled from the previous swim. The girly chatter from one side of the room matched by that of the males the other side. Some of the ladies even found things to play with down there!

Walking out into the sunshine and heading down the path towards the lake, Thomas and Mike, were there to oversee (translate that to - make fun of us!) our swimming. Thankfully we brought our cameras with us to the jetty, a group picture and the odd saucy word or two from Mike with laughter raining down the lake and the chatter started to turn towards getting in the water...all of a sudden it seemed as if it would be cold. Could we delay it any more....a few more pictures maybe


And of course one last hug from Mike (much welcomed ...and he is rather good at them!!!)


we started to enter the water, Alison and I with the benefit of the neoprene entered the water first step by step - for a second swim it take the breath but we soon settled in the water....others took a braver more determined way, a holding of hands, take a deep breath and go for it....and as fast as they enter the water...they emerge breaking its surface equally as fast!



The ladies heading in feet first the gentlemen taking a more macho approach, head first, they too surfaced equally as fast.....and i might add they did state that certain area's of their bodies were feeling the cold worse than others...a source of amusement for the ladies but no so much so for the gentlemen!!!
 
A few healthy gasps and off we all went to swim, the water as refreshingly brisk as i had been earlier that day, the weather if anything brighter as if the lake district was welcoming its new guests to the water.  A quick blast out to the boat and round a few buoys and then it was out and rushing to the warmth of the swim cave as its affectionately known. Now one of the beauties of being an open water swimmer is the dignity in getting changed, we all understand that we are cold, that there is no point trying to struggle to don clothing with hands that don't work properly and so the wet items get taken off, the body rigorously dried and warm clothing quickly placed onto chilled skin. 

Retreating to the warmth of the Langdales log fires, it is a given that we now have to have the warm scones and coffee....it really is hard to leave great company, food and hospitality. I do feel our next meeting Mike should be next to a fire, with a bottle of red, it was amazing to meet you and this one is dedicated to you and the inspiration that you give to all swimmers, see you soon i hope and yes i may well take you up on your method off warming up after a swim :) xx

Friday, 4 July 2014

GARY'S BIG ADVENTURE!

GARY'S BIG ADVENTURE

Hi there, I’m Gary. In May this year I embarked on a little swimming challenge down the river Trent which took me from Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire to Dunham, Lincolnshire, 100 miles downstream. This was all in aid of the mental health charity, MIND. I wanted to raise both money and awareness for this great charity having suffered for several years with stress, anxiety and depression.
Having broken free from the shackles of my illness, I was determined to make the most of my second chance at living a full life and looked to take on a big challenge.
I only took up open water swimming in June of last year and took to it like err… well… a duck to water!
Up to then I’d spent a bit of time in the pool learning how to swim more than two lengths front crawl without tiring myself out.
Although I was swimming, I wasn’t sure at this point if my challenge was going to be a swimming one or not. It was the exploits of Sean Conway who become the first person to swim the length of Brittan, 1000 miles that inspired me to search for my own swimming adventure.
Two or three ideas later, I settled on the river Trent back in October last year. 6 months of training, planning and panicking followed and although the original route was shortened from 141 miles to 100 miles due to the lack of access during low tide towards the end. I was happy that I had set myself a big enough of a challenge.
On to the start at Essex Bridge on the Shugborough Hall estate. It’s fair to say that I had more than my fair share of nerves as I got into the water for the first time. I wouldn’t go as far to say s**ting myself as that will come into this blog in a little while!
I set off just after 8am with the aim of covering 20 miles. The biggest problem I encountered on the first day was submerged boulders in the shallow water. I took several hits to the ribs and shoulders but still managed to cover the first 3 miles in just over 40 minutes with a fast current. I felt relaxed, confident and strong by this stage and headed off again with my brother, Paul in the support kayak beside me. It was a good job I was in good shape as my parents and the rest of my support crew couldn’t gain access to the river where my next rest point should have been. This resulted in a 7 mile, 2 hour stint that knocked the stuffing out of me.
At around half 5, I reached the finishing point for the first day. I was exhausted but elated to have my first 20 mile day under my belt but I was unsure how I was going to be able to keep this up.
Day two was very much like the first apart from the missed rest point came much later in the day, the final rest point as it happened. This time it wasn’t due to lack of access, it was because I beat the support car there! So I blissfully carried on regardless while several frantic phone calls went back and forth from car to kayak while they both tried to find out where each other were.
By the time I eventually reached the days finishing point at the John Thompson Inn at Ingleby, I was an exhausted, shivering wreck. Heavy rain the night before had took a couple of degrees off the water, coupled the double stint I’d just done and the lack of any fuel all took its toll. I sat in the car with the heaters on full for quite some time before I was ready to peel myself out of my wetsuit.
Day three was nothing short of awesome! Due to a clerical error on my part, the day 2 swim was only 17 miles long. I really wanted to reach the centre of Nottingham by the end of the day as I knew there were quite a few people going to be there to see me in.


