Sunday, September 30, 2018

The "results" of our 10 week CSS Development Plan are in!

Swimmers completing the tenth week of our 10 Week CSS Development Program - this was the fastest the squad has EVER swum - well done if you were part of it!

Dear Swimmers

Zoggs coming tomorrow and Tuesday!

Don't forget, Zoggs International will be with us on pool deck tomorrow and Tuesday 2nd October to do some testing of their new products. Anyone assisting in the trials will receive a FREE pair of Zoggs Predator goggles just for helping out - can't say fairer than that! Of course, this will be slightly disruptive to the flow of your normal session (so is not compulsory) but given that this is the first 2 days following on from the last 10 weeks of diligently working on your CSS pace, I'm hoping the vibe will be a little more lower key anyway - enjoy and get a FREE pair of goggles for your efforts!

Serena conquers the Channel

News just in from Dover, UK, is that squad swimmer Serena Wells successfully swam the English Channel on Monday last week, covering the distance in 14h46m - what an amazing swim. We are still waiting on a full report and some photos but this is excellent news! Alan Tietzel was also over there to swim and started about 24hrs later, but sadly did not make it across after having been in the water for some 12+ hours (again, further news to follow). Well done Serena and Alan for both of your efforts - mother nature is a beast sometimes and waiting around to swim as long as you did is very reminiscent of my experience in 2011, so I can well understand the emotions you likely went through!

10 Week CSS Development Results

A massive well done if you were one of the super-committed swimmers who diligently tried to attend as many of the sessions as possible in the squad over the last 10 weeks as we Went Backwards to Go Forwards - I do hope you really enjoyed the program and that it brought a little focus to your swimming. Some of the comments I've heard and over-heard were:


  1. gave you focus and motivation
  2. provided a necessary challenge through the winter months
  3. has got you in GREAT shape prior to the season starting


  1. Hard to get into it if you missed the start or some of the middle weeks
  2. Did Tuesday have to become so challenging too?
  3. Became a bit prescriptive by the end especially as you started to plateau off

As promised, the results can be found here:

What I've done is, somewhat subjectively (based on observation and feedback from you directly), added in a red highlighted cell with white text to indicate which week I believe your group as a whole within each lane and within each squad managed to achieve before plateauing off somewhat and being able to hold the set times. Of course, this whole program becomes quite the dynamic beast as people miss sessions, the structure of the lane changes etc, but I believe that this is a good representation of where we got to and represents about 3.5-4% improvement across the board (or about 3 to 7s per 100m at CSS pace), which in itself is a great achievement - well done!

We'll use the next couple of weeks to consolidate at the RED / WHITE cell level, before looking at new ways to extend this forwards and keeping you on your toes with new, fun challenges. I had played around with the idea of keeping the next 1-2 weeks beeper-less to give you a little break (and may try this in certain sets as a "social experiment") but given that the pool clock spent a good 6 or 7 weeks broken during this program, I hope you can all understand how beneficial they are to keep you engaged and on track, and on that note, a big well done for the large number of you who taught yourself how to use this little gadget and get familiar with switching between modes etc - coach was very proud!

Rottnest Channel Swim & Port-2-Pub training programs

I'm not sure if people have shifted their focus in recent years or are being more coy these days about their intentions to swim these iconic events 😉, but I have heard of very few people committing from the outset to a Solo for either of the two events this year, but there's been plenty of people talking about 2020 as being "their year" so perhaps people are taking a longer term view of this? I'm not sure. Anyway, there are just over 20 weeks to the Rottnest Channel Swim and just over 23 weeks to the Port to Pub Swim

In 2018 we suggested this training program which was well utilised and will be tweaked to include the new race series calendars in sure course of which there are two calendars this year for some racing action:

…and for those keen on a little more structure and direction, our full guide can be accessed here for an additional $13.99/mo:

Of course our 74 minute webinar is always worth a look if you're still in that undecided stage - access that here: 

…in any case I'm sure there's going to be a great summer of open water swimming ahead of us, why not sign up for an event or two to give you some focus?



