Longest swim yet!

Well… I didn’t expect to do that! On Sunday I went with Nina and Judith (who are both experienced swimmers and members of the Glasgow Triathlon) up to Loch Lubnaig in the Trossachs, and I ended up swimming WAY further than I thought I could, and her have. 

I’ve always tended to swim about 3km when I swim (fitted in an hour), and lately I’ve increased my open water distance … or time, to 1 hour 15, or about 4km.

When I did the 4km at Loch Ard a few weeks ago, the GPS maybe didn’t pick up correctly, so the 4k distance I thought I did might be out… but I felt fine in the water swimming for 1 hour 15.

So when Nina said what their plans were, to swim the length of Loch Lubnaig – a potential 4-6km… I was cautiously doubtful that it wouldn’t be sensible for me to try it… but I also know having run and trained long, if I fuelled and hydrated well, and with regular swim training, it could be possible. 

Justin came and collected me ar just after 7am and we made our way along the M8 and towards the A9 and off at Stirling, then over to Loch Lubnaig. 

We had good chats on the journey… then I smiled when I saw a faint rainbow in the sky… it got brighter, and in the end it looked like it was over Loch Lubnaig in the north. I didn’t tell Judith about my rainbow story, and why I like them, but maybe one day I will. (Most of the action pics / videos from here were taken with Nina’s go pro).

We rocked up at the Cabin at Loch Lubnaig and Nina was there. The plan was for us to be / get ready to swim and leave out changing gear in Nina’s car there, and then Judith drive hers up to the top of the loch where we went in.

The rain was on and off… but it didn’t really matter as we’d be getting in the water, and fortunately the water was calm and the weather ok. We got in and warmed a bit, stopping a few times to settle in. My turtle thermometer said it was 14’C and it felt ok. 

I was wearing my thermal orca RS1 wetsuit, speedo goggles, and orca hat… and neoprene socks. I had toyed with the idea of me using fins, but im glad I didn’t as we all kept a steady pace together (unaided!). At 1,250m in, we all got into a good ryrhym… and just seemed to keep going.

I was feeling good and decided to keep swimming as long as Nina And Judith did. They’re both training for Coniston in two weeks time – an 8.5km swim down in England… when Judith mentioned it I honestly was thinking – who can swim 5 miles and be ok during and after it??! 

My watch beeps splits every 250m… I was swimming between or beside the two of them… they seemed to have good sighting and seemed to be going straight, so I was matching them and it was feeling good.

The 250ms ticked off, and at about 3km or just under an hour, I was feeling good. A bit of a chip started but we all navigated it fine, and before I knew it we were at 4,100m… and I’d just swam nearly 3km non stop.

I noticed they’d stopped for a breather and a gel (we’d got down to the cabin by that point)…. and it was then I realised that I’d swam the furthest outside that I’d ever swam (and I let them know). 

Nina offered me a gel that she had spare, a blackcurrant one, and I gratefully accepted it. I’d had a good breakfast (weetabix, blueberries, milk and a banana), and a coffee and some water pre swim … but have run long distance before I knew that now would be a good time for some energy.

The only time I’ve swum further than that was one year maybe 15 years ago when I swam 200 lengths, or 5,000m for charity. It was before I really knew about training and fuelling for the distance, so whilst I managed it, I probably bonked at the end and was useless for a day or two. 

So since then and after long runs where I’ve maybe over done it in the past, I’m a lot more cautious now / making sure that I hydrate, fuel and rest.

Back the the swim, we all checked in with each other to make sure we were ok, and that I was ok to continue. There was a choice for me to get out then, but I felt good and confident I could continue. 

Nina said to the end was about 5.8km… and whilst I haven’t ever done that before, it felt achievable today. So we started back up again. Again the 250ms ticked off, and before we knew it we were at the car park at the bottom of the loch… and we’d swum about 5,300m. I joked / asked if we were getting a speed boat back to the cabin / car… but I knew the answer was no.

One of us was getting a bit cold by that point, but I was still ok. I figured we had about 1.2km to get back to the cabin / car… and as that would make it up to 6.5km – I thought that would be great. It was starting to get a little harder… and I think I thought I was ready to stop after that. My shoulders were getting sore… but I felt good that I’d done so well. 

