Tag Archives: Duncan Goodhew

Swimming with a legend

5 Apr

As you may know, I’m currently training for Swimathon, which is going to be a massive challenge for me. I’ve not been swimming as much as I used to because it’s a logistical challenge with Baby M, so when I was offered the chance to have a swimming lesson with Duncan Goodhew, the President of Swimathon, I leapt at the opportunity.

After a challenging journey (running buggies are not the smallest mode of transport for a baby and definitely not designed for the underground), we made it to a beautiful pool at Pancras Square Leisure.

I got changed and Sam (our Swimathon contact) introduced me to Adele, another Swimathon ambassador. Adele completed 5k last year, so she knows what she’s letting herself in for this time around (and she’s wisely chosen to do 2500m faster than she has before). (If you’d like to find out more about Adele’s training, please check out her blog: Fit Artist Running Blog).

Then we were introduced to Duncan. He is such a lovely person and clearly remembered meeting Adele last year. Duncan is a great example of someone who found where their talent lay at a young age and who has built a successful career around it. He’s clearly as passionate about swimming today as he was in 1980.

Duncan chatting to Adele and Tamsyn poolsideDuncan Goodhew chatting with Blogsquad

We had a discussion poolside and talked about the importance of warming up before discussing our training and what our goals are. I know that my technique has lots of flaws (and that I just haven’t been in the water enough recently… but that’s not something that Duncan could fix!), whereas Adele wanted to work on her speed.

Duncan Goodhew discussing stroke with Tamsyn and Adele

Then it was into the water. We did a warm up and then Duncan started giving us specific advice and drills.

Duncan Goodhew in the pool with the Swimathon Blogsquad

As you can see, Adele and I had a spacious lane to share and I was surprised that the rest of the pool was much quieter than I am used to. It was such a beautiful and clean pool that if it were my local, I’d be happy to swim there every day. Southampton Tri Club is now so popular that there are usually at least 5 of us in a lane and sometimes as many as 8!

Duncan Goodhew in the pool explaining drills

One of the first things that Duncan pointed out is that I hold my fingers tightly closed. When I first learnt to swim, I was accused of having ‘banana hands’ as my fingers were so far apart. I now need to learn to relax them as the latest research has shown that it is better to have gaps between the fingers.

Duncan Goodhew explaining catch up drill to Tamsyn

Some of the first drills that I did with Duncan were to help me with lengthening my stroke. One of them was ‘catch up’ which I’m familiar with.

After doing this for a while, Duncan identified that when I start to tire, I don’t finish my stroke properly, so I miss the final push phase of my crawl. I know that I can do it when I’m thinking about it, so I need to make a conscious effort to focus on that until muscle memory makes me do it every time!

Duncan Goodhew trying to refine Tamsyn's technique

Duncan then pointed out an imbalance in my stroke. My right hand side has worse technique than my left. Back in 2014, I had a cycling accident in the Pyrenees. It took months for my right arm to function properly and although it’s fine now, I’ve lost a lot of flexibility on that side. Duncan explained that on that side in particular I lead with my hand, instead of leading with my elbow, so in effect I’m doing an exaggerated doggy paddle :-O Obviously, that’s not something that I can fix quickly. I really need to make time for shoulder flexibility exercises, ideally every day. Unfortunately, I think carrying an increasingly heavy baby in a car seat is only adding to the problem, at the moment.

All too soon, the session was over and we were onto the cool down (and some posing for pics!)

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn in the pool

Adele, Duncan and Tamsyn by a Swimathon banner

This was an amazing opportunity for me. I really appreciate Duncan giving up his time to help us.

Swimathon takes place this weekend, but it’s not too late for you to sign up. You can do a range of distances from 1.5k-5k, or could form a team and take part in a relay.

Finally, before leaving I had to ask Duncan for a quick selfie with his amazing medal! Isn’t it amazing?

Tamsyn, Duncan Goodhew and Duncan's Olympic gold medal!!!

When I’m battling my swim on Friday morning, I’ll definitely be thinking back to Duncan’s wise words and will try to

  • lengthen my stroke
  • consider my head position
  • finish my stroke when I get tired
  • lead with my elbow on my right hand side

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Have you entered Swimathon 2017?

