English Channel

At swimmers beach , Dover Harbor, Dover UK

 

I am a Triple Crown Relay swimmer, having completed the Manhattan Island circumnavigation and the Catalina Channel. The English Channel was everything I had hoped and dreamed. I will be posting a recap. We did it. Team Channeling Greatness in 14:20:00 from Samphire Hoe under the stunning White Cliffs of Dover to the coastline of Wissant Beach, France. Dreams happen.

Swimming the English Channel – approaching the coast of France

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Before and after photos. 4 Years at the Jim McDonnell Lake Swims

I love the Jim McDonnell swims. Hugh and I have been attending these Memorial Day weekend swims for the past 4 years. Little did I know back in 2014 how much I would change. It has been a lot of fun and hard work. It has not always been easy but it has always been worth it. So just a short little post to show off some before and after. Because if I can do this, anyone can do this. More to come. Cheers!

Weeze before the 1 miler, 2014

Jim McDonnell Lake Swims, 3rd place medal in the mile , May 25 , 2015

Jim McDonnell Lake swim May 2016, 3rd in the mile swim

4 years of hard work

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A little Q&A in support of Harrisburg Area Community College

I got interviewed for a little email blurb at HACC – it is a nice write up and includes some fun stuff about our March Ice Swim!

HACC Spotlight on

 

  1. How long have you worked at HACC? I began working at HACC on January 11, 2016.
  2. How did you get into long-distance swimming? I began swimming during my lunch hour for the past 15 years. In 2012 a friend of mine passed along information about a swim around the Statue of Liberty. She knew that I swam a lot and thought I might be interested. I did not know anything about open water swimming or distance swimming at that time. So I learned about open water training and what it would take to complete a swim around the Statue of Liberty. In 2013 I completed the swim and I loved it. Since then I continued to train and complete longer and longer open water swims.
  3. What was your greatest victory? I think my greatest personal success so far was completing the 13.2 Stage 3 Hudson River Swim in 2015. I swam from the Mid-Hudson Bridge south to the Newburgh Beacon Bridge. It took me just a little over five hours and really showed me that I was capable of a very long endurance solo swim.
  4. What was your greatest challenge? Last summer I competed in the Lake Hopatcong 9.11 Memorial Swim. This was a 9-mile lake swim. Lake swims can be incredibly challenging because you generally receive no current or tidal assistance and the weather can also be challenging. It was a very hard swim and I pushed myself harder than I had ever done in previous swims.
  5. What’s an ice swim like? I just competed in my first ice swim on March 4 and 5, 2017 (Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival in Vermont). I had begun training in colder water in preparation for the English Channel. I had not intentionally started out to become an ice swimmer but when a friend of mine encouraged me to try an ice swim this winter, I agreed. This particular ice swim turned out to be beyond anything any of us had planned for. The water was 30F with an air temp of 0F (zero degrees F). In addition, the wind was wicked –with gusts between 20-30mph so the wind chill made the air feel like -27F. It was bitterly cold – so by the time we got into the water, the 30F water felt warmer than the air. I loved the ice swim – cold cold water moves and feels different. And when you emerge you feel more alive then you have ever felt before.

getting into 30F water in Vermont, March 2017 – ice swimming

 

  1. How are you preparing to swim the English Channel? The English Channel is called the “Everest of Open Water Swims.” It requires amazing physical endurance, stamina and strength and also amazing mental endurance. I am beginning to swim longer distances and adding a lot of swimming during the week. I swim very early in the morning before work and throughout the weekend. I average right now about 10,000 yards per week and will build that to over 50,000 yards per week as I get closer to the date to swim the channel. I am also training to find the most efficient way to fuel my body during the swim, which I expect will take me about 18 hours from England to France. I am also adding weight lifting and I need to also swim outdoors in lakes and oceans as much as possible. Lastly, I need to complete a solo qualifying swim of six hours in water that is 60F or less. I am hoping to complete that qualifying swim in April.

