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Monday, 15 September 2014

AQUASPHERE AQUA INFINITY - REVIEW

AQUA SPHERE AQUA INFINITY






Well the clue is in the name really, a new swim suit from Aqua Sphere, ....this one is called Anika....and comes in a fab lilac colour.

This suit has been tried both in the pool and the open water, and it has stood up to both challenges!. We have all had our favourite costume or trunks and we are all devastated when they finally give way to that vile but necessary pool ingredient - chlorine!!! And how many of us still keep them....the miles of training that the costume has given up, no dustbin grave for those treasures!

Aqua Sphere have come up with a new innovation, the suit that resists the chlorine and i have been putting it to the test, the Aqua Infinity fabric forms a perfect fit to the body and is super elastic, and has the added value that is is highly resistant to chlorine!!!! This costume is designed to withhold the chlorine and the many hours that it will be in the water without losing shape! 

The fit of the suit is good, medium high legs mean comfort when you are pounding out the miles in the pool and for those ladies who are larger in the bust area than me there is a nice amount of support to be had as well!!! Given that most costumes have a 'feel' to them when you first get them, that feel tends to wear off, with this suit it hasn't, it still feels as soft to wear as when i first got it, its quick drying too which is brilliant for when i am coaching and want to wear it in the pool and also the lake within a short period of time. The colour as well has not faded or altered and that is despite being in several different pools often to teach where chlorine levels range from minimal to eye watering!!




The cut of the suit is fab, giving even a skinny like me shape, loving the twin thin straps which add shape to the costume and do not hinder the shoulders at all whilst swimming, the open back as well will compliment any figure!!! One to note though is that sizing can come up a tad on the small size so i opted for a 36 instead of my normal 34, and it fits perfectly!! 

In the water it is light on the body and genuinely makes you feel like you are wearing silk, getting out, as us ladies can attain too can be an issue, does it cling too much, does it sag...nope this suit wicks away water and maintains it shape on the body, looking as fresh as the day you buy it. Battling lengh after length it is stretchy enough (elasticated to you and me) to deal with the toughest of workouts without chaffing. The price i hear you ask, £34.99, not the cheapest nor the most expensive on the market but you are getting a high grade suit that is guaranteed to fight of the ravages of chlorine longer than most others, it also has a high sun protection...50+ for when you take it on holiday or want those summer dips outside to last longer!!! What's not to like! 

Don't forget to find Aqua Sphere on facebook for all their news and reviews - https://www.facebook.com/aquasphereuk

Where can you purchase...         www.aquasphereswim.com    Now if thats not enough insentive to buy....well go on you know you are worth it!!!






Friday, 12 September 2014

PERMISSION TO SWIM - BLUE SEVENTY HELIX

PERMISSION TO SWIM - BLUE SEVENTY HELIX REVIEW




Blue seventy - Helix, literally, I have found gives you permission to swim.

Having swam in the Blue Seventy Helix throughout the summer in all types of water and all conditions. the suit itself fits like a glove, my initial thoughts were about the arms and how affordable the NeroTX fabric would be...and also where I would end up putting my fingers through it, it did feel very thin. Gulp nothing else for it, put it on and see, i needn't have worried, this material has tolerated my tugging and pulling all through the year and to do so with cold hands in winter really does put some stress on what appears to be flimsy, i now liken the fabric to silk, tough and strong but lovely to wear and look at. 

Being a top of the range suit it felt as it should, light and after putting on VERY carefully, the only discomfort i felt initially was around the neck which did feel a tad tight. The rest of the suit looked and felt as if it had been hand made for me. And it certainly is an eye catching stylish suit that says...this person can swim. Lets hope that in the water it made me feel like i could swim.

