Stay informed with the latest news & reviews from Gone Swimming
Just infrequent little updates from our swimming adventures around the place, and general thoughts about water activities.
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- Written by Dan Graham
Back in September, a gentleman known as Steve asked an innocent enough question on the Outdoor Swimming Society Facebook group.
I'm curious - if you could capture in "one word" what your own motivations are for open water swims, what would that word be ?
The thread grew and grew with eventually over 100 responses. At some point in time, another lovely lady called Debbie took those words, and put them into a "wordle" (random word cloud thing) generator - and it came up with a fish. The size of the words was dictated by the frequency that they appeared in the list, and so the Freedom Fish was born.
Debbie is a friend of ours, and after lots of people suggested getting T-Shirts made, she approached us and we had a chat. We decided that Gone Swimming would help fund the initial print run, and also provide the online shop platform, and postage resources; all to raise money for the Nile Swimmers Project charity.
The Nile Swimmers initiative is a unique and innovative program aimed at reducing rates of drowning on the River Nile and the surrounding areas. They do this by providing training, conducting research, building partnerships, and providing a perspective from low-income countries.
The design was refined, printers were sourced, lovely organic cotton T-shirts were decided upon, and here we are!!
Such a lovely story of an innocent question, collaborative answers, and then a collaborative effort to raise money for a good cause. The T-Shirts have been on sale for less than 12 hours, and we have already sold 1/3 of the stock! Looks like we may need another print run.
To get yours, visit our shop.
- Written by Dan Graham
Are you a first time open water swimmer? Well, open water swimming can seem scary for first time swimmers. In fact it doesn’t seem scary, it is scary. Those first time nerves come with everything but open water swimming is a fun way to get fit and have swim freely. Here are some tips on how you can conquer that first time fear and enjoy the space and freedom of open water swimming.
Firstly, enter the water slowly & deliberately, and don’t hold your breath when you first take the plunge…. or better still don’t jump/dive in at all. Holding your breath increases the stress in your body. Taking deep breaths also has the same effect so instead breathe in and out as normal at a steady pace.
Practise, practise, practise. Practise swimming the distance in the pool so you feel confident that you can manage it. One of the best tips is to practise swimming beyond your distance so you know it is definitely manageable and you know you can swim your open water swim with extra energy resources at hand.
Keep calm and give yourself space. When you’re in the water, make yourself feel as relaxed as possible. Give yourself plenty of space and know you are prepared. Also practise breathing exercises so you know how to calm yourself down.
If you start panicking half way through the swim, breaststroke for a while. Go back to the first swim you learnt as a child, the most popular type of swimming and regain control. More often than not, your fear at this point will centre around lack of breathe and tiredness. Swim like this until you feel comfortable again and then carry on as you were.
Know you’re not alone and look around you. Open water swimming scatters people all over the place but the people around you or near you are those of similar abilities and probably mind-sets. Have a break and try making conversation if you’re scared and it’s your first time. Failing that, talk to people before you swim. Swimmers are friendly and first times are scary but everyone has been there. The best way to relax is talk to people and understand everyone is in the same water, literally.
Open water swimming doesn’t have to be traumatic. It is fun, daring and a great way to get fit and feel free. First time nerves are inevitable as with anything else but these tips will help and allow you to have a great time and a successful event. For more swimming tips and aids, take a look at the Sports Direct swimming page.
- Written by Dan Graham
Some of us make it all the way to adulthood without ever learning to swim. One in five of us Brits, in fact. The reasons for this are varied: a fear of water that’s never been conquered, lack of access to resources and the financial demands of swimming lessons are just a few of them. For many adults, a lack of water confidence becomes sharper once children start to make an appearance. How do you introduce your own offspring to water – how can a parent coax, encourage and advise – if you can’t show them how it’s done? Being able to dispel that first sense of panic on being introduced to water is near-impossible if you’re gripping onto the edge, white-knuckled and tense yourself. The good news is that it’s never too late to start. If you’re someone who hasn’t yet learned to swim, there are many dedicated adult swimming courses out there, such as this one at Bromsgrove School’s Swim Academy, to help you start making waves.
