OSS Swimmer Journey's So Far...

As we continue our partnership with The OSS we are getting regular updates from swimmers taking part in the Couch to kkers challenge...





Name; Simon Kerslake Journey So Far...

How is it your training going? /How you are feeling about your achievements?

Week 2 felt trickier as it was the second week of Easter holidays, and I was enjoying feeling 'relaxed' (ie having a lie-in), so motivating myself was slightly harder than week 1!  But I did it and am pleased with how it's going.

How/where have you been training?

I'm not a distance runner by any stretch (sprinter in my youth), so I'm relying on gentle hill hikes (with dog) and the odd bike session to get the blood pumping at the moment. I have been swimming skins at Parliament Hill Lido throughout the winter (when allowed) and love cold water swimming so have continued to do that,  but have also been swimming in Denham Waterski Club lake as I really wanted to get into some bigger open water and see how I got on with a bit of distance. I've also been doing the shoulder exercises with resistance cords and weekly yoga which I find really beneficial for core strength - and for feeling calm...

Any tips/ lessons along the way

Just try and do what you can and stay on track - don't beat yourself up if you miss a day / session but just keep fixed on your target. I have a swim diary where I keep a note of what I've done, and what distance I'll be working toward that week as it's really positive to see how you're improving. And try and enjoy it along the way!

Update 2:

Personally mine's picking up a fair pace as I take part in an evening swim training session in Parliament Hill Lido that started again last Tues and runs throughout the summer - a gruelling 90 mins of drills and interval training...horrible tbh, but it gets you fit. And you forget if you swim through the winter as I do (this year, skins and no neoprene), that 12 is not a good temp for most people! Although I'm in the slow group (it's full of triathletes and ironmen half my age) I was one of the last in water out of 30 people - thank goodness for middle aged spread!

I also was in the Channel on Sat for a Channel Swimming training session - 9 degree water in skins! Painful tiring triple dips - two beach swims and boat practice - completely exhausting but worthwhile. What's that expression..? 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..?'


Onwards and upwards swimmers!


Simon Open Water SwimSimon Open Water Swim


Follow Simon on social; Instagram - @mrosssecretary and @phvi_channelswim2021



Name; Sue Brown's Journey So Far...

swimcouchto5k caught me just at the right time as the spring was arriving, the water had started to warm and I was feeling ambitious for a new challenge!  Best of all its given me the motivation to swim more, in more places, with more people and sharing the journey with my regular swim buddies helps push me that little bit further when I want to give up!  Culminating at the weekend with some island hopping 

Update 2; 

My #swimcouchto5k training is a little more haphazard.  

Week 1 - Very excited

Week 2 - Suddenly realised what sort of challenge I'd taken on

Week 3 - Decided to just attempt what I can.  Any improvement is better than none.

Week 4 - Managed 6k in the river.  Back to very excited again!

Week 5 - Renewed motivation to tackle some the drills in the pool.

For the last month (whilst we were supposed to be doing dry land training) I've just been trying to build up a little bit of endurance in the water.  Fitness is definitely improving because at the beginning of April I could barely swim 50m FC without having to stop but I can now maintain a very slow and steady mile in the pool and about 1k in open water before the temperature gets the better of me.


I haven't been diligent with the drill training (I've found it quite hard in open water without any distance reference points) but I have been watching the videos and trying to improve technique and I feel like I'm making massive improvements in efficiency, (evidenced by being able to keep up with my swim buddy) although still a long way to go.  And the yoga for swimmers videos are a blessing to help stretch out some of those muscles that I'm not used to working.


I'm finding it useful to set myself some mini interim goals too. (Like swim 1k in open water non-stop, then 1 mile in the pool, then hopefully 1 mile in open water etc...).  I've managed a couple of 5 & 6k river swims (with a lot of help from the flow) and the next goal is to do some more island hopping around the lakes in still water. And I can't wait to get some vitamin sea too! (I get bored easily swimming circuits). 


I love the motivation of being able to travel to more places via the water and I'm quite excited about what I might be able to achieve by the 21st.


Follow Sue on social; Staffordshire Swooshers facebook group last year and the Potteries Divers facebook page in the years prior to that (I'm an admin for both). However, here are my personal profiles:
o https://www.facebook.com/ShuebyDoo
o https://twitter.com/Sueby_Doo
o https://www.instagram.com/sueby_doo/

Name; Sian Ryan's Journey So Far...

I am just starting week 4 in the water. Adjusting to doing drills in the river has been interesting, but do-able, and I am enjoying the challenge. As a skins swimmer the biggest limiting factor on my progress has been the water temperature - at times it has been as low as 8C again which means I can't do more than 20 minutes at most. But this morning I got a good 30 minutes / 1km in Jesus Green Lido - unheated and 100 yards long - which felt brilliant. I will never be the fastest swimmer, but starting to feel I can relax and enjoy some longer distances. 