I’d swam 5km in the time I’d estimated… and I was thinking as I swam, I wonder what my Granny or my Dad would make of this. And then the morning Rainbow popped into my head and I thought of my Granny when she watched me swim in a pool, and at the beach. 

We finished our swim… at 6.5km… at least I thought we did. But Judith and Nina wanted to swim on for another 1km. I thought about Nina’s offer of taking her car keys, but then I thought to myself, why not? I know I can do it, and I’ll be careful to refuel, recover, hydrate and rest. 

So away we went again, close together mostly, with similar arm strokes, maybe a bit of side drafting and before we knew it, we were at 7,000m and took a right to swim into shore… and then another right… 

We seemed to be at about 7,600m when we stopped again at the cabin. And Judith went into shore. Nina said her OCD was getting to her and she wanted to round it up to 8,000m, and I thought, why not, when else am I going to be here again?

We got to 7,900m and turned back to finish the last 100m. Then Nina took a few pics and videos of me swimming, before we went back to shore and we all got changed. 

8,000m swum – the full length of Loch Lubnaig then back up to the Cabin car park and around a bit!

4,217 strokes! 

image0.jpeg

2:44 hours 

Avg HR 138
Max HR 178 

Garmin training effect 4.3 / 1.7

1.354 calories burned 

I’d suffered from wetsuit burns on my neck the last few swims, so I got some LUUB anti chafe crème and it worked to a degree, but I should have put it all over as the sides and front of my neck got it a bit. So I’ll need to keep putting savlon on it to help it heal, and I’ll try the cream all over my neck the next time. By the next day it was fine.

Nina shared some chocolate covered peanut butter filled dates afterwards, which were very tasty. And I started my refilling, after I got changed. A Rego vanilla shake, crisps, a snack sized mars bar, coffee, water. 

I was but blown away that I’d managed to do that distance, but I’ll be careful now and get some good rest days in, and plenty food and sleep.

Nina said that she loves it when she gets into that meditative state when swimming, when everything seems magical… I’d got that too… a bit like the runners high, feeling confident and settled and happy… ticking along, like you could keep going all day.

I really enjoyed it and I’m sure I’ll bite their hand off again if they’re going away for another big swim. But this time I’ll be a little more prepared with some fuel for in the swim.  

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316,000m of swimming in a year!

A few days ago, I realised I have been back swimming for a full year. I started back in June 2021, and built up my swimming from about 2,000m each time I swam (2-3 times a week), up to 2,800m – 3,000m 3 times a week.

Since then I bought a wetsuit, tow float, socks and gloves, and cap … and a couple of new swimming costumes… a Garmin swim 2 watch, and various pairs of goggles. Then last month I treated myself to a thermal wetsuit to keep me even warmer when out swimming.

In the last full year up to 31st May I’ve swum 316,000m or just over 196 miles. I finished it off today with a good 2,900m session at Bellahouston.

I started swimming back at the Gorbals (7am sessions) through the week, and since about October I’ve moved to Bellahouston (630am sessions), with swims at Tollcross and the 50m pool on Sundays at 9am, or various open water swims (Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Loch Venachar, Lochan Spling, Abies Loch Morlich, Loch Ard, Stonehaven, Pinkston and a few other places).

More totals… I was in the pool / water for about 105.5 hours or just under 4.5 days (about 1% of the year) … I burned around 52,000 calories … and the distance swum was the equivalent of about 12,000 lengths. avg HR 131

Above are my PBs… although I think I saw more than 3,100m on Sunday in Loch Ard (1:15 / 4km).

I celebrated the achievement with a new pair of goggles – a rather snazzy pair of Arena Python Racing mirrored goggles. They’re a bit darker than my usual ones, but fit really well.

Here’s to another year of swimming, coming up (and my upcoming go swim events in August and September

– 3,000m Loch Tay,

– 5,000m Loch Lomond,

– 3,000m Loch Morlich 👍🏻🏊‍♀️

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Loch Ard 4,000m Swim

I must get back into the way of writing my blogs… I’ve taken a bit of a back seat with it lately… so I thought I’d write one today. All about my swimming and my swim today – 4,000m in Loch Ard.

