Thursday, 18 May 2017

Castle swim

Eilen Donan Castle is on elf the most photographed buildings in Scotland. And it is easy to see why. The old castle, on a loch, hills around and there is only one stone bridge to enter it. Only one bridge ... or is there a swimming option?

Of course there is no official swimming option, but that is just the thing I see, when I stand on the side of a loch. 
We arrived late in the small village of Dornie and the castle stood proud and illuminated in the night.  After dinner in the local pub we walked to our B&B, which was located across a small bridge in the village of Ardelve. Standing on the bridge at night made me think about a small swim to cross the waterway between Loch Long and Loch Duich. 
The next morning our friendly B&B host heard about my plan, said that it was possible, but also warned me of a current which changes depending on the tide. Loch Long is connected to Loch Duich and Loch Alsh, which goes to the sea on the Scottish west Coast. I wanted at least to go in the water and give it a try. My friends dropped me off at the bridge and drove on to visit the castle. 
It wasn't the nicest weather but it gave the crossing towards the castle an even more dramatic effect. 
I swam towards the castle and stopped after a third to make some photos. That's where I noticed the mentioned current. It was going out so it carried me southbound towards the caste. What a nice floating experience! 
The light southbound current was nice, but you have to make sure to cross the waterway before the current carries you to far into the next loch. It wasn't that strong and I kept on swimming towards  the castle and around it. 
From the water I could see my friends waiting for me. 

And they took a picture from the other point of view
I flooded around some more, enjoying the view and the looks of the tourist and decided then to look for a good point to exit. Not having paid the entrance fee to the castle, I swam towards the carpark. That was rather muddy and swampy in the end. Wearing a wetsuit I felt like an alien climbing up to the carpark with all the "normal" people... 

Eilen Donan Castle, Dornie, Kyle of Lochalsh IV40 8DX, Vereinigtes Königreich

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Swim and Run Cologne - the very beginning

As I told you in the "Swim and Run 2016" article 
my first swim event ever was the Swim and Run Cologne back then in in 2006....
Wow, that is 10 years ago... I didn't realize that until I wrote it down. 

I don't really know, how I knew about the event. I read some advertising perhaps and thought, 1k swimming and 7 k running - ok I could do that. 

I have always been a confident swimmer and 1k was something I could do without training. The Fühlinger See, the event side, was the lake where my school rowing team trained once a week. As member of that (for fun only!) rowing team I knew the lake from rowing and from jumping into it after training. 
My first wetsuit had to be cheap and I didn't really know about that stuff and didn't really care for something fancy. That NPX was a wetsuit for surfing with normal 3mm neoprene and some kind of rubber on the front. It was very strechty and comfortable. And it was only 70 EU. 
My sister Annika came along for moral support. Never ever did she think about swimming herself - in 2006. 
In 2016 she joined me as part of her charity swimming campaign . 
I was very nervous finding my way to the start area. It was only one 1k wave and I listened carefully in the swimmers briefing. 
The Cologne event has a starting line in the water. So you make your way down to a very small jetty, get into the water and move towards that line. 
It was very nice to meet some first timers and fun swimmers already on that jetty. We chatted and laughed and slowly swam together to the starting line. There was a countdown, but I was not prepared that with the signal all people who were treading water before would now lie down on the water and so needing more than double of their space. 
I moved along the splashing beside me, got hit and felt sorry when I hit other swimmers. 
Soon the crowd spread into a wild field and I could concentrate on my swimming. The Fühlinger See has a 2k rowing course and therefore 6 lanes with straight lines of buoys. For a first timer it is a good help to swim along the buoys. The water was very clear so you could even see the cable which holds all the small buys. It runs about 1,5 meter deep through the whole lake. It is like your personal lane guide. 

The first 500 meters felt long, but the way back was great and when I reached the end, I thought dreadfully about leaving the nice and easy water for a 7k run. Leaving the water I gratefully accepted the helping hand of some volunteers as I hadn't expected to feel so dizzy while standing up. The changing was quick as I only had to take off the wetsuit and shoes and a shirt on. Running in my swim suit, which I wore below the wetsuit was good for changing, but the weather was not that warm. Even running was indeed very exhausting I was still cold when I reach the finish.

My sister Annika was waiting there with a jumper and I enjoyed a alcohol free beer. 
You never regret a swim!


