Tag Archive: Mentoring

So, the other day this happened.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 11.47.06 PMYes, you read that right. Probably the second time as you may have wondered what the hell it was you were looking at.

I’m equal parts petrified and excited (hint: a cr@pload of both) about this. I’ve been contemplating it for quite some time, and decided I needed to get in while the limited entries were open before I could back down or change my mind.

I’m unbelievably amazed by the fact that this is going to happen (and questioning my sanity in entering the non-wesuit category), and then trying to reassure myself with the fact that it’s not actually that cold (around 15 degrees Celsius) or actually that far (2.4km), It’s just the combination of those things that’s kind of freaking me out. And the jetlag. And the sharks (a myth to scare the prisoners, right?). My recent research Google search suggests that there are sharks in the bay, but not man-eating ones, and that there has never been a recorded attack on a person by a shark there. Whew!

So why would i do this to myself?

Well, apart from the California holiday I’m planning for myself after the event is done (assuming I survive!) I’m doing it as my goal swim. This year I’ll be mentoring a new long swim program for that brilliant bunch of crazies, Can Too.

If you happen to be in a position to join me, you can sign up on the Can Too website now.

If you’re not interested in swimming (very hard for me to believe!), you can still get on board and support my fundraising efforts via my Can Too Fundraising Link.

And wish me luck…escaping from Alcatraz!


Oh my. I think my eyes are a bit leaky. Must totally be an allergy or something. It couldn’t be this:

27th version of these. Someone cared enough to go through 26 different attempts at helping another living creature who needed it. And didn’t give up after one, or two, or 7 or 15 or 20, or 25….

In the immortal and eternally universally truthful words of Dory…Just keep swimming.

I woke up on Sunday, and it could not have been brighter or better!

After the…errr…challenging conditions at the first Can Too Goal swim at Palm Beach, it was brilliant to see the sun shining, the tiny shore breakers the only waves lapping at the beach, and the smiles more common than furrowed brows on the orange-clad sea of Can Too swimmers buzzing on the beach.

As for the race, well the water was clear and the course was well marked. The main thing of note with the race was just how crowded it felt out there. In particular, in the 1km the wave start I was in was men and women 30-39. In a race this size that was a lot of people. It felt like you were swimming and being jostled the whole way along. I twas hard to overtake, and it felt like you were being pushed from all sides as faster swimmers passed. In the 2km this was slightly improved as they split the start group by gender, but it was still a big group. And it still felt super crowded out there. I’m normally a fan of not stretching the start times out too far (Cole Classic anyone?) so that the water safety people don’t have to be out there for hours, and people aren’t having to wait too long on the beach at the start and the end, but I did really feel this race went to the other extreme.

Other than that, though, the races were great. The water was clear and there was minimal swell.

As usual for me lately, I got no joy out of the 1km race. I’ve just been working too much on distance to have any idea how to sprint…and it was never my strong point in the first place. I seem to also overthink it…worrying about whether I’m going too hard so I’ll lose it in the longer race and then worrying I’m going too slow and don’t need to. then somehow I do these completely rubbish times.

The 2km, as usual for me lately, was a sheer delight. I felt good and strong and kept a fairly good line and came out with a PB for that distance even if you account for the fact that the course was a little short.

I’ve added the GPS maps for each race below…and thought it’d be interesting to add the 1km from a couple of weeks ago…just to show that a 1km course isn’t always the same thing…even at the same beach only a  couple of weeks apart!

All good things must come to an end. Apparently.

Sad as it it, last Wednesday was the final training session for the 2012-13 swim groups, including the inaugural Andrew Boy Charleton pod. the good news is….we made it!!!!

It has been such an immense pleasure sharing this amazing experience with my mentor group, friends old and new, my entire pod, and all the people who have come along on Saturdays to the Bondi sessions. It makes my heart so glad to see people come to love the sport that makes me so happy, and see them do and achieve amazing and challenging things.

We did a bit of a training session, although a bit shorter than usual as we are officially on the “taper” now. And then the all important final event.

A Relay! With Pool noodles! My only sadness for the day was that I’ve been having camera issues (yes, again…). There were some magnificent performances and techniques, although I’m going to go ahead and call it that the highlight was seeing Tri coach Gordo complete his leg doing butterfly!

Thanks to all my amazing Can Too friends, this season has truly been a blessing and an amazing experience. I look forward to seeing you all at Bondi on the 10th…on for amny of you I hope you’ve caught the bug enough that I’ll see you at future sessions and races and beyond!