Learning to swim is a huge benefit when considering the issue of personal safety. Additionally for many adult learners, it presents the gateway to an unchartered new world of personal confidence and fitness. Swimming is a low impact exercise that is great at burning calories, and hitting the water is a superb way to combat tension and depression. Once you’ve conquered swimming, there are plenty of fun ways to exercise in the water if straightforward lengths don’t quite do it for you: aqua aerobics, aqua zumba and even aqua jogging are a few of the popular water-based fitness activities on offer at most local leisure centres. All of these are great steps towards building your water confidence to step outside into the freedom of the sea, a lake, or a river.
Where to Start
Convinced? The next step is to contact your local swimming coach or leisure centre and find out whether they offer adult swimming lessons. If your nearest sports centre doesn’t make provision for this, you’re sure to find somewhere close enough for a weekly visit. Most, thankfully, are evening classes in a quieter environment than you’ll find during peak times. Some centres will also provide an option for one-to-one tuition for those who want a little extra help before they join a group, and many centres also put on improver classes for once you’ve mastered the basics. It is always advisable to build up your swimming ability and confidence in a safe & controlled environment of a lifeguarded swimming pool before exploring outdoor swimming.
Slowly Does It
Most adult swimming classes start with the same introductory exercises. A patient and friendly coach will get you and your group into the shallow end slowly, and gently introduce you to breathing techniques that will allow you to float on your back, and then on your front. This early stage is all about finding your belief in your own buoyancy. Support can be as hands-on as you need it to be: some will need more of this than others.
You’ll be ‘in the same boat’ as your fellow learners, so help build a safe and supportive environment for them as well as for yourself - the more you encourage others through their challenges, the more support you’ll get back in return. Adult learners are usually relieved to learn that their swimming lessons won’t involve embarrassing inflatable armbands, though polystyrene floats will be used in the early stages – even adult competitive swimmers use them to improve their technique.
Free as a
Learning to do something new, perhaps an activity that’s caused anxiety and withheld you from participating with others in the past, is a real triumph in itself. The feeling of weightlessness as you kick off the side and complete your first unaided length is a sensation you’ll carry around with you long after you’ve dried off and left the training pool behind. That feeling only continues as you start to explore the world of swimming outdoors. Go for it!
- Written by Dan Graham
Speedo and Olympic Gold Medallist Michael Phelps have teamed up to launch a series of videos talking about the numerous benefits of swimming.
“Get Speedo Fit with Michael Phelps” is a series of six videos outlining the key benefits of swimming. From burning calories to improving muscle tone, swimming is a workout with no downsides, that anyone one any age can benefit from.
To see more videos from Speedo, including guides to technique and the full Speedo product range, visit their Youtube channel.
- Written by Dan Graham
Both Dan & Gabs are very shortsighted. Gabs wears contact lenses, but Dan doesn't get on with them - and so has worked his way through a variety of prescription goggles.
A new addition to the UK prescription goggle market is AquaViz who are sold through a company called Anglo Italian Optical in the UK.
They are very competitively priced, and rather than having the goggle lense as the prescription lense, use an insert that clips inside.
The insert is made to your exact prescription rather than just going for the nearest dioptre like some of the off-the-peg prescription goggles.
I have used a very similar system with some Adidas glasses for snowboarding - and found them to be great - until I stopped - and then they very quickly fogged up.
AquaViz provide some wax with the goggles to apply to the lenses to prevent fogging. I've found that this does work well, but you need to be careful to try and keep the inside of the goggles dry.
My first impressions upon opening the box is that they were VERY bulky - and looked like they would stick it from my face a very long way. Thankfully, the skirt is very soft - and although as a mask, they obviously stick out much further than goggles, it isn't really noticable when swimming.
I did have some issues with fogging initially - and it's just a case of being diligent with the little pot of wax.
The clever thing with these goggles is that the insert is universal - so if you wanted to pull it out and switch it into some AquaViz snowboarding goggles, or snorkel mask - then it is very simple to do.
Another great additon to the prescription goggle market, at a very competitive price.
- Written by Dan Graham
Mara took to swimming like a duck to knitting. Mara is my 2 year old Springer Spaniel and she does not like being out of her depth. That is not in any small part due to me chucking her into the River Allyn when she was a puppy. So I have decided to go back to square one and teach her to swim. Nicely this time.
I got a doggy life jacket from Crewsaver, they call it a Pet Float, and have been super duper impressed with it. It is reassuringly expensive at £36.99. I was really pleased that it was just as good quality as their people lifejackets. It’s a swanky red and black number with a very unbaffling 3 clip system.
