Keyvan’s 14k swim for Alzheimers – Update 12

A note to self….”Next time you befriend anyone near the lake, do your research work beforehand, bro!”…. Find out 2 things before it is too late:

  1. How fast do they normally swim?
  2. Are they signed up for any competitions that may not fall in line with your own timeline?

Point 1. Having been swimming with Nicola the Mermaid-come-Torpedo for the past 5 weeks, I have come to learn how fast she is in the water. There are the occasional teasings, where she stays on my shoulder for 800-1000m and as soon as I gain some confidence in my pace and stamina….Boom…. I am left for dust! But I have got used to it and her speed has helped me to push much harder and go much faster than I would normally do.

Point 2. A few days ago, Nicola announced that she (I heard ‘we’) shall be doing a 6K over the next week or so, which left a little perplexed. After all, the 14K Henley swim marathon is 3 months away. Plenty of time to build endurance and distance. Why rush it? Other folks swimming the same event are currently doing around 4K. Nicola responded, “Oh no, Keyvan. I have the Jubilee 10K event in 4 weeks’ time”. So, I am training with someone who is faster and is working on a different training plan than the one I had in mind! A big gulp moment!

6K Swim

So here we are, Saturday morning, 7:15 by the lake, warming up and getting ready for the longest swim of my life, by 1.5K!

First big lap (1,800m) is cold and slow. Goggles steaming up. No sunlight so I am having difficulty spotting the Torpedo who is a fair distance away by now.

Second big lap is much better. Seems faster. Goggles are clear. She is on my shoulder….just teasing me! 800m in, and she is gone. Fortunately, unbeknown to her, I can cut the corners ever so slightly and surprise her by ending up next to her and drafting to the end of the lap! A further lap of the 750m course and we have been in the water for 1hr 20min and swam around 4.3K; and despite the water temperature (15.1 °c) at its highest so far this year, it is blooming cold!

Power Ball time

Food and drink break, where the power balls come into play. These are made by  mashing up the following ingredients. You can check out a funny video of Paul Newsome (Founder and Head Coach at Swim Smooth) making these in his kitchen:

  • Fresh dates – 3 or 4 pitted
  • Dried apricots, pears or apples – small handful
  • Dried figs – 3 or 4
  • Desiccated coconut (small handful)
  • Dried cranberries (small handful)
  • Almonds (handful)
  • Cashew or walnuts (handful)
  • Chia seeds (sprinkle)
  • Paleo protein mix (sprinkle)
  • Cacao nibs (sprinkle)
  • Pumpkin kernels (handful)
  • Pea & brown rice protein powerful (a shake)
  • Optional UCAN super-starch
  • Coconut cream (1-2 tablespoons)

I am reliably informed they are elephant testicle size and need to be reduced in size!

A quick bite to eat and we are off on the third and final run of the big loop. I must say, I feel very cold through the whole lap and hoping not to lose sight of the Mermaid as I would be in trouble losing pace and the appetite to continue. Fortunately, either Nicola is tiring or I am not dropping too much pace and we end the session not too far apart.


Been at home for a few hours and feel like a zombie. Good job we have 90 mins pool training session tomorrow to loosen up the body for another bashing by the Torpedo next week!

 Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society

I am training for the Henley-on-Thames 14K swim marathon and the Dart 10K this year, while attempting to raise £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Society. You can donate toward this amazing charity via JustGiving:

I am grateful for all your support and thanks very much for reading.

Keyvan Shirnia

By Daniel Swann