The BLDSA recently ran its first ever Distance weekend, a kind of boot camp for long distance swimming based at Charlton Lido on the 24th and 25th of February. Around 20 swimmers led by coach Chris Malpass, Mark Sheridan and Anne Mette embarked on an intense weekend of pool training, Pilates, discussions around feeding strategy, motivation of a long distance swimmer and opening the doors to the marathon Swimming world for the new people to our sport.
The weekend started with a meet and greet with all of the swimmers and coaches/officials of the BLDSA in attendance. This Involved listening to the person sat next to you and then telling the rest of the group what their aspirations were for marathon swimming and what they wanted to get out of the weekend. The variety of challenges the swimmers had set themselves was astounding; ranging from Manhattan Island, Straits of Gibraltar, English Channel, Loch Lomond, Lake Tahoe and many other events on the BLDSA calendar.
Of course the most important part of the day for any swimmer is when they can eat. Emily Sheridan (wife to Mark) did an absolutely sterling job at laying on lunch with more sandwiches, pasta salad, doughnuts and muffins than you could feast your eyes on. Lunch also gave the opportunity for more informal chatter of everyone’s marathon Swimming experiences. But the swimmers had to be a bit cautious about eating too much owing to the looming Pilates session they had in the afternoon with the wonderful Anne Mette, a very skilled physiotherapist with an exemplary knowledge of the human body in relation to how it moves.
Interested in pilates? Then take a look at Anne’s website! – scandipilates.com
There was no easing into the Pilates session, Anne took us straight into a number of exercises to mobilise the spine and movement in the shoulders of the swimmers. It seems a slightly ridiculous notion, a Pilates session being intense, but some of the stretches and positions Anne got the swimmers into really tested the flexibility of their bodies. There were plenty of exercises for them to improve flexibility and everyone’s core strength (essential for marathon Swimming and swimming in general). Most swimmers came away saying they’d try and integrate some of the exercises into their training!
Morning approached and similar to the first, the day began with some informal discussions on training and then shortly after into the pool for the main 2 hour set of the weekend with no light introductions. The swimmers did a lot of work with bands around their ankles, first with a pull-buoy and then, the tougher version of the drill, without the pull-buoy. This really tests the balance of someone’s stroke and how strong their core is – vital to any swimmer. Then onto the longer part of the set, again introducing some distance, but also speed into the set. Chris was praised throughout the weekend for his positive and accessible style of coaching, always giving something a swimmer could work on no matter whether they had all the toys with them or not.
Then onto lunch and the end of the training weekend – many thanks to Emily Sheridan for making sure everyone was well fed for both days, sandwiches did the trick!
Phil Hodges, one of first to swim all three of the big lochs in Scotland (Loch Awe, Loch Lomond and Loch Ness), throughout the weekend was great when everyone was sitting down to chat about swimming and imparting some fantastic knowledge and experience on the swimmers from his time in marathon swimming – a true inspiration. The feedback from the weekend was overwhelming positive, with new friends made, new swimming experiences, new ideas to make the winter grind that bit less tiresome and also some new ideas for swims in the summer season.
So what did people have to say about the whole experience…
“Fantastic! Beautiful setting and a great mix of experiences that allowed all to work together to meet personal goals. Chris’ expertise in coaching was evident from the start, mixed with his lovely manner made everyone feel at ease. Combining this with Mark’s expertise made for some excellent discussions in the talk session. Added to this was the excellent advice and support from Philip Hodges. I think we all lef with things to think about and work on regardless of our previous experience. Perfect!”
– Amanda Bell
“A much needed opportunity to test and review training preparation for the season ahead in a perfect facility. I was able to garner confidence in stroke, fitness, knowledge and, ultimately, my own ability to once again step outside my comfort zone and attempt to achieve a personal challenge. Thanks.”
– Helen Beveridge
“Format was excellent, as was the coaching. For me, it was a very enjoyable and sociable way of continuing what I usually do, with the added bonuses of personal feedback on technique and the camaraderie of like minded people.”
– Kate Robarts
“I attended the BLDSA long distance week as my first BLDSA event. It has encouraged me to enter some events to mix up my training for big swims. I thought the facilitation and coaching were excellent, it also provided some great tips to work on, in good time to factor into my training plan for the season. The location of the camp was fantastic. I would definitely like to attend again.”
– Nicola Naunton
A huge well done to all the swimmers and to Mark & Chris for organising it all!
Keep up the training…
Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added on the mailing list for the next distance weekend!