the last Strokes

This will be my final entry on this site – if you want to carry on reading my thoughts then you can do so at my new blog.

There are two last things for me to do before signing off and these are to confirm my final sponsorship total of £640.50 (plus a bit more from Gift Aid) and to show off my completion certificate and prize towel (actually I was sent two towels by mistake but given that I lost one towel part way through the challenge perhaps this is only fair!). So, here is a photo of me with my towel and certificate and just to add to the fun I thought I would put on my Aspire Channel Swim swimming cap (which I didn’t wear whilst swimming). Thanks to everyone who supported my efforts and thanks to anyone who has read about them. Writing this blog was one of the key things that kept me going…



February 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm 1 comment


I have finally got round to scanning in the congratulations card and certificate given to me on completion of my swim by my daughters and so, as promised in the last but one blog entry, here are the pictures. First, this is the front of the Congratulations card made for me by my elder daughter…

Congratulations Card Front

… and this is the inside front cover showing me before, during and after my swimming efforts…

Congratulations Card inside

Finally, here is the certificate made for me by my younger daughter…



January 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm Leave a comment

29/12/2008: mutley musings

Almost four weeks has passed since my last timswim entry and since then I have failed miserably to do three things. First, and most embarrassingly, I haven’t swum (that’s not completely true – I have visited the pool once and swum 4 lengths). Secondly, I haven’t added to this blog (that’s not completely true either now) and thirdly, I haven’t yet got around to collecting all of the sponsorship money that has been pledged for my efforts. Still, never fear, with Christmas out of the way I will soon get back into the swing of visiting the pool and gym (I’m actually looking forward to renewing my acquiantance with the gym having eschewed it in favour of the pool from September 2008 onwards) and I will be making it a priority to get the sponsorship money collected in the next few weeks as it is not something I want to drag on for long. However, most excitingly (you know it’s true…) I have finally got round to setting up my a new blog so that I can maintain my blogging efforts and continue to amuse and entertain my loyal readers… The new blog is called Mutley Musings and you can find it by clicking the words Mutley Musings earlier in this sentence or via the link on the right-hand side of this page. So far it only has one entry (which is simply a short piece about the new blog) but with a bit of luck I’ll be able to quickly start populating it with fresh entries over the coming weeks.

December 29, 2008 at 7:16 pm 1 comment

02/12/08 [79]: j’arrive en france







% swum:  
% days:    
totals: 79 days, 1416 lengths, 0 lengths to go, £585.00 sponsorship

Well, that’s it – a simple 12 lengths tonight took me to the end of the challenge and, as you can tell from the tricouleur at the top of this entry, I have arrived in France (j’arrive en france). Strangely I am quite pleased to have ended the challenge on day 79, given that the number 79 is a prime number though for the life of me I no idea why this thought excites me. After completing the swim we had a celebratory meal out (just to provide a bit of geographical confusion this was pizza) and I have now had the pleasure of embibing a bottle of bubbly (not all by myself…) [so if there are more than the normal number of mis-typed words in this entry you will have to forgive me]. How do I feel? Well it’s a bit of a mixture really – I have a quiet feeling of satisfaction coupled with a certain amount of inevitable anti-climax and a dose of loss thrown in (the previous experience most like this that I have had was the day that I had my PhD viva). I certainly feel that I have to replace this challenge with a new one soon because without I will feel a little less complete. I had a great card from my family, which contained some brilliantly funny pictures by my eldest daughter and a certificate that my youngest daughter had produced on the computer (she’s the IT whiz in our family). I will scan in the pictures tomorrow (hopefully) because they really are worth seeing (there are three, one of me in 2007, one at the start of the challenge and one now which is really rather flattering from a physical perspective) and will probably put one or two other pictures up at the same time.

One thing is for sure, although I won’t have the swimming challenge to keep me going, I am definitely going to maintain some kind of blog because writing these entries has been great fun. Even though I know that there are only a few regular readers I also know that quite of few people have dipped in over the last 11 weeks (in fact there have been almost 2000 views of individual pages). So, watch this space… I just have to finalise the title of the new blog and then I can get cracking. There will still be a few timswim related entries as I adjust to finishing the challenge, tidy up loose ends and chase the sponsorship money so that should keep things going for a week or two.

For now though, it is time to say merci beaucoup, au revoir et bon nuit…

December 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm Leave a comment

01/12/08 [78]: future challenges

% swum:    
% days:    
totals: 78 days, 1404 lengths, 12 lengths to go, £585.00 sponsorship

Ouch – 30 lengths this morning as planned, but boy does my left arm hurt now. I obviously did pull a muscle somewhere yesterday but unless something else happens to prevent me I will stick to my schedule, swim through the pain and finish off tomorrow. I can actually smell the faint aroma of cheese and garlic. One thing I do need to be careful of is that at the last minute I don’t get carried by a current to Belgium, but with only 300 metres to go this shouldn’t really be a problem.

Several people have asked me what my next challenge is going to be and this is something that I have given some thought to. Actually, before I started this swim I had planned to do some running with the aim of completing a 10k run sometime in the spring. Now I am wondering whether 10k is enough and whether I might not just as well do a half-marathon (the Plymouth half-marathon in May would do nicely). The problem is that I absolutely hate running – whenever I have tried to run (seriously) in the past I have simply found that it hurts too much. But this is really why I was thinking of running in the first place and I should be considerably fitter than I was three months ago, so perhaps now would be a good time to start. The other personal challenge I would like to take on is a long-distance walk. I would really like to walk the whole of the South-West coast path (over 650 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset) but this would require approximately six weeks and would be a massive logistical nightmare so I think it will have to wait. The other, smaller walk that I could take on is across Devon from the south coast at Wembury to the north coast at Lynmouth. I would really like to do this one by walking out of my front door one morning, down to the Barbican area, over the water taxi to Mountbatten, along the coast path to Wembury, turn left and then across Dartmoor and Exmoor to Lynmouth, turn right along the coast path to Minehead, catch the West Somerest Railway (steam train) to Bishop’s Lydeard, catch the bus to Taunton, catch the train back to Plymouth and walk back home and through the front door. It would probably take about a week but I love the idea that it can be door to door. I just need to make sure that I tell my family where I am going on the morning that I step outside… (“I’m just going outside for a walk, I won’t be long”).

December 1, 2008 at 11:40 am 1 comment

31/11/08 [77]: bloody sunday

% swum:    
% days:    
totals: 77 days, 1374 lengths, only 42 lengths to go, £585.00 sponsorship

Ahead of today’s swim, my plan for finishing this task was for a nice quiet 20 lengths or so today, a normal (but now reasonably leisurely) 30 or so lengths tomorrow morning and then the last 10 or so lengths on Tuesday evening followed by a celebratory meal accompanied by a nice cold beer. What could possible interrupt such a calmly thought out and measured plan?

Well, on arrival at the pool this afternoon there was a notice up saying that part of the pool was taken up with a party (for children). Hmmm… part of the pool? More like over half. So, that meant that I was forced outside which was a pretty intimidating experience given that it is really cold at the moment. I think I have mentioned before that swimming outside in such conditions has something of an Icelandic feel about it, with a gentle mist of water vapour rising continuously from the surface of the pool, but normally the water at least seems warm, whereas today it was decidedly cold. Still, being pushed outside to do ~20 lengths isn’t really such a big deal and I duly swam the 25 lengths that I needed (25 outdoor = 20 indoor). What made things out of the ordinary was the fact that I went to the pool with my youngest daughter and one of her friends, Chloe, with the idea that the two of them would amuse themselves while I swam up and down. This part actually went to plan but the excitement started properly when we left the pool and made our way in and past the indoor pool (and the hoards of screaming children and shocked looking parents). While I was swimming, poor Chloe had somehow managed to cut her foot on the pool steps – “it doesn’t hurt”, “it’s okay”, “it’s not bleeding much”… But as I followed the children in I noticed that with each step the tell-tale smudge of red on the ground grew larger, brighter and more shocking until by the time Chloe had gone all around the pool and was by the entrance to the changing room there were real puddles of blood marking her progress. We grabbed one of the lifeguards and after using up an unfeasible amount of paper towel to staunch the flow a couple of plasters were applied to what was a surprisingly long and deep cut. Chloe was fine, but the bloody trail was really very spectacular and if it had been me I would have been making the kind of considerable fuss that only a man could make in such circumstances. (Obviously, I have exaggerated a little, especially if you are reading this and happen to be Chloe’s mum…)

