Total Pageviews

Monday, 26 October 2015

Iceland Day 2 , October 2015 History in the making!

Iceland Day 2 , October 2015 History in the making!

A year ago Roger Taylor and I in Iceland talked of his swim career to date and a dream was created. Roger had already been training for a year to do his Ice mile swim….yes you heard correct, an ICE MILE SWIM, which is one mile in just a swimming costume, goggles and one hat and under the rules of the International Ice Swimming Association ( to be completed in water temperatures of 5 degrees or less.

The thought alone is enough to send shivers down most people spines but not Roger, he was relishing the prospect. But the dream had been born….could Roger do it in Iceland, he would be the first to do so if he could…history in the making!! It would also be a great start to the UK swimmers season.

Silfra the previous day had been a healthy reminder for me of the dangers of what was going to be attempted. Roger by now had been training for 2 years, taking to a strict swim routine and ice baths. Mentally he was strong, physically he looked good.

Our dive crew from Dive IS were fully behind us, providing full medi-kits and oxygen bottles. They were more than aware of the dangers of ice swimming. The journey to the Kleifarvatn lake did nothing to dispel the tension, the snow covering the roads and hills made reality sink in further. The approach to the lake showed ice on its edges an indication the beginnings of winter. In coming months as ice spread and more snow falls, the tracks for roads would disappear making it harder to find the water’s edge.

The vans with its myriad of people tentatively made its way closer to the water, we were trying to get as close to the edge as we could, Silfra with its biting wind the previous day has shown us how unforgiving Icelandic weather was and the last thing we needed was for Roger after his swim to have to do a trek to find warmth.

The volcanic sands black as can be, shifted under the weight of the vans. Divers and swimmers alighting into what little warmth the sun permitted. Whilst divers kitted up, Roger, Shane and I mapped out the swim route and distance. Now made harder by the lake rising 1.5 metres over the summer months – hiding the large boulders we had changed on last years but now posing a danger to the frozen swimmer. Swim route chosen it was time for the all-important temperature check. The lake is active with hotspots from its depths pushing scalding water from the bowels of the earth. Steering clear of the furthest bay where known hotspots are prevalent and where we would normally swim we tentatively placed our thermometers in the water. Testing them the previous day showered their accuracy within 0.01 of a degree. Yipeee were under 5 degrees…..we were good to go!!!!

All hands on deck as they say, Med kit and oxygen placed within easy reach. One van allocated for Rogers recovery, the engine left on to maintain a constant heat. Those involved were allocated their jobs as required. We needed observers, witnesses but there is so much more involved, time checkers, distance checkers, stroke counters, recovery team…the list goes on…and all the while Roger had to remain calm, warm and focused

On Rogers signal it was all systems go, camera’s clicking, video recording. A shallow intake of breath and in he walked towards Shane, his marker, for the starting point. A few words of encouragement and shoulders were lowered into the water and off he swam. The silence deafening with the seriousness of the task ahead.  Starting with breaststroke to test for goggle leakage and to let the body adapt to the assault of the extreme cold that was being placed on it, then into front crawl. Roger had had some instruction on improving his stroke and it showed in his technique.

One long length of the shores and Roger turns, witnesses placed along the shores were eagle eyed for any signs of a struggle or distress. None came as he headed back along his chosen route. The waters depth no more than 3 metres hiding rocks beneath its clear depths. In places the water only rising to chest height enabling Shane to get a birds eye view of our swimmer and offer words of encouragement.

With the sun making an appearance over the walls of the volcano, you could be forgiven for forgetting the mission we were on. Sunlight bouncing off of the snow laden hills and shooting shards of light through the thick ice that was at times underfoot, it was truly an epic setting for an Ice mile. The silence only interrupted by the gentle rhythmic slap, slap slap of Rogers arms entering the water as he ate up the distance. Occasionally only broken by Barry O’Connor calling out how long Roger had been in the water.

Fifty eight minutes later the magic was put on hold. Distance covered and Roger returns to his original entry point. Shane guiding him in, Rogers skin red from the cold, eyes wide with concentration. Calling him to stand up, he did! Swim over with Shane supporting him for the short walk to the warmth of the van.

Only Shane and I were in the van for the recovery part, with all others on standby if needed.  A shivering but grinning Roger was literally man-handled into the vans warmth and with dignity temporarily put on hold we roughly stripped him of his swim kit and towel dried him, me taking the top, Shane below the waist. We needed him warming up as soon as possible, no moment wasted. Alison ready with warm drinks and on essential recovery duties.

