A student's view
One of our earliest students Debbie has sent us in a description of how she found the day of coaching with us. Rather than put the edited highlights on the Testimonials page, we thought we would reproduce her writing in full.
DJ - Introduction to Open Water
I signed up for a Gone Swimming coaching session having only been out in my wetsuit a few times before.
I'm preparing for a 1-mile outdoor swim in a few months' time, but have been struggling with the cold. My previous dip had lasted just eight minutes and caused mild panic attack/gasping type symptoms afterwards - so I was getting a bit concerned about how I'd last the distance, despite being a confident mile swimmer in the pool.
We started off with a half hour chat over a cuppa at a pub discussing what my experience was so far, the physical effects of cold water and how your body reacts to it, and running through what we'd be doing in the coaching session.
Dan had a list of things he wanted to cover - even down to how important it is to get dressed again fast after the swim...and what his strategy is for doing that, but he had time to listen to what I wanted out of the day too.
Then it was wetsuits on, and down to the waters' edge. Dan and Gaby are both really great at making you feel safe, and pacing the session right for your level.
The tips for getting acclimatised were spot on and probably the most important lesson for me personally.
As I'm preparing for an open water event, Dan had tailored the rest of the session to include what to expect in such a swim - like how to deal with swimming in a crowd, spotting where you're going, and shaving vital seconds off your time by turning round a fixed point, and drafting in another swimmers' wake.
As a novice, the most valuable part of the day was getting to grips with being comfortable "getting cold", and learning how to take your time breathing out and relaxing with limited underwater vision.
I'd like to take this away and practise it, then come back for at least one or two more sessions to hone my actual outdoor swim technique before the event.
The video analysis they sent me afterwards was also really useful. (I hadn't realised how much of the session Gaby had managed to film while in the water with us - if only I could only start swimming in a straight line that would be great - lakes are disorientating!)
It turned out to be the most amazing day - after 50 minutes in the water I still felt comfortable and suffered no real side effects from the cold.
I learned more than I have done in the last six months of pool sessions, dips with friends, and internet research.
Just having someone who has the practical experience and safety qualifications "walk" you through a swim is invaluable, and I honestly feel 10 times more confident in the open water now.
I was impressed at how "bespoke" yet relaxed the service Dan and Gaby offered was - right down to the home baked brownies and fresh tea in the carpark as we debriefed in our woolly hats afterwards.
They were happy to go at my pace, you could tell they were watching to see how I was coping and gauging my reactions, safety and physical symptoms at every point.
They're both good company, and clearly know their stuff at a much higher level that I'm at right now.
Most of all, it was really good fun!
Thank you Dan and Gabs - really looking forward to coming out with you again and learning more soon.