So I decided to put the missing three miles on to the beginning of the day. I can’t put into words how good I felt on this day. Both the previous days I’d struggled at various points along the day, particularly towards the end. I felt as though my mind had beaten my body into submission and I could just focus on each 3/4 mile stint without distraction. I felt that good at the end of the 23 mile day that I even put a bit of a sprint on spurred on by the crowd waiting for me on the river bank as I approached the City Ground.
It went from elation to deflation very quickly however. I woke up for day four with what I’ve come to call ‘Tent belly’. Illness had set in big time, I struggled to eat a thing for breakfast and my stomach was solid. Undeterred, I jumped back into the river to set off but by the time I got to the first rest point I knew I was in trouble. Nothing would go down and if I forced it down, it was straight back up again.
By the time I reached the third rest point I was in a very bad way. Unable to get warm, unable to eat or drink and with rapid, shallow breathing I reluctantly decided to call it a day for the day. Although I had all my support crew telling me that I’ve just swam 10 miles on 700 calories feeling like death. I still felt that the day was a failure as I didn’t cover the distance I set out to do.
I know this is stupid but when you’re 100% focused on the task ahead, anything less just won’t do.
After an afternoon, evening and night in bed, I woke up feeling better and determined to make up on some lost ground (stupid I know), I jumped in again. And again by the time I got to the first rest point, I knew I was in trouble. Both ends had opened like taps. The Imodium was taking care of one end but everything I tried to eat was coming straight back up.


As like the day before, I jumped back in and carried on. Every stroke was a battle and every time I stopped for a breather in the water anything left in my stomach would end up in the river (sorry fish).
By the 2pm I had made it to Farndon just outside of Newark. I was determined to get this far as it was the first place I jumped into the Trent in preparation for the swim. Having reached my goal, I had to make another very difficult decision to have a rest day to try and regain some kind of level of health as I was quite literally on my knees at this point.
The river may well have won the battle but I wasn’t going to lose the war!
After a day of eating and sleeping, I once again jumped into the river with only 20 miles separating me with triple figure mileage under my belt. This would turn out to be one of the longest days of my life. The rain from the early part of the swim had long gone and the water temperature was on the up but the flow of the river was slowing to an almost complete halt. That’s what it felt like anyway!
Although I still felt weak, I could keep food a drink down to fuel me through the day so I got my head down and went for it, and went for it, and went for it…. 12 long hours I spent in the water on the final day to get to the magic 100 mile marker near the village of Dunham, Lincolnshire.
Getting as far as I did was amazing but what made it for me was the unbelievable support I had throughout. My parents took a week off work to support me. Feeding me, ferrying me along the route etc. Friends, family and people I’ve never met coming along to help me in whatever way they could. Plus the countless good luck messages on facebook, twitter, text and email willing me on.
At the beginning of this very long blog (sorry) I said the goal of the swim was to raise awareness and money for MIND. Money is still coming in, please donate here. So far I’ve raised over £1,800 which I’m over the moon about!


On the back of my little adventure, I’ve been shortlisted for the Discovery Channels ‘My World Bigger’ competition. I’m in the running to win one of 3 adventure holidays of a life time and would really appreciate it if you could take the time to vote for me here.
My thoughts have already turned to next year’s adventure. Planning is in the early stages still but I’m looking at a 150+ mile sea swim next July/August time. Thank for reading about my adventure.

Gary



Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Windermere swim number 1

Windermere swim number 1



Who would have thought that an innocent swim would turn into an epic meeting.!

A good friend Alison Darley and I decided to have a wander over to the lake district for a swim...well it would rude not too wouldn't it. The weather was crisp but fine.
Arriving at the Langdale Chase hotel, the owner and very good friend Thomas Noblett granted permission to swim from his jetty and as and added bonus we used his 'swim cave' to get changed in...oh the luxury of a warm room to exit fleecy clothing into a cold wetsuit.

The water was remarkably clear with the bottom seen for quite a distance, it always turns us in to intrepid hunter for fallen treasure....yet to find any but we live in hope! Alighting the warmth of the changing room we walked the short distance to lake side, its rather like the feeling of leaving a pool changing room to get to the poolside, you feel the eyes of others on you as you do what you hope is a normal gaited walk. In our case its not fellow swimmers that are watching but guests of the hotel who must me wondering who the nutters are! i resist the urge to ask if my bum looks big in this!


