Archive for July, 2016

My mother-in-law is British, and sometimes she says things that sound so perfectly British with her accent, that her words will linger with me for days. For example, not too long ago when I was stuffing myself with BBQ ribs she had something perfectly brilliant to say:


Picture this… there I was, with sloppy fingers and mounds of messy, used napkins all around me. (not her good linen ones, fortunately!)  Finally, I patted my big belly and said I couldn’t eat another bite.

My mother-in-law took one long look at me, shook her head, and said: “Kate. You’ve got to swim with the body you’ve got, and stop this nonsense!”

“This nonsense” being the over-eating I was doing to try to gain weight.

She was right.  And I knew it.  I was not going to tackle the English Channel by stuffing myself with BBQ ribs. (but they were delicious!)

From my previous “donut” post, you will remember how I was tracking my weight-gaining progress. (I’ve added July here.)

January: 130 lbs.
February: 132
May: 136
June: 137
July: 139

I’m nearly at my goal of 140 and I’m happy about that, but I quickly realized that there was no way I could eat my way to becoming shiver-proof.  I still get goosebumps, and I still shiver, and so I’m stuck with this body I’ve got.

What I needed to do was figure out this “cold-water acclimatization thing.”  So I picked up The Chanel Swimming Manual by Geoff Cox, and read it again.  and again.  with a highlighter.  I was determined to figure this out.

Probably the most important drill I did was straight from the Manual (page 102, taken from the Channel Swimming Academy, Acclimatisation Brief).  The drill involves going through 3 acclimatisation cycles, getting in and out of very cold water three times over a period of 5-8 hours, with a 30-40 minute swim each time, and warming up for about 1-2 hours each time out.  (no warm showers either… just a towel and warm clothes to mimic being on a fishing boat, not a yacht.)

It’s true, your body will not want to go back in the water, but you must force yourself to do it.  The book says you will be pissed off.  The book was right. But do it anyway.

Moral of the story?  Hard work pays off, and it’s important to be grateful for what you have. My body allows me to do many things that I enjoy, both in & out of the water, and I am fortunate for all the experiences I’ve had.

Now it’s time for dinner… 🙂



The body is capable of so much more than we think.  I’ve been obsessed with how I’m going to get my body ready to swim in 60 degree water with no wetsuit.  I’ve read lots of books and researched many acclimatization techniques.  But today, a week out from the start of my swim window for the English Channel relay, I’ve circled all the way back around to what I knew from the start.  The mind-body connection is strong.

Yes, it’s important to do the cold water drills.  But equally important to recognize the roll the mind plays in all of this.  Every time I think about the risk of getting hypothermia during a cold water swim, I think to myself, “I’m not going out like that. That’s not me. No way.”  I don’t even take that thought into my subconscious brain.  I reject it immediately, and I say it out loud if I have to, “Absolutely NOT!”

One of the greatest sources of strength we have is to tap into the unlimited reservoir of imagery.  A technique used by the top athletes in the world, when we visualize the feeling we want, our body responds.

Start by visualizing exactly what you expect from your body, from start to finish.  If you can recall an event from your past when you had strength and success, tap into that. It’s as if you’re saying to your brain, “Forget what you know, trust this feeling I’m sending you.”

Funny thing is, as I begin this process, sometimes a sneaky smile rolls across my face because it feels like I’m up to no good.  (It’s that smile you get when you’re about to go skinny dipping in someone else’s pool!)  It feels like I’m about to do something clandestine, because I  know the secret code or something.  But this is the secret code!!

When we allow our mind to tell our body what we expect from it, our body will respond.


Today I sunbathe, absorbing the warm rays of the sun deep into my skin.  I capture this moment, and save it for later when I will need it for a training swim.  Like tomorrow… when I jump in Puget Sound for a sub-60F swim.

So now that I have a plan for tomorrow… it’s probably time to tackle the jellyfish.  I need to figure out a way to minimize my “freak-out” response.  As always…I’m open to your suggestions! 🙂

Peace Out,