Thursday, September 20, 2018

Correction to World AG triathlon results (apologies) and a FREE pair of Zoggs goggles coming your way!

Dear swimmers

In my haste to get the results out about the ITU World Triathlon Championships, I must apologise, Janet Ferguson picked up the bronze medal in the 55-59yr category, not the gold as previously stated. This is still a brilliant achievement for Janet and I'm sure you'll all congratulate her with me on this. Other results trickling through are that Carrie Anderson narrowly missed the podium with a 4th place in the very competitive 50-54yr category. Well done ladies - I can't wait to share some photos. Please continue to feed though your stories / pictures of the event so that I can collate a nice news feature for everyone on this.

A FREE pair of Zoggs goggles could be coming your way!

Some of you may recall that about 12 months ago, Zoggs goggles very kindly gave away 50 special swim kit sets to our 50 most consistent swimmers. This comprised a back-pack, 1 or 2 sets of goggles and a pair of bathers for you to try out. Very generous indeed and all personally labelled too. I've personally been using Zoggs for many years now, in fact I swam my English Channel, Manhattan Island Swim and my recent ÖtillÖ World Championships in them too!

On Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd October, Zoggs will be with us on pool deck for all the morning sessions to allow you to test out some of their new apparel. The team will be taking some photos and video for internal use only (to assess fit, form and function etc) and are looking for willing candidates to try some new gear. In return you'll receive a FREE pair of Zoggs Predator or Zoggs Predator Flex goggles for your assistance. Given that this is the week after we finish our 10 week CSS Development program, I'd scheduled in a slightly "lower key" series of sessions for Monday and Tuesday, so this should all tie in nicely.

Hope you can help out!



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Pointy End and Public Holiday

Dear Swimmers

Hope you're all enjoying this fine weather that has finally sneaked through!

Public Holiday

Just a quick reminder that despite the upcoming Public Holiday on Monday 24th September, both the 7am and 9.30am Pure Technique sessions will run as normal (we never like to let you down on days like this when many of you can take the opportunity to sneak an extra session in). If you're going away for the weekend, firstly - have fun, secondly, you might want to sneak a cheeky Saturday Stoic Session in before you head off at 5.30am on Saturday 22nd September instead (9 places currently showing as available).

Royal Show / Parking

Don't forget that the Royal Show starts this Saturday (22nd September) and runs for one week to the following weekend. We've been informed that the lower car park at the pool is taking payments (unsure of what time from) for using this space, so may I please suggest you arrive early to find a spot in the normal car park (especially 9.30am swimmers who this is likely to affect more) and / or seek a parking pass from the pool if you have to park on the lower level. In either case, a little organisation next week might be required - sorry for any inconvenience this might cause!

Week 9 of 10

Hands up if you've reached that despondent stage of not quite hitting your target times anymore? Most of you? Totally natural. Sadly we can't expect continuous linear progression of 0.5% per week for all of eternity otherwise if you extrapolated it out long enough you'd all be Olympic Gold Medallists at some point in the future. But that's been the beauty of the last 9 weeks from our 10 week CSS Development program; every group in every lane in every squad is now swimming faster than they've ever swum before (trust me, my records go back 16.5 years here in Perth!) - so that's a very good thing, especially leading into the open water season. Secondly, it is totally natural that we start to plateau off at some point and many of you will be feeling that this has started to occur in the last week or two. Some of you are still on the up - and that's great - but I'm taking a close look at exactly where each group has reached and once we finish the 10 week program next week, we'll use the next 2-4 weeks (prior to people starting to get back into things for Rottnest, Busso and the like) to consolidate at the last week you were consistently holding paces. It looks like for most this will be about week 7 or 8, but we'll see how we go in the next two weeks prior to making that call. Above all though, I do hope you've really enjoyed the challenge, because that's what this is all about - not taking ourselves too seriously and just seeing what is possible - well done team!