Update 2; 

Completed week 5 on Sunday and enjoyed a fabulous 30 minute continuous swim in a favourite local river. Did 1.1km and enjoyed the focus on my pull and the feeling of flow as I swam. It helped that it was a glorious sunny morning too!

This week is looking towards the 40 minute swim at the end so hoping that it will be warm enough by the end of the week to give me that extra 1 or 2 degrees in the water so I can safely swim for that long. Feeling fit and confident enough to extend my swims, just frustrated by the cold water! Fingers crossed for Sunday.

Well Sunday warmed up nicely so that's 40 minutes under my hat with no issues. And counting strokes in the Lido, I have reduced my stroke count by around 10 strokes over 100m thanks to the extension drills. 


Update 3; 

Glorious swim in the River Lark Sunday morning. Counting down to the 5k on 21st June with a mile today. 

The 5k programme has given me confidence that I can swim further, for longer, and with better technique, and am swimming faster than ever before.

Thank goodness for warmer water and longer swims. And the goggles are the best I have ever had - they are truly fantastic. 


Follow Sue on social; I have various FB pages for my businesses and privately. Business is @developingdogs on FB, Insta, and Twitter. Privately I have @pupstory on Insta, and @sianryan on twitter. All my social media mentions my love of open water swimming at various times. I was involved in a BBC2 TV show a few years ago which is currently being repeated on Saturday mornings (Me and My Dog) and that showcases dogs and owners swimming together as part of the challenges we set them.

Name; Naomhán O'Connor  Journey So Far...

How is it your training going? /How you are feeling about your achievements?

My training has been going well - I've been doing the land training - running, cycling, and yoga/pilates, as well as swimming in the sea 2-3 times a week. I'm loving the training, loving how much fitter I'm feeling generally and I'm taking at least two of these training sessions each week as "fun" sessions, cos for me it's mostly about feeling good about myself.


How/where have you been training?

I've been swimming in the sea with the Brompton Belles and Beaus Dippers (in Bangor, NI), my usual swimming crew. The sea is starting to warm up, which we're all appreciating as most of us swam through winter, so the sea feels almost warm now at a toasty 9-10C!  I generally run and cycle locally on the Comber Greenway, which is very close to where I live, although a few weeks ago I decided (on the suggestion of some of my swimming crew) to cycle the coastal path from Belfast to Bangor followed by a swim in the sea... this path turned out to be much more "off-road" than I'd expected and definitely challenged me more than I had thought it would! Thankfully I got a lift home afterwards as there was no way I could cycle back again after that. I also do yoga and pilates in my house via Zoom, but hopefully studio classes will start to open up again soon!


Any tips/ lessons along the way

Don't do a 22km off-road cycle before getting into the sea! My muscles seized up and I had awful cramps afterwards... Perhaps obvious to people more experienced in this area than me, but in future I'll swim first, then cycle. Mostly, I've found it really great to have a few friends who are also doing the training - even if we don't always train together, knowing that we're all training helps to motivate me as I know I'm not alone in doing it! However, the most important thing for me is to enjoy the training. If I focus too much on beating personal records or hitting certain targets, I get stressed out about it and it stops being fun for me. If I'm enjoying it, that's a win for me. 


Update 2;

I'm also feeling somewhat intimidated by the distance some of you are swimming!! I'm generally swimming 2-3 times a week in the sea, averaging 1km in 20-25 mins, depending on conditions. 

Can't really stay in much longer than that as I get too cold and I swim strictly in skins only, no neoprene at all, which is perhaps a bit stubborn of me but after a winter of swimming skins only, I'm not going to start donning wet suits and neoprene now! 

I'm basically just doing what I enjoy - swimming in Belfast Lough at Bangor (can't swim in Belfast cos its a port) and doing yoga/pilates once a week and running once a week. 

I did get into the pool last night for the first time in a few years and I was SO SO SO SO SO SO BORED. I don't know how I used to do it, but I was dying to get back into the sea, the longest 30 minutes of MY LIFE. 

Also, I hadn't realised how much the sea provides buoyancy - I felt like a waterlogged piece of wood trying to move through the pool water!


Follow Naomhán on social; Instagram at @naomhanoc

Name; Sanchia Reed's Journey So Far...

My update....

Well I’m trying! More in the pool-I love doing drills and have increased my distance over the past couple of weeks...... Although 10km is looking a long way away!

