Out to Swim

OTS Social Survey

Added on by Chris Richards.

It's a new (committee) year and as your dedicated social directors we want to fill the forthcoming year with events that you actually want...have your say now by filling out our super quick survey here:

It's totally anonymous and we'd like your thoughts back as quickly as possible...at the latest by Sunday April 27th.

Don't forget to put any of your fabulous ideas in the box at the end (go crazy). When we've counted it all up we'll be right back at you with the winning entries all of which you absolutely must commit to!

Also this Thursday we'll also be heading to The Edge after training so do please come along for a bevvie and kick off your Easter weekend!

Much love

Big and Little Chris

PS: Any problems accessing the survey, do let us know as there is PDF version.

Sunday Olympians

Added on by Thomas Harris.

The weekend of 12-13 April 2014 was a particularly exciting one for Out To Swim, what with the swim camp, our vice chair's 30th birthday celebrations and a Sunday morning swim in the Olympic Aquatic Centre.  I'm sure we will hear about both of the other events (including the fantastic vice chair birthday tribute that was beamed straight from swim camp onto the pages of Facebook) either poolside or on-line, but here's a quick write-up of our Olympic experience....

A brave team of 12 Out To Swimmers battled their way through crowds of runners getting ready for some joggy marathony thing to arrive at the real sporting event of the day.  Despite some initial confusion over which two lanes of the competition pool were reserved for us, and a very significant danger of getting ourselves muddled up with a visiting team of Swedish children, we jumped in and ploughed through the water, working our way happily through Michelle's specially prepared set.  Tom H was initially unable to find the clock but, thanks to Luke M's hawk-like vision, was guided to a pair of vast clocks looking down at us from above the diving pool.  Each swimmer agreed that the fifty metre experience is quite exhilarating, although Sion O'C was heard to mutter, "yes it's great, but the pool's too long".  It was particularly heartening to have swimmers of all abilities come along, from development lane through to top lane, and it just showed how a fifty metre session provides each swimmer with lots of space.  What we didn't realise was that as the lengths whizzed by, Stephen L was quietly grappling with a conundrum, "how can the two 25 metre GLLAM pools divided by a boom turn into a 50 metre pool with no boom?"  Julian M provided the answer and certainly got us all thinking how cleverly designed these Olympic pools are.

7 of our 12 swimmers - you may just be able to spot the clocks in the distance...

7 of our 12 swimmers - you may just be able to spot the clocks in the distance...

Three of our number had to shoot off after the swim to begin their Sundays proper, but the rest of us headed off to the "Caffe Concerto" for a well-earned breakfast.  Within minutes, our shadowy corner of the caffe (sic) was drenched in bright morning sun as we chatted away about how great the Olympic centre is, but also how nothing beats a good cup of coffee.

A group of happy swimmers having breakfast.

A group of happy swimmers having breakfast.

 

We really hope to get back to the Aquatic Centre soon - although this was a one-off swim, it puts Out To Swim on the list of clubs interested in a more permanent slot.  Be assured that your committee are trying their best to get that more regular slot!   

 

GLLAM 2014 - A personal perspective

Added on by Thomas Harris.

A personal write-up by Christopher Preston, capturing the magic of the day...

GLLAM 2014.  There’s a ring about it reminiscent of London 2012, same venue eighteen months on.  It’s Saturday the 29th March and the Gay & Lesbian London Aquatic Meet is happening at the Aquatic Centre in the ex Olympic Park and I’m swimming.

I’m normally a bit nervous before a race meeting and have been studying the start sheets working out who is in my heats, their times and age group and how fast I have to swim to win medals.  All this, plus the sense of occasion, swimming in the same pool as all those heroic swimmers has me walking around the house in a demented state.  Fortunately my best mate Ros from Hastings has come up to cheer me on, so I have to be a bit sane.