After a few days with my Dad and Step Mum in the west coast and stopping over in Stonehaven before the journey home, and with good weather forecast today I figured I could take a detour and try out Loch Ard. About an hour or so from Glasgow I’d read it was a nice loch to swim in.

I stopped near the community hall and asked a local (Tom) if it was ok to park near his house and he said I could. I wasn’t sure where best to park but he said as long as I tucked in and was careful it was fine. I was in swimming for about just before 12, in my newish thermal wetsuit.

Before I went in, I checked and my turtle thermometer said it was 17’C but that must have been in the shallows as it was about 14’C when I was out swimming. I wore my cap and goggles, and my neoprene socks for warmth. I didn’t need my gloves thankfully. It wasn’t all that cold really.

I let the water in my wetsuit and paddled out a bit, then warmed up with about 500m. My Garmin swim 2 watch is set to lap every 250m, so I swam for two intervals before taking a quick break before I headed off along the loch. It was a bit shallow in parts, but I did well to swim another 1,500m in what felt like record time. Each 250m was ticking off in under 4 minutes so there must have been a current helping me along.

I swam towards an island, and after 1,500m figured I’d better start to head back. Of course that seemed to be a bit into the current, and I after another bit of a swim I got a little disorientated. I was looking for the house I’d parked my car at, and eventually saw the community hall next to it. So I headed for that.

My watch ticked off an hour and I was feeling good… I kept swimming some more, trying to sight for the community hall. I was still feeling good at 3,500m, then I swam my last 500m into shore and got out.

As I got out a woman spoke to me and asked me a few things about my swim, asking how long I’d been doing it for. She was keen to start but hadn’t plucked up the courage. I said I’ve been swimming for 20 odd years, but really only started open water swimming in the last year.

Then I realised, it was this time last year at the start of June that I dipped my toe and wetsuit in Loch Ness with the lovely Pennie. and in a year I’ll have swim 316,000 meters – 316km or about 196 miles! (With another 2,900m left to swim on Tuesday).

Today was my longest open water swim and it’s a good confidence builder ahead of my 2 x 3,000m and one 5,000m events in September / October. I hope to get out in lochs maybe very second Sunday or so up to then.

Here’s my monthly totals for the year.

After my swim today I got dried fine in the warm sun, before drinking some water and eating some crisps and a small mars bar.

Then on my way home I stopped at Carbeth at the takeaway cafe… and bought myself some banana bread and coke.

It was just what I needed. (not the lump in my wetsuit is my waterproof Fuji camera down my front).

A good wee day out and detour away from the A9 / M8 home. I ended up getting home around 3pm and dried all my gear out and got my car washed and hoovered ahead of next week.

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April into May training

I’ve not done a training post for a while, but since my fortnight off at the end of March, my training has been ticking along fine.

A few swims a week, a run and a strength workout most weeks. And plenty rest when I’ve needed it too.

Here’s what I’ve done…

I’ve been a little sore after strength workouts but I think I’m getting used to it. Last week I didn’t feel up to my swim on Tuesday morning so I moved it to the following week and had a bit of a lie in.

I’ve had to balance my training with doing a qualification for work, so I’ve stepped off the gas a bit with it, and it’s been working well so far.

I’ll likely only be able to do one (or two) run(s) a week, if I do 2-3 swims and a strength session, which seems like a good balance too.

Here’s my plan for the next couple of weeks:

The swims might be up to 3,000m, and I might be able to get an extra run in a week. But this week I have a bit of a focus on work (in actual work today!)… and a swim and run on Tuesday and Wednesday to set me up for work.

I’m swim coaching a friends kid next Sunday after my swim, and the next Sunday I may go for an open water swim. We’ll see.

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Come be a part of making a difference

I posted this on Linked In recently and I wanted to share it here too… it’s not about my training, but I’ve not blogged for a while, so I hope you like it.

I like how Linked In tells you who, or from what organisations, people are looking at your profile.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been interested to see that the majority of people who have looked at my profile have been from the BBC.

