Category Archives: Open Water Swimming

Cliff Jumping in the Med.

There is something about standing on something that is not man made. Knowing that you are going to throw yourself off of it and land in to the crystal clear waters of the mediterranean sea. The adrenaline rush you get is just the same on your 100th cliff  jump as it is on your first.

Barry doing a back flip off a rock
Doing a back flip is all about commitment

Then when you get a little more adventurous you can always try doing some back flips. We did quite a few here we were stuck in split in Croatia with engine problems. While waiting for our reconditioned head to come back. We had to keep ourselves amused somehow.To be honest a back flip is not that hard a manouvre. It all comes down to commitment. Basically as long as you look for the water and your landing spot as you take off. Your feet will automatically come over your head. You then just have to control the speed of your rotation rather than the thought of am i going to get round.

Barry half way round his back flip off a cliff
The key to the move is to look for your landing

There are a couple of very important things to remember before you attempt any cliff jump however high. First and most important is to check your landing area for depth of water and obstructions. We always went for a swim around the whole landing area before we jumped off anything. Even if the water is crystal clear you still cannot check your landing area without going for a swim.

spot your landing and you will rotate automatically
Always a good feeling once you have hit the water with the rotation complete

Second on landing always keep your arms and legs tucked in . you dont have to jump from very high before water becomes a very hard substance to land in. Especially if you dont land how you intended. We actually saw a lad who had dislocated his shoulder through not tucking his arms in on landing. Luckily for him as he was trying to get out of the water he raised his arm up and his shoulder popped back in. You could see on his face a mixture of sheer pain and sheer relief at the same time.

cruising the south of France by boat is a must.
Anchored in port miou in the south of France Lee takes the first leap from the top

The picture above and the picture below were taken in Port Miou a glorious place to spend a couple of days and a perfect place for cliff jumping. You can see where i was going to jump from. Lee however climbed straight to the top and jumped straight off. So you can imagine i had no choice then but to follow him to the top and then follow him down the easy way and jump off.

cliff jumping always turns in to a true adrenalin rush.
Lee went from the top so i thought i better go from the top as well.

I worked out the height here to be roughly 35 feet or so. The mast on our boat Cedilla was 36f plus about 4 feet to the waterline and standing on the top of ther cliff. The top of the mast was clearly visible. It might of been 40f it was however at least 35f. No back flips from that height though. just along from where we jumped there is a cliff of about 60 to 70 feet that the local lads were jumping from. i thought about it for about 10 seconds. Then sanity set in and i reminded myself that we still had another month of holiday to go yet and i did not want to spend it in intensive care. Eithe rthat or i just bottled it. WAHOO.

Total Immersion Two Beat Kick

When i swam competitively back in my teen years. Unfortunately now many years ago or should i say decades. We were taught stroke technique a specific way. I then did triathlons in my twenties and swam regularly with the kids as they grew up. Now though since getting in to open water swimming. The philosophy of swimming has changed greatly and this is where Total Immersion comes in.

The total immersion front crawl swim technique was devised by Terry Laughlin. Through many years of coaching and swimming himself. Through watching terry Laughlin,s videos and reading his book. i have come to the conclusion that the basis of masterin his front crawl technique is his version of the two beat kick.

For those of you new to swimming a two beat kick means that you kick once per arm stroke. This is very easy compared to a four or six beat kick. You cannot however do a four or six beat kick in long distance swimming. It uses up to much energy for yhe amount of forward momentum that it produces and you will tire very quickly. So the two beat kick is the only real option. The total immersion two beat kick is not really for forward momentum. It is more to get you in the right streamlined position. Meaning you will keep moving through the water with less resistance.

As i said the timing of the  kick is the key for each arm stroke. You kick with your left leg as your right arm enters the water. Which in turn pushes your right arm forward and automatically gets your left arm in to its recovery position. More on that later. The roll of the hips is also very important as you kick as this makes your body roll at the same time and also helps get you in that streamlined position that we are looking for.

The two beat kick is what i am working on with my swim technique at the moment i am getting there when swimming at a moderate pace. When i try to swim faster though my technique gets a bit shaky so more time in the water is needed to get it working automatically without me thinking and concentrating on it.

Check out the total immersion videos that i have put on my site and start swimming quicker why exerting less energy. I will update this post when i have totally got the two beat kick working to its full potential.

Open Water swimming (or not), Back in the Pool

It is that time of year again. The summer calm days have disappeared over the last couple of weeks and the autumn winds have arrived with a deluge of rain with it. Which is all well and good for supping and windsurfing. Not for open water swimming though. So it is time to get back in the pool.

We cannot complain though we have had a good run with the weather right through until nearly the middle of October and the water in the sea has been a decent temperature for swimming and still is. With a friend of mine Peter leigh we have had many a swim during the summer. With a lot of swims at Littlestone and Hythe. With our longest swim being between Dungeness and Littlestone lifeboat stations.

So we now have about 6 months of pool swimming to get both fitter and for me in particular some stroke technique improvement. petes tachnique is very good and he swims faster than i do while still being able to put in less effort. Mine on the other hand is scrappy to say the least. So my plan is to try and change my technique over to the TOTAL IMMERSION open water swimming technique.

Since we stopped swimming some 25 years ago many things we were taught have now been changed so things that are ingrained in the brain that we do automatically now have to be retaught. Which means many hours in the pool.

The first change i am working on is the two beat kick. I know this sounds silly as anyone who swims knows that the two beat kick is about the least energetic to do anyway so what is the big deal. The thing is the two beat kick in the Total immersion swim style is the basis to put you in the right stream lined position. I have only been back in the pool and have done about 4km in distance and i am only just getting the timing right. Kick at the right time and it gives you body roll and makes you streamlined. What i have done is put the Total immersion videos up on my site for everyone to look at. I will be giving regular updates on my progress in technique change. Hopefully by doing this by next spring this will of improved my open water swimming speed for next summer.

Lets see what happens and i will be honest whether i think the total immersion way of swimming is as good as i think it should be.