14 Mar Stuart and M swimming

I’ll be posting a lot about Swimathon in the next few weeks as I’m thinking about it a lot. I’ll be completing my 5k swim at The Quays in Southampton on 07/04/17 (I hope), although I’m a little worried about just how long that will take. (It’s 200 lengths! I’ve swum 5k before, but it was wearing a wetsuit in a lake and it took me 2:05!)

swimathon

If you’ve not heard of Swimathon before, it’s a nationwide swimming event with Marie Curie as its official charity partner.*

This year’s event is the 30th anniversary, which really surprised me as I hadn’t realised that it had been going for so long. There are also some amazing swimmers who have taken part every single year! The event has some great supporters, including its President, Duncan Goodhew. I was fortunate enough to meet him recently and will be sharing some tips later this week. There’s still plenty of time to enter and lots of different options including 1.5k, 2.5k, 5k, team relays or ‘SimplySwim’ where you do your own distance in your own time, so there’s the perfect level of challenge for everyone. If you’re not sure how to tackle the training, there are some excellent training plans for the various distances available on the Swimathon website. They’re divided into Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner, so there’s bound to be something for you.

I’ve found it hard getting back into the pool after having a baby. Stuart and I don’t have any relatives who live close to us, so we have to carefully schedule when we are going to swim. This makes me feel like a slightly lazy member of the Swimathon blogsquad, but I’m sure some of you can relate to the challenges I face. Our Tri Club has two one hour sessions on a Monday night from 7-8pm and 8-9pm, so Stu swims in the first session and I swim in the second session. This means that the baby gets passed from one to the other by the changing rooms!

I was chatting with Stu about Baby M recently and expressed a desire for her to be able to swim well, to which Stu responded, ‘Oh, I just want her to be happy and healthy’. I had to explain that I’m not going to be a pushy mum who is expecting her to aim for tumble turns in her first lesson, but that I think being a competent swimmer is an essential life skill like being able to read or to cook. (Although I will admit that I’d like her to swim better than I can… and cooking better than me would also be good.)

I don’t often share pictures of Baby M, but we recently took her for her first swimming lesson in the hope of fostering a lifelong love of the water. She had so much fun that I don’t think that will be a problem, and I’m sure she’ll be taking part in Swimathon in future!

Stuart and M swimming

Last night was my first swimming session for a couple of weeks. When I met Stu, I went to pass him M who was in her car seat and he gave me a look before saying that his arms were dead after a tough session. Luckily, they were strong enough to get M home safely.

I was a bit concerned about what my session might consist of, but Stu and I swim at different levels, so we have different coaches. After my usual 400m warm up (200m crawl; 100m pull buoy; 100m crawl), it was onto some technique work. We did various drills using fins and hand paddles, to make us think more carefully about the catch phase of our stroke. After that it was onto a pyramid:

  • 50m off 1:10 (x3)
  • 100m off 2:30
  • 200m off 5:00

and then we repeated some of that with fins.

I know my technique and endurance have fallen apart since having M, but I felt quite comfortable throughout and was easily recovering in the allocated time, so I’m feeling a bit more positive. Now I just need to work on my flexibility.

Have you ever taken part in Swimathon or another swimming challenge? What’s the best piece of advice you can give me about how to tackle it?


* Several of my friends have asked me what the difference is between Marie Curie and Macmillan, as they are similar organisations. Here’s the info:

WHO THEY NURSE:
Macmillan – people with cancer
Marie Curie – people with all terminal illnesses

WHAT DO THEY OFFER:
Macmillan – advice & info to people with cancer, from the time they are diagnosed.
Marie Curie – hands-on care to people with terminal illnesses in their homes, usually in the final weeks/days of their lives.

WHEN THEY VISIT PATIENTS:
Macmillan – usually for 1 hour at a time.
Marie Curie – usually for 9 hours overnight or 3-6 hours in the day/evening.

WHO FUNDS THEM:
Macmillan – 100% NHS funded after the first 3 years.
Marie Curie – approx 50% Marie Curie and 50% NHS.

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Time to waste? Check these out…

27 Apr

I’m really struggling with hayfever at the moment, which isn’t making my life easy. I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable time, but am struggling to breathe, so when the wheezing gets too bad, I end up getting up as I can breathe more easily when I’m in an upright position. This means that I usually end up downstairs on my laptop with a steaming hot drink (and my inhaler) in the early hours of the morning. Lack of sleep is not helping my recovery and training, but it has given me some time just to browse online.

If you’ve got some time to waste, you might want to check out these podcasts from BBC World Service Sporting Witness:

Thanks to Steve Johnson for pointing me in the direction of this series 🙂

These articles are also worth reading.