Perhaps over the last year they’ve noticed I’m not there anymore, and they come to Linked In to find out where I’ve moved on to. And a handful have come directly to me and asked me – and they’ve all had the same answer…

I’ve made this post public to let everyone know how good things are now for me, since I left the BBC. I used to put up with all the little annoying things, the red tape, bureaucracy and politics and long timescales…because I worked there and it’s ‘just how it is’. But it’s not like that everywhere, and it shouldn’t be.

I’m so grateful that I’ve moved on to a wonderful and modern organisation, with great values of dignity, fairness and respect and a focus on wellbeing and accessibility.

A new and growing organisation which has people at the heart of everything we do. I work with people, teams and senior leaders who ask for feedback and want to make improvements for the future. It’s so refreshing and brilliant.

I’m now a proud civil servant, working again for the people of Scotland, but somehow this feels more pure, fun and transparent. All of the systems simply work, without glitch. Pay is fair and transparent, and development and support is available.

The recruitment processes are good. With clear guidance on what’s expected at interview / assessment stage and the hiring managers are supportive and truly seem to want to get the best from you. Opportunities come up as the organisation is still growing, or opportunities might arise in other government areas.

Managers trust you, check in with you and have regular meetings and ask how you are and check on your wellbeing. There are workplace and carers passports and various types of leave, along with flexi time.

There’s great team environments and overall environment. We’re all here to make the world a better place for the people of Scotland – clients and staff.

There are policies to support and manage people, and I’m being invested in to do a qualification in my field of HR. It really does feel like night and day to the career I felt behind / which disappeared from under me at the BBC after so many loyal years of service.

We’re expanding, with opportunities in our team and also across the organisation. And I can guarantee that it is a great place to work.

Maybe you’re stuck in a rut; or you’ve been accepting of a poor working environment for too long, because it’s just how it is. But it doesn’t need to be like that.

Look for our jobs and opportunities at Social Security Scotland here – https://www.socialsecurity.gov.scot/jobs

I’m in such a great place now, having finally realised in 2021 what wasn’t for me and there was no point in trying to invest in a place that wouldn’t return that investment to me. You could do this too…

If you don’t change things, nothing will ever change.😇👍🏻

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A magic, fun, active, sunny day

Wednesday was a good day, full to the brim of fun and activity and lots of stunning sights too.



It started off with a nice tasty full breakfast provided at the Dalcraig B&B in Ballachulish, filling us up for most of the morning. If you’re looking for a good place to stay in the area, I’d recommend it. Book direct with them if you can.



Then we went down the garden to see the lovely views down the sea Loch, and skimmed some stones.



Then we drove a short distance to the Glencoe Lochan Trails and were treated to absolutely stunning scenery… the pap of Glencoe and all of the other mountains and Lochan, showing off like we were in Canada or somewhere. It was absolutely stunning.



We saw lots of little frogs and a few other walkers. We walked the three trails there… the red one around the Lochan, then the yellow one, then the more steep blue one and stopped for a snack at the top at a picnic table looking down towards the Lochan.



We walked for just over 1.5 hours / about 3.5 miles and got some lovely photos, and a good wee walk.



The weather was great and the temperature maybe 15-16’C… so I figured I might as well take advantage of having my swimming stuff in the boot of my car, and get in for a swim. We went the short walk back to the car and I changed into my gear.



The water was a balmy or toasty 11-12’C. I decided I’d definitely go in in my wetsuit, but didn’t wear my boots or gloves… once I was in I sort of wished I had, but it was ok once I got going. To be honest it felt colder than 11-12’C – but that’s probably just me being used to heated swimming pools and not having been in open water since last year.


I started off getting acclimatised to the water temperature, getting water in my wetsuit and doing a bit of breakstroke, then once I was feeling up for it, I started some front crawl.



My feet and hands were really cold, but I was ok to swim front crawl for about 350m up the length of the Lochan, and stopped before the end (where we’d seen a lot of frogs!).



I got to the end and knew I felt good enough to go back. I swam some more front crawl; breathing to the right mostly to avoid the sun in my eyes on the left. I felt strong, and kept going around one of the islands.



I swam a bit out into the loch before heading back to my entry / exit point. And Fit Girl was there to help me out and look after me / get me warm. (This gave below is me standing on my cold feet… 😂) I was happy really.



