Keyvan’s 14k swim for Alzheimers – Update 16

Picture this. 6:30 am. No breeze. No waves. No one around. No one in the water. Just the late dawn chorus. A duck and 5 chicks nearby. Two swans to the far left. And we step in.

The night before:

Make power balls….check.

Soak yourself in electrolyte….check.Blog 17 (6 of 6).jpg


Watch a few Swim Smooth videos. The catch. The damn catch.

Morning breaks. 4:30. Can’t sleep. Excitement, come anxiety is taking hold.

Drink more electrolyte. Drink coffee…Wake up!


Nasal spray….check.

Stretch…. check.

Wetsuit on ….check.


Picture this.

Steam coming off the water, weaving its way up very gently. Five feet up. Clouds breaking and sun trying to find a way in. And we start on a 7-8K swim. Head down. First and second buoys Blog 17 (1 of 6).jpggo by quickly. Too quickly. Takes a good while, say 200 meters, before I find the right rhythm. It is tough judging the pace for long distances, particularly when swimming with a faster swimmer. The CSS and Red Mist sessions  are supposed to embed the right pace for the right distance in our heads. But what is the right pace for 7K? Never swam that far. Theory says my 7-10K is pace is around 1min 50s per 100 meters. But how can you tell?

Through lots of experimentation, I have found that for me, it all comes down to the stroke rate and how hard I am breathing. I can now tell what pace I am going at by the speed at which I have to breath.

3 breaths to the left, 3 to the right = 1:50/100m pace.
2 to the left and 2 to the right = 1:45/100m.
Just to the right = 1:37-1:40/100m. Too fast.

But I am too thick to remember this rule and so, every time I figure it out once I start to breath hard!

1800m lap done. Lap 2 done. I don’t dare think about anything else; other than the catch, the pull through and the breathing….oh and the sighting. Plenty to keep me occupied.

Lap 3. The mind starts to drift. The sun is out. The steam has gone. The flat surface has disappeared. The blinding low sun is obscuring the buoys. One minute I am within touching distance of Nicola the Mermaid-come-Torpedo; next minute she is a few meters further away. Lapse of concentration for just 5 seconds. She is gone. On shorter swims I try to stay with her, but today….forget it. I have a plan and I need to stick to it. 3 to the left, 3 to the right!

Lap 4. The shoulders are tired. The catch is not as effective as it was. The pull is much weaker now. And the real battle in the head starts.

Make a left….Go to the shore. You’ve done enough. The water’s too wet. You’re getting cold. The sun is too bright. You have no more energy left.What are you cooking for dinner? The wetsuit is gonna fall apart.

On occasions, I find that swearing under water helps for a while, but then I am just fighting the thoughts that are only getting stronger and louder….while I get weaker.

So a change of strategy is in order. I recently discovered that by focusing on the Javelin drill and focusing on breathing for just 10 strokes in moments such as these, I start to gain some control. The movement feels a little like sitting low in a rowing boat, head rested on the side only inches above the water, while looking at the little splashes of water travelling by quickly. Spray, white foam and movement. Once I find myself in that frame of mind, the rest of the body just falls into a rhythm. Listening to the repetitive beeping sound from my tempo trainer hiding under my cap, while focusing on the javelin.

7.5K and 2 hours 16 mins later (8+K for for Nic), we are high-fiving each other followed by a tired hug. We might be smiling, but our tired faces tell a different story.

Later next day I find out that the reason a 10k swim is called a marathon is that loosely speaking, every kilometre of swimming is equivalent to 4K of running, which went a long way in explaining why both Nicola and I felt so exhausted!

Cotswold 113

There are some several hundred amazing athletes competing in the Cotswold 113 Tri event held at Lake 32 on June 4th. Earlier today, we had the opportunity of swimming with many of them, as they prepared for their big event tomorrow.

As Dawnie put it very articulately, “Good luck to all you 113ers tomorrow. Utter madness to spoil a good swim IMHO but whatever floats your boat“!


Building up the swimming distances


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