Total Pageviews

Monday, 13 October 2014



11th April.....every year!

For most if not all of you that read my blog you have a love of the aquatic lifestyle and all that can be associated with it, its only seemed fair that we set up a day where all of us can come together globally and celebrate our love of the water. 

And so after a bit of discussion it was decided that i would create and International Day of Swimming, its open to one and all, no barriers of age, gender or ability, you can swim for as little or as long as you want to, on minute or one day, it does not matter as long as you enjoy it. Set on the day that swimming was introduced to the Olympics in 1896, it seemed fitting to show that we were able to enjoy water as much now as people did then, and look at how much swimming has changed over the years. 

If the date falls on a week day, feel free to do your swim on the weekend before or after and do take pictures, we love to see them. Here are a selection from this years swims from around the globe. 

So if you have a love of swimming and all things aquatic and feel like celebrating set up a swim in your local swim spot, invite as many as you can and enjoy....oh and make sure you get some pics, as you can see from this years New Zealand swimmers they really loved it... lets take the aquatic joy global....and where can you post your happy swim pics -



Friday, 26 September 2014



A meeting of the greats they have advertised it as - the good and great of open water swimming will be merging on the Isle of Bute for the WOWSA (World Open Water Swimming Association) conference and i am one of the lucky ones to get to go. Originally booked to be held in Edinburgh the organiser realised late on that the venue needed changing and so the Isle of Bute was picked, far better attraction i feel and a more beautiful location although a tad prohibitive for those that needed a more viable travel infrastructure to attend. Nice that it is held in Scotland, a place of great love to myself but possibly limiting the numbers that can attend due to the remoteness of the the location...we shall see. Regardless it will be wonderful to meet up with 'Facebook, linked-in and twitter' friends for the first time as well as those with whom i already know!

Arriving on the island late on the Friday night, it was merely a case of unpacking, our accommodation on the Castle Stuart estate as organised by Penny Warneken was superb, fully equipped and spacious too (just as well as you will find out!!!) Once unpacked Open water swimming pup Roscoe was free to explore his new territory whilst his human admirers opened a bottle of red and relaxed. We were joined later that evening by our other companion Ram Barkai who is the owner of the the International Ice Swimming Association who had spent an enjoyable evening with others that would be attending the conference.

Rising early the next day, sleep evading me most of the night, the sun shining bright already promising a day of warmth to the festivities. Heading to the conference, pup in tow loving the sights and sounds and clearly prepared to meet his new audience, we headed to the newly changed venue, having been promised the castle on Mount Stuart, we were now to be in a visitors centre, the wave of disappointment was clear to see but as i stated on the day it will be the participants that would make the event and sure enough they did.

The good and the great arrived, around 90 of them, all ego's aside as they met and greeted each other, the tone of 'wow i have admired you and always wanted to meet you' abounded in the warm fresh air. The head of the International Marathon Swiming Hall of Fame ( had also arrived along with the head of the World Open Water Swimming Association ( Steven Munatones, the client base was vast and the experience and knowledge insurmountable. Swimmers from all over the globe were here, the amazing Shelley Taylor-Smith having travelled the furthest from Australia, the Irish with their amazing sense of humour and thirst for fun, Ger Kennedy, Allen Evans, Nuala Moore, Alan Ryan...could you ever want for a better more experienced group of people to mingle with....i was close to popping.

The venue itself, although hastily arranged was convenient for those exiting the ferry, but lacked the grandeur of the magnificent halls that had been promised, with delegated seated in a cinema, i can only liken this to placing the worlds greatest swimmers in a windowless room for two day to caging a tiger and poking it every two minutes! Speeches were made, one after the other, the superb to the almost barmy swims, the torture and the successes relived for all to hear, amazing power point presentations showing pictures of such swim feats that it strains the mind in awe and wonder of the human limit for endurance, the mental strength to complete such glorious tasks is phenomenal.

The good and the great showcased their experiences and how they work to inspire others to work hard, train hard and to do the same, inspirational to those that have never had such valuable information laid out before them. 

As stated this was a celebration of swimming and to that end awards and certificates were given over a conference luncheon in recognition of such feats, the awards themselves beautifully crafted, the certificates housed in a protective and formal outer covering as befitted the event. 

Out in daylight was finally a good time for one and all to socialise and network and they got straight to it after all this is part of the reason why they came. 

With so many great swimmers and great minds it was only a matter of time before new and wonderful swims were dreampt up, Jonty Warenken (the world ONLY disabled ice mile swimmer) coming up with the Para Five swim, five iconic swims around the globe for disabled swimmers ( and idea swiftly agreed with by Shelley and looks like we are good to go as they say!!!

For those that have been to conferences and possibly be bored stiff throughout this is one of those on the highly recommended list, gone are the ego's, the meeting of the good and the great is a fascinating time, old friendships reignited, new ones formed, meeting people who achievements you have followed on social media and read about in magazines and newspapers, Ned Denison for example, who geographically is so close but at times so far, a tall rather grand looking man who has a glint in his eye for the water. 

As to be expected group photos are a must, how to get so many in one shot...and in time as this devolving sport grows how to fit them all in one room!

The evenings were the time for true socialising and networking with more awards issued, and mutual admiral clubs being formed (quite rightly too), swimmers choosing to leave the enclosed formal room for wider spaces, you can not confine a swimmer after all even those non-swimmers were soon included in conversation and several times the words 'i have always wanted to have a go at that' where heard to be said...their inspiration knows no boundaries. 

Being on such a stunning location and not one to be inside for too long it was time to make use of the glorious weather and the scenery, Penny and super pup Roscoe and i went off exploring the Mount Stuart estate, and what an amazing location it is, the grounds are lovingly cared for as is the building itself. For such tiny legs that pup can walk and walk he did until he had had enough. 

The last day of the conference brought about more talks, more awards and a whole load more smiles with those that had been indoctrinated into the Halls of Fames quite rightly proud of themselves, it was an honour to be amongst such exalted people. Some had to head off and it was jigsaw of pure genius that saw our Irish friends fit so much luggage and so many people into one car....i am sure the journey back to the emerald isle was an interesting one for them. 

The conference finished with a swim.....well it would be rude not to...the organiser perhaps had not done any research into the caliber of swimmer in attendance set up a short loop course (These are people who swim from Russia to the USA) which again was disappointing as it would have been a privalige to have swam a longer distance with such a swimmer but  alas it was not to be. 

The evening saw us left to our own devices....well what to do....a social get together perhaps....and that is exactly what we did, our Russian friends, with Penny and Jonty providing food fit for a king,, as normal the dancing was started off by Jackie Cobell with Jonty's amazing voice joining in the festivities, a wonderful end to a fab weekend.

 Packing the next day was seemed a shame to be leaving such a wonderful location with Mount Stuart estate more than delivering its promise of peace and tranquillity, the last farewell was said at the airport before we continued our journey home. Steven you were right, it was a Celebration of Swimming, ...looking forward to the next one already!!!

Photos as taken my myself and given by the wonderful Steven Munatones

Monday, 15 September 2014



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 -

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

Friday, 12 September 2014



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 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 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!!!