Tag Archives: Swimming

Scout camp

Scout camp by Andrew Gills
Scout camp, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Canoes, kayaks, a pontoon and a large dam. What more could a Scout troop need on a warm autumn weekend.

After an hour setting camp, the seven Scouts and three Leaders who came on camp hit the water in canoes and kayaks. Within an hour everyone was in the water and the first canoe had been purposefully flipped for the day.

With all but one of our Scout troop being 11 years old, shennanigans like tipping people out of boats are still the order of the day. And we Leaders weren’t exempt from being sent swimming.

The pontoon was also popular for climbing on, rocking, jumping off and removing each other from it. Again, the Leaders were not exempt from being helped off the pontoon.

By the time we lit the campfire, most of us had been in the water for about six hours. After a meal of tacos and burritos, we enjoyed a few hours sitting around the campfire. It was an informal campfire, so mostly I just listened to the Scouts talking and scaring each other with stories.

It was a day of laughter, swimming and fun. Just what I needed.

I had to leave at the end of the day because Whoops Witch Way have an adventure race tomorrow.


Morning swim

Morning swim by Andrew Gills
Morning swim, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I am rediscovering the joys of swimming. I suspect part of the rediscovery is related to summer really kicking into gear now, with overnight temperatures in the mid-twenties (Celcius), and daytime temperatures well and truly sitting in the thirties. There’s little more inviting than the clear water of a swimming pool. Even for me, someone who likes to get my feet wet but prefers the rest of me to stay dry.

This morning I swam at Mum’s house. I did a short 1,100m session, which only took about 20 minutes. I guess it’s a recovery session. I swam:

  • 300m freestyle warm up using my pull buoy
  • 200m catch-up freestyle drill
  • 100m breast stroke
  • 200m freestyle
  • 100m open water drill (six strokes head under water, six strokes head above water)
  • 100m breast stroke
  • 100m freestyle using pull buoy.

I focused on turning my hips when I breath and on having a strong underwater pull. The session felt good.

Given that the only swimming event I have coming up is the 400m swim leg of a triathlon that I’m doing as a team with a friend, I don’t have to stress too much about distance in swimming training. I just need to turn my arms over and enjoy the cool, clean water.

Total: 1,100m swim

S is for Summer and Summer is for Swimming

Sunday swim by Andrew Gills
Sunday swim, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Wow! Free masters swim coaching for all-comers. And the classes take place twice a week. All you pay is the $5 pool entry and then the coach will tailor a session specifically to your goals. How wonderful!

This morning I attended the Redlands Masters Swimming session at Cleveland Aquatic Centre. It was wonderful. Coach Alan tailored sessions for each of his groups of swimmers of varying ages, abilities and goals. Those who were learning to swim also had access to a separate coach in the shallower 25m pool who could give them private instruction while more advanced swimmers completed their sets. If I hadn’t been there to experience this fantastic community initiative, I wouldn’t have believed it.

My friends are training for their first sprint distance triathlon next weekend so I fit in with them. I told Coach Alan about my sacroiliac joint injury and that I’m just this week returning to exercise after a lengthy break. At his suggestion, I used a pull buoy for my 300m warm up to reduce the pressure on my back caused by kicking. It worked and I felt strong as I glided through the water.

After our warm up, Coach Alan gave us all some tips rolling from the hips when we breath. Everyone in our little group of five swimmers was at a different stage of technique development but even for those of us a bit more experienced, the tips were wonderful. We then did some navigation swimming where we swam six strokes without breathing then six strokes with our heads above water. The Coach told us to shorten our stroke when swimming with our heads up and it helped a lot. I found this exercise comfortable.

We then did some drafting and pack swimming exercises. This was a load of fun and we probably did 500m of drafting in a V before doing four 25m pack sprints where we experienced the kicking, hitting and thrashing that is normal at the start of a triathlon.

We finished with some bilateral breathing exercises in which I focused on gliding and taking my breathing roll from the hips. My friends were then sent off to tread water for a while to learn some techniques that will help them conserve energy while waiting for the deep water start to their race. The Coach suggested I sit the exercise out because it would likely set my back off. It showed his professionalism, experience and interest in his swimmers that he would remember that I was injured out of the whole 20-odd swimmers he was looking after.

We swam for an hour and probably covered 1,000 – 1,200m (I lost count). While the distance wasn’t great, the quality was excellent. I think I got more out of this morning’s session than any of the long swims I did alone last triathlon season. I will be back.

Total: 1hour swim

‘Bayside Runners and Swimmers’

Image courtesy of vorakorn / Freedigitalphotos.net

I’m part of the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers. It’s a social running and walking group here in the Redlands area of Brisbane. I started running with the group in August 2011 and love being part of the family atmosphere.

