I spent the week in Florida, somewhere new.

I have been here for a work-related conference in the sunny, if somewhat sleepy resort of Marco Island.  I flew out from London on a cold Tuesday, 9 hours later landing in Miami.  As it was getting dark when we got here, we planned to stay in South Beach Miami, which is anything but sleepy.  Chock full of bars, restaurants, and Art Deco Style hotels, it is loud, brash and sexy.  The waitress in the bar we went to was wearing a pink leopard-print onesy that left very little to the imagination!

I was the model of restraint of course, and turned in after only a handful of drinks and some dinner, as the day after I was giving my talk at the conference.

We set off the next morning at 9, heading west on a 2 ½ hour drive to Marco Island , through the Florida Everglades, on a road called Alligator Alley.  After a while we got out of Miami and entered the National Park, which teemed with animal life, mainly birds with long legs of various kinds, and, of course, the gators, which were everywhere, generally sunning themselves by the water’s edge near the side of the road.  We even stopped at an observation point, and said ‘hello ‘ to this guy……


Apparently alligators are mostly harmless to humans, despite being huge and scary looking.  They are much less fierce than their cousins the crocodiles.  We didn’t test this, but got back in the car and headed for Marco.  After we arrived and checked in, the rest of the day was given over to preparing for, giving, and recovering from, my talk.

A bit of modest partying, then off to bed, for there was swimming to do in the morning.

The sea at Marco Island was as flat as any I have come across, and pretty warm at about 70F (20C).   I swam for a cheeky 2.5 km before heading in to the conference.  It felt pretty nice swimming, but I wasn’t really in any kind of zone.  Maybe it was the jet lag and the partying the night before, but it just wasn’t happening for me.

The next day was better though, and I got into the groove a little more, knocking out 3.27 miles in 1 hour 27 minutes, including a couple of short breaks.  The good news is that this pace is pretty much the same as my pace in the swimming pool (26 min 15 miles), so it looks like the lack of push-offs is compensated for by not needing to stop on the wall, and the increased buoyancy of the salt water.  It also felt pretty easy if I am honest with you.  I even threw in quite a lot of breathing drills in there, breathing every 3, 4, 2, 5 etc.


All in all, I was happy.  I got a few swims in when I might not have had anything, and a big zero in the mileage chart for the week.

One sad event to report though.  On my last swim in Marco Island today, my Speedo ‘Endurance’ jammers went in the seam in a somewhat embarrassing place, after only 10 months of use.  Even more annoying was the fact that they went without me noticing, and I only found out when an elderly gent in the lift pointed out that I was showing  a bit of ‘a moon’, and was I aware of this!

Oh well.  You win some you lose some.


Tomorrow I fly out to Florida for a conference. ‘Ah’, I hear you cry. ‘Sounds like a good excuse to do very little while topping up your Vitamin D, and having some fun’. Well actually: NO on this occasion, as I have to give a talk and this is a little daunting.

BUT – the conference is in Florida, and the forecast is for lots of sun and high 20’s  Celsius while I am there, so maybe there might be a chance for some swimming?

The conference is in Marco Island near Naples, so the sea temperature should be around 20C.  Whoa that’s warm!  Not like Southwold in June.  I shall revel in the warm water, but need to make sure Ii don’t get burnt to a crisp while in the water.  Early swimming will be the order of the day, before the sun gets too high and powerful.

I need to find the best spot to swim, and see if I can find a place to stash some drinks, while going out and doing some miles…….

I will report back when I return to Blighty, and when February will nearly be over

Swimming Accidentally Fast Today

Over the weekend I was in sole stewardship of our 2 children, so there was no opportunity for my weekly ‘long swim’.  Instead, I got in the pool at 6 AM this morning for a 5 mile swim before work.  Nothing particularly spectacular, 2 hours 16 all in, including rests after every mile.

Then I looked at the split stats and nearly fell off my chair:

1: 24:48, 2: 26:02, 3: 26:41, 4: 26:41, 5: 26:52

24:48?  What’s that all about?  That 1:33 per 100 m pace for goodness sake.  While nothing spectacular in the grand scheme of things (that’s slow for countless swimmers around the world), it’s superspeedy for me!

I looked back through my split times over the last 10 months, and couldn’t find a mile split as fast as that.  Infact, I couldn’t find a kilometre split as fast as that pace – the fastest I could find was 1:34 per 100 m.

So what happened there then?  I think the key was that there were a few other swimmers in the lane at 6, all of whom were slightly slower than me.  So I always had someone within a length or so to chase after.  But strangely enough, it didn’t feel very fast at all.  Maybe I was getting some drafting effect from all of those people as I came up behind them each time?

Still, I will take each small success where I find it…….