Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Dedication, commitment and a splash of passion....

Celebrating our success - Today we look at two amazing members from the squad who have shown commitment and improvement this year. We are lucky enough for them to share their stories.

James Mcleod

This year my season has been completely focused around Ironman Sweden in August.  This was my first Ironman so my target was just completion and to enjoy it.
James looking in Pain after CSS testing. :)

My swimming has come on really well this year (from a CSS of 1.55 in January to 1.39 in June) so that was never a concern for me.  I'm a pretty new cyclist so that was a big limiter for me, not ideal when you've got 180km to get through.  So I've spent many an hour on my bike this year, almost all endurance based work.  My running has pretty much gone to pieces this year as well as I’ve had chronic shin splints for most of the year.  

All my events this year have been pretty enjoyable, except maybe the 11ÂșC water in the river at the Wetherby triathlon.  The Epic Lake Series in particular were excellent.  Obviously enough Ironman was the highlight of the year with an epic atmosphere in Kalmar.

All in all I’m pretty happy with how my season has turned out, there’s always things that could’ve been done better but that’s all part of the process.

I haven’t got anything specific planned for next season yet, maybe Windermere...

James sent me his times through over the times in the squad: 


Thank you for sharing James - Showing what improvements can be made- You can see from the results when James focused on the bike and took time out the water - he is now pulling it back again. Well done and thanks for sharing.

Sarka - Shares her story.

This is going to sound a bit melodramatic but ….I can honestly say that meeting Emma changed my life and completely eliminated that familiar dread we sometimes get on a Sunday night.  Before 2012 I had not considered Open Water swimming as something other than a refreshing dip following a long walk on the fells. In 2012 my Ex suggested I start this new Open Water swimming group run by Emma after he had met her through a mutual friend of ours. This turned out to be one of his best suggestions, EVER.

Over the past three seasons, I have progressed from an occasional wild swimmer to a pretty good Open Water swimmer. I started in the Thursday evening groups and then joined the Sunday evening squad which has dramatically improved my technique helping me increase both my speed and endurance.

Sarka - On the move. 

This reignited love of swimming began to unleash the competitiveness in me and I entered my first open water mile event in 2013 – coming 3rd overall!! This season I took part in a few more events of varying distances, managing another 3rd place in a 2500m swim in Wales. I also completed all four Aquathlons that Emma hosted at Brockhole (coming 3rd for a change) and managed to fit in a little jaunt up the length of Coniston – because it’s there!

So I think we can safely say that Emma has created a monster and I’ve decided that next years goals are to get on a bike and complete a Standard triathlon aswell as swim the length of Ullswater – Thanks Em, see what you’ve done??!

Sarka-jo Cole, October 2014

Sarka. is an amazing person to have in the squad and shows up every week, keen, committed and her results are showing this - With last nights CSS giving her a pb. So well done Sarka, great to have you on board and part of the team. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Taking to the water....What motivates you?

Taking to the water!!!

Ummmmmm, I could probably list 50 words or more off the top of my head as to why people take to the water. 

Active Blu Open Water Venue. 
However by asking the squad this question we get a real insight of their journey since joining Active Blu - I asked them to do this as we do not celebrate ourselves enough and often we do not think we have achieved enough to write or tell people about....

However I believe most people are amazing and therefore try and encourage them to share their stories. Most people have to juggle work, kids, relationships, amongst other things to come training and it is important to acknowledge this.... :)

ASA coach assessment day 2014

Many of the squad have responded and agreed to write and share their stories....they have mentioned by writing this it did make them realise how far they have come in such a short time. I hope this helps inspire those in the squad that sometime doubt their performance, everyone has to start somewhere and the way you get there that is normally quite exciting. Even if thats on reflection. 

Assessing the coaches. 2014

However I did get one member of the squad say... "Emma, not only do you give us 2 swim sessions a week to follow in our own time, you are now giving us writing tasks, its like I am back at school". !! Too funny I keep giggling about this as it is so true :)

Pleasure / Pain of squad life
As a coach I know the importance of working with the individual and their motivations. What works for one person does not always create the same enthusiasm in others. With this in mind it is important that with in the squad environment the individuals needs are understood.  

The Sunday Squads are re testing their CSS this weekend after 9 weeks, however although these are really important for the swimmer to see their hard work and training is paying off. It becomes more and more apparent that the social aspect of the sessions are just or even more so important.

John shares his story of the last 12 months with us.....

So after joining Emma's pool Squad in January this year this is what happened

Well I've got a bit quicker yes but more importantly I have new friends, I am enjoying swimming more it just feels better plus I have started open water swimming.

I did one of Emma's intro to open water sessions in May my only objective was to stay in the water over 6 seconds that being the time I stayed in when I was around 16 in August 1968. I managed it for 40 mins at 13.9C. But  I didn't return to open water probably due to lack of confidence or just fear till 31st August again at Brockhole as a swimmer in a coach training event Emma was hosting.

Brockhole 2014

But then they closed my local pool for a month on 1st Sept and I thought maybe I should try a local open water place in Cheshire. So on 3rd Sept off  I went. Hired a wetsuit ,did all the stuff Emma had taught me on her open water course splashing water on face etc and set off. First time round  lots of stops at and in between buoys but did 5 circuits gaining confidence with each one. By the end I was hooked and decided to buy a wetsuit maybe in December when they would be Cheap! ready for next year.

ASA OW Coach development

Anyway a few days later bought myself a wetsuit as I couldn't wait. Got in a few more open water sessions near home then Kat one of my swim squad friends suggested we try to swim Buttermere just over a mile or Crummock water two and a half miles.