Graduation Night!!!

After months of hard work it was time to make sure everyone had their swimmers to try out and get used to before their big events. That, and have an embarrassing photo!


Not to be outdone, the mentors got to have photos wearing crazy hats! (Thanks to Captain Bel for the Arts and Crafts). Sadly the Wednesday weather curse threatened to send them off on their own adventure.20130130-145328.jpgWe also had a very special guest. None other than Can Too founder, director and dead-set-legend, Annie Crawford, who has done so much for such a good cause, and is perfectly lovely to boot.

Annie came along for a bunch of reasons, all of them good. One in particular stood out, though. The awesome and inspiring Tamera has been a participant in swim programs, a half marathon run program, a mentor, a team captain and now a coach for our wonderful premiere ABC pod. Just to add a little sugar, she’s a hero of mine for completing the Rottnest Island channel swim last year, embarking on the adventure of motherhood this year, and being just one of the nicest people you could meet.

And she’s now raised $10,000 for cancer research.



After a hot and steamy Friday night, the cool change was welcome. The big waves that come with it were a mixed blessing, though.

I did the early 4SEASons session before Can Too training, and after coming along to spectate at last week’s North Bondi Roughwater I had finally gotten my friend (and dive buddy!) Steph along to an ocean session. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!






It’s been smooth seas for a while now, and I think it was a shock to they system of a lot of the Can Too swimmers to find themselves in pretty big surf.

Although it was tough and challenging, it was a really good chance to get back into those big surf skills – porpoising, getting under waves, swimming hard between the sets, and learning to judge the waves as they were coming at us fast and strong.

I personally love these conditions….lots of fun and bests of all is the body surfing! It did take me a long time to get there, though, plenty of winter Saturdays with Coach Kingy standing in the break giving instructions (mostly “Keep swimming!”) or literally holding my hand as I dived under the waves to give me a sense of when to go under and when to come back up.

I know there were a lot of people there who found the big waves quite challenging, but one thing I know for sure is that dealing with that sort of surf is a skill you can learn like any other. It doesn’t have to come naturally, and in fact some of the best things to do when encountering these conditions are actually quite counter-intuitive.

I’ve written about big waves before, and my favourite tips. Might be time for a bit of a review!

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Back in week 4 we did a time trial, for a bunch of good reasons. The first one on my list is that doing regular time-trials gives you a benchmark so you know how you’re doing and can check your progress.

In week 9, after 5 weeks of training (plus hopefully a few swims over the Christmas break) we did a second time trial to give us that second point of comparison.

So how do you think we went?

Well, amazingly of course. Our ABC swimmers have put in the hard work, trained hard, (not to mention raised funds for a great cause and had a great time along the way) and the results speak for themselves.

Everyone improved on their first times. Everyone. 100% of the sample! There were some spectacular successes…up to 10% improvements, and a few people who did the shorter 500m trial last time who felt strong enough to do the 1km trial this time instead.

Words cannot possibly express how proud I am at how far everyone has come. Great coaches and a great program definitely work, but consistent hard work, that’s the real key, and our ABC group have been doing plenty of that!

What a bunch of superstars!


Wow – I’m a bit behind due to a tricky gastro thing, followed closely by lots of swimming. I haven’t yet figured out how to both swim and write.

What I can do, however, is (kind of) swim and take photos.

So here are some photos from last week’s Can Too session. It was a lovely day and the coaches instructions were for everyone to hop in and swim point to point without stopping. So everyone did! How far we’ve come..it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

The glorious weather continued for the Can Too Beach Session on Saturday. After the Christmas break I think it was a bit of a shock to the system for anyone who hadn’t gotten in much swimming as it was a leap straight back into training! The warm-up itself was a reasonably long swim around our water-safety helper out on a board, and each circuit was longer than the last as we really keep building endurance.

We finished up getting a bit of body-surfing practice in. The surf was small, but with half-decent technique you could catch a little shore-breaker into the shore.

I’m no expert on these things, particularly compared to coach “big-wave” Dave or fellow 4SEASons swimmer David S (perhaps there’s something in the name), but on a good day I can catch a wave and there are a few tips I’ve learned over the years I thought I’d share.