With the running season coming to an end, there are more and more people from the group hitting the pool. This morning I turned up to find three blokes from the group already gliding through the water. It felt good to have someone to say ‘hello’ to before starting my session. To me, the social element of training makes a big difference.

Set Swimming
Warm up 400m alternating freestyle and breaststroke
Drills 100m pull buoy100m catch up

100m pull buoy

100m one-arm freestyle

Main 800m medium pace with fartlek (8 x 25m sprints)
Exercise 400m freestyle kick
Cool down 100m freestyle100m breaststroke

The 800m swim was the farthest I have swum continuously so I was pleased with my effort, especially because I was able to do the 25m sprints throughout the set.

Total: 2.2km swim

Back in the pool


Okay, so I took the photo last year before my underwater camera broke, but it’s one of my favourite photos and seemed appropriate.

I hadn’t swum since April or May so had forgotten how beautiful it is to watch the sunrise through the water droplets falling from my arms. There wasn’t barely a thin glowing orange line on the horizon when I slid into the pool at 5:45am. By the time I finished my warm up, it had spread to a broad orange and yellow band that I could look at every time I breathed on the eastern side of the pool. By my main set the big ball of orange came into view over my right shoulder and I enjoyed the sensation of it’s warmth spreading over the water. By the time I got out of the pool just before 7am the sun was high in the sky above the palm trees. Perhaps I should count myself fortunate for being injured or I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this start to my day.

As for the swimming itself, it went really well. I think it’s one of the longest sessions I’ve done, which shows how much my fitness and mental toughness have improved since I started long distance running. Last May, when I was training for triathlon, I found it physically and mentally tough to swim 1,500m – 2,000m sessions. However, this morning I found the distance and duration of the session comfortable. I actually looked forward to it, rather than counting down the laps.

I completed my first 1,800m by about 6:30am but then my running friends all started turning up to the pool so the remaining 400m took almost 30 minutes because I just had to stop and say hello to everyone as they arrived. That’s the only thing I don’t like about swimming: you can’t hold a conversation with your head underwater (though I did try).

Set Activities
Warm up 400m easy alternating freestyle and breaststroke.
Drills 400m alternating:

  • catch-up
  • one-arm freestyle stroke
  • 5-stroke breathing
Main 2 x 400m freestyle medium pace
Exercises 400m kicking:

  • 100m breaststroke
  • 300m freestyle
Cool down 200m slow freestyle

Total: 2.2km swim

A morning swim

My running friends went to the pool this morning so I decided to join them. Yes, it does seem strange to go swimming with running friends, but it’s definitely more pleasant than swimming alone.

Warm up: 500m freestyle

Main set:

  • 500m as 50m kick, 50m pull
  • 5 x 100m as 50m fast, 50m recovery with 10 seconds between each

Cool down: 500m freestyle

Total: 2km

Getting strong in the water

Somehow I force my body into the cold water. The onset of our Brisbane winter comes as a shock after the luxury of swimming in an ocean that felt like bathwater up in Karratha over the weekend. Sure, it doesn’t get frosty here but the water temperature has definitely dropped in the past week since I last swam.

Once in the water I feel a slight sense of panic as the cold grabs me so I push quickly through the water for the first 25m of my 300m warm up. My arms are slightly numb by the time I reach the middle of my second lap of the 25m pool but I tell myself to harden up and relax. It’s just the right pep-talk to get me swimming properly again. I complete my warm up without incident.

My main set today is 10 x 150m with 20 seconds rest at 50m easy, 50m race pace and 50m maximum effort. I feel strong in the water as I complete my first two repeats. And then, as I head down the pool for my third repeat I see the beautiful huge big ball of orange light rise from the eastern horizon as I breath. The site is magical and I draw strength from the rising sun. By the time I have completed my main set the sun is shining brightly in the morning sky and the birds singing their morning tunes loudly.

I am puffed from the exertion but feel happy as I set off on my 200m cool down. I swim it as 25m breast stroke and 25m easy freestyle.

I have decided to start using my heart rate monitor when I run and cycle. It came with the Garmin Edge 800 I won back in August but I’ve never used it because I didn’t know how. Not only did I not know how to use the HRM but I also didn’t know why I would want to. I have recently finished reading The Outdoor Athlete by Courtney and Doug Schurmann and it included an excellent explanation of the importance and effect of zone training.

There is a plethora of formulas available to calculate heart rate zones. I have decided simply to use the Schurmanns’ formula because I’m hoping to use their training plan to do some hiking training in the coming year:

MHR = 208 – (0.7 * age) = 186

HHR = MHR – RHR (48) = 138

Recovery = <65% HHR = <90bpm

Distance = 65% – 75% HHR = 90 – 104bpm

Tempo = 75% – 85% HHR = 104 – 118bpm

Interval = 85% – 95% HHR = 118 – 132bpm

Max = 95% – 100% HHR = 132 – 138bpm


Total: 2,000m swim