76 Lengths in a Nautical Mile – More or Less

HEALTH WARNING – Nerdiness Alert!

76 Lengths in a Nautical Mile – more or less……

(Actually after checking, I have discovered that a nautical mile is only 1.852 km – so closer to 74 lengths – why have I been doing 76 all of this time?)

Counting is made easier with nonsense……..

0-76 – god I hurt – 1 nautical mile to go

4-72 – 100 down

8-68 – getting my breath back

10-66 – has a certain ring

12-64 – mile to go

16-60 – 1.5 k to go

20-56 – 500 m down – 7/8ths of a mile remaining

24-52 – 24 years

25-51 – quarter century

26-50 – half century to go

30-46 – as far as some triathletes ever swim in one go

32-44 – 1/2 a mile down, 1100 to go

36-40 – only 1 k to go!

38-38 – 1/2 way

40-36 – 1 k completed, less than that left

48-28 – 3/4 of a mile gone

50-26 1/2 century

51-25 – 51 is the first uninteresting number, according to David Wells, in the 2nd edition of the Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Numbers (Of 51: This appears to be the first uninteresting number, which of course makes it an especially interesting number… ).  Interestingly enough, in his first edition, 39 was deemed the first uninteresting number.  If you want to know what made 39 of some interest between the two editions, you’ll have to buy the book.  Also 1/4 of a century to go.

52-24 – Weeks in the year

56-20 – 7/8th of a mile – 500 m to go!

60 – 1.5 km down – 400 m to go – 16 lengths is a psychologically small number for me.  I know I should be able to bash this out at a reasonable speed however tired I am getting there.

64-12 – mile down – only 300 m to go!

66-10 – 250 m left

67-9 -into single digits

68-8 – only 200 left

70-6 – just 6 lengths

72-4 – dig deep – only 100 left

75-1 – last length – anything left in the tank?

76-0 – Yes!  Finished!

Sorry for the nerdiness.  I do sets of 76 lengths reasonably frequently, and this is the sort of nonsense that goes through my head; it helps me also to remember how far I have swum…..

The Mediterranean is Flat Right?

I only attend conferences if they happen to be adjacent to some nice body of water suitable for swimming in during my spare time.  That statement is  not actually true, but coincidentally I was giving a talk at a conference in early October that was ideally set up for swimming, being set right next to the Mediterranean, in the town of Hersonnisos, in Crete.  The previous occasion I was asked to give a talk at a conference was in February, also next to a beach, in Western Florida.

I was particularly looking forward to this one.  The chance to spend a few hours in the Cretan sea, in 21C waters, with the sun baking down on my shoulders, was an enticing one.

The Med in a Mood

The Med in a Mood – Thursday

The weather when I arrived on Wednesday night, then, was not quite what I had been expecting:  the 28C and blue skies of the previous few days had given way to cool temperatures, rain, and a stiff northerly breeze.  By Thursday morning, the sun was still absent, and the breeze had freshened to a steady Force 5.  A swim was had regardless, though it was pretty lumpy going heading north across the bay to a small island a mile distant.  Round trip of about 1.9 miles in a fraction over an hour, with quite a few stops to admire the view, and enjoy going up and down on some pretty big seas:

Friday - stiff breeze

Friday – stiff breeze

Friday it was a similar story weather-wise, but I went for the same swim again.  Similar time, similar washing machine feeling for a couple of hours after, having been tossed about in the swell.

Weather Looks Fine on Google Maps......

Weather Looks Fine on Google Maps……

The final day (Saturday), the breeze had freshened further to a fairly strong wind.  A good Force 6 on shore.  There was some umming and aahing about whether to go for a swim at all.  The next photo was taken one bay over from where the hotel was, but shows the rather angry sea, and quite a lot of debris from the ongoing high water.

Saturday - Windier Still

Saturday – Windier Still

In the end, I elected for a short dip from the hotel beach, out past the breakers and back in.  The route of the previous days route to the island just to the north was almost completely white with breaking waves and large swells the whole way.  Discretion was the better part of valour.

Getting out past the break was quite good fun, duck diving under the very large breakers out into the relatively calm piece of roller coaster swell 100 yards off shore.  Coming back went pretty well too, bodysurfing the waves.  Then one particularly heavy wave got me.  A classic dump the like of which I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid in Caswell Bay in South Wales.  Fully under, goggles ripped off, no idea which way was up, wondering where the next breath was going to come from.  Surfacing just in time to catch a quick breath before getting hit by the next one.  Fortunately there were only a couple more big waves before I felt my feet on the sand, and I ran out of the surf, exhilarated but also kicking myself that I had put myself at risk.

It’s good to remind yourself occasionally who is boss in the swimmer/sea relationship.

It was pointed out to me after the 2 lumpy, bumpy, swelly 1 hour swims that they were probably each worth the same as the 3 hour swims I might have had under different weather conditions.  And they were certainly more fun.  I will just stay away from Force 6 in the future.