Alison and i had decided to do our normal...swim then play. Managing not to break our feet on the slippery rocks we headed deeper into the water, the cold dampness penetrating the wetsuit and quickly taking what heat remained as well as our breath. As my good friend would say its chuffing cold, as she attempted to put me in a zen like trance to combat the chills! As you can see she had me in fits of giggles instead!
But that is nothing new when we are together. The odd boat passed by us, passengers agape as they huddled deeper into thick coats, some wave...we tentatively wave back...after all we are attempting to look professional....slipping off a rock would shatter that illusion!
   

Eventually we got down to the business of swimming, my daughter Gemma, our photographer for the day. The cold on the face can be likened to a visit to the dentist, the gums go numb, the lips feel thick. But swim we did until the chill of the water prevented us from moving in a coordinated way. A bit of butterfly to warm us up didn't go amiss either, it never fails to amazing me how Julie Bradshaw MBE managed to do the channel all butterfly when we struggle to do 50m!! But try we do...no matter what it looks like and on the odd occasion Alison brings her monofin for us to play with as well! Again it probably not pretty but do we care....for a short time us adults revert to a child like state and just have fun!

Eventually the temperatures drove us from the water and back to the warmth of the swim cave, no matter what the distance, how long we are in, its fun, its great company and its the pure love of the water that brings us back to it time after time...little did we know we would have time for tea and scones (and those scones are amazing!) infront of an open fire...truly and open water swimmers dream, and then we would be nipping back in the great of long distance swimming!!!.... windermere swim number 2 coming soon!!!!

Happy swimming everyone!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

NICE AND COLD

NICE AND COLD

Well after a brief spell away from writing the blog (work and going on courses interfere with life!), its time to put pen to paper...for those young readers amongst us..that was the old fashioned method of communication. 

The winter has passed, thankfully without event (accident aside), the snow that was promised failed to materialise but the temperatures did plummet, now for mere mortals that means that we scurry inside, light the fires and wear as many layers of clothing as possible, the swimming pool our only source of watery play now awaits....but hang on...what about those of us who very rarely visit an indoor watery palace (i use that word dubiously as we know most are not salubrious nor are they palaces)

For those of us that shy away from the indoor watery boxes new adventures abound - winter swimming. Yes i can just see you all sat there giving out an involuntary shiver at the mere thought of it, but it like summer swimming is addictive.

What does it feel like i hear you ask. Well having a cold shower or plunging your hand into a bucket of water does not equate to the level of cold you will experience when submerging yourself into an icy lake. First the breathlessness, the heartbeat rising, the peripheral vision shrinking as very fibre of your body screams at you to get out and get warm. For those of us that manage not to make a rapid exit, the gradual lowering of the body into the water brings about a welcome numbness that further more invites you to swim!

Swim in that ....yes we do, it might not look as stylish as during the summer months nor do we swim the distances that the warmer waters permit. But we do slowly embrace the cold and its affects on our bodies. The mind is the biggest controlling factor during the winter months, waking up and seeing snow or a hard frost and the mind instantly turns to ....."fab, lets go swimming!" The journey to the lake is spent wrapped in as much fleece as we own and the heater in the car on full as we try to preserve what little vestibule of heat we possess. 

Getting changed can be a painful affair, attempting to pull on cold neoprene is difficult and no amount of speed will prevent the chilled air from wrapping itself around you, it was easier to not put the wetsuit on...after all how bad can it be.....for one and all its fine up to the mid thighs - then for the men...well you can just imagine the reaction on their faces as their nether regions react in the way they should, everything disappears, most cant talk and some have been known to produce howler monkey impressions, for us ladies the 'area' is higher up....equally as painful and then rapidly numb, thankfully. and again the final painful bit....the armpits, we all hold our arms close to our bodies, the natural instinct to preserve heat kicking in! The noises emitted from the mouth tend to get higher in pitch and a tad louder but it is all part of the process - we have also been known to develop tourette's! Thankfully the later is a short lived affair.


The distance we swim is always calculated prior to getting in (the brain barely computes once we are in!) and once submerged we are off....do we worry about technique, what we look like...nope we head off to our intended destination, pleading with our bodies to let us make it there...and quick as flash we are there. The often raggy breathing starts to calm down, the body adjusts to the temperature, the hands and feet often ache to the point of painful....but we love it. The grins spread, new distances are calculated, we are mindful of time, buddying up and of a safe recovery....but oh wow it is addictive, seriously addictive.



For those who what to push their limits the ICEMILE is the swim of all swims. One mile in sub 5 degrees, in just your swimsuit, a hat and a pair of goggles!!! To show you how big a feat it is lets put it into perspective, more people have climbed Everest than have completed an ice mile. I have been in the very privileged position of overseeing and officiating at a good number of said swims this last winter. Swimmers having trained and practiced in the ever decreasing temperatures watch the thermometers drop, the first frosts are greeted with cheers and then big gulps and the realisation dawns that....wow the time has come, the training and practicing times are over and its time to get in and do it.

