Just over ten days to go before my big swim, the Dart 10km and I’ve got them ol’ tapering blues: a nervous, twitchiness about whether I’ve done enough, whether one last big session is needed and worrying about all sorts of minor details.

Stepping back though, two things stand out: first, I’ve pretty much kept to a good, adaptable plan, gradually building up the distances and the frequency; second its the fund raising that could do with a final big push, not the training!  So this post is partly to reflect on and put in place pre-event jitters and partly an unashamed last push for sponsorship… please.

 Weir Wood

Weir Wood

On the training side, I’ve been surprised at how quickly I was able to build up from my longest swim back in mid June at the Arun 3.8km; to endless lengths at the brilliant, spring water fed Pells Pool; to very early Saturday morning and Tuesday evening swims at Weir Wood, courtesy of Aldo and Becky and their team, week by week building up to swimming for over 2 ½ hours; and finally three weeks ago doing a great 5-3-1 event at Ardingly Reservoir, thanks to Paul Hedger and Mid Sussex Tri Club.  And we’re lucky to live just three minutes by flip flop from the beach at Shoreham where I’ll be jumping in shortly.  As the photos show, these are all such beautiful places to swim.

 Pells Pool

Pells Pool

I’ve also been greatly helped by friend and expert sport massage therapist Leanne, regularly unknotting my rhomboids and rotator cuff.

So why the doubts and jitters?  I guess any new event, going beyond what we’ve done before, leaves us anxious about whether we are really able to do it.  Just a few weeks ago I was having conversations on exactly the same theme with two athletes I’d been coaching for their first ironmen.  And as is often said, we ought to have some degree of excitement and nervousness before a big challenge, otherwise it would hardly be worth all that preparation and effort.

Something I encourage those I coach for big challenging events is to set layered objectives or aims, more often than not with a fast target time only as the highest level aim, the others focusing more on feeling and fulfilment.  It helps make success less of an all or nothing trial and thereby eases some of the pre-event jitters.

 First long swim in the programme - doesn't seem so far now

First long swim in the programme - doesn't seem so far now

Keeping a training log is also so helpful.  This doesn’t just mean downloading data into Strava – it means having a simple record of each session, maybe capturing how it felt and reflecting on progress each week.  Looking back at my log I can see that, despite the niggling doubts and feeling that I haven’t done enough, in fact I’ve put in some solid, consistent training.  (I also have the fact that I’m bulging out of my shirts to reassure myself that I’m stronger than before!)

And so to the fund raising.  This is where I could really do with an extra push and some help.

So far I’ve had generous donations that have taken me up to just below half of my target to raise £1,000 for Level Water.  This is a special Para Olympic Legacy Charity that provides support for disabled children to learn to swim.  Big, big thanks to those who have already donated.  And a request, especially to those who I may have helped with their swim, coaching at Brighton Tri Club or Horsham Amphibians or through ZigZag Alive: please go to the Just Giving page and donate. It would be so good going into the event next Sunday knowing not just that I’ve done some great training but I’ll have also had the support from you all for such a great cause.

Watch out for the race reports!