Entering the water in my normal manner, again the arms came as a bit of a shock, Blue Seventy call it Aqua Feel.....when the cold water hit mine through the suit i called it something else, it its actually NeroTX material....you can feel the temperature....and more importantly you can feel the water....just as its designed for!. Great when the water is warm but it could be a bit of shock if the water is cooler. None the less i was here to see if the suit would make me feel like a swimmer and would it allow me to swim without feeling hindered. It certainly delivered, the arms certainly permitted movement and flexibility and as stated it gave me permission to swim, i could feel the water....as swimmers know 'the catch' is important, you need to be able to feel the water and i certainly could!!! Bonus!!

Now to the rest of the suit....well what can i say, perfect fit in all areas. Fitting a wetsuit is an art form and one which over the years i have perfected and this suit delivered. The suit supports a 3 tier buoyancy system of 5-5-4, and uses Yamamoto Areodome neoprene (the good stuff for those that don't do technological terminology), for those that think that the coloured panels in a suit are there just to make things look pretty, think again, a nice little cuff in the wrist area prevents water ingress but doesn't hinder the removal...great for  those doing triathlons, iron-man events etc. 

Another bonus for those doing multi-discipline events is the reverse zip, not only does this aid a fast exit from the wetsuit, it prevents those that attempt to be 'tactical' shall we say from undoing your suit in a race, the top down fastening means less material around your neck, initially this felt tight, but once in the water as with any wetsuit that disappeared. As a swimmer who also likes to swim solo it was rather difficult to zip up on my own initially, however a few practices and this too was perfected, better to have a fellow swimmer help you though to start off with until you get used to it. No struggling to get out off it, effortless, with one solid pull the zip smoothly opens up (fast too!!!!)

Has this suit been put through its paces, its been trained in, raced in, and played in, all types of aquatic fun, river, sea and lake, in all weather and conditions and for all that it may look and feel delicate it is still unmarked (despite an accidental ragging over rocks slewn with molluscs in the sea!!), does it still feel like the first time that  i put it on...certainly does and i am looking forward to many more swims in it!!

Do i like the suit, i certainly do, its body fitting is wonderful, in the water it genuinely goes give you permission to swim, you can feel the water and the wetsuit permits you to manover yourself in it, essentially it not only helps with the swimming but it enhances it to. For those with experience in open water swimming this is one to aim for, the design is as sleek as its technology, am i impressed....YES. Permission to swim......granted thanks to the Blue Seventy Helix!!!! Do i recommend it!!!! YES!!!


Monday, 8 September 2014

HARD DAY AT THE OFFICE!!!!

HARD DAY AT THE OFFICE

Just a few pics taken over the last few days to show how hard life can be as an open water coach.....sign!!! :)








Hey ho.....these make up for the nasty days in the winter!!! Enjoy and as normal....happy swimming!!!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

WILD SWIMMING, WILD PHOTOS!

WILD SWIMMING, WILD PHOTOS!


Oh holiday in Scotland with my daughter Gemma and friend Alison, we met up with a long term friend who was currently working in the area, Hamza Yassin, a BBC Wild life photographer, who also has his own business https://www.facebook.com/hamzayassinphotography/timeline

Chatting in the pub one night we discussed the possiblity of Hamza taking some time out of his busy schedule to take some photo's of us and were delighted when he said he would. The weather was checked....oh rubbish..we were due to see the tail end of a hurricane...not a problem for us swimmers but we did not want Hamza's camera's getting ruined. Thankfully we had several breaks in the weather that enabled us to swim and him to take pictures.


Alison and i had already swam directly below Mingary castle but were eager to return to try the next bay along, so with Gemma and Hamza in tow we headed back down to try to find a dutch ship reported to have been sunk during battle many years before. Getting in was much harder this this time, our discovered steps cut out of the rocks no longer at our disposal, we instead walked on rocks strewn with razor sharp molluscs, thank the lord for rubber soled shoes!!!!