Christopher, sporting the "Keep GLLAM and Swim" T shirt from 2013

Christopher, sporting the "Keep GLLAM and Swim" T shirt from 2013

We get to the park entrance too early and sit in glorious sunshine outside The Cow Pub, waiting for family member Geraldine.  She is also going to cheer for Out to Swim. In 2012 it was complicated, going through security and ticket checks then crossing endless bridges to get to the pool.  This time it’s easy.  Just walk a short distance from the pub to the pool.  The transformation is impressive.  The huge wings which accommodated hundreds of seats have gone, replaced by elegant windows east and west revealing a fabulous piece of architecture.  The roof curves like a manta ray on the outside, while the ceiling inside resembles the belly of a whale.  First sight of the empty pool is breath-taking.  The blue water looks so inviting and calming, as if it has just appeared on earth from nowhere, an immaculate conception.  Everyone is in a high state of excitement and we greet team mates and friends and coaches, all whirling around in a daze. There’s a host of Out to Swim members in bright blue GLLAM tee shirts fluttering decoratively around preparing to be volunteers. For various reasons they are not swimming today but making sure the event runs smoothly.

Warm up in the sun.

Warm up in the sun.

Time to concentrate however and after settling my friends in the spectator gallery I have to find the changing rooms and get organised.  I’m planning to nip up and join them in between races and so leave them with my printed out start sheets.  I’m off to warm up as the 200 metres freestyle is the first event and I’m in heat 3.  The pool has been divided in two with a boom reducing it to 25 metres.  Somehow it looks short, but that’s because it’s 10 lanes wide.  The remainder of the pool is available for warm ups and swim downs during the event.  The water is delicious, not chlorine clogged or over-heated and my first 6 lengths, which are normally a struggle, go smoothly so that 300 m are soon over.  Better do some backstroke – all the fast guys from club lanes 1 & 2 are getting in this lane. Well, they will just have to wait.  Team mate Lucille recommends a few HVO’s so that’s next on the agenda – starting off fast for 10 M then relaxing.  By now lanes zero and 1 are designated for sprinting, so it’s time to get the measure of the starting blocks.  They have that little raised ledge which gives me a nice little push from the back leg – lovely.

Spectators and Competitors

Spectators and Competitors

I’m now aware of how many people are actually here.  Poolside is buzzing and the spectator stand looking down on our 25 metres of pool is crowded.  There are swimmers from all over the world: Barcelona, Brussels, Switzerland, Canada and Australia.  Northern Wave has come down from Manchester to join in and London clubs, Spencer, Y Swim and Otter are here in force.  Maidenhead has sent some particularly fast older swimmers to give us a run for our money and the georgeous youngsters from University (LUST) are fast and decorative. 

Coach Alex and Head Coach Michelle looking on intently.

Coach Alex and Head Coach Michelle looking on intently.

Jean (Stephen’s Mum) is doing the announcements again and now with a fantastic PA system, can be heard in her full glory.  We prepare to welcome the officials but there’s a glitch as the traditional ‘Chariots of Fire’ music is briefly interrupted by a pool announcement.  The specially trained volunteer time keepers process in as do the lane judges – including Coach Hillary – there to make sure our turns are legal.  Today they are working double time as they each have to watch two lanes.

Coach Martin watching his charges.

Coach Martin watching his charges.

Heat one of the 200 m freestyle is called, but only two swimmers turn up.  Heat two is better attended and we have to be patient as new competitors are unfamiliar with protocol – what the various whistles mean and waiting in the pool while the next heat starts.  It’s a learning curve and that’s what today is all about.  By the time we get to my heat, comprised of older, seasoned competitors, the pace picks up accelerating with each heat as the swimmers get (in the main) younger and faster.  Everyone complains about the 200m freestyle and yet we’ve entered.  A few wise ones have dropped out as it is a punishing distance.  Not long enough to be settled into, it’s a sort of long sprint.  I’m determined not to go out too fast, but to make things more interesting I’ve got Peppe doing butterfly in the next lane.  His entered time is only slightly faster than mine, so I let him go ahead to avoid being splashed, then attempt to catch him up on the last length.  I almost do it, but not quite.  Now, my normal routine would be to do a swim down then go up to watch other races, but everything is happening so fast that there’s no time to go up to the stand and besides the heat sheet which I printed off some days ago has changed and I’ve not noticed there’s an update.  Some people, who shall remain nameless, miss their races, so there’s a scramble to look at Head coach, Michelle’s up to date copy.  Michelle and Coach Martin are on poolside watching everyone swim as is Steve, who also coaches for Otter.  I’m doing the Individual Medley (one length of each stroke) which I haven’t swum since I was nineteen.  I’ve been doing some work on butterfly and my nemesis, breaststroke.  In the end it goes quite well but this might be for the last time.

Martin and Peppe.... Peppe swam 200m butterfly and made it look a breeze.

Martin and Peppe.... Peppe swam 200m butterfly and made it look a breeze.

Interspersed are 25m races for the learners and ducklings.  Lessons Coach, Vicky has done amazing work teaching people to swim and passing them on to the development lanes.  This is their chance to get experience of racing and we all cheer them on enthusiastically.  Prizes can be collected once the age group results go up on the wall and Oonagh and team are sitting behind a window, crunching numbers and doing things with a computer. 

Controllers Oonagh and Matthew crunching numbers.

Controllers Oonagh and Matthew crunching numbers.

Jean continues to announce, ranging around with a radio microphone telling us who is swimming in which lane and managing to interpolate impromptu interviews with competitors from all the clubs and volunteers.  Distance Coach Alex, who negotiated the deal here at the Centre is looking cool and glam, seemingly imperturbable in all the excitement

Jean interviews another swimmer poolside.

Jean interviews another swimmer poolside.

There’s a break of ten minutes between sessions – only enough time to swim-down after a relay (which hurt) before diving back into the fray for three more races and a medley relay.  I’ve elected to do Backstroke (number one stroke) but all the others are younger and faster – time for cramp to set in.  No wonder as it’s been seven races in three and a half hours. 

It’s off to the crowded & noisy Cow pub for a beer.  I take a last look at the pool which, now deserted, has returned to tranquillity as if none of this had ever happened.  But we know it did and our bodies are telling us it did. 

The aquatic centre glowing in the dark.

The aquatic centre glowing in the dark.


 

GLLAM 2014 - a day to remember...

Added on by Thomas Harris.

We would love to expand this write-up with perspectives from various people who experienced GLLAM 2014.  Please send your perspectives (including photos) to committee members who will continue to edit this piece and gather them together into a cohesive whole...

You can find a link to the GLLAM final results at the bottom of the article.


Saturday 29 March 2014 will go down in history as a very significant day: the day that gay marriage became legal in England & Wales, and a day deserving of much celebration within both gay and straight communities.  

In the midst of such an historic moment, Out To Swim, the 22-year old swimming and water polo club for gays, lesbians and their friends was celebrating in its own way – enjoying a most fabulous swimming meet at the Aquatic centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford.  GLLAM (the Gay & Lesbian London Aquatic Meet), has now established itself on the Masters’ swimming calendar in the UK, and is simply the swim meet to be seen at.  Visitors from clubs all over the UK and Europe, gay and straight, came together to compete, meet up with old friends, and have a great day out.

What an amazing venue!  From the moment we arrived, each of us knew this was going to be special and a little bit different.  The freshly opened aquatic centre is stunning.  Gone is the rather clumsy extra seating extending out on each side (which nevertheless served us well when we went to watch our swimming heroes in 2012).  Instead, the visitor is greeted by vast floor to ceiling windows, curving up to touch the undulating wave of the roof on top.  For those of us arriving early, the magic was only compounded by the initial emptiness of the centre, the sun streaming in from all sides onto the sparkling jewel in the British aquatic crown: the mighty Olympic pool, and its famous sister, the 5 metre deep diving pool.  Although configured for GLLAM in a two by 25 metre arrangement (as opposed to the long-course 50 metre length), jumping into that Olympic pool was an experience few of us will forget.  Swimming backstroke at four in the afternoon during warm-up, spectators and curious members of the public appeared as shadowy silhouettes, and even the newest swimmer must have felt rather special.

 

The GLLAM team!  With thanks and acknowledgement to George Gardiner for the photograph

The GLLAM team!  With thanks and acknowledgement to George Gardiner for the photograph


Sporting bright pink and blue GLLAM T-shirts, our GLLAM volunteers did a great job of shepherding us all to our races, especially as we never did quite work out whether lane 10 was lane 0, or whether we needed to subtract one from the lane number on the heat sheet; or did we have to double the lane number and take away the number we first thought of?  In any case, most of us made our races (including the 25 metre duckling races) and we enjoyed seeing our names pop up on the huge electronic results screen for all the world to see.  Our now legendary GLLAM announcer, Jean (Stephen L’s tireless mother), gave us minute-by-minute updates on what was happening, including “vox populi” interviews with swimmers and visitors from around the centre; another touch that sets GLLAM apart.