Hot off the press!

I haven't yet had a full low-down from everyone who recently raced the ITU Triathlon World Championships over on the Gold Coast - so please don't assume I'm skipping over you (send me your info if you can please) - but I've just had it on good authority that Janet Ferguson from our 9.30am squad won the gold medal in her Age Group to add to the one she won in the World Duathlon Championships a few years ago. Well done Janet! This is absolutely amazing and we look forward to giving you a hero's welcome when you arrive back!

Thanks everyone, see you Friday for more fun and frivolity!


Friday, September 7, 2018

2018 ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championship Report

Laying it all on the line: physically, mentally, emotionally. As we said on the blog last week, “life begins on the edge of your comfort zone” and I have to say I was very much teetering on that edge - quite often over the other side too - for nine hours and four minutes on Monday at the 2018 ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships. I was absolutely, totally spent when I crossed that finish line with not another ounce to give. See the race finish video here.  I couldn’t feel my face or hands, not least speak coherently, but the effort was fully worth it. I unpacked some pretty deep, emotional baggage out on that course too so it feels great to have come out the other side and hopefully a better version of myself as a result. I’ve never, ever been so physically fatigued as I’m feeling right now and yet at the same time so emotionally light. It’s a great feeling - thanks Andy for taking me to that place and making sure I got across that line as I frequently doubted that I would both pre and during the race!

Quick Summary Of How We Did

We finished the 75km course in 9h04m and 23rd male team (32nd overall out of 160). When planning for the event I said I’d be happy with around 10hrs and Top-50, so vis-a-vis “I’m happy”. It was an amazing day out in the Swedish archipelago and one which I shall cherish greatly. There was no question that it was Andy whom was the one dragging me around the brutal course. After being our lead on the first couple of swims it rapidly became obvious that I’d be better tethered behind Andy for the swims so as to recover for each subsequent run (especially the half marathon that occurred at six hours into the race). I was literally hanging onto Andy all day long and simply repeating “1-2-3, 1-2-3” to try to keep focused on my rhythm. I struggled a lot nutritionally (perhaps with the warmer temps) but kept bouncing back after 500-700ml of Precision Hydration at each aid station. I’d carry some with me and have a big shooter of it prior to each swim and use the swim as a chance to digest and come good. I can count at least 5 or 6 major blow-ups during the day (the first at just 2hrs in which I wasn’t sure if I’d recover from) plus the final 7-8km was a bit of a struggle combined with major technical terrain to deal with. But soldier on we did and I’m incredibly happy to have finished. Now time to celebrate my 40th birthday!

I felt the best way to write the race report from Monday’s event would be to start by giving you some links to various sub-articles, videos, images and stats from the day to help paint the fuller picture and equally, to possibly entice you to be better informed should you wish to consider undertaking one of these swimrun events as they gain popularity around the world. I then wanted to detail a bit more about the ups and downs of the race, including a few of our own photos, before finishing with a selection of the best official images from the event organisers. So here goes:

Quick Informative Links:

VIDEO: Paul Newsome's video diary about preparation for the 2018 race (0h46m):

ARTICLE: "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone" (discussion of Paul’s preparation, warts and all!):

VIDEO: Paul & Andy’s swimrun kit choice (0h07m):

STATS: Results link:

STATS: Paul and Andy’s GPS file:

VIDEO: Paul and Andy’s race finish video (0h01m):

STATS: Breakdown of distances:

STATS: Google Map of course:

VIDEO: Race Summary video (0h05m):

VIDEO: Live broadcast of the entire event (12h00m):

IMAGES: Complete image library of the event (249 images):

ARTICLE: Official Race Director’s Report (Michael Lemmel):

Paul’s Report:

As discussed in juicy detail in last week’s blog and video, this event meant more to me than simply the performance aspect of completing just another endurance event. In many ways, the sheer magnitude and scale of the challenge has been enough to really rattle my cage and scare me into a full 12 months of dedicated preparation which, with it, has seen me challenge a few demons as I rush headlong towards the milestone that is my 40th birthday next week. Being able to reconnect with an old friend at the same time and then sharing the experience of the training load and the course itself far supersedes anything by way of outright performance on the day. That’s not to say that I wasn’t proud or happy with how we did, far from it in fact (we went 30 minutes quicker than Andy did in 2014 to finish 8th, albeit conditions this year were magical), just simply that the 2018 ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships has helped me finally realise that there is more to sport than simply where you finish or what your time is. This realisation it appears is nothing new for many of the participants of these events, who, like me, could be described as “post-multi-sporterists-seeking-experiences-over-performance”, or some such thing.

20 years in the making - reconnecting with Andy was the best part of the event - the fact we did really well was just an added bonus!

Read and (just about) willing for what lies ahead!

We were up at 3:45am for breakfast followed by a 30 minute ferry ride in complete darkness to the race start on Sandhamn. I was feeling super apprehensive by this stage, mainly because whilst we knew the course layout from the briefing the evening before, it was hard to get a full appreciation of just how gnarly some of the terrain was going to be. Still, the weather looked like it was going to be amazing and everyone seemed to be in very good spirits.

Our GPS trace - all 75km of it! 24 islands traversed by 65km of running and 10km of swimming

We made our way to the front of the queue to get across the start line and managed to position ourselves within the top 50 or so teams. The first section was a 1200m run down to the first swim of 1800m which was controlled with a neutralised start by a 4WD buggy keeping us all at exactly 5:00/km pace. This of course ensured good pacing from the off, or was it simply delaying the chaos that was about to ensue? We felt like a tribe of warriors marching in unison with a distinctly quiet aura about us, everyone concentrating hard not to put a foot wrong and risk being trampled by the stampede behind.

Marching through the first 1200m “neutralised zone”

We got away to a good start on the first swim and were moving up inside the Top-20 teams. An altercation midway through the swim with another swimmer saw a few tempers frayed but we backed off and recomposed in the knowledge that there was plenty of time to make up any lost ground later in the day.

The feeling of that sunrise in those conditions racing against these top athletes... priceless!

The exit from the first swim gave us our first real insight into how challenging the 52 transitions into and out of the water would be. Despite it being very dry, the first few meters up the face of the rocks were like black ice and we’d find ourselves battling with this aspect of the race and losing valuable time all day long. You had to just keep your cool and take your time for fear of slipping and doing yourself a major injury.

The top teams handled the slippery rocks like ninjas! Me on the other hand...

As per the race briefing, it took us the first three or four islands to find our running groove and thankfully prior to the first aid station we found ourselves running on some easier terrain and moving up through the field into 16th position overall.

Throughout the day I seemed to be really craving fluids, so I’m not sure if I was dehydrated prior to the start or it was just the heat generated by running so far in the wetsuit on a warm, dry day, but we made sure to stop and try to fully refuel at each aid station. This saw us losing a lot of valuable time, but the fear was that if we didn’t I would completely implode and not make it around the course.

After just two hours in I was starting to really flag, which on normal trails wouldn’t be a major issue, but on the gnarly rocks it became disastrous as the risk of rolling an ankle was so great. We slowed down significantly at this point and lost a good ten places or so after having found ourselves running alongside the fastest swimmer at the 2016 Ironman World Championships, Harry Wiltshire (who coincidentally was the first swimmer I ever started coaching), and also Petr Vabrousek from the Czech Republic (who is an 80 time Top-10 finisher in Ironman events around the world). My concern of course was “have we gone off too fast?” It certainly didn’t feel like it, but then how many times do I say that to my swimmers? "The correct pace should feel easy”. We dialled it back, but the first seeds of doubt with another 7+ hours ahead started to creep in - would I finish this thing?

Andy pulling me up yet another incline! Check out the concentration / exasperation on my face!