Soon Roger was dressing his first set of clothing. It was down to me and Roger to sort the recovery with Shane there ensure all was well. Amazingly Roger was coherent throughout and like most ice milers astounded at his achievement
Roger for those that know and have met him is one of life’s genuine people, not a bad bone in his body and with a delicious sense of humour which didn’t fail him throughout his recovery as his body shook so violently that he (as all those before him) had to be hand fed warm drinks but still the jokes kept coming, his laughter infectious in the van. Within an hour Roger was ready to get out of the van and start walking around, the violent shivers has subsided to a dull roar at this point, the support team, divers and Dive IS ready to give their congratulations which Roger took with good grace.

Walking up and down the swim route, the marvel of what he had just achieved slowly sinking in, Rogers’s colour returning nicely as his grin grew. Photo time, we had to get as many pictures of this moment as we could after all history (subject to ratification) had been made and no other would be the first to do the swim in the lake and be the person ever to do an ice mile in Iceland. What an amazing achievement, it was emotional to be a part of it and to witness it. At times a struggle to keep the emotions under control.

Once all the divers and those that had chosen to go off and swim were back and changed it was time for the second dip of the day, this time in the Blue Lagoon ….warm waters, the perfect end to a perfect day, and a massive aid to ensuring that Roger was fully recovered. His exhaustion showing at this point but this did not prevent his humour from showing. Naturally everyone that we spoke to we introduced Roger to them and stated with pride is accomplishment, their astonishment clear and the congratulations echoing around the lagoon.

Later that evening a meal with champagne (thank you Roger), it was so special. Each Ice mile shows its own merits and each swimmer pulls deeper on their reserves that they hold both mentally and physically that at time I sometimes wonder if they knew that they were capable of holding, but they get through it, trust their support team (who I will state that we consider it our privilege to be a part of their success) with their recovery and dignity. Add to that, that Roger is a man that I consider to be a true friend it was an amazing day and I personally will never be able to thank him enough for permitting me to be a part of everything.

Ratification came when we returned home to the UK, and now we can finally say it…..HE DID IT!!!!! Most people state that that they will only do one Ice mile but not Roger…he is already planning his next swims…wanting to an Ice mile at all degrees.. the ultimate being at zero….with his permission I will hold my emotions in check long enough to see him safely though each one.

My full hearted congratulations to you Roger Taylor (aka 3 ball!)….Icemiler!!!!!! x

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Iceland Day 1, October 2015 – Can it get any better?

Iceland Day 1, October 2015 – Can it get any better?