So on 21st September I found myself on the shores of the chosen lake - Crummock Water with Kat and her friend .Our lift had gone so only way back was to swim so thanks to the two girls support and nine months in the Squad we had a  nice gentle swim down the lake. 

Can't wait till next Year  

John Woodward

P.S I am 62 its 80 miles from home to the squad and I haven't got a swimming background only been swimming since I retired so unless you can come up with a better excuse for not  joining one of Emma's Squads you had better sign up NOW!  

 ( I did not pay John to say this) 

Thank you for sharing this John, it is lovely to see how far you have come, especially as last time you entered the open water was in 1968. Getting to know John this year has ben remarkable and he is a solid member of the squad. Showing everyone what can be achieved. 


Just Keep Swimming

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A month for Celebrating...

This month celebrates people achievements...We look at people stories and the journey they have been through in order to get there. 

The first person to Celebrate is: Kath, here is her story....

Two years ago I rode my bike then my legs stopped working properly.  18 months ago I found swimming was the only movement which didn't hurt so decided I ought to learn how to do it a bit better.  I could manage two lengths of front crawl before I needed a rest.   Kendal Tri club got me going, thanks to all the volunteer coaches there. I ended up having a video session with Emma and discovered that I braked 23 times a length by sticking my elbows in first.   Emma gave me some drills to improve, my body stopped hurting and someone else gave me a shove to enter Ironman Austria.....

3.8km is a bit further than two lengths so, despite being very daunted by the name 'Sunday Swim Squad'- which seemed to imply you had to be very good, I nervously asked Emma if she'd have me. I didn't know whether to be pleased or not when she said yes. Hated the first session!! Not the best start.  Cold and nervous and I swam really badly with a group of strangers.  

However things then improved and ten weeks on I look forward to my Sundays, have formed a close, if competitive, bond with those in my lane, and have signed up for the next ten weeks and the open water squad. The weeks are full of variety and I never quite know what to expect which suits me.  I also like the open water practice in the pool - a contradiction in terms?  - you'll have to join the squad and find out what I mean.   I always get out of the pool feeling good and I have never regretted going to a session ...and Emma always seems to get my bad days - like when I've just spent 4hrs in A&E with a child or driven for 6 hours or arrived knackered having raced in the morning.  It is ok to get in and just swim when you can't cope with being pushed, but some weeks.......

I can't share any race times or anything but I've gone from 2 lengths to 2km without stopping in 18months, my CSS time has come down 19secs in 10 weeks, I'm more confident, I've made new friends, I've learnt a lot.  I am going to do an ironman in 14 weeks time, which means 3.8km of swimming, my body doesn't hurt anymore and my boobs are bigger !! 

....14 weeks later. Kath raced the middle distance triathlon for her age group, 2014. 

Race report - went to Mallorca to race in the Middle Distance European Triathlon Championships, 1.9km sea swim, no wetsuit, 90km (56 mile) bike and 13 mile run. Time 6hrs 10 mins, place 11th out of 21 in my age group.

Thanks Kath for sharing such an inspiring story,  Kath works, is a mum, wife and it is through passion, dedication and love for the sport that she has worked hard and come so far.

I hope this will help those of you out there to take that next step and do what you have always dreamed of.... 

Well Done Kath - A true inspiration.....

Monday, 1 December 2014

Why we do what we do....

Why we do what we do....

I often wonder why we do the things we do, what drives us and makes us tick. I know this differs from one person to the next and thats what really interests me as a coach and tutor. 

This month I have worked with some great coaches, athletes and tutors all over the UK within the sport of triathlon and swimming. In the times in the between work, I often find myself reflecting on what a privileged position I hold. Not only can I continue to learn and educate myself, but also support peoples goals, dreams and ambitions..... 

Active Blu - Faults and Corrections Workshop - Triathlon England AGM - Nov 2014.

A few of the squad after a hard CSS set - The Red mist Rises. Nov 2014.

I often wonder if I have the best job in the world? Ok sometimes its long days and tiring, however for the most part I get to spend my life with motivated, dedicated people that just want to improve and develop their skills or performance. 

Tutoring Triathlon England Level 3 Coaches - Explore Video analysis. Nov 2014.

However this has not always been the case and sometimes it takes that step into the unknown and challenging yourself in a way you haven't been able to before, to really see your potential and be the best you can be. 

Assessing Level 1 - Triathlon England Cycling - Edge Hill - Nov 2014

For me it was leaving a job and following a dream to take the plunge into running my own business. Yes there was fear that it may not work, there was concern I may have created a job that was not sustainable, but deep down, in my heart I knew I was doing the right thing and somewhere amongst that I was hoping I could create something that would make a difference to people lives. 

Swim Smooth - Swim Types - AGM - Nov 2014.

I suppose I am writing this as it is nearing the end of the year. It is a good time for us to look back and celebrate the amazing things we have achieved. As a culture we normally shy away from celebrating our strengths. Sometimes not even giving ourselves time to acknowledge them.

Video Analysis - Cause and Effect - Nov 2014
However this month I will be regularly writing stories from people I have met this year that have overcome a challenge, achieved a goal or dream and above all want to celebrate and share what they have accomplished so that it can help inspire and support others. 

Challenging our New Coaches - Level 1 and 2 Nov 2014.

If you have a plan, idea or challenge for next year, write it down, think about what you need to achieve it, share it with people and take that step into the unknown. 

Active Blu - Carlisle Coaches Workshop - Nov 2014.
So if you fancy reading some great stories about athletes and coaches, sign up to my blog at 

CSS results are out - A rare treat post Swim.
If you would like to share your story please write to me: I look forward to hearing from you.