The tactic which I started to employ was two-fold: 1) try to smile a bit more and suck on my own words “life begins on the edge of your comfort zone”; and 2) count out a rhythm “1-2-3, 1-2-3” over and over again - a little like “bubble-bubble-breathe”. I wasn’t speaking much to Andy, just following his lead and trying to stay in the here and now. At one point (about four hours in) Andy said, “how’s life right now mate?” to which I could only mutter under my breath and recognise that no one was forcing me to do this, it was my choice - get on with it, princess!

The original plan was for me to lead each swim and Andy to lead the runs, but after just a few of the longer swims, it became obvious that the best course of action was for me to fuel up with a gel and some fluid immediately before each swim and then use the swim to tether behind Andy so as to digest it as well as possible and to be ready for the next run. This started to really help. Andy was swimming great, and by the time we got to the infamous “Pig Swim” we were starting to really motor, catching up with the leading female team at that point, which contained two Swedish olympic swimmers, Fanny Danckwardt and Desiree Andersson. Life was suddenly good again (to answer Andy’s question), but no sooner did I feel awesome did I hit another rough patch and the whole process started again - feed, tether on the swim, digest and run. I can count at least five or six major blow-ups on the day, but I just had to do everything I could to bounce back. Amazing how fitting my horoscopes were for last weekend in view of all this:

Believe them or not…this is what they said prior to the race start!

Prior to the race and then during the first half, I was super concerned about the half marathon run which occurred about six hours into the event, but as it happens, this turned out to be our strongest part of the race as we caught and passed many teams in front of us to bring us back into the Top-25. This section was only let down by an emergency toilet stop (me) and arguably my biggest implosion of them all. With 800m to go the easier trails we’d been enjoying for 20km suddenly turned brutally rough and technical again which made my legs feel like they’d gone into full bore “shutdown”. Walking this section was our only option and we succumbed to the ultimate female winning team (Annika Ericsson and Kristin Larsson), passing us for the last time. Andy reassured me though that these athletes had won this particular event many times in the past and as such we should be happy with how we were placed. I managed a smile at this point, but only a small one - I was feeling truly wrecked by this stage.

Appearances are deceptive - I’m absolutely smashed at this point leading into the continuous
half marathon run at six hours in.
Here we are preparing for the swim at the end of the half marathon section and over 8hrs into
the race - boy, did that water feel good!

Once we were at the end of the half marathon run, we’d reached the final check-point and were going to make it to the finish (in theory). We were told that we were the 21st male team at this point, but my energy levels were fading rapidly that I wondered how many more places we might lose, especially as the last 7 or 8km were supposed to be the toughest from a technical point of view.

I had begun knocking back the Coke and Red Bulls halfway through the half marathon, craving a little sugar and the sparkle to bring me back to life. The problem was that by the time we got through the half marathon and were swimming away from the largest island on the course, Ornö, I was starting to feel almost like I was hallucinating - I couldn’t feel my face or my hands and started to believe that I might suddenly just come to a grinding halt, no matter how close to the finish we were. Eventually - and with strong persuasion from Andy - we made it onto the last island, Utö, and with only 3km left to run I started to feel hopeful that after nearly nine hours on the go, we would indeed make it. Andy must have been confident that I was coming good at this point as he suggested I unleash from the tether. We did this for no more than about 700m before I begged him to strap me back up again, so as to be towed to the finish. The cruelest blow came in the final 600m as we turned left past the tennis courts and up a 8% incline to the pub at the finish. I nearly shouted out in exasperation at this nasty little final hurdle, but we managed to get up there, just.

With about 20 meters to go my legs finally gave way as I fell onto Andy and had to be literally dragged across the finish line. I was totally and utterly spent and could not go a step further. Our finishing video appears almost comical and looks like I was going in for the world’s longest man-hug, but the reality was that I simply could not hold myself up any longer and was escorted away by the medical team once across the line. The numbness I was feeling in my face meant I wasn’t being very coherent at all and a few have asked what I was saying to Andy in those bromance-looking moments. Whilst it might look like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky crying out “Adrien!” I was simply saying thank you, thank you for everything Andy. And that, as they say, is that.

Remember, you’re only truly living when you’re on the edge of your comfort zone…I dare say that during the 2018 ÖtillÖ Swimrun World Championships I teetered well across that line!


An emotional finish indeed!

45 minutes later
A deserving drop at the finish line!

In Summary:

Things we did well:

• Communication (at least from Andy - I just mumbled and obeyed given my lack of energy at times)
• Pacing
• Positivity - Andy had to keep reminding me that we were right up there with some of the best swimrunners in the world and that we should feel proud of that

Things we could do better:

• Quicker into and out of the water transitions
• Quicker over the really gnarly terrain where we were losing a lot of time
• Quicker through the aid stations

Selected Official Race Images:

A 3:45am ferry ride started the day to escort all 320 athletes to the start at Sandhamn

Swim Smooth Glasgow Coach Alan Cardwell towed the line with his mate Thör

Therese Alshammar (6-time Olympian and 3-time medallist in sprint swimming) was just one of several Olympians competing on the course

320 athletes about to tackle something so mind-blowingly challenging that many of us didn’t really have any idea of just how hard this would be!

We felt like warriors off to war as we marched through the first 1200m “neutralised zone"
Most open water events don’t allow the smallest of jewellery to be worn - here you had 320 athletes with razor-like paddles and shoes to content with - one blow could spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R!

The groups stayed remarkably well bunched on the first 1800m swim - pull buoy and paddles are a great neutraliser for many athletes

Most swim exits were followed by very technical rock sections making it incredibly hard to a) get into a rhythm and b) pass of be passed by others

One of my former University triathlon team mates, Rhian, was competing with her husband, Ben

The support of the locals was amazing - I couldn’t help wonder though how they managed to access all the nooks and crannies we found them in!

Teamed up with top swimmer Therese Alshammar was Swedish hip hop icon, Petter - his music is AWESOME! Check it out here:

Whilst not massively hilly, it wasn’t massively flat either...

...see what I mean!

The scale and magnificence of the landscape was awe-inspiring!

We tussled most of the day with the multiple female World Champions, Annika Ericsson and Kristin Larsson - they got the better of us in the final 5km #kudos

No fear! Some cliff jumping was involved!

Like a millpond! 

One of my favourite sections, through the 3m tall bullrushes!

Another Olympian, Chris Hauth (left) with team mate Frank Karbe from the United States

The very first athlete I ever coached, Harry Wiltshire (right) on his way to an 12th place finish overall. Harry led the Hawaii Ironman World Championships out of the water in 2016 as a nod to the standard of competition at this event

Those greasy rocks! Crawling was the only option on many of the 52 exits!

The rocks were so steep in some sections that abseiling was required!

A brilliant image to capture the teamwork and camaraderie required to conquer this event

You, your mate and nature - this is swimrun!

Andy’s company, Precision Hydration, provided for the fluid needs of all 320 athletes on the course

Monday, September 3, 2018

Paul’s race begins midday (Perth time) Monday 3rd September - here’s how to watch...

Dear Swimmers

Hope you are enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon there in Perth! It's now less than 24hrs before I start the Ötillö World SwimRun Championships in Stockholm Sweden and thought you'd maybe like to have a read of some frank, open and honest words about what it has taken to prepare for this event as well as some additional video showcasing what this extreme sport is all about (regarded as the toughest event on the planet!). 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement over the last 12 months training for this event and equally allowing me time to head away from the squad to follow these pursuits that keep me on the edge of my comfort zone and alive!

You can read the words here:

Which include a link to the special video I created to showcase the event and expand on some of my thoughts building up to the event. 

The race starts at midday Monday 3rd September (Perth time) and is likely to run until 10/11pm (ish!). Here's the live feed which will be excellent by all accounts: