Sunday, 1 November 2009

#winter swim

I fear that I might be about to create a monster! A week or so ago I was chatting away with my great Iron-buddies Ben and Ove and looking for a little motivational nudge to ramp things up over the winter came up with the idea of a handicapped swim competition between the three of us. Me being me though I couldn't help posting it on Twitter and Facebook and within 24 hours was receiving messages of interest from people I'd never ever heard of from all round the world! So, here we are then, I'm a little pushed for time this evening but promised I'd get some details out by the morning...

The bottom line...

Swim 400 metres as fast as you can by midnight next Sunday and Tweet the time using the hashtag #winterswim. All updates regarding the competition will be Tweeted by me via using the hashtag #winterswim.

The details...

One of my all-time favourite training quotes, which I heard whilst listening to one of the great IM Talk podcast series, is that athletes should 'train as hard as they can consistently train'. There are two key words in that sentence and these, in order to importance, are 1) consistently and 2) hard. Ironically these are two things that most people typically fail to achieve between November and February (inclusive), preferring to waddle through the winter months with the odd splash in the pool, an occasional cafe ride and perhaps a couple conversational jogs to get them out of the house. But... as my Ironman compadre Mr Jevon O'Neill keeps reminding me... 'Champions are made in the winter'... but, and this is where it's at... only if they train consistently... and hard (not hardly)! So, I'll leave you to your own devices re the bike and run but the  chances are you're a triathlete and if so there's an even greater chance that your idea of a winter swim is 5 x 100 with fins, paddles and a pull buoy (read lazy boy) so for the next four months prepare to become a swim champion!

When we're talking swimming, 'little and often' just doesn't cut it, 'hard and often' does however so from this point on you'll be required to swim a max effort timed swim at least once every two weeks. We'll work in two week blocks, which for those of you a little slow on the social networking uptake means you only have seven days to swim your first timed effort (400 TT) which will then act as your baseline time from which swim number two will be measured.


The initial base times must be submitted by midnight on Sunday the 8th of November (UK time) and will consist of a max effort 400 metre swim. Once base times are submitted, many already have been, they will be converted into a percentage of the current Olympic record for that person's gender. This figure will then become your handicap and subsequent performances will be measured against it. I will then host these somewhere on the internet (to be sorted this week sometime) so that they can be accessed at any time by any of the entrants. The person who improves the most, in relation to their best previous performance, each time will win the most points (not decided how many yet) and whoever has the most points at the end of the season will earn the right to call themselves the CHAMPION! Note: I've already had a few 'that's unfair' moans... the bottom line is if you do a flat out timed effort every other week from now until April I pretty much guarantee you'll arrive next summer in the best swim shape of your life and if that isn't a bargain I don't know what is!

Dates and deadlines...

Oct 26 to Nov 8 - 400 metres (baseline time)

Nov 9 to Nov 22 - 100 metres

Nov 23 to Dec 6 - 400 metres

Dec 7 to Dec 20 - 200 metres

Dec 21 to Jan 3 - 400 metres

Jan 4 to Jan 17 - 800 metres

Jan 18 to Jan 31 - 400 metres

Feb 1 to Feb 14 - 1500 metres

Feb 15 to Feb 28 - 400 metres

'Bonus events for the Bonkers'

Mar 1 to Mar 14 - 3,800 metres (Ironman distance)

Mar 15 to Mar 28 - 400 metres

Mar 29 to Apr 11 - 10,000 metres (Olympic OW distance)


  • Swims can be done in any type of pool and you are welcome to change from one swim to the next i.e. from short course to long.
  • ALL swim aids that would not be permitted in an Olympic final are deemed illegal, so certainly no flotation devices, paddles etc. If someone could let me know if Mr Phelps would be allowed a Wetronome or similar device in 2012 then we can make a ruling on those little fellas.
  • All correspondence must go through Twitter under the hashtag #winterswim - if you don't know how to do that then Google it, it's not rocket science and I don't have time to utilise the many different forms of messaging available.
  • Times must be tweeted under #winterswim by midnight on the final Sunday of each block, late efforts will not be accepted.
  • As we've already said, this is all about consistency throughout the winter, once enrolled any missed swim will result in immediate disqualification from the entire competition - you have been warned!
  • Late entries to the competition will be accepted, although you're first event will only act as a base line time.
That's about it for now, please forward this to as many people as possible, #winterswim is a fully inclusive event, handicapped in favour of novice swimmers and designed to keep all of us on the freestyle straight and narrow until the sun once more shines!

See you in the pool,



Little monkey said...

Hi Tom,

Approaching this as a 'swimmer who wants to do a 1/2 iron'...

The Masters' swimming calendar anually peaks at the end of October with the national champs. I competed 3 events at that competition last weekend so my current swim fitness is kind of near its peak. A fortnightly swim improvement over the winter doldrums - that might therefore be tricky. But hell to it, nice challenge Tom!

I keep saying to people that my swimming is better simply because of the running miles, so why not up the pool targets in a vague attempt to help the bike & run!

Set up the google spreadsheet, graphs & stats, & let battle commence. See you in the pool!

Tor x

Little monkey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Hi Tom,

I'm interested to hear your plans for next year involving the Outlaw. Specifically since you'll qualify for Kona at Lanzarote will you train/peak for the outlaw and race it or use it as a training day or a long swim bike?

Just interested.


Tom said...


Great to have you on board... looks like you'll have some decent competition as well ;)


Great question and something that I've been putting a lot of thought into recently... will write something up as this week's blog.