 

  1. What have you learned from swimming that you apply to your job at HACC?  I have learned to be happy and to be grateful. Swimming in the open water has helped me to appreciate how important it is to try and live in the moment and be happy. I think that is something many people struggle with in life and work. I know I have. The more I swim, the more I realize how we need to remind ourselves about the things in life that make us happy. And to be grateful for those things.

To view one of the Vermont ice swims, check out this video.

Louise will swim the English Channel as part of a 6-person relay team between July 29 and Aug. 5, 2017. In August 2018, she will swim the English Channel solo.

Stay tuned to learn more about Louise’s journey to the English Channel!

 

 

 

 

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Being a coach!

My USMS ALTS group, Philadelphia 2016

I had not planned on becoming a coach. How I became a coach is a great story. Hugh might say I became a coach the moment I finished my first swim around the Statue of Liberty and told him he could do it too. And indeed he did. It was fun watching Hugh do what he thought impossible. Long legs and 6’4″ frame dragging along the bottom of the lap lanes.
I love coaching. I became a certified US Master Swimming Adult Learn to Swim Instructor in 2016. The USMS ALTS program is exceptional. In this, I learned the basics of how to teach an adult to swim. I have had the honor of teaching several to swim now. Building on that, I recently became certified as a Level 1 & 2 swim coach – also through USMS. I have now begun teaching those who wish to excel – including new and seasoned triathletes.

Teaching adults

I am now offering swim clinics and serving as the resident swim coach for the Cumberland Valley Endurance Club. In addition, I am also helping out with the newly created TufStufHershey website – another exceptional resources for triathletes in the Central PA area. Trying to give Swimming a great name.

Sarah, the creator of the TufStuf site asked if I would provide an open water checklist for athletes. I was happy to do this. I have included the checklist I created on this blog , under the Training and Coaching page. Check it out.

You can also check out my coaching activities, open water clinics and information via the following Social Media sites which I manage and represent:

Louise Darlington Coaching [professional Facebook page]

Pennsylvania Open Water Swimming [public Facebook page I created and managed to provide open water resources and information for Pennsylvania]

TufStufHershey.com – site for all things tri related in Hershey and Central PA area

Cumberland Valley Endurance Club – triathlon group for Cumberland Valley area

US Masters website coach locator – to locate certified US Masters Coaches and clubs in your area

Get swimming – cheers!

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Dreams

Five months and counting. I am focusing on dreams. I have decided to try and write again. Recently read a tidy quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  Best effort … again… at creating that future.

Hope you are all well.
Cheers , with more hopefully to come
Louise

 

 

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Goodbye blog

Hi all – there will not be any blog posts in the coming months. Thanks to all my readers and followers. If I have inspired one person – I am grateful . Thank you – life is good 

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One step at a time …

still swimming - ending my second leg of the Catalina Channel relay, Tuesday Sept 15, 2015

still swimming – ending my second leg of the Catalina Channel relay, Tuesday Sept 15, 2015

The summer of 2015 has been a challenge. I have been away from the blog – but wanting to return. And I will. I want to finish the tale of Fuji and also to relate 2 of my most wonderful swims – that I was lucky to complete this summer thanks to friendship. Without friendship and the love of others it would have continued down a very dark hole. No rabbit hole for me. One step at a time back and on to new paths.

Here’s a few photos of a few of those beloved friends from the 2 relay swims I completed – thanks to them. Just a few words right now – but I promise to get back and tell you all about Fuji, Boston Light and the amazing Catalina Channel – jelly fish and all! Until then, let your friends and family know how much they mean to you. Cheers!

Our Boston Light Relay finish - August 15, 2015

Our Boston Light Relay finish – August 15, 2015

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Our winning Catalina Channel Relay team - swimmers, kayakers, observers and support! September 14-15, 2015

Our winning Catalina Channel Relay team – swimmers, kayakers, observers and support! September 14-15, 2015

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Mt. Fuji …chapter 2 … back again

welcome to 5th Station

welcome to 5th Station

We left off with Hugh collapsed in  our hotel room suffering the effects of the unsavory breakfast ham that ravaged his body for the better part of the day. Round about midnight he was  once again coherent yet unable to keep anything down. Max reappeared later in the evening after several hours exploring the pubs and assorted off-street temples of Mishima. Hugh would survive.

Morning rose and Hugh agreed that we could attempt to catch the local bus to Kawaguchiko Station. This little hamlet is nestled near the base of Fuji and fashioned to look like a quaint little Austrian town. From the local bus, you can then catch the direct line that will transport folks to the 5th or middle station of Mt. Fuji. Most seasonal climbers begin their climb of Fuji at the 5th station as opposed to the actual base of the mountain. The 5th Station is also fashioned like a little Austrian village – except for the random red Tori gate.

Hugh assured us he could make the trip as long as we did not attempt to feed him. We caught the bus in Mishima and headed out to Fuji by 10am. Our plan was to make the 4 hour bus trip and begin our climb by 2pm. We were on. The bus ride was uneventful. Lots of green lush Japanese landscape and fun little scenic roads. We arrived at Kawaguchiko and deposited our luggage into several rental lockers made available to those planning the overnight hike on Fuji. Opting only for backpacks filled with the necessities, we got tickets for the 5th station bus and headed out. The weather forecast was overcast – clouds on the mountain and no rain. Great climbing conditions. We arrived at 5th station and got ourselves ready – back again to conquer Fuji at last!

ready to climb!

ready to climb!

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Climbing Mt Fuji … part 1… don’t eat the ham.

Max and Hugh ready for the climb, July 15, 2014

Max and Hugh ready for the climb, July 15, 2014

As much as I wanted to remain on the couch, I decided to spend 15 minutes getting back to the blog. I do not know what lies ahead but I know I have wanted to get in my story of finally getting to the top of Mt. Fuji. As I looked back at the photos, I cannot believe that it was exactly one year ago this week that I found myself on top of the world. The past few weeks have been a challenge for me. As I had posted – life changes. I made some more changes in my life. Ones I hope are for the better. I think they will be but change is hard. And I do not like the unknown. The unknown is scary. Funny as I write that I think how I have come to be able to jump into a river, ocean, lake that is filled with the unknown. Why does life scare me so much then? All these thoughts as I look back on Mt. Fuji.

I promised myself I would capture this. I decided to tackle it as I tackled the mountain itself. It bits and pieces – writing for a moment each evening. It will be fun to relive it.

So … how does one climb Mt. Fuji?  Mt. Fuji is the heart and soul of Japan. I have a friend who teaches Japanese and has traveled around Japan numerous times , but has yet to even see Fuji-San. Yet you can travel into the heart of Japan and gaze out the window of a train to see her rising tall above the clouds. Fuji is amazing. Formed from a volcano, Mt. Fuji is the perfect mountain shape. Reimagined over centuries by artists, poets, writers, and photographers. Hugh had climbed Fuji is the 70’s while in the Navy visiting Japan. His tale of reaching the summit is nothing short of hysterical. How three novice navy guys managed to make it to the summit wearing shorts, sneakers and very little else. It is a great tale. When we visited in 2012, the year after the Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami, we had gone to Mt. Fuji to climb once more. Hugh, Max and Lauren had made it to the top. Mary and I had made it to the 8th station and then collapsed in one of the mountain huts to sleep, eat and consider why anyone would climb a mountain.

Hugh knew I wanted to reach the summit. Knowing that we had already been gifted with the best climbing weather in 2012 – we dared to plan a return to the mountain on our 2014 trip to visit Max in his home away from home in Japan.