So, I got my 20 lengths in and now have just 42 to go. I have pulled a muscle in my left arm a little (in my desperation to combat the cold and get moving quickly) but I’m not expecting this to cause any problems tomorrow (although wouldn’t it be exciting if I got injured at this stage…). Here’s the timswim worm for the end of Week 11:

timswim worm Week 11

November 30, 2008 at 8:33 pm Leave a comment

27/11/08 [74]: too many titles

% swum:    
% days:    
totals: 74 days, 1354 lengths, 62 lengths to go, £550.00 sponsorship

Whilst I swim I usually think about what I will write in my next blog entry and try to come up with a title for the next entry. Today, I found that I had a problem. With the challenge almost complete and only a few more blog entries remaining there were simply too many topics spinning through my head that I still wan to cover. So today’s entry is titled “too many titles” because it could have been called “under 100“, “record session“, “swimming v marking” or “prize time” to name just four possibilities.

For the record, I swam 50 lengths today. My original target was 32 to get my overal total down to the nice round figure of 80, but as I swam I realised that I probably didn’t have another opportunity to achieve a personal milestone that I have been thinking about for some time, namely to swim 50 lengths in one go. So I ploughed on and decided to ignore the chance that I might get caught in traffic on the way home. 12 lengths into the swim I passed the first of today’s key points, namely getting the total down below 100 lengths, then ultimately (and relatively easily really) I hit my revised target of 50 lengths. I am also pleased to report that the BMW 5 Series (see yesterday’s entry had done the decent thing and parked elsewhere…).

While I was swimming I was reflecting on the fact that today I will be working my way through a big pile of marking (57 first year scientific experiment reports) and considering the similarity of that task with the swimming that I have been doing. Both tasks involve repeating an action which is relatively straightforward over and over again and the challenge comes from keeping going and ensuring that each individual length or marked piece of work is achieved effectively and with consistent quality. Repeating the task over and over again introduces negative factors such as boredom and fatigure and an ever increasing risk of succumbing to distractions. But having successfully demonstrated to myself the “power of small” in the context of my swimming (one length at a time) it will be interesting to see if I can transfer this across to my marking activity and perform this more efficiently also.

There have now been six entries to the Limerick competition I set a few of days ago. I think that all of these are excellent because the Limerick really wasn’t that easy to complete due to the lack of words that rhyme with “Tim” (especially as “swim” was already used up on the second line). As with any competition there are always losers as well as winners so I’d like to commiserate with my Mum and the Norwich contigent of our family who despite sending in fine entries didn’t quite reach the pinnacle. In the end I am going to award two special prizes. One prize goes to my youngest daughter (aged 10) for her entry, the first one sent in, and reflects her overall enthusiasm towards my task and the encouragement she has given me throughout (plus, life here wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t make her a winner…). There is one condition for her prize, and that is that she only gets it if she reads this entry because I am not going to tell her. The other prize, which goes to the originator of my favourite entry overall goes to Roger from RS Aqua Ltd. I don’t actually know Roger but he has picked up on my challenge via some professional email correspondence we have had and for some strange reason seems to have enjoyed reading this blog – so much so that he has claimed that my entry on buoyancy a few weeks back left him needing to go for a drink after work (yeah right…) and has even looked in on the blog whilst on a work trip in Shanghai. Roger has also been a generous sponsor. My favourite limerick is his second entry (the fish one). So Roger, your prize is two-fold; first you get a really, really valuable advertisement for your company RS Aqua Ltd and much more importantly to the work of the charity Epilepsy Bereaved (this link explains why); second, as the overall timswim limerick competition winner you now have an excuse to go out and celebrate…

November 27, 2008 at 10:49 am 1 comment

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