Monday, October 28, 2013

Pain in the old bum!

Dear Swimmers

Hope you’re enjoying this splendid spring weather - it’s been a long time coming!

This is a rather ‘weird’ email update in that it might well read to be a bit vain and self-important on my part, however, that is not my intention! ;-)

Many of you have been really lovely this last few weeks asking me how I’m getting on with my sore back. I wanted to let you know that I’m very appreciative of the care and consideration you’re showing this 35 year old who’s walking around like he’s 80!

If you’re not aware I had a bad back way back in March when I flew over to the UK. This lasted for 2.5-3 weeks but then went away pretty quickly, luckily well in time for Manhattan in June. There was no one specific incident that triggered it off, I simply think it’s a combination of poor posture and having two kiddies under the age of 5 who I spend a lot of time carrying etc. The hardest thing recently has been the feeling that I can’t get down on the ground and play games with them as it hurts too much! Following Manhattan the plan was to spend more time playing with the kids and less time in the water training for a big event, but sadly the back hasn’t helped this cause and that’s been a tad upsetting for me.

Since getting back from the US in July I’ve been suffering from a lot of lower back pain, which is always worse on the early morning sessions when it’s at it’s stiffest. With the brilliant help of my physio wife Michelle and more recently Christine Lowe (squad swimmer and from Horizon Physiotherapy in Scarborough) and referrals from Dr Lorry Dembo (also in the squad), we’ve managed to ascertain with an MRI scan last week that I have indeed herniated my L5/S1 lower lumbar disc which is causing me a lot of pain down my right leg, even to the point of making it neigh-on impossible to put my socks on in the morning!! To say I’m feeling old before my time would be a massive understatement!! After 12 weeks of this I’m a little fed up with it as I’m sure those of you who’ve suffered bad back problems will attest to. I’ve kept this relatively quiet, but if you’ve noticed me grimacing or being a little quieter / grumpier than normal on some mornings, this is why.

On Friday I had a shot of cortisone into the area which will hopefully help to alleviate some of the swelling. It’s then a case of utilising the following to hopefully strengthen up the area so I don’t fall foul of this again:

  • pilates / physio with Chris and Michelle
  • stand-up office (pictured - as recommended by Ray S from the squad - thanks Ray, works a treat!)
  • inverted traction machine
  • funny MBT shoes to correct my posture on pool deck
  • experimenting with different sleeping positions

So why tell you all this? Why be seemingly so full of self-importance that you should need to know about my injury woes? Well if you’ve ever experienced chronic pain before, it’s very easy to get yourself into a “woe is me” cycle when every time you think about the pain, it’s a constant reminder that something is wrong. I’ve always seemed to come through injuries in the past when I focused less on the pain and more on the management of that injury. That’s not to ignore it in the hope it just goes away, but to channel my energies on the positive of getting better. This all seems like common sense of course, but it’s very easy to fall down and start getting a little grumpy about it all when the reality is that I am in a good deal of pain when most of you see me on pool deck. However, rather than seek your sympathy, I am hoping that we can do the exact opposite - I will aim to keep a bright, cheery face on at each session but request please that despite knowing you’re simply showing an interest when you ask “how’s the back?”, if you could refrain from doing so, that’d be really appreciated. For me it just tends to trigger off the negative cycle of the awareness of the pain.

So what can you do? Tell me about you of course! Or if you’re really keen, ask me how my big butt is coming along…?! Chris and Mish both agree I need to work on developing my glutes, so if you see my buns of steel starting to bulge then you know I’m on the right track! Lastly, you’d laugh if you’d heard the doctor who did my MRI suggest that I might like to consider taking up swimming, as the irony of all this is that swimming and having my back in extension is one of the best sources of relief for me, so long as I don’t do too many tumble-turns - the river it is then!! :-)

Thanks again for all your well wishes, I really appreciate them, for now I realise I need to get out of this negative cycle and start moving positively forward and your assistance with this will be awesome.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Training this weekend

Dear Swimmers - hope you enjoyed those "evil" 100s in the pool this morning - I know I enjoyed cracking the whip!! ;-)

Don't forget that despite the school holidays and the Royal Show, Saturday's 1-2pm squad session at Claremont Pool will be on tomorrow. It's a cracking session to come and hone your open water skills and also work hard and have fun!