On the day the only thing swimmers have to worry about just doing the distance, a team at the ready are there to support from every angle. Officials, first aiders, witnesses, kayakers, ....oh the list goes on. We are all following the remit of the International Ice Swimming Association, our aim, to make the swimmers experience the best it can be, whilst at the same time taking care of all the safety aspects that ensure a successful swim. It is quite magical watching the swimmer entering the water, the concentration is intense, the atmosphere relaxed. The stoke is counted, the eyes of those attending never leaving the swimmer, the distance counted off. Exiting the water to applause and cheers, just like us short distance swimmers, it barely registers, if at all.



All they know is that they have done it, all they are aware of are the deep effects of the cold on the body, they trust us completely as we bundle them up and get them to shelter, warm drinks are given, at times trunks cut off to aid a swift application of clothing. The warm up is carefully managed. For those that have swam through the winter we know the 'shivers' that we love to video and post on facebook. the shivers of the icemiler are not for public consumption such is their greatness. As the warmth seeps back into the body, cognitive function returns and so the senses....one swimmer having been given the same drink throughout his recovery....asked 'what was the drink'. 'bovril' came the reply...a still slightly confused swimmer then announced 'but i don't like bovril'...he finished the flask though!! Later he stated that he thought he was drinking hot chocolate!! Needless to say the vital bit of clothing is the amazing DRYROBE, as one swimmer once put it, 'a hug in a robe!', its become the mainstay of swimmers throughout the uk!!!

Does the distance matter or is it the pure achievement of swimming in cold water, which ever way you look at it we end up the same...shivering and grinning. The experience joins us together in the same way that the warmer waters do. No breaking of ice this year....but Decembers not that far off is it...

Friday, 21 February 2014

AQUA SPHERE GOGGLE REVIEW

LIGHTER THAN AIR



For me as both an out door and pool swimmer, it is vital that goggles can be used for both purposes. And so the new Aqua Sphere EXO-core have been tested in both to see if they can suit the cross over as needed by many swimmers. The EXO-core are the next step up from the Kaimen's which are already a swimmers favourite for comfort and fit so it will be interesting to see how Aqua Sphere have managed to progress their product.

At first glance the goggle are stylish in appearance and do feel nice to the touch. As a passionate swimmer, i know what I look for in a goggle, baring in mind that I wear them for at least an hour a day..its the goggle marks, will I be left looking 'water wounded' as I call it. Aqua Sphere have introduced a new bi-material frame technology designed to be comfortable as well as maintaining the streamlined fit and appearance that we all require.

In the pool after adjusting them, which was easy to do using the new buckle system, I set off. For an hour's solid training in the pool, not once did I have to adjust them, nor did they leak - result. Vision wise the lack of misting, and lack of water ingress were a massive bonus, it meant and uninterrupted swim set. Running through the full range of strokes in an attempt to get them to budge seemed impossible, as the new streamline fit makes the water flow past as opposed to hitting the goggles. Stopping at the end of the hour I was amazing at how light they still felt on my face, the swim has been as if I was not wearing goggles such is the weight of them on the face. Now the 'wound' test, taking the goggles off, the Advance Fit Technology promised a gentle suction to the face, and i had been careful how I had put them on, would I be walking around with the mark of the swimmer on my face all day. Alighting the pool and heading for a mirror, I was delighted to see nothing there, the softness of the new material had moulded itself to my face and held on enough to do the job in hand without letting the rest of the world know that I had been swimming! My second trip to the pool even earned the goggles a compliment on their look.

A few days later, it was time to put them to the test in the open water, not the best of days for a swim, windy and a tad chilly. But wetsuit and hat on I headed to the lake. Again the goggles were worn, slightly adjusted this time to account for the choppiness of the water. Heading out into the deep, I only had to adjust the goggles one and that was my own fault, spotting a fish I managed to almost dislocate my neck and budged the goggles a few millimetres by trying to watch the fish whilst carrying on swimming at the same pace, none the less they resealed themselves easily and I carried on swimming. Again it is the seal and the feel of the goggles that I am impressed with, they literally do not feel like you are wearing any, the vision afforded in the open water is as good if not better than the Kaimens. And again the wound test yielded a zero score.

Over all I am seriously impressed with the Exo-core's, several other swimmers were able to try them on in both the pool and open water and the response was an instant 'wow, i have to get a pair', for social swimming, a quick dip and definately for racing in they are the perfect goggle, the goggles are available from this month and would recommend them! Contact your local Aqua Sphere retailer for details of where to purchase on 01254 291717, (www.aquasphereswim.com) , and of course don't forget to follow them on Facebook at AquashpereUK and also Twitter,  @aquasphereuk. If you want to try before you buy give me a shout, come for a swim and see for yourself, you won't be disappointed.