Iceland…what does it conger up…scenes from Game of Thrones perhaps, volcanoes erupting spewing lava down its cavernous mountain slopes created thousands of years ago, well you wouldn't be far wrong!
This year’s trip to Iceland was met with the normal round of frantic searching through wardrobes and chests of drawers for winter kit not yet needed in the UK. Flights from Edinburgh thankfully proved in eventful, the weather forecast predicted to be overcast and rainy appeared to be correct as we waited for our final visitor on the trip to arrive, having taken a different flight.
Alighting the aircraft we were met by fresh crisp air a welcome after the heat and stuffiness of the airport. Bundling into the minibus, introductions taking place as we headed towards Reykjavik and our accommodation. The normal pattern of offloading kit and heading to the lighthouse for banished from our mind as the weather appeared true to prediction.  But as the journey expanded the clouds dissipated and in their place flashes of green flowed across the sky. Shane at the helm quickly found a place to park and we got out, cameras at the ready. The aurora was out to play and play it certainly was as the almost luminous bands of green had us instantly joined as a team as we coo’d like children at a firework display. Having seen the northern lights last year I thought I could be any more impressed, these were brighter and seemed greener in comparison. A quick phone call to Roger Taylor, who had already arrived ahead of us, ensured he rushed outside to see them too. Behind Rebecca Devill literally bouncing and squealing with delight in-between taking photos made the night complete. The rest of the journey was spent chatting as we were an old group of friends reunited.
A good night’s sleep ensured we were ready for the adventures ahead. First stop Silfra with its crystal clear water, over 100m visibility up, down and all around us. For the divers as well as the swimmers chance to transport yourself through two tectonic plates into a bay that is simply breath taking. Having swam there last year for me it was interesting to see if there were any changes beneath Iceland’s watery masses
There certainly were gaps in the ground that appeared wider, large boulders having given way to gravity now lay in their water grave,  no man capable of returning them to their previous place. The algae hung limp, the already fading number of sunlight hours depleting their food supply. Some larger pieces already fallen to the bottom to be reabsorbed into the water. Last year I was fortunate enough to see the arctic char briefly before a flick of its tail disappeared between the cracks in the rocks. This trip say a large char waiting patiently at the bottom as if he know of our presence and waited to show his glory. Praying the divers would look skyward to where us swimmers were happily snorkelling, eventually Shane Waisk of Basking Shark Scotland did frantically pointing…what is divers speak for…’there’s a fish’ …not a clue but thankfully he got the message and headed in the right direction. Closely followed by Manson Tan, who at realising the sight in front of him put is fins onto burst mode and sped towards the char at full pelt….naturally the fish vanished into the blue, not to be seen again.
How different this time in Silfra, the overcast sky you would think would affect the visibility, instead it appeared to enhance it. The area known as the ‘Cathedral appeared as it hadn’t before. Huge vaulted walls of stone lending itself naturally to its given name.
Skins swimming has been banned at Silfra – apparently due to a death of a diver (not sure how the two are related) but we gained permission to don our wetsuits and swim. Whilst those that dove re-entered the water we waited patiently for them to arrive. The water was around 3.1 degrees and we were eager to get in!!! Without warning the wind got up, and my word it was an icy wind, its bite cutting through the air and rapidly removing the heat from our bodies and making us huddle tighter into our Dryrobes. (
The divers appeared and in we leap….well I should say we entered as quickly as we could, the wind had done its worst and most of us were starting to feel chilled. But how delicious was that to be minus the constraints of the dry suits we had used for snorkelling. Whilst the bodies were fine the cold really did get the face, its chill whipping away our breaths.
Finally back in the vans, dressed and with plenty of hot drinks inside, the team headed for the geysers and Gallofoss waterfalls. Alison Darley and I having already seen them opted to return to Reykjavik to explore.
Day turning to night and we headed to the lighthouse to see the lights. Again knowledge is a small thing as whilst others fiddled with cameras, Alison and I headed to a natural hot tub found on a previous trip and complete with bottle of wine and some glasses we sat surrounded by French students who were unaware of the lights and what was happening. As we sat in the beautifully warm water we explained the natural phenomenon that was happening and why which appeared to enhance their experience.
All too soon the night drew to a close and it was time for bed…What a fantastic first day!!!!!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

MS and the open water - ANNA JACKSON

MS and the open water - ANNA JACKSON

When i first met Anna, she was almost grey with nerves but these were accompanied by a huge grin and a babble of words that fell out of her mouth with abundance. Accompanied by her mum Sue..Anna was here to have a lesson, her first in open water swimming.

We has talked on the phone, Anna's great sense of humour even brighter in person, her 'can do, will do' attitude is infectious. Anna has a goal, to swim 500m in the Great North Swim. My goal, to give her the skills to enable her to do it.

Devising a plan to get Anna into her wetsuit, consisted with alot of tugging, pulling and pushing but we got there...subsequent fittings got easier as we perfected it....with me apologising constantly for potentially nipping her skin...Mum however squeezed into her wetsuit in no time at all...if anyone had heard the banter not to mention a few choice words in the changing rooms at Ellerton the would have thought we were killing her..but like i say we got there in the end with no blood spilt!

Wetsuits on...water temp...a tad chilly!!! Anna safely in her driving it (not so safe!) we headed the short distance to the jetty, next feat, getting the gloves and goggles on! That done (no broken fingers...phew!) and it was a gentle manoeuvre to get Anna to the steps. Carefully making her way into the water, the coolness taking her breath, the smile even bigger...she was in...and loving it. Taking Anna through the basics of acclimatisation .....her mum sliding in the water beside her, the water really was 'fresh' shall we say! This was followed by teaching Anna how to make perfect use of her wetsuit and allow it to do its job after all that is what they are there for.

Thankfully the sun was shining adding to the open water experience...sunny days can really make a difference especially when the water is 'fresh'. Bringing Anna round to the side of the jetty, one of the biggest issues we found was returning her legs to the floor, Not only were we fighting the buoyancy of the wetsuit but Anna's MS meant that at times certain parts of her body decide not to play ball, it was a scenario that was to be repeated many times...thankfully Anna did not mind us manhandling her into various positions! A short swim this time just to get her using to moving in the wetsuit and the water conditions and it was back to the changing rooms...not before almost tipping her out of the  wheelchair twice over the bumps....clearly need practice there!!!