Boston in the Fall

This week I have been visiting Boston (that’s Massachusets not Lincolnshire) with work.  I put out a shout on the Marathon Swimmers Forum to see if anyone swam locally, and was lucky enough to get an offer from Elaine Howley.  I had been reading Elaine’s blog ( http://blog.talesofthebeerbaby.com/ ) for a while, so knew all about her pedigree (EC, Catalina, MIMS).  I also got to swim with Jonathan Gladstone, another local who is newer to the Open Water, a bit more like me.

I had arranged to meet Elaine and Jonathan at the L St Bathhouse.  You have to be a member to get in there, so I stashed my stuff on one side of the Bathhouse and waded in to meet them as they came swimming round the breakwater from the bathhouse.

South Boston Beach

South Boston Beach

The weather was lovely.  Not very warm, and with a fresh breeze, but beautifully sunny.

We set off on a circuit around the old harbour, setting off initially into some nice chop kicked up by the fresh breeze.  The water was fairly pleasant but cool at 13 or 14 C, a really enjoyable swim in the dwindling light of a New England autumn day.  There were a lot of small jellyfish around (non-stinging), which was my first jellyfish experience.  Kinda weird hitting your hands on them as you swim!

After an hour we were done.  Jonathan snuck me in to the bath house, with Elaine smuggling my gear for me over the fence, so I got to enjoy a sauna and shower in the men’s changing area, before heading back to town for dinner.

Thanks to Jonathan and Elaine for showing me the ropes, and rescuing my swimming week!!!

Elaine, Jason, Jonathan - post swim glow

Elaine, Jason, Jonathan – post swim glow

Down Down, Deeper ‘n’ Down

A few weeks ago I was in the Cam for a moonlight swim, with the water temperature down around 11 C (52F).  That was chilly.  The temperature then shot back up again to 13-14 C over the last couple of weeks which was much more comfy.

Tuesday saw me back in the Cam for some more night swimming at 11.2C.  It felt cold, but not too bad if I am honest.  The initial shock of diving in (at this temperature this is the favoured method of entry for me, rather than the torture of gradual immersion) was pretty harsh, and there was 5 minutes of brain-freeze, but after that it was fine.  We only did 20 minutes on Tuesday, which felt just peachy, 1200 m or so.

I am signed up for Chill Swim Windermere in February.  I expect that the temperature will be somewhere between 3 and 5 C (37-41 F) for that event, so I have a long way to go.  The distance is ‘only’ 450 m in a closed lake course (see picture), under English Channel rules, one set of swimming togs, goggles and non-insulating hat!


Chill Swim Course 2013

Chill Swim Course 2013

Cork – Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Sandycove Island

Sandycove Island

Today I am tired.  Attending the Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Cork has somewhat taken it out of me.  A 6:20 AM flight saw me at the conference at 8.30, for a full day of talks.  Subjects were varied, including an interesting session on jellyfish.  The diversity of jellyfish and related species is incredible, and interestingly, most of them don’t sting.  There were talks on training and recovery, ice swimming, planning swims, and a ‘fireside chat’ from the first two people to complete the Ocean’s Seven, Stephen Redmond and Anna-Carin Nordin.  The whole event was wonderfully organised by organising committee.  Thank you!

A great selection of the great and the good of Marathon Swimming was on show:  Nick Adams, Fergal Somerville, Anna Wardley, Stephen Munatones, Kevin Murphy, Donal Buckley, Jackie Cobell, Ned Denison, to mention just a few.  These are names that I have spent the last year reading about in blogs and websites, and there I was with them!

On the Sunday I found myself having a chat in the lift with Kevin Murphy himself, King of the Channel, probably the most renowned of the lot, and indisputably the greatest of all time.  I almost had to pinch myself.

Despite obviously being more than a little star struck, and slightly ‘jaded’ after a a few drinks at the gala dinner the night before, I managed to make it through to the organised swim round Sandycove Island on the Sunday.


Sandycove is beautiful.  The water was clear and cool, ranging between 12C and 16C apparently depending on where you were relative to the island.  As it was an organised swim, there was a one lap limit, but this was enough to get the flavour of what Sandycove is all about.  The water was calmish even on the outside.  I hope to be back in July for Ned’s distance camp!

Ella and Llyr

Ella and Llyr


Anna-Carin Nordin and Jackie Cobell

Anna-Carin Nordin and Jackie Cobell

Ned and the Hardship Hat

Ned and the Hardship Hat




Tomorrow I am off to the Global Open Water Swimming Conference in Cork.

A criminally early flight from Stansted should get me there in plenty of time for talks, beers, and hopefully meeting many of the people I have spent the last year reading about.  Many of the greats of Open Water Swimming will be there!

Can’t wait!

Before flying back home on Sunday evening, there is an excursion to Sandycove Island for one (or more depending on the state of the hangover) lap(s) of the Island.  Sandycove is an Open Water Swimming Mecca – I look forward to my own little pilgrimage!  The water is likely to be still pleasant, somewhere in the 14C (57F) range.