I wanted to get to the top this time around. Our Fuji adventure began the afternoon following our open water swim with Roger. Our plan was to leave Suruga Bay, return to Mishima , grab our luggage and catch the local bus that would take us north to Mt. Fuji. We had made arrangements to stay in a youth hostel for the evening and set out for Fuji the following morning. All was going according to plan until we stopped for lunch – at which point Hugh excused himself and proceeded to spend the next hour in the bathroom becoming violently ill. We all managed to finally coax him into the car for the short drive back to our hotel in Mishima. Roger, Lindsey and Ishii wished us well for they had their own plans to head north for Roger’s swim. Max and I headed into the hotel with Hugh staggering between us. Hugh’s condition deteriorated to the point that I suggested perhaps we needed to get to a hospital. Max reminded me that in Japan, trips to the hospital are typically reserved for those who are about to die. Indeed, when we inquired at the front desk about the nearest hospital, the 2 attendants stared at me as if I were from Mars. Ok, no hospital. We made arrangements to stay another night, cancelled the youth hostel at Fuji and got Hugh upstairs to the room so he could collapse under the pressing weight of food poisoning. I was sure it was the breakfast ham that did him in. Assured that Hugh would not die, Max asked if he might go exploring the sights of Mishima and off he went. I took advantage of the down time and slept. Fuji would wait.

 

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Charleston SC swim camp and done

the team (L to R): Coach Lance (on deck), Maria, Janine, Matt, John, Eli, Bryan, Hugh, Louise, Markus, Jennifer and Sil

the team (L to R): Coach Lance (on deck), Maria, Janine, Matt, John, Eli, Bryan, Hugh, Louise, Markus, Janet and Sil

We did Charleston. A very quick early morning recap of our first ever swim camp. Hugh and I smashed it. Here are the recaps:

  • arrived Wednesday to chuck town. Janine scored us an awesome beach house in Isles of Palms. Master bedroom suite (with heat) for the coldest C Town weekend n record.
  • early rise for our first swim session 7:30-9:00am at LTP 25yd pool. Met Lance – awesome guy – began to kick our butts with sets of 100s, 250s, 50, and drills
  • hit the race expo for Cooper River Bridge run, back to the house and got to visit with buddy Tom “Killer” – wonderful, nap time before the 4pm evening sets. back to the pool for some video review and another mix of longer sets and drills. Found I was swimming a 1:45 for 10×100 – thrilled!
  • home and bed for next day of the same sets and drills but only more so
  • Friday am sets – moved into the middle lane with John, Sil and Maria – doing 300s – and was thrilled. Then back to the house for more napping before the evening sets and happy hour.
  • Friday night – more and more and more swimming – threw in some 500s for fun.
  • Saturday morning woke at 4:30 for the run – out of the house by 5:30 arriving at Mamie Whitesides Middle school for the shuttle bus to the run. Arrived to a 40 degree Charleston morning – saw paratroopers jump from the planes above us with the American Flag gliding below them as 40,000 runners sang the national anthem – wow
  • Hugh and I managed to shoot some great shots while we ran – he was about 4 minutes ahead of me
  •  we finished the run and got right to the bus shuttle to get back to the car – hoping to make it back to the beach house in time for the open water swim with the crew
  • made it back to the house as the gang were finishing up the swim – water temp was 57 – Hugh and I decided to jump in after Lance gave me a few tips on how to tell if you get too cold. The water felt amazing – I wanted to stay in longer but the group had been there over an hour and it was chilly- we left the water feeling energized. So Hugh and I managed a decent 15 min swim in 57 degrees – wahoo
  • Hugh , Janine and I hit the Acme Low Country Kitchen for some grits and biscuits before the evening swim and BBQ at Lance and Carly’s
  • Evening set was another grueling one with more of the same speed, drills and some distance.
  • Great BBQ where we got to relax and chat
  • Sunday morning wake up to another even colder morning – hit the pool by 7:30. Did a great 1.5 hours in the pool followed by a video Swim Smooth session with Lance – found out what I need to work on – and got back in the pool for some specific coaching from the only Swim Smooth certified coach in the US – amazing
  • jumped out by 12 noon , showered and on the way to the 2pm plane – feeling grateful, energized and slightly exhausted!
  • Thank you Charleston
weeze at the beach

weeze at the beach

until next time – be well and be good to one another!

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