Have also done a few acclimatising sea swims now, albeit in more neoprene than the Michelin man! (Everything thermal +2thermal hats!)Am hitting 30mins although have yet to try varying my arm speed. 1 lot of severe afterdrop so improved my changing routine also..

Had a swim at Woolacombe on Friday, sometimes tow floats can be a hindrance! Trying to get in and out was a workout all of its own-those waves were powerful. Once beyond the break though it was beautifully calm and serene. Lovely.

Dryland...hmm well I’ve increased my steps each day and am attempting to do yoga 3 times a week with my mum.

Sanchia Sanchia

Follow Sanchia on social; Facebook pages: Sanchia Reed, Swimsanch/Seaswimsanch, Taunton Open Water Swimmers

Name; Gillian Pick's Journey So Far...

My update....

Training is going well here! I am now swimming comfortably 2.5km with no after effects on my shoulders. This week i am planning to up it to 3km. I am swimming both pool and open water! My only issue being trying to find water time that isnt limited to 1hr sessions. I am hoping after next weeks further easing of lockdown, i will be able to get a longer training session in. 


I am totally involve with the goggles! once i adjusted them, they are amazing. No leaks or fogging! 

Gill PickGill Pick

Follow Gillian on social; instagram @gillpickswimmingcoach

Name; Carole Munro's Journey So Far...

My update....

Fighting the waves !! But got into pool could only manage 30 minutes as it was too hot !!! Did four length of Drills struggled to start with ! But getting the hang of it now three times a week 800 metres and going !!!


Name; Allison Owen's Journey So Far...

I am beginning to get more than a tad concerned that I took the ‘couch’ part of the title rather too literally compared to everyone else!!! 2.5k? 6k?  I’m counting minutes and metres rather than hours and kilometres. On the upside, if I manage 5k by the end it’ll prove that the programme works. Unless I’m reading it completely wrong, in which case, I’m stuffed!

Week 2 of the programme and this week my enemy is now the sea and the weather, not simply my own inherent laziness!

But I’d run out of excuses to not get on with training. 

Magic Seaweed was promising a 7ft swell on a beach that’s generally flat calm, the wind was gusting to 50mph and the lifeguard on duty did not look best pleased to see me whipping off my Dryrobe for a 15minute battle with waves, chop and my own little ‘oh for goodness sake, give up’ voices. 

Much like the running Couch to 5k programme the little incremental steps are achievable even from my pretty low baseline. Three sessions into week one and I was definitely more aware of feeling the water and I even managed to find a bit of rhythm to my bilateral breathing. Drills, something that’s not a part of the running couch to 5k, are challenging in the sea so I’m doing what I can, but even a little bit of drilling is helping me focus more on maintaining a little bit of effective technique! Rather like my running, there’s more than a bit of ‘old dogs, new tricks’ to improving my stroke so I’m concentrating on time and distance rather than speed!

I’ll second Gillian’s review of the goggles - they’re hands down the best pair I’ve ever owned (and this is coming from someone who spends more time looking at and sometimes buying swim stuff than actually swimming!!)


Update from Allison;

I definitely took the couch part of the SwimCouchto5k seriously and was rather in awe of/terrified by the initial reports from swimmers who’d ‘managed’ the first 3k of the season when I was gasping for breath after 5 minutes of frantically windmilling my arms! 

However, after 7 weeks of swimming in the sea everything is different. I haven’t managed the drills as such and there’s only been one speed - none of this 5x50 medium/slow pace malarkey - but I have tried to set my mind to be conscious of whatever the weekly drill was meant to focus on while I’m slowly plodding across the bay. Somehow everything is looking a lot less frantic and a lot more relaxed, I’m almost disappointed that I’ve done my time as I feel able to carry on beyond the times in the programme. I’m still only doing about 1.5 k but 3 k seems doable and I reckon 5k will be achievable with a bit of grit and a few sweets in my tow float!

I’m not a competitive swimmer - my grandad taught me front crawl almost 50 years ago with the words ‘lift your feet up and move your arms!’ The videos attached to the programme have really helped me see what I should look like (and do in my head if not in reality!).

The sea is warming up (my one experience of a swim wetsuit was entertaining for the masses watching the Swansea Tri and positively embarrassing for me in the swim competition I’ve ever done, doggy paddling behind the blokes with their little IM tattoos!!) and I’m ready to step it up next week and push the distances. The kids may have to make their own tea as I’m sure I’ll be in the water longer than I imagine but 3k here I come. And then I’ll go for the 5k


Follow Allison on social; Instagram and Facebook pages:
Insta - alison_owen2529 and gowerbluetits Facebook - Alison Owen (Alison Howes) and The Gower Bluetits Open Water Chill Swimmers