As Hamza set up his equipment, a Cannon camera with an impressive lens, Alison and i got changing into our wetsuits, normally we would when the water is as deliciously warm as it currently is we would go in the water in just our cossies but having heard the reports of large lions mane jelly fish and seen them the previous days in the water we did not want to take any chances of being stung. Wetsuits on, we got the signal to get in and against the stunning backdrop of Kilchoan we entered the briny waters. Swimming outward to where we had heard rumours of a sunken Dutch ship, our own camera's stowed upon our person we wowed at the marvels that the sea had to offer. Kelp and fish abounded, swaying gently in the swell of the water. 



Soon the water soothed the mind and thoughts of being photographed forgotten as we same and dodged the jelly fish. Some of which were tiny and cute....the non-stingers....and others like the ones below.....were around the size of a dustbin lid with two being around the size of a car bonnet!!!!! Scary nasty things to be avoided at all times!!! (The jellies are the only two pics taken by me the rest are by Hamza)




And so avoiding the jelly fish and hunting again for treasure we snorkelled and swam around the bay. Although there was little wind the current underneath provided us with enough entertainment, watching the kelp sway back and forth is magical and more than a little hypnotic. All the while Hamza safely placed on the shores was clicking away with his camera.


Its hard to pose for a camera when you are swimming, and as most swimmers will tell you we tend to forget everything around us other than the water and its effects on us, so getting action shots capturing movement and swimmer are special, it shows us doing what we love best.


The next few days were taken up by hurricane Bertha passing over the peninsular, a visit to the lighthouse a must to see the storm growing in strength and the waves pounding the shoreline, as it abated we headed to Sanna Bay with two other open water swimmers in tow....for a play in the waves. Reports of a dead minke whale proved true as we came across its headless carcass, but not even that deterred us (although we did wonder what had eaten most of it!!!)

 

Lars Eriksson and Adam Hultberg, who were working on the restoration of Mingary castle, whom we discovered were also open water swimmers, were kind enough to join us, both displaying great sense of humour and adventure when invited for a dip.


The water was not too cold, Sanna Bay is normally breathtakingly chilly, the wind still strong, we were able to bounce in the water and swim. The in-coming current too strong for us to swim out too far, but non the less we were able to find some good spots for body surfing and fish spotting...Alison and i would return for an impromptu swim several days later!

Our last swim of the holiday was breathe taking, a sunset dip...unplanned and totally spontaneous - sitting round, having eaten together i suddenly noticed the stunning colour of the sky, Sanna Bay, only a short distance from where we were staying, the conversation quickly turned to 'what time is sunset? how long will it take us to get there?....shall we bother wearing a costume?, discussion ended quickly as we scrambled for Dryrobes and car keys and headed out of the door. 

The light was truly beautiful as we drove through the now dormant volcano and headed towards the beach, a short walk and we where there...all of us stopping to appreciate the sight of the storm being caressed by the fading sun.


Stripping off behind a sand-dune, we donned the dryrobes and headed towards water the wind making the sand whip up around our ankles...giving us an impromptu body scrub!


The waves were still bouncing and the invitation to play in them was too much, throwing off the robes we ran to the waters end and soon submersed ourselves in it salty depths. Perhaps it was the excitement of a sunset skinny dip but we did not feel the crisp bite of the cold water, instead we plunged over waves trying to get further out. 



Refreshed and revitaised by the stormy waves we exited the water, Hamza, discretely lowering his camera as we got out and placed the robes over chilled skin, walking back up the beach we could just about make out his instructions..the main one being stand still....the light behind us was spectacular and he wanted to catch it on film. 


Was it fun being a 'swimming model' very much so...Hamza made it fun and let us be ourselves....hopefully in the near future we will have the pleasure of swimming for him again, after all who does not want GOOD pictures taken of themselves. Thank you sooo much Hamza for taking the pictures, your giggles and the fun it was swimming for you. 

You can find Hamza on twitter and facebook: - you will love his work....and if you contact him i am sure he will be able to set up a session for you....go on you know you are worth it!!!!

 Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hamzayassinphotography
Twitter - @HamzaYassin3
Website - http://hamzayassin.photoshelter.com/










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!!!!