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Swim and Run Cologne 2016

The "swim and run Cologne" is the first swim event I ever entered. My first "swim and run Cologne" was in 2009. I didn't join every year, but almost.
Like every event, I only do it for fun! There is no real training beforehand. So sometimes I wonder why I do it anyway...
This year my sister Annika and my friend Amanda took part aswell. Annika had extra motivation, because of the charity she supports with every swim.
(more about #nikaschwimmt) 

Doing an event like this together is definitly a nicer experience and a motivation boost. We had a small facebook message group to chat about our training - our lack thereof ;-)
We had nice dinner with proper sportsfood the day before the event - in a brewery with isotonic beer ;-)
The whole week before the event was filled with thunderstorms and heavy rain overhead the Cologne area. So the two days before we all had this "I wouldn't mind if it is cancelled"-thoughts... you see, we are not taking this serious.

The sunday looked good enough when we arrived at the Fühlinger See. After a short stop at the registration office, we went down to the water to feel, if it was wetsuit weather or not. The Fühlinger See is a clean and calm lake and wetsuits are not compulsory.
I have a personal comfort point around 19 dregree celsius where I decide with or without wetsuit. After my two short splashes in Helsinki and Stockholm the week before, the water felt warm. It was 20 degress, so good for me.
Whenever I can, I go without a wetsuit and as little gear as possible.
(see also wildswimstories "needful stuff?")

Even though I really like the fit of my suit, it still interfers with my shoulder mobility and gives me too much bouyancy.
And this day was a swim and run, so I could save time in the changing area. I just had my swimsuit with longer legs, googles and the event hat. In the changing area I only put on socks, shoes and a tshirt with my number on it.
My sister decided on going without the wetsuit aswell for better changing. We were the only two without a wetsuit, but the water was nice, it was only 1k to swim and I enjoyed the direct contact of the water on my skin. 

Some triathletes use the wetsuit for extra bouyance or believe it is faster. We had to discover soon, that in this event -even in our race with the everyone-distance of 1k swim and 7k run- only triathletes or at least trained persons participated.
I lost Annika and Amanda right after the start signal. As I was overtaken by more and more people even though the race wasn't that big, it became a little frustrating. I kept in mind, that I had still 7k running to do (with no training) and tried to finish the swim easily. The time of 25 minutes were ok for me. In the changing area I met Amanda, who was struggeling with her shirt. I wasn't really able to have a chat so I put on socks, shoes and my shirt and went off. I knew Amanda would soon find me... and she did at the 1 k point. I had my pulse watch with me, which showed 170 beats and wouldn't come down. I tried to relax, take it easy, but it didn't work. I still felt comfortable enough to keep my pace and at kilometer 5 thought "what the hell with pulse" and got faster even to a small finish sprint at the end.
For me 25 minutes for 1k swimming and 49 minutes running for 7k were good - yes, I know, that it is not fast at all. 

In the finish area I found Amanda, who was always a minute ahead of me. We both felt exhausted, but happy as finishers can be!
We grabbed a Erdinger alcohol free beer and went to a small bridge to wait for Annika running on the path below. She was quicker than estimated and we cheered, than turned around to cheer again as she run past on the finisher track. 

We all were happy and cheerful at the finish. It was great to be over with it, but also that all three of us had finished and had finished in good times. A look at the results showed us, that we were at the bottom of the list. That wasn't so bad, but we found, that they are just too little people taking part for the fun of it. The event became more professional in the last years and is still fine for hobby-traithletes, but the atmosphere was just a bit too professionell for us ;-)
And I look more sporty than I really am.

Afterall I enjoyed the "swim and run Cologne 2016" ....

and you never regret a swim ;-) 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Did you watch the Harry Potter movies? Then you know the Hogwarts Express... In reality it is an old scottish Train called "The Jacobite" which runs from Fort William to Mallaig. It crosses the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.  Last time I visited Glenfinnan Station and walked up the hills to that spotter place... waiting for the steamtrain! I was really really anxious and didn't want to take the camera down for one second too afraid to miss it! Thank you littel sister for coming along and taking that shot!

Finally I could hear the typical sound of an approaching train and the steam appeared in the small wood. It was great! Excited as a child I jumped and waved and started to take photos. It was over to soon. On the way down it started to drizzel, but nothing could lower my spirits. After 15 minutes we arrived at Glenfinnan Station and the "Jacobite" was still there. What is so cool about steamtrains? I have no idea but I love them! As did my father. Glenfinnan Staion is a small privat museum with a shop, a sleeping car hostel and a diner car with scones and soup. Perfect! I think, I will feature it in another post...

Today I wanted to tell you about the swim. A few meters from the station is Glenfinnan Monument at Loch Shiel. From here you have a nice view on the viaduct from below. And I thought, it was a perfect place for a swim. It was not. There is a small beachy area where a dropped my stuff and changed into my wetsuit. I walked in and walked...     and walked ...  and walked...
the water wouldn't get any deeper! Finally I reached waist high water and got in, just to be in the water at least once! I came back really frustrated.
So I will forget about the swim and remember the steamtrain ;-)
Can't wait to go back and wait for the Jacobite to arrive!

