Float, float on……

So, in order to prove my long term commitment to swimming and improving my health, I had a swimming lesson on Wednesday. Dan, ex NZ RAF, National Swimming Champion and all round double hard bastard, ran the rule over my stroke. After a general chat to set the parameters of what I wanted to achieve, I swam a couple of half lengths and Dan pronounced that my stroke had a “nice rhythm”. Which, I believe, is coach shorthand for “everything is pretty ropey except for your rhythm”. My number one priority, particularly as I’m going to be open water swimming, was to be able to breath ‘bilaterally’, ie to both sides, but I also had a feeling that my legs and they way I kicked wasn’t right. Dan quickly confirmed that I was pretty  much using a side kick and that not only was that not helping my stroke overall but was likely to lose me a lot of friends on the day of THE BIG SWIM. There will be a lot of other swimmers around me when I do THE BIG SWIM and they don’t want some numpty thrashing around using a side kick and kicking the shit out of them under the water.

So the rest of the lesson was spent in the company of a kickboard (when did floats become kickboards, eh?) initially helping me just get the feeling of a proper flutter kick and latterly to be used in some drills helping me get the feeling of turning my head to the side to breath, rather than lifting my head out of the water. Those of you swimmers ‘in the know’ will understand that lifting your head to breath is a crime against smooth swimming and basically means that your legs lower in the water and you lose momentum. I won’t bore you with any more detail lest you all get the same glazed eyed expression Mrs Capital had yesterday when I talked her through my technical swimming woes. Let’s just say that the drills I have been given are designed to make me kick properly and be able to breath to both sides, and that I now have an intimate relationship with my very own float. It’s melancholy eyes (see photo below) have matched my mood as I’ve gone from being able to swim lengths seemingly at ease to feeling like my 12 year old self at Barracuda Swimming Club in Morden Baths.

My melancholy float :-(

My melancholy float 😦

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve been following the plan from Dan, doing my drills every day until they become easier and more natural, and I even swam a whole length this morning trying to incorporate all the changes into my stroke. And you know what? It felt great, my body felt like it was working together much more and my whole stroke felt much, much smoother. Whether I’m actually swimming ‘better’ may have to wait until the next time I see Dan but I certainly feel things are heading in the right direction. You will notice that there is no spreadsheet in today’s post, mainly because for the short term at least my focus is on technique not fitness and churning out the lengths. Since I last blogged I have managed a 20 length swim in the Lido (in 11 degree water) so I’m fairly relaxed about that side of things for now, after all THE BIG SWIM is still over 3 months away. So tomorrow and at least the next week probably I’ll be developing my relationship with my float and working on my stroke, once I’m happy with that then I’ll concentrate on making sure I’ll be able to swim the full 3km. To sign off, here are the important numbers to date…..

Longest swim – 2000 yards (1828m)

Money Raised to date – £1,208.34 (£1,464.18 incl Gift Aid)

Money to raise to hit target – £1,791.66

Days until THE BIG SWIM – 110

Donate here – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=RichardCudlip


Plodding along


Hammy the Hamster ready to train

Another week, another swimming update. Having finally joined South London Swimming Club all my swimming is now in the Lido so, of course, the weather has got worse. My first swim this week was in a balmy 14 degrees but by Thursday we were back to 12 degrees. If you haven’t experienced swimming in a cold water pool, that sort of temperature is classed as “brass monkeys”, just above “fucking freezing” but not quite “ball aching”. Definitely need to work on my breathing and getting used to those first couple of lengths, even tried breathing to both sides this morning but that was a complete failure. Anyway, I did manage 18 lengths on Friday at my plodding pace (a shade under 44 mins) so overall very happy with my progress. As for the fundraising, that is certainly way ahead of schedule with the total as of this morning £1,078.34. So that initial target is smashed already and I’m very hopeful that the new one of £3k is achievable, huge thanks to all who have donated thus far.

Here is the all important spreadsheet….

And if you haven’t donated yet and wish to do so…………


Swimming the knowledge

Well, not quite. But you can’t be me if you don’t relate pretty much everything you do to the knowledge, being a cab driver or London generally. So it was with some joy that I noticed that the amount I have swum in training this week was roughly the same as the first blue book run on the Knowledge, the infamous Manor House Station to Gibson Square.

These are the little things that will keep me focused and motivated over the next 4 and a half months, because I spent ages thinking about doing this thing, wondering what the response will be and then you just do it and get a bit overwhelmed. Having only decided last Sunday to do the Human Race Poole Swim the response in the following few days was great. An email from my older sister (mum to Luke who this is partly about) telling me off for making her cry, first generous donation from a friend I shared a house with 25 years ago, 2 extremely generous donations from friends of my sister in the US, a decision by me to sell some unused technology and put proceeds to ‘the cause’. Already, my target of £1,000 was looking foolishly on the low side. So a quick decision to really try and push this and the target has gone to £3,000, £1k per charity.

So now this is all building up and got way past the changing my mind stage, I’m going to need to track what I’m doing. Get things in order to make sure I personally stay on track. Any excuse for a spreadsheet. My wife joked earlier in the week that I’d need a swimming training spreadsheet. Well, she was about 2 days late with that one. That spreadsheet has now expanded to show how much I’ve swum in training and how much you lot have helped me raise.  And, obviously, I’m sharing all of this with you. Here are the important (to me at least) numbers to date;

And this is the daddy spreadsheet. Don’t judge, these things make me happy.

And if this nudges any of you to donate, here is the link for that;



I’m a complex, contrary chap so I have complex reasons for doing this thing, please bear with me while I try and explain what & why.

So I’ve entered this, a 3km swim in the sea at the end of September. For a 45 year old taxi driver who has been far less active over the past few years than he should be, this is no small matter. I could simply say that I need to swim more, but that would far too simple an answer. It’s a part of it, no doubt about it, but it’s actually a fairly minor reason. Want I really want to do is raise some money for charity by doing something that will hopefully make me a healthier person not just for a while but for the rest of my life. Why it’s taken me quite this long to get round to doing something like this is a discussion for another day, for now let me explain my motivation and talk about the people that have inspired me to take the plunge (terrible pun intended).

I will be raising money for 3 charities because there are 3 main inspirations compelling me to do this thing; British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and Scoliosis UK. You can donate via my Virgin Money page here.

First charity is British Heart Foundation because this coming January I will turn 46, the same age as my Dad when he died of a heart attack. Sobering stuff and a big factor in my commitment to be healthier, fitter and a bit less of an idiot about my health. Like me my Dad was a sports nut who would attempt anything, but specialised in rugby with his police pals and in later life attempted to turn himself into a centre forward for the police 10th XI football team. Think Andy Carroll, but without the skill or pace. I want to do something as a bit of a hat tip to him and, as you’ll see, I want to do something that recognises the fantastic grandchildren that he sadly never met.

I’m not part of a large family but those that I’ve got are all pretty special. A mum who seems like some sort of force of nature determined to live life in retirement with a zest & vigour that occasionally leaves me spinning in her wake. I’ve got an amazing wife who not only tolerates me but did this thing called giving birth which gave us the Cabbette (real name Esme) about whom I will speak more later. 2 brilliant sisters, in laws of the brother, sister, mother & father variety who are all on the right side of sane and finally 2 nephews (Luke and James) and a niece (Lily) who are all special beyond words. I am lucky to have all these people in my life, but it’s the younger generation that are my inspiration for doing this and are the ones that I hope will encourage you to dig deep into your pockets. So get ready for the big money pitch.

Those of you who know me, or followed me for a while on Twitter, will know that the health of 2 of the aforementioned children hasn’t been perfect, he says with crushing British understatement. In 2010 my nephew Luke was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent a gruelling course of radiation and chemotherapy to try and reduce the size of the cancer as it was too big to operate on. This vital, happy, sensitive boy became a shadow of his former self physically but remained stronger than you can imagine to fight the cancer and ultimately beat it. He remains in remission and is an inspiration to all those that know him. For him alone, the least I can do is thrash around in the sea for an hour to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

But, just in case I needed an extra nudge, my daughter Esme was diagnosed with Scoliosis just about a year ago. You can read about what scoliosis is here, but in short it is a curvature of the spine that seems to particularly affect young girls as they reach puberty. After thinking that Esme’s back looked a bit ‘wrong’ we took her to the Doctor and she was quickly diagnosed with a 40 degree ‘S curve’. Initially the prognosis was quite low key and as Esme was in no pain it was decided that her spine just needed ‘monitoring’. After further x-rays and referrals to the spinal specialists it was determined that Esme’s curve was severe enough that surgery was the only way to correct it. The surgery itself is a major op and Esme was still largely unaffected by the condition so there was no urgency to make any decision. But, unfortunately, that has not remained the case and as Esme’s curve has worsened the pain has increased and the decision to have the surgery has almost been made for us. So Esme is on the waiting list and will hopefully have the op some time in the summer as she’ll need 6 weeks to recover fully enough to return to school. It’s a major op on the spine, and contains all the horrible risks that any spinal surgery has. So a worrying time for all of us, but with a positive long term prognosis we know it’s the right thing to do. We have found Scoliosis UK extremely helpful as we try and find out more about Esme’s condition so they are the 3rd charity I’m collecting for.

So, what else can a chunky, middle aged taxi driver do? He can get off his lazy arse, do some proper training and try to raise as much money for charity as possible. And that, dear reader, is where you come in. I’ve no idea what a realistic target is for me to raise but as I’m trying to help 3 charities I thought about £300 each would be great so have put a target of £1000 on my Virgin Money page. But I’ll take whatever you can give, large or small donations. Thanks in advance and all that….

Donate here – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RichardCudlip