It has a good thickness around the body and a thinner bit under the body. It also had a little pouch on the back, and a handle. I am not sure if you are meant to carry the dog ever by the handle (it probably says not to in the booklet), but when I carried her, she was just all floppy and did not seem to mind (She was probably just happy not to be made to go swimming!).
It also had a handy place to clip a lead onto which is useful so you don’t have to use the dogs collar and risk getting all tangled up. It also has a bit where you can write your name and number in case you lose it (the dog or the jacket I assume!)
I measured Mara and she came out as a large which I don’t really understand as she is pretty micro for a Springer, and the jacket is a good fit. Once I snugged up all the clips and tucked in the excess there was still room to tighten it up more. And she is no porker.
In the water the life jacket was just right to let her walk in and then float at the same point she would have done had she not had it on, then once she was in, it just held her a bit higher than she would have been without it. When she is in the water it does not move around or look like she is going to pop out of it. She seemed pretty happy in her new cozzy.
It dried as quickly as you would expect and suffered no ill effects after a good hour with Mara, Dan and I.
Over all good job team, I love it! Thanks Crewsaver!
- Written by Dan Graham
A few months ago, we had a chance meeting with some of the lovely folk from North Wales Wildlife Trust and there was a fairly substantial amount of mutual interest and excitement.
This has trundled on over e-mail conversations - and then a very important business meeting - that took place in the true Gone Swimming style - by going for a walk, and a swim, and a walk. This swim took place on Ynys Llanddwyn off Anglesey - which we have decided is going to be the site of the first Wild-LIFE Swim that we do.
The idea is really simple - book online - come along on Sunday the 4th of August for either the morning session or the afternoon session. The Gone Swimming team will be keeping you safe and happy in the water, whilst the NWWT guys will be providing the expert knowledge and information about the creatures we see.
The swims are timed to conincide with high-tide and low-tide - so if you were really keen and fancied them both, you would almost certainly see very different things.
- Written by Dan Graham
Vorgee are a brand I was not familiar with until they sent us a goodie bag of goggles. That have swooped in from the land of swimming; good old Oz. I guess if anyone is going to be able to keep the salt from your eyes then it is going to be a team from a huge great big island!
These goggles are the Vorgee Voyagers in pink with mirrored lenses. They came in a hard plastic case that is meant to be the container that they sleep in when they are not on your face. I like that as my goggle collection live in the bottom of my swimming bag or the glove box or anywhere else hostile for delicate important things.
They retail for about £15 and in short they are great value for money. They are a single a piece with flat lenses which I love. I have a high bridge on my nose so all the goggles with a hard nose bit that joins the sides together leaves me with a big ugly mark. The silicone that they are made from is not the softest, so you have to be careful to get them not to overlap your hat or they might leak; but that is something I would expect from any goggle.
The strap is lovely too as it is an infinitely adjustable with a very slick looking gizmo at the back that lets you tighten them and loosen them without having to faff too much. It is a single strap looped double so you can get each strap just where you want it.
The lenses I had were mirrored and pretty dark so nice for outdoor swimming in the summer. They have not fogged at all so far, using the low tech spit method! As they have a large-ish eye piece they have a good chance of fitting the masses, even if the silicone is not super soft. I have tried to pull them apart and pop out the lenses but I can’t- so they are pretty tough!
All in all I would say these are cracking goggles for the price point, as were the others that they sent me. These may not have been the most expensive of the lot we tried, they were my tops.
The Vorgee Voyager are currently available in blue, black, pink, purple, aqua, silver, light purple, navy, and clear blue. You will be sure to find a set that match whatever it is you match your goggles with.... hair for example!
I hate to say it, but these are not going to be become my tippy top favourites, as I still sleep with my polarized predator flex under my pillow, but they are second - and much cheaper! Thank you Vorgee.
- Written by Dan Graham
On this blog, we quite regularly talk about water safety. However, today we are talking about financial protection.
There are more and more small companies starting up who are offering activity holidays of some sort.
If you book a trip with them, what happens to your money if something goes wrong?
There is a set of very complex European regulations called the Package Travel Regulations - have a look at the DirectGov website for more information.
In essence, if you are away from your home for more than 24 hours - and you are being provided with two of the following; accommodation, transport, activities - then you are on a package holiday.
Your package holiday provider has no option but to comply with these regulations. It is illegal for them to sell package holidays without complying.
Now, complying with this legislation means that we (as the package holiday operator) have to protect your money, so if something happens to us, or to one of our sub-contractors (like an accommodation provider), then you either get the holiday you have paid for, or you get all of your money back.
This is quite a hard thing to do.
There are three ways that companies can do it - they can put a massive bond into a trust account, they can insure against that loss for every single passenger they take (which is expensive), or they can use a trust account so that your money is held safely on your behalf and not paid to the company until after your holiday.
We are really concerned that there are several operators out there who are now packaging accommodation with swimming - and they are not complying with this legislation - which means if things go wrong YOUR money is at risk.
Take the time to look into the company that you are planning on holidaying with - they might be safe on the water, but are they safe legally? If they are, then they will have absolutely no problem in answering the simple question of "how do you comply with the Package Travel Regulations"?
Following a comment on Facebook, I thought I would expand on this post a little further.
The comments was: shouldn't the consumer just look for the ABTA or ATOL verification ?
This is a great question, and shows that the travel industry has done a really good job of promoting these two schemes.
The answer is, not necessarily.
ABTA is the Association of British Travel Agents - a group for travel agents. Whereas most of the providers (including Gone Swimming) are not travel agents they are tour operators.
ATOL is the Air Travel Organisers Licencing. ATOL bonding is only required if you are selling flights - which currently no swimming tour operator does because the bond is so expensive. Most of the providers of over-seas trips simply tell you which airport you should fly to, and leave you to arrange your flights yourself.
So both are good indicators of a reputable travel agent, but neither help in this case.
- Wild Swimming in the Welsh Assembly
- How to begin open water swimming?
- Can we be a bit more like Zurich?
- Welsh swimmer named in the GB squad
- Swimming through the winter
- Safety gone sane....
- Profile: Open Water Swimmers : Alex Meyer
- Bringing in the New Year
- Rivers Access for All
- Gwynedd Economic Partnership
- Thoughts on teaching
- The Games And Beyond - Inspire A Generation
- Athletic Performance - Achievement vs Effort
- Inspire a Generation
- No more procrastinating...
- London Olympics - Gamesmaker
- A game of four quarters
- OSS - Summer of Swimming
- BBC Radio 2 - Jeremy Vine and Wild Swimming
- How to warm up someone who is really cold
- Is swimming really banned in the Thames?
- Building confidence in nervous swimmers
- Event Water Safety - an insiders view
- Busy busy busy
- Kellogg’s Launch Scheme to Encourage More Children to Swim
- Top tips on vision correction for swimmers
- Webcams of river levels
- Want to know what you are missing out on?
- A post modern contextualization of swimming sub-cultures
- Top tips - How our Olympic swimmers deal with open water
- Kit Review - Goggles - Zoggs Predator Mask
- Training not swimming - playing not training
- Sighting in Open Water Swimming
- Rubbish Swimming - an update
- Red Tape Challenge - access to water
- Microadventures - River Swimming - Al Humphreys
- Open water swimming in London
- Essential kit for swimmers
- Ice swimming & freediving under ice
- Book Review - Hung out to dry - by Chris Ayriss
- The secret life of swimmers
- Kit Review - Goggles - Zoggs Predator Flex
- National Trust - 50 things
- Book Review - The Story of Swimming by Susie Parr
- Wild Swimming Underwater
- Brief update
- Cold Water Acclimitisation
- Rebecca Adlington in action underwater
- Hidden Gems - Blue Lake
- 6km descent of the Dyfi
- Snowdonia National Park - Recreational Strategy Feedback
- Sunday - a few impropmtu dips in the Dove
- A quiet weekend
- A hectic week
- How to choose a good swim spot
- National Freediving Championships - Liverpool
- British Swimming Championships - Olympic Aquatic Centre
- Countryside Council for Wales - Wild Swimming Activity Code
- Rob Fryer's Wild Swimming Guide
- Llyn Aled
- Wild Swimming with Crocodiles
- Valentines Day - Love your swim
- Descent of the Dee - Part 1
- Mike & Dan - Floating down the Menai Strait
- Mike - Swimming over the Cullin