You never regret a swim ....

Glenfinnan just off the A380, Inverness Shire, PH37 4LT, United Kingdom
The Station is reason enough to visit or spend a night:
Want to arrive via steamtrain?


Friday, 20 May 2016

Nigel of Hyde Park

My first post in the categorie "books" is not what you expected I guess.
Of course I will review on some swim-books aswell, but for the start, I chose something else.

Nigel of Hyde Park is a children's book telling the story of the dragon Nigel, Prince of Hyde Park. He is to become king of Hyde park soon, but due to his overactive imagination, he is afraid of nearly everything.  

The book is about facing your fears and finding courage.
What I like most about it is the sentence (I translated it from German)
"Nigel turned towards the only thing that gave him comfort: his bathtub. He didn't know if it was the wam water or the foam bubbles in all colours of the rainbow, Nigel was Feeling light hearted and free. There were no Monsters in his bathtub... In his bathtub he was invincible! Actually Nigel of Hyde Park could reign happily from his bathtub...."

I feel the same about a bath. And I always use some Kind of bath salt.
Kneipp company has a lot of different bath salts. Additional to the standard fragrances, there are different special "moods" like
"it will be alright", "walk at the beach" and "winter's day"...

Nigel of Hyde Park by Carina Axelsson


Talisker bay

Most of my swims stories take place in the Scotland holiday in 2012. And so is this one:
Arriving on the Isle of Skye we drove to Talisker bay (yeah, where that distillery is). We had booked a room in a bunkhouse next to the water. That also meant a lot of smidges. It is really annoying, but nothing you can do about it.

I put on my wetsuit and started my small evening swim. It was great to see the sun going low in the sky and the warm light it creates. Talisker bay lay qiet and peaceful. There was one sailingboat stopping for the night. As you know, I like to have a point where to swim to. So I swam to the boat and had a nice chat with the people on board.
Coming back, my sister sat on the shore, contant aswell with the look over the bay. It was dinner time and nothing could fit more than grilled fish...

Talisker bay, Isle of Skye, Scotland
we stayed in:


Thursday, 19 May 2016

5 minute snorkel NZ

This swim was a swim that somehow failed...
In 2010 I visited New Zealands nothern island with my sister. One day we wanted to go to Catherdal Cove, an arch of rocks at the beach. From Hahei it was only a few minutes by car to Catherdol Cove Car park, which is literally the end of the road. There are 3 steep paths down to 3 different bays. Due to heavy rainfall the weeks before, the path to Cathedral Cove was closed. A sign pointed out, that we could take the second path and snorkel from that bay just around the corner...

We had brought our snorkeling gear from Germany and were very happy, that we could take "the cool easy way".
The way down was steep, muddy and slippery. The beach however was worth it! It was nobody there, so we left our stuff and went into the water. The snorkling was more difficult as it looked from the outside. With no knowledge of the local currents, we decided shortly before reaching the rockformation, seperating Stingray Bay from the next bay, to go back.
So unsatisfied we climbed the way back up to our car and I had this not so happy picture taken of the "it's only a 5 Minute snorkel..." 

The view from the carpark was stunning especially with the light, that needed no extra filters.

New Zeeland, Northern Island, from Hahei to Cathedrel Cove carpark


Monday, 16 May 2016

swimmer's library at Loch Ness

During the Scotlandtrip in 2012 we passed Loch Ness one day. Of course I had read about swimspots in the wildswim book by Kate Rew.
It said to drive along the south side of the Loch, where you can find small parking spots at the river bank.
I don't know, if I stopped at the right place or if I wasn't patient enough to wait for a better spot a few miles later. There was a small space next to the road to park the car and I wanted to get into the water. That's how I decided on the spot ;-)
Getting into the wetsuit was quick, getting down into the water included careful walking over the rocks at the bank side. It was not the easiest entry, but it passes as accessable. It was August and the water was nice - at least when wearing a wetsuit. 
I call a swim a swim even when I just floated on the water. The water felt good, the weather was sunny and I was totally at peace with feeling the bouyancy of the wetsuit and being a part of the loch. Finally I turned on my belly and did some strokes. It was the first time I saw "black water". The water in the lochs is sometimes very peaty and has a brownish colour. I did some crawl strokes and watched my hand going through this strange coloured water.
Even though I know it is just a myth about the Loch Ness Monster, I felt queer in the dark water with my feet hanging down and no bottom in sight...
When I came out of the water and walked towards the car, a large bus stopped and parked next to our car. It was the "Library Leabharlann"
I thought it was a slapstick moment. Apperently there was no busstop and no one got out. Still wet from the swim I grabbed my "The History of Scotland" book to have this picture taken:
a swim-in bus-libary, what a service!

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