We are the Sea Witches: Katrina, Susanne, Jo, Gaynor, Julz and Elanor. This is the story of our journey towards swimming the English Channel. We hope you enjoy reading about our antics, and that you may be able to support us and our charities. We will all be putting in many hours training, much effort and dedication as well as contributing our boat fees.
All you have to do is watch and donate ;)

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Back to School!

The Sea Witches have been going back to basics in the pool with our coach Barry!  

Last night was our third lesson of five and we are really loving them.  Barry is helping us break down our stroke into the component parts, improve those parts and then put the stroke back together again.  I can't speak for everyone, but I know I feel like I start the session fighting the water and struggling, but by the end I am gliding and much more at one with the water.  If only I could start every session and practice how I end a lesson with Barry!  One day perhaps :)

I am often asked why I would need a swimming lesson when I swim all the time.  The thing is, even once you know technically how to swim a stroke, there are so many small things that can make a big difference, and that is what we are learning.  We can all swim of course - all of us were at Bude Sea Pool in early October doing our miles to help them raise funds.  Some of us did the Bournemouth Pier to Pier last July or the Brownsea Island swim and we all swim at least a couple of times each week. 

However, it is amazing how much there can still be to learn.  Barry had us practicing our kicking last night, then our rotation as we change arms and finally the way your arm should bend from the elbow to grab as much water as possible to pull you through and move you forward faster.  Some of the drills feel difficult or weird and can be tricky to get the hang of, but when you start to put them all back together - after the bit where you totally forget how to swim - it all makes sense and the stroke is smoother and easier.

We are all at different levels of fitness, and I am definitely one of the ones who has more of a mountain to climb with that side of things, but what is great about the lessons is it's not about fitness.  We do a warm up first so that does involve getting that heart going, but all the drills are possible for everyone and so we are all learning the valuable technique that will help us, ultimately, to get faster in the sea - and that's what it all comes down to at the end of the day.  Though I'm sure all the things we learn now will stay with us for life.

The other reason for lessons and improving technique is to avoid injury.  If we use our stroke more efficiently, the theory is, we shouldn't have any problems.  When you do any task repetitively there is a risk of injury, and many swimmers have problems with their shoulders in particular.  Good training and technique is essential as is knowing how to warm up and stretch correctly.  Good posture in general is important for everyone, so when you are asking your body to work harder, it's even more important to get it right.

The Sea Witches are looking forward to our next two lessons with Barry and to putting all those points we learn into practice each week too.  We always end a session smiling more than at the start - I'd wholeheartedly recommend lessons to anyone who is unsure of their stroke, or feels they aren't making progress with their swimming.  Lessons aren't just for kids :)

- Stitch Witch

Friday, 10 October 2014

And So The Madness Begins

So here we are.  Whether wrapped up after a winter swim, or basking in the sunshine - the Sea Witches feel at their best near the water!  As you can see - we are all very smiley after a lovely dip in the ocean :)

There will be a more official picture soon, but for the moment these two show all the Witches.  Top pic from left: Jo Fotheringham (Super Witch), Gaynor Nevitt (Wonder Witch), Elanor McBay (Stitch Witch), Katrina Weller (Kit Witch). Bottom pic from left: Juliet Hill (Potion Witch), Gaynor Nevitt, Elanor McBay, Susanne Masters (Gin Witch).

We are just starting out on this journey towards swimming from Dover to France as a six woman relay team.  We have swum together for some time already, but now the real training starts.  It's not just a dip and a laugh anymore, we need to put serious hours training in each week both in the sea or pool and on land to get us ultra fit and ready for the challenge.  Our boat is booked for August 2016, and the countdown has started.

Of course we couldn't do this without some wonderful support.  We have very experienced mentors; Ali Budynkiewicz and Mark Vides; coach Barry Alldrick; reserves Zoe and Linda; and sock girl Holly (who's job involves a lot more than socks!).  Then there is the team on SUVA - our boat, and also all our friends from Just Swim who have done this before us and will no doubt help and support us through all the training with tips and kind words (or they may just point and laugh).  This truly is a team and we are all looking forward to working together.  And even outside of the team, there will be family and friends offering their support too.  We couldn't do it without them all!

All the Witches are collecting for charities personal to each of us which we will tell you all about in the next post.  We will be fundraising over the next two years and there will be more than one way to help us I'm sure.  From Halloween parties to craft sales, swim events to simply visiting our JustGiving pages.  Every little bit of help will be very much appreciated both by us and by the good causes we support.

For now our mission for the rest of 2014 is two hours swimming and two hours cardio work each week.  This figure may seem small to start with, but we will build up gradually to avoid injury and also to ease the extra time needed for training into our busy lives.

Hope you will visit regularly to keep up with our progress, as we improve our swimming technique, fitness and speed through the water.  And perhaps we can inspire a few of you to get out there and enjoy the odd bit of swimming too.