A shivering Anna was placed under the showers, her grin bigger than ever, eyes shining ....but in need of warm clothing and a hot to get the wetsuit off without pinching the skin, causing bruises or knocking her the end it was decided...just go for it!!! Firmly placed on the benches and pretty much shoved into clothing and we were done.

At home it was for me to devise a cunning plan of action to ensure that Anna not only achieves her goal but that she does it with as much ease as possible ...and more importantly that she enjoys it! Plan of action decided, Anna would have a team in the water with her to make sure that she stays on track, one of the difficulties we faced was enabling Anna to swim in a straight line while at the same time now crowding her and impeding her swim. The helpers i decided would be at hip level, close enough to react and get her back on track but far enough away that she had the freedom in the water that she needed. Mum Sue, was to be one of those assisting in the water and it was ideal that she was there every swim so that the technique could be practised and perfected. Anna was to ignore all touching of her legs unless we actually grabbed her to stop her and this would only be done as a safety aspect, the helpers were to gently push Anna in the required direction, touching her only from hip to shoulder.

The MS that Anna has is progressive, she was diagnosed 11 years ago and does she let it stop her...does she heck..for her life is game on, to fit as much in as possible and to make it as magical as possible! The MS as you can imagine tires her out so not only was i getting her used to swimming but for a while until her tolerance rose we had limited in-water time before she became to tired to swim...a visual sign that we came to recognise was the failing of one arm to rise out of the water

Another feature is that Anna struggles to raise her head out of the water to breath...i did tell her that breathing was optional but i didn't think she would take it so the length of time increased in the water so did the distances that she could achieve and over time she was getting closer to our target distance of 500 metres! As with all people we have good days and bad days, thankfully the bad days were rare but Anna's determination won out and every time regardless she got into the wetsuit and into the water. John the lake owner avidly followed her progress, he is proud of the swimmers that use the lake and takes an active interest in their success, every week an update of her progress was given and every week the nod and smile of a happy man was given!

With the days and months passing fast we were now only left with a matter of weeks to ensure success, Anna and Sue turned up at the lake in fresh, determined mode..we were game on for a serious distance swim. The weather was bright and the water great, a slight breeze to add to the fun. Wetsuit donned and into the water she went....the same grin on her face as from the start of her coaching, the water it seems had worked its magic on her and she was hooked! With me suited up but on the jetty, Sue in the water and Anna with a fierce look of determination on her face, instruction was given and off she went, today her body as strong as her mind. Soon she was eating up the distance in the water as easily as can be. Turning to breath with mum supporting her head so she could grab valuable oxygen before spinning herself over and regaining balance so she could carry on swimming. Once tired we pushed on til we were close to the distance then it was out and into the showers...Anna in mischievous mode buoyed on by her latest success!

Heading to the Langdale Chase Hotel, owned by close friend Thomas  G Noblett (himself a channel swimmer and infamously known as the Gladiator), i wanted Anna to have a swim in Windermere not far from the actual swim venue itself. Entering any event can be daunting especially as the 'big  day' approaches and i find it best to get people in the lake to dispel many of the anxieties they may have.  The day was not the best, wind making the water choppy, a rather grey affair to be honest. A quick cup of tea to warm up in preparation to swim and it was kit on and down to the waters edge were we were met by a rather fine boat moored up, its owner clearly curious at our antics.

Getting as quickly as we could the water had a bite to it, there was no hanging around bobbing and chatting to be done, we had a job to do. Swimming in a straight line without marker buoys to aid us was fab fun...lots of nudging to be done and a new heightened awareness of the task in hand was given to all...the big day was not that far off!!!! Getting changed in the breeze was fun...Anna naturally took it all in her stride as she sat shivering and grinning whilst snuggled up in the warmth of her Dryrobe!

Pretty soon the BIG DAY was upon us, unfortunately i was running a swim course so could not be there to support  Anna, but i knew that she had her team around her to support didn't stop me being as excited as a kitten with a new ball of string to play with...Anna had promised to text the minute she has finished...her start time was 9am...i kept checking the Great North Swim website for results...and then the text.....she DID IT, 47:49 minutes....sooooo proud of her. My swim class knew the result too by the grin and in support a round of cheering which i hope she could hear!!! 

I managed to speak briefly to a clearly shattered Anna later that day....she is what is she doing now...well clearly addicted...her and mum have entered more and more events...there literally is no stopping her!!! She has completed the Derwent Epic followed by the Coniston Epic...!!!

Anna will be swimming the Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond this Saturday. (29th August)....she will nail it that is a given....don't forget you can help by donating to her Just giving page (link at the top of this page)......what swimmy adventures will she do this space...there's more to come!!!!

Good luck my smily friend xx

Where there is water there is life!!!!

Monday, 4 May 2015

H20 Magazine - lets support it!!!

Hi Guys,

H2open magazine is the bible of magazines for all open water swimmers....lets support its endeavour with VirginMedia Business!!!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wild about Swimming now offers the RLSS National water safety management programme qualification - if you want one run in your area please contact me so we can arrange it

Tuesday, 10 March 2015



As the passion for open water grows so does the safety concerns for those participating. Products are being produced aim at swimmer visibility, and these from the feedback given have both their good and bad points i suppose such as  most things in life do.

But what of those of us who dont want to announce to the world that we are in the water, who swim solo, in pairs or  small groups, who take to waters others would consider too cold or too bouncy. Those of us who have swam for years in the great outdoors and for whom the announcement of us being in the water is too much.  What of those of us who ask friends and family to boat or kayak for us while we attempt vast distances, whilst we rely on them for our safety, what of theirs.

Having researched safety devises on the market that would best suit my needs i found RESTUBE (  A nifty little package that suits me down to the ground, a velcro'ed pouch housing all i would need for self rescue, rescue and visibility should i require  it. Activated by the pull of a cord, a gas propelled flotation rescue tube is expelled. It also has the advantage that it can be activated by others in or on the water if i can not  manage myself.

The first time it was used was purely as a test, would it deploy when needed, how fast and could you effectively either self rescue or be rescued using it?

The venue chosen, Ellerton Lake near Richmond North Yorkshire where i tend to coach from, the weather very windy and the water nicely choppy. A willing model placed the belt around her waste and adjusted it accordingly to ensure a perfect but not overly tight fit. In she jumped and after swimming around for a bit managed to find herself some lovely deep choppy water.

The beauty of swimming in deep choppy water on a day like today is that the tube really does get put to the test, can she self rescue, can we see her in the water, and can she be rescued if necessary. Putting on the device is simple a strong adjustable belt with the pack attached which can be mounted either vertically or horizontally for maximum comfort to the user.

On my signal she deployed the device, no loud noises, i was worried about the inflatable tube coming up at such a speed that it may injure the swimmer whilst in the water. I need not have worried, the tube inflated with swift speed but equally without enough force to cause harm. Bright yellow in colour and solid enough that it could support her body weight while she gained her breath.

Breath gained our willing model was able then use the RESTUBE, holding it in a variety of ways to ensure that she could safely get back to the bank of the lake. Impressed, we certainly were, even more so when it came to packing it up, easy to follow instructions printed on the tube showed the correct method of returning the tube to the pouch, affixing another gas cannister was simple (thankfully!).

Since proving it can actually do what it says on the tin, i have taken it everywhere with me - yes you can take them on planes (4 canisters can be taken - but keep yourself up to date by checking the IATA regulations in case they change )

I am happy to show it to my swimmers, my coaches, to potential coaches, to qualification awarding bodies, school and pretty much anyone involved in an aquatic environment, it is compact, easy to use design is an instant hit across the board.

I love that the tubes don't need to be inflated until such time as required, for those that like the security of swimming in the open water but don't always want to be visible to any others other than their spotter these are ideal. They can be used by those on boats, kayakers, group leaders, divers, paddle boards,  rescue technicians, schools, boaters, well  in fact their uses are endless if you are in, on or around water.

As an open water swimmer for me i love swimming ANYWHERE outside and all year round, knowing that i can swim anonymously if i desire - i can, if i wish to be seen, say for example on bodies of water where other users such at boats my frequent - i can, but most importantly, it does allow self and assisted rescue should i need it. Highly recommended and a product that i for one always have in my swim you have no doubt heard me say so many times...Happy Swimming,  - with RESTUBE that is guaranteed!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

New Ice miler!!!!!

Wild about swimming is so proud to announce that Kate Sunley has been confirmed by the International Ice Swimming Association as an ICE MILER!!!!!

HUGE Congratulations to you Kate, the worlds first female disabled icemiler!!!! Thanks to all the crew and helpers on the day  xx

Kate with the world first and only male disabled swimmer Jonty Warneken....two world firsts for Wild about swimming and the International Ice Swimming Association!!!!