The competition ended with the squadron race.  This is always a scramble and  Otter swimming club deserves a special mention as it seems they were the only team to realise (correctly) that 600 metres divided by 50 metres equals 12 – while every Out To Swim team ran only 10 swimmers – no wonder we finished so quickly... but we all had fun.

For the GLLAM social, a group of happy but tired swimmers and their friends gathered for drinks at “The Cow”, a pub adjacent to the Olympic Park entrance.  Bemused local Strafordians looked on as we turned their Saturday night watering hole into an impromptu gay & lesbian bar – but most of them had to admit that the evening (and the music) was the better for it!

Every one of our volunteers, referees, starters, planners and organisers deserves a huge thank you from every member of the club – but we must call out Alex D for all the hard work she put in as GLLAM project manager.  I know there were some scary moments in the run-up to that initial starting gun, but from a competitor’s perspective, everything ran like clockwork.  

Thank you Out To Swim!!   


And here are the results...

Great New location for Open Water swimmers! (In N16)

Added on by Kevin Stewart.

Out to Swim Swimmers in the capital are invited to take the plunge in London’s newest open water swimming venue

New for 2014 - Regular open water swimming sessions have been planned to run, subject to demand, every Tuesday & Thursday mornings, Thursday evening, & Saturday and Sunday mornings. These sessions will run from March to October 2014. Induction sessions will be held every Thursday evening and Saturday mornings.

Many of us took part in the last race of the year (Oct 2013) in this great open water venue. In fact it has lockers, changing facilities and hot showers to warm up in after..... and the water quality is tip top too! 

Why not get in touch with other open water swimmers in the club and take a venture to N16 and swim in this great place. I know several great pubs just a stroll away too should you require rehydration and carb loading post swim! 

To find out more head to their website

Sport relief 80km bike ride

Added on by Christophe Claux.

While the rest of OTS were most likely in bed, the social directors Big and Little Chris were taking part in the Sport Relief 80km bike ride raising money for a good cause at 7am on Sunday morning. 

They had to endure wind and rain but still managed to complete the course in a time of 3.5 hours. Not bad given that one of the Chris's hadn't even been on a bike for over 6 months. 

Check out the photo of Big Chris looking slightly odd with cycling legend Victoria Pendleton.

Out to Inspire. Out to Win. Out to Swim

 

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Sport Relief - Another Out To Swim Champion

Added on by Chris Richards.

4 x 5K for Sport Relief
In preparation for SwimTrek training next week (that’ll involve 10K a day for five days with a six hour day in the middle…) and as training for a Gibraltar strait crossing in October, I (Emily C) signed up for the 5K Swimathon Sport Relief Challenge.

In 2012, 5K would have been a huge feat for me, these days I swim around 4(ish)K three mornings a week plus evening club swims. So I thought I’d do the distance of Gibraltar strait - 20K split into chunks over 30 hours.

The first was out of the way on Thursday morning at Mile End while Pete and Lucci were doing their Michelle’s set. I swam 1k as warm up, and then 4 x 1k. By the last kilometre, the smell of chlorine was getting up my nose and I was feeling on the nauseous side... back in the pool in the evening with OTS.

  • Thurs morning: 5x1k with 2k in fins. (1hr 46min)
  • Thurs evening: club set with OTS 2.4k (55min)
  • Fri morning set 3.4k + 16x100 + 2.6k swim. (2hr 45)
  • Fri 12pm: 5k hard out, non stop! (1:26:40)
Emily whooshing along in her green hat! 

Emily whooshing along in her green hat! 

Between the morning swim and the final 5k, I had two hours to spare to neck down a jacket potato and a bottle of iced tea. I've set my goal as near to 1hr30 as possible. The long leg suit is the only costume I have left that is dry, so on it went. The guy counting laps was constantly on FB, luckily I've got a lap counter watch which I was determined not to look at it for as long as possible.  The first 2k whooshed past. The two breast stroking guys were very nice and let me pass and turn every three lengths.  I counted the 3rd K as 10x100. At 4k I was flagging a bit and losing speed, so I paused for a few seconds to have a drink and dolphin kicked a length. Finally the last K came, I found my second wind somewhere in that tighty onesie, I kept a nice and strong pace till the last ten lengths and went out for a sprint finish. Job done plus 400 swim down, Michelle says she's proud (of the swim down maybe?).