I’d swum in lochs last year in about 14-16’C temps and 11 did feel a bit cold, but I probably just need to do it some more and get my body used to it. And be careful not to be in for too long.



17 minutes 20 seconds felt just the right amount, and I’d managed a brief 700m.



After the swim I got dried off and then changed into my dry robe, before then getting out of my wetsuit abs swim suit, drying properly and changing into warm clothes at the waters edge.



I managed to avoid any water shock and warmed up slowly. My feet were fine in warming up, and I went back to the b&b for a quick shower and had some food.



Later we went along to Kinlochleven for a leisurely walk, and I had some fish and chips in the Highland Getaway. Yum.



We were driving back home to the B&B and we’re treated to a lovely sunset view…. and we stopped just before the Ballachulish Bridge to watch the sun go down and take in some more stunning scenery.



It was a magic day, made even better with the stunning thethe stunning scenery and lovely weather (and the fun and caring company too).

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February ease off into March

I’ve been a bit quiet on social media and on here… balancing everything, I’ve taken a bit of a step back from training in the last few weeks. And it’s all good.

I noticed about 2-3 weeks ago that I felt I needed more rest, and decided to let it go as it felt, and as a result I’ve been doing less exercise, getting more sleep and focusing on starting a qualification with work (that will require a lot of study). Knowing that’s coming has possible made me pull back on my training a bit to help get a bit of a balance.

I managed to get the textbook for the course from Facebook marketplace for a reasonable £25 too, so that’s good.

It’s great to be invested in by my employer and be put through a qualification relating to my role. I’ll just need to get used to the work involved over the next 12 months or so.

So I’ve been studying / reading and getting ready to submit assessments, instead of running etc. but I’ve still managed to get some swims and strength work and a few walks in too.

Good thing too as the weather and days are starting to get brighter, which is nice. I love it when Spring comes around – lighter and brighter days… the warmth is still to come though.

Here’s the training (and rest) I’ve done over the last three weeks:

Last week was particularly restful (or lazy!?) but on Wednesday I had an odd sore head with some nausea (not covid or pregnancy!) … so I took some extra days of rest and self care to recover. And by Friday I was feeling back to normal.

I didn’t even notice my monthly mileage for February until yesterday… not like me, but my focus has clearly been elsewhere.

Swim – 25,600m
Run – 23.7 miles ! (Hardly any!)
Cycle – 15 miles
Walk – 13 miles
Strength – 3 times

Really not a lot of training, but hopefully it’ll have allowed my body some rest.

Next week the plan is to build some more exercise in each day, although, I might not do my run or spin on those days. I’ll take it as it comes.

Let’s see what March brings. The flowers are coming up and things are looking good.

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My go to breakfast

Here’s my go to breakfast…. a tasty high protein yoghurt, berry and walnut breakfast that keeps you fuelled and fuller for longer.

Ingredients:
– 25g impact whey protein – summer fruits (My Protein)
– 200g (2 large tables spoons) skyr fat free natural yoghurt – a handful of blueberries
– a handful of crushed walnuts
– a splash of milk (full fat for me!)

Method:
– mix the protein powder with the yoghurt and splash of milk (if you want it to be less thick). – add in the blueberries and crushed walnuts
– add milk if you want (or not).

Serve with coffee and a multi vitamin and super omega 3 capsule.

Health benefits:
– a good balanced meal, with plenty protein, fats and energy to keep you going and fuller for longer.
– health benefits from the blueberries (anti oxidants, blood pressure, healthy skin and bones, protecting against heart disease) and walnuts (omega 3 fats).

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Wk4 & 5 into Wk6

The last two weeks have been good training wise. I was flexible to have rest days when I felt I needed them and when some things were more important than training (Wednesday this week, Saturday last week)…

Last week I had a great weekend away visiting my Dad, and took the opportunity to meet and run with the lovely bots from Ellon, Jen, Glynis and Fiona.

We ran about 7 mile and ended up in a dog cafe, where Fiona treated us to cake and coffee (she doesn’t like getting her photo taken, so she turns her back on the camera for every photo 😂). They’re ace.

I’m getting into a good routine with my exercise, and working from home in my new, not so new now job. It really is a great job and great team, with opportunities for me to make a difference.

The last two weeks I’ve delivered a few things there which really made me proud. It’s great to be doing good work again. And I’m still enjoying swimming coaching and helping others with their swimming.

I’ve been continuing to work on my own swimming, with three swims a week. Today was the first time the crossbody kick felt rhythmic and natural, so that’s good. I’m getting food results in speed and how it feels. Next step is to improve my breathing and arm entry.

Here’s my plan for next week:

I’m also doing some swim coaching on Sunday evening.. a favour for someone, to hopefully help improve their swimming. And on Friday I have a day off work, to go visit my friend and her four year old and maybe make some bracelets them.

I’ve been getting a bit of a sore right ankle when I run…maybe the cold, maybe an old injury… and the weather is rubbish next week, so I’m likely going to soon instead of a run. It’s nothing show stopping but it doesn’t feel right.

If I can get up early enough on Wednesday I’ll do 30 min strength, then 30 min spin.

Winter is starting to grate me, but I see the mornings and evenings are getting lighter, and I’m looking forward to the weather improving a bit soon into Spring hopefully.

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January totals and fun

Just like that, January is over… as usual it seemed like a long month, but the days are getting longer again and Spring is probably just around the corner.

I added up all of my mileages towards the end of the month, and managed to round up most distances to a nice round number.

Here’s what I did:

Running – 35 miles / 7 runs
Cycling – 25 miles / 3 spin
Strength – 6 times / 3 hours
Swimming – 31,500m / 19.6 miles / 11 swims
Walking – 30 miles
= 109.6 miles

Nearly 110 miles, but working from home, running less, swimming more and not commuting has had a knock on the distances.

It all adds up to a good balanced amount of exercise though. And hopefully once spring arrives we’ll get out for some more walks, either after work or at the weekends.

Swimming has been good this month with the following completed:

50m pool x 4 swims
= 11,600m / 232 x 50m lengths

25m pool x 7 swims
= 19,900m / 786 x 25m lengths

= 31,500m / 1,018 lengths

All following the swim smooth sessions, technique, threshold, speed and moving onto endurance soon, with a couple of time trials included too.

I ran 7 times, so sticking to my 1-2 times a week, on a Wednesday and a Saturday… running some on my own and making plans to run with others for some company too.

I did just over Steps 204,000, or about 6,000 steps daily. Again, it’s impacted by all of the changes is activity above…

I used to do between 350-450,000 steps a month (between 11-15k a day)… but I’m still doing a similar amount of exercise (with more swimming / bike etc).

Talking of the bike; that’s one thing I did less of, just 3 sessions in the month. It’s the one thing I dropped when I needed more rest, which is fine. Although I did try a ‘moving meeting’ at work… where I cycled, but I prefer to get my exercise in first thing before work.

My sleep has been good – 8:48 hours sleep on average per night. Long may that continue, although I woke early today… and decided to get up.

One thing I managed to get done in January was filming of my swimming. I’ll wait until I speak to the coach I work with before I do a more details analysis on here, but it gives me some things to work on and hopefully improve.

There’s an app you can use called Mr Smooth (and for £1.79 you get all the features). It shows you the ideal swim position in the water; so I’ll work towards that hopefully.

Other than that in January, I’ve planned a trip to go and see my Dad and my step mum and my friend and her daughter (February), and I’ve settled back into work, with my desk set up just right.

Housey things – we got new blinds…

Oh and I got my car valeted too… a wee treat to make it feel like a brand new car again… since I’m driving in it a little bit more than I used to.

And I flew my kite on the last weekend of the month, which was great fun, at Bellahouston.

I also treated myself to an apple AirTag for my keys, with a gift card from my old work. I maybe didn’t need it but it’s a good thing to have to make sure I never lose my keys.

Last things last, here’s my training from last week:

And here’s my plan for this week:

I finish with a nice pic of my rotation in front crawl!

I just need to work on my kick (less splash, more efficiency – probably moving to a 2 beat kick), and probably my arm entry too (to improve my overall position in the water)… but we will see what feedback the coach has too.

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