Nope - nothing to do with Kevin Costner with his gills and flipper feet in Waterworld, though I feel like I'm getting more wrinkly as I'm spending so much time in the water or poolside.

This post is about some of the super challenges being undertaken by clients and that I'm currently engaged with, taking me into pools, lidos and (very briefly) even the sea.

One of these is with a young, up and coming paratriathlete, Phil who came for a Swim Analysis back in December.  He'd been told that if he could show a significant improvement in his swimming he would be considered for the GB Paralympic Talent Squad as he was already an awesome runner and cyclist.  We did a session working together on his technique and I wrote a Swim Forward Plan and sample sessions to work on to prepare for the trial - which at that point we thought would be in February.

Phil began working on the suggestions I'd made and also once a week attended our Tri Club swims.  Then the trial was brought forward a month, leaving even less time.  Enormous credit to Phil he shaved off 1min 14secs on his 400m time, enough to be successfully selected.  How brilliant is that?!

He now receives a super level of guidance from the GB paratriathlon coaching team at Loughborough and I am supporting him as his swim coach.  Last month we did another Swim Analysis session and I've drawn up a plan that takes us through a block dedicated to further work on the technique, then into a build up to peak for the big championships in the Summer.  Watch this space - its going to be exciting!

Yesterday I saw another client with a very different challenge but with a similar prescription.  Rudi is part of a relay team preparing to swim the English Channel in August and came to me saying he was stuck at the same speed, some way off the pace of his team mates.  It seemed to me, as with Phil, changing the technique would unlock not just speed but the ability to keep going through whatever the Channel might throw at him.  So I've prescribed a similar block of technique focused work before working on the endurance and open water skills.

photo by Graham Wynne from  the Outdoor Swimming Society

photo by Graham Wynne from the Outdoor Swimming Society

Staying with the theme of brilliant challenges, I'm also supporting three wonderful women prepare for the 6km Bantham Swoosh in July.  One of these is my partner Anne, pretty much new to swimming and plunging in to what must be one of the most scenic, beautiful big river swims going.  Emily and Annemarie have done it before and helped inspire Anne to go for it.  What an adventure it will be and an amazing example to other women of what can be achieved with self-belief and a dedicated focus: these women can.  And how to prepare?  You guessed it - technique followed by gradually building endurance and open water practice.

Another inspiring woman is a lady who came to me wanting to learn front crawl so she could be as active as the rest of her young family.  Its lovely to be able to take the approach that whatever might have been done before can be put aside and we start learning something entirely new that happens to be called front crawl.  Good on you Adele!  There's a swimmer in you waiting to come out.

More to do with liberation and pure enjoyment than any sporting challenge, I also have my regular Level Water sessions, teaching children with disabilities to swim.  I'm also coaching our TriStars Sunday mornings whenever I can fit it in.

So a terrific mix of ages, aspirations and abilities.  Who would have thought swimming could hold such a richness of wonderful challenges?

And my own stuff?  I'm reasonably well into training for the Isles of Scilly Otillo SwimRun in June.  I keep telling myself I need to lose weight to run faster - though maybe there'll be a balance to find with being insulated for the cold.  Actually, now I think about it, I could have the blubber of a walrus and it'll still be shockingly cold.

In preparation I've managed a few very short dips in the sea and will try and brave myself for more now the sea is at its coldest.  That way as it slowly warms up it might feel less intimidating.  And to break the monotony of swimming up and down the local 25m pool, once a month my SwimRun partner, Rose and I are visiting lidos: the Baltic Brockwell Lido where I suspect we spent more time in the sauna than in the water, a warmer Charlton Lido and Guildford to come.

Anne at the start of Swoosh training (in warmer times)

Anne at the start of Swoosh training (in warmer times)