Thank you for everyone who donated to Sport Relief, until the next challenge!
PS now I have DOMS like I'd weight lifted for two days and arms hang out like Hugh Jackman (or maybe I think I walk like Hugh Jackman but actually more like Sponge Bob)

It's still not too late to donate to a great cause, just click here.

I'm freezing like Sunday morning

Added on by Thomas Harris.

Well, would you believe it?  On 9 March - a gorgeous bright and sunny Sunday morning - an intrepid crew of Out To Swimmers ventured off to Tooting Bec Lido to defend the Heron Cup in the annual invitation gala hosted by South London Swimming Club.  As reigning champions, the pressure was on.  

Sadly, we failed to hold onto the cup for 2014.   But there were still some very impressive individual swims and relay events, many of which we won.  It's fair to say that anyone braving that water deserves an award of some kind - the water was f-f-f-freezing!  Swim hats were donned and a steely determination entered the eye of each swimmer waiting to dive in for their 25 metre width.

After the torture, everyone cheered themselves up with a selection of homemade cakes and biscuits - the perfect way to round off a great morning's swimming.

 

The Out To Swim team…. we'll be back next year!

The Out To Swim team…. we'll be back next year!

OTS Triumph - Welsh Open Masters

Added on by Thomas Harris.

A HUGE congratulations to our fabulous trio of OTS swimmers who headed off to Swansea at the weekend.  While our AGM was in full flow, Lizzie B, Gillian H and Martin B were swimming their socks off in the Olympic-sized pool at the Welsh Open Masters.  The whole OTS team put in some excellent individual swims (including five gold medals and four silver), but the headline news was that Lizzie smashed the British record for the 50 metre butterfly by a whopping 0.42 seconds.   Her time was 29.72 seconds.

Anyone who has seen Lizzie rocket across a swimming pool at full thrust, normally with clear blue water between her and the rest of the pack, knows that this was well deserved and a fine achievement.  The greatest threat to this particular record is Lizzie’s famed tenacity in trying to shave yet more hundredths of a second off her own time.

I understand that the post-competition team celebration was a very sober affair.  There certainly wasn’t anything reckless going on like, say, a bottle of champagne on the train home... Oh no....

Llongyfarchiadau Lizzie, Gillian a Martin!

Our fabulous trio!

Our fabulous trio!

The Russian Open Games by Robert Wintemute

Added on by Chris Richards.

On 29 March, we will celebrate the first marriages of same-sex couples in England and Wales, and GLLAM 2014.  We should be very grateful for our equal rights and freedoms in the UK, because neither same-sex marriage nor LGBT swimming is possible in Russia at the moment.

Rob Wintemute attempted to represent Out To Swim as the only British participant at the Russian (LGBT) Open Games, held in Moscow from 26 Feb to 3 March, right after the Sochi Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, the Russian Open Games suffered serious disruption, as a result of last-minute cancellation of sports venues, bomb threats, and a real smoke bomb at the basketball venue.  After the organisers’ original swimming pool booking was cancelled, and their last-minute replacement booking was cancelled (because of a bomb threat?), they were unable to find another pool in the Moscow area that would accept their booking. This meant that there was no swimming competition.  Elvina Yuvakaeva and Konstantin Yablotskiy, Co-Presidents of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, kindly awarded Rob a gold medal for supporting the Games! He also met Greg Louganis, the openly gay winner of 4 Olympic diving gold medals, at the opening ceremony.  Presenters of medals for sports other than swimming included the Dutch Minister for Sport, the Dutch Ambassador, and the Norwegian Deputy Ambassador. The US Embassy held a (smokebomb-free) basketball game at the Embassy between its diplomats and the organisers of the Games. Rob’s attempt to swim on his own in Moscow’s 1980 Olympic pool was thwarted by a rule that all swimmers must present a medical certificate before using the pool!

Prof. Robert Wintemute (Professor of Human Rights Law)
School of Law, King's College London, Strand