Also, in case you missed last night's free webinar about our 2014 Rottnest Channel Swim Program, that can be now viewed here (73 minutes):

Finally, subject to my slightly niggly shoulders being ok, I should be at Challenge Stadium tomorrow morning in the Outdoor 10 lane pool completing a 3000m Time Trial if you care to join me at 530am.

Have a good weekend.



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tonight's Rottnest Channel Swim Program Q & A location

Dear Swimmers

If you're planning to "attend" tonight's Rottnest Channel Swim Program Q & A, you'll be able to see us live at:

...for those of you who registered your email address, you should have received a direct invitation which will allow you to participate in the conversation.

Hope to "see" some of you then!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2014 Rottnest Channel Swim Q&A, 8pm Thursday 3rd October 2013

Dear Swimmers

Please be reminded of two notes this week:

  1. those of us doing the 2014 Rottnest Channel Swim (be it Solo, Duo, or Team) will be swimming down at the Claremont Jetty tomorrow morning (Thursday 3rd October), meeting at 5.45am and hopefully in the water by 6am. Sunrise is ~5.51am. As this is our first foray down there for a few months, we will take the opportunity to suss out the 1km out and back course (for those of you new to this loop) and aim to swim 2-5km depending on where you're at with your program. Last year I got into the habit of doing a really solid 10km swim (5 loops of 2km) every Thursday and it was a great chance to practice pacing, sighting and of course nutrition. Don't be scared by those distances, most were swimming 4-6km on this particular session. It is likely to be cold tomorrow (15-16ÂșC) so wetsuits might be well advised for some of you and that you shouldn't push yourselves too hard on this first time down - no need to be a hero! This swim is entirely at your own risk, so please take care and we'll try to buddy up with someone of similar speed. I will personally be participating in this swim each week, so besides this first introduction to the Jetty, I will not be down at the Jetty in a coaching capacity, but as a swimmer like you all (at least pre-swim...I'm usually a lot more chatty post-swim!). The water depth is typically no more than 1.5-2.5m and is usually quite clear. There is the occasional jelly fish to contend with but the biggest risk is people swimming into each other on the out & back loop, so please stay vigilant and practice your sighting!!
  2. as mentioned I will be running a Q&A session free of charge tomorrow evening online at 8pm (WST) for ~1hr using a "Google Hangout" as per: to answer any questions about our 21 week program leading up to the Rottnest Channel Swim on the 22nd February 2014. I would please ask that you have fully familiarised yourself with the program at and you come prepared to listen in and ask any outstanding questions that the program doesn't answer. I would please prefer not to waste time answering questions that are already contained within the program (i.e. Where is Claremont Jetty? What date is the swim?) but would like to get into some detail about best training practices, technique tips, shoulder injury management, nutrition strategies, boat skippering and navigation etc. This will be the best use of our time. You may need to download the Google Hangout Plugin and if you are intending to "attend" please flick me over your google email address (or email address linked to your google account) and I'll add you in as a guest. This will be strictly first-come, best-dressed and will allow you participate in the video and ask questions. You will of course be able to still see the Hangout without this access if you simply visit the page above and for those of you who can't make it, we plan to record the session and post out a YouTube link on Friday so you can catch up. This is my first time running a fully-fledged Hangout, so fingers crossed it all goes smoothly! You might find it to be a good platform to even use in your own businesses.

Cheers and hope to see some of you tomorrow, either in the water or on t'internet!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaststrokeathon December 1, 2013

Take on a brand new swim challenge with Breaststrokeathon - a 6 hour team based fundraising challenge on December 1 with exciting prizes & a great atmosphere guaranteed. Visit Breast Cancer Care WA to find out more & register now: