Challenge Number 2 Completed!

Sophie and Gemma in the pool, mid way through the day

Finally it’s done!

So, there is another challenge over and done with – and about time too! Let’s start with the background – we have been training hard since the beginning of January for this challenge, but up until the big day we had never swum more than 3 miles in one go. Swimming takes such a long time, and with a three mile swim taking 1 hour 45 – 2 hours, we just couldn’t fit any more in! We had, however, sought out professional nutritional advice, and worked ourselves day after day in preparation (we had started to become immune to the lingering smell of chlorine). This almost went to waste when the 2 days leading up to Saturday were spent trying to fight off some sort of fever! But we had to get on with it! To let you into a little secret, we thought this was going to be the hardest challenge, and feeling under the weather was not part of the plan.

The big day – full of supporters

We were up at 6 am on Saturday 1st March (Happy St. David’s Day, by the way), in time to have a big bowl of porridge before our epic quest. Still feeling a bit groggy (and with an air of nervousness), we were lucky enough to have “Happy” glaring out of the radio to lift our spirits before we set off. We actually cycled to the pool (glutton for punishment) and arrived for opening at 8am, to see our lane being put out for the day. Sophie was in the pool by 8.20 and Gemma followed 5 minutes later. What followed was 640 of front crawl. We did have numerous breaks, especially as people popped in to show their support. Many thanks to:

  • Jess McFarlane – for being totally awesome at social media, who made it for the first stroke despite initially turning up to the wrong pool, and who brought healthy and not-so healthy treats too! (check out her blog for other ways to be awesome)
  • Geoff Smart – turning up after Park Run and entertaining us with pool side yoga.
  • Our grandparents – Linda and Geordie – for being amazing and supporting us pretty much the whole day.
  • Luke and Alex – for popping in at just the right time for Sophie’s break!
  • Tom, Elliot and Ed – for turning up at just the right time to push Gemma through the hardest part of the day (I really was hitting THE wall at that point) and also for the doughnuts and lucozade.
  • Emma – for travelling up to Cardiff to offer your support 😀
  • Ellie – for joining in, and staying to cheering on our final mile and a half.
  • Wendy and Steve – for helping to push us through the “sprint finish”.
  • Chris – for casually “popping in” to join us and actually doing 5 miles himself!
  • Mum – for supporting us, taking photos, and getting in to do some lengths too.
  • And finally, to Dad who ran 8 miles in the morning, arrived at the pool to do a mile with us, and then returned for the final mile where he really pushed the pace to allow us to get down to about a 34 minute mile again – definitely couldn’t have done that without you leading the way.

Everyone who turned up did so at just the right moment! Apparently we made the swimming look easy (the people who said this definitely couldn’t see the burn going through our arms at the 7 mile point). There were some real crunch points, where the pace definitely slowed, or where we had to get out of the water to rest our arms, but the final mile really was the last push, and a special mention goes to Dad once again for getting in there and picking up the pace, when Sophie had forgotten that she’s meant to kick with her legs rather than just drag them, and when Gemma was down to breathing every two arm strokes rather than four (and you could forget the tumbleturns!). To get back down to under 35 minutes for a mile was amazing.

Preparation (and nutrition) is key.

 We are so chuffed to have swum so far, and for so long, but like we said before, we couldn’t have done it without the nutritional advice. Other than the porridge, we at protein bars, protein shakes, carbo shakes, mars bars, flap jacks and bananas (I for one will be happy not to see any of those things for a little while – Gem).  So a big thanks goes to Chris for giving us all the tips and help we needed in that department. Secondly, a big thanks to the Dave and Olly at Agile therapy – the sports massage 2 weeks before really helped Gemma train so much harder than she would have been able to otherwise – your support is invaluable, and we’re definitely booking ourselves in for another appointment asap.

Another big thank you goes out to the Heath Sports and Social Centre, who let us have a dedicated lane for the entire day, and who also put a sponsorship form on the front desk to collect additional money for us. The support we receive every time we train really does help us push that little bit harder.

The final thank you

Finally, the biggest thank you goes out to everyone who has donated. As of tonight (Sunday night) we are on £331 pounds for the first two events, but this is less than 20 % of our target, if you haven’t donated yet please consider it. Yesterday was by far the toughest sporting event we have ever been through, and donating just a couple of quid will make all the difference to children who parents have been killed whilst serving in the forces. Donating is easy peasy:

  1. Go to the website:
  2. Text: “GWSW98 £10” to 70070 (the 10 can be changed to any amount, and this amount will be added to our total, and taken out of your phone bill – please see the website for full T & Cs).

Sunday “rest day” right?

You’ll be glad to hear we took the whole “rest day” idea and threw it out the window to go paint-balling  (there’s no rest for the wicked). Pretty sure we are going to regret that tomorrow. We will now be working towards our next challenge, a rather more sedate walking challenge as we will be aiming to complete the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge at the end of March!


Jess’ ways to be awesome:

Chris’ Nutrition

Agile Therapy

Heath Sports and Social Club


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