  1. Kick! One of the key things for catching a wave in the first place is that you want to be going pretty close to the same speed as the wave. If you’re catching the wave from a standing start you can do this by springing forward and throwing yourself onto the wave. If it’s deeper, you need to get that speed up with a surge, and since you want to be getting into the right body position, that mostly means you need to kick like crazy! Also, don’t stop once you’re on the wave!
  2. Body position is really important. General rule is you want to be really streamlined, tuck your head down and remember point 1! As with any rule, though, there are exceptions. If you find yourself on the front of a big wave that’s lifting your legs up behind you and threatening to send you tumbling, you can control your speed by lifting your head up and forward.
  3. Keep swimming. Once that wave starts petering out it’s tempting to stop swimming and catch your breathe. Instead, you can resume your stroke, and breathe to the side. You can get a surprising amount more ground out of the wave this way, and it may be enough to jump you forward a place or two in a race environment.
  4. Timing and breathing. Getting the timing right for when to jump onto a wave or when to get into the right body position from a swim is something that takes a bit of practice. What does help, however, is being able to keep an eye on the wave as it’s coming, watching where it’s breaking and how fast it’s moving. When swimming you can keep an eye on waves behind you by peeking under your arm behind you as you breathe. I often find it useful to switch to breathing every second stroke in this case…it allows you to gauge the wave more clearly, and it gets more oxygen into your system in preparation for having to go a few seconds without lifting your head while you’re on the wave. Remember to exhale as you’re surfing, as excess CO2 in your system is never your friend.
  5. Get a feel for it. Conditions can vary wildly, but as a general rule, as a big wave builds behind you, you can feel the water in front of it tugging back . The closer the wave, the harder the tug. If you get used to paying attention to this it’s anther cue for how to time your wave.
  6. Prepare to sacrifice. The best days for body-surfing are by definition the rougher days out there. It’s more likely that you will lose caps and/or goggles. You can minimise the risk by wearing older kit you don’t mind losing so much, by pulling your goggles down around your neck as you hit the wave zone or tying them onto the zipper cord of your wetsuit (if you’re wearing one…winter only!). On occasion, if the waves are powerful enough that I know I’ll get a ride in regardless I’ve been known to set my position with one arm out in front for the streamline, and the other hand up on my head securing cap and goggles, but with elbow tucked in and chin right down. It’s not pretty, but it works in certain circumstances!
  7. Extra buoyancy. I generally prefer to swim without a wetsuit under most conditions, but if there’s really big surf I will do the wetsuit dance to get into it as I know how much easier that extra bit of buoyancy makes it to catch and stay on a big wave.

So that’s my take on it…if you have anything to add (or argue!) feel free to weigh in below in the comments!

Some photos from the day….

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Well, I guess it had to happen some time. My utterly divine holiday to Western Australia has come to an end and I’m back East with a case of the post-holiday blues.

On Wednesday it was a return to training at ABC pool for Can Too training. It was my last day of holidays. Plus it’s always a concern coming back to training after a break as you don’t really know how much fitness you may or may not have lost until you actually get back into a session and see how it all feels.

I was pretty active this holiday. Both my sister and my sister-in-law who I was staying with are currently training for their own challenges, and with the heat-wave there it just made sense to be in the water as much as possible…particularly when there are options like learning to wake-board and going diving on a Navy Island! Then there was the running around after my gorgeous nieces and nephew…a labour of love no question, but hard work nonetheless. so the upshot is that I did a lot of exercise while i was away. I knew that, but you just never know how that might actually translate to swim-fitness.

Luckily, I found that the answer for me in this particular situation was “Not too badly”. I felt OK in the pool, and did the set feeling like I was challenged, but not that I felt like I might implode.

We did a good solid set, focussing on fast distances, alternating with equal distances of way swimming. This was to do two things; first, it gives you a good sense of the difference between your fast and easy swim pace, and this is key to mastering the art of pacing that I’ve written about here before (maybe quite a lot!). Secondly, we’re getting to the pointy end of the swim program here, where the technique should be improved a lot, where the beach skills are learned and now being practiced and revised, but there’s still work that can be done on general fitness. Interval training is great for this, and the easy sets are great as an active recovery.

So, after the initial (standard) nerves about the first session back after a break, it was nice to be back in the pool after all! Can’t wait for the flurry of activity coming up. Races! Training! Sunshine and beach weather! Let the games begin!

Yup, that's actually me. Upright and everything!

Yup, that’s actually me. Upright and everything!

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