Saturday, 27 August 2011

Wowee people....only 12 days to go and having now got 'The Fear', I and three mates braved a 5km lake swim organised by the great chaps at GaleForce races in Box End (no sniggering at the back there) lake this morning.

Who knew that a night out on the razzle dazzle in East London was not great preparation for hurtling around inflatable yellow marker buoys in a borrowed shortie wetsuit whilst battling against weeds from the deep which seemed intent on dragging me to a watery grave.

It was, without doubt, one of the hardest physical tasks I have ever done so I was delighted to complete the 5km within the compulsory 2 hour time limit....well, I actually became delirious when I regained the ability to stand up straight and have this photo taken (I'm the one grinning inanely second from left). I suppose you've got to wonder how much quicker I might have gone if I hadn't had to puke three times on the way round....

Thanks to my three wonderful compadres who were motivated enough to find the race and turn up on a cold Saturday in August.

Don't forget this is all in aid of a great cause so please do dig deep if you can and sponsor me for Swim to Bestival at

PS - the observant amongst you will note that I have still NOT BOUGHT MY WETSUIT...this denial is no good...urgent hypnotherapy is required to get beyond this mental block: any offers?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Has anyone seen this man?!

I was promised.

This is the only reason I agreed to put myself through this horrific experience.

He'd better not have wussed out!

Do I design him a swim cap too? (Does it have to be pink to match his Speedos?) I don't think my graffer skills match his...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Swim Play List


I've put together a swim play list (to listen to on that juke box in your heads), as we are swimming to a music festival. Feel free to add any more suggestions!

Life In The Fast Lane (The Eagles)
Splish Splash (Bobby Darin)
Every Breath You Take (The Police)
Alive and Kicking (Simple Minds)
Swim (Madonna)
Rock Lobster (B52's)
Octopuses Garden (The Beatles)
Theme to Jaws (John Williams)
Baywatch Theme (The Hoff)
I Go Swimming (Peter Gabriel)
Swimming (Florence and The Machine)
Pure Shores (All Saints)
Islands in the Stream (Kenny and Dolly)
Night Swimming (REM)

Swimmer Profile: Hayley Barnard

My swimming career started in Teignmouth Lido on the South Devon coast. As I lined up on the blocks with my fellow competitors, I asked the officious looking official what stroke I could do. “Freestyle… any stroke you like” he answered. The gun fired. I dived in and pulled myself through the water with every ounce of energy I had. As I touched the wall I could hardly believe it – I was all alone! I had won by a clear margin! The small plastic, gold-painted swimming trophy and ‘Fresh Milk’ sponsored t-shirt would be mine to treasure forever.

“Disqualified” screamed the same officious official, holding aloft a flag. What! No! Surely not! How was I to know that when he said ‘any stroke’ that did not include a full length underwater without rising for a breath? The trophy and ‘Fresh Milk’ T-shirt (a retro version of which would be very cool festival attire today) would not be mine. I cried for a day and half. I was 6 years old. I still bare the scares thirty years on!

Hoping to right this wrong I am VERY excited to be swimming to Bestival. Yes I can swim long distances. I’m the ‘swimmer’ in an Ironman Triathlon relay team. But even an Ironman distance swim is only 3.86 km. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ll suffer with severe leg cramp or how big the wetsuit rub will be on my neck after 7 km! A couple of friends who have swam this distance have said, “Don’t worry – if you can swim 2 miles then you can swim 4 miles”. This makes no sense to me. It’s like saying to a marathon runner, “Don’t worry, if you can run 26 miles then you can run 52”! I desperately want to believe them!

I’m swimming with my lovely brother Matt and together we are raising money for WaterAid, whose vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. It’s crazy that this even has to be a vision in this day and age! Yet 884 million people still don’t have access to safe water and one child dies every 20 seconds from diarrhea caused by unclean water. Let’s support making this vision a reality. PLEASE, please consider sponsoring us: or text FDRG84 £5 to 70070. We couldn’t make it any easier!

Thanks! See you on the other side…


Jedi Knight Ashley

Two weeks today as normal people get the ferry to the Isle of Wight for Bestival, we'll be dipping our toes into the Solent, wondering why we ever thought it was a good idea to swim there.

September 8 will also be an important date for Ashley Hyde’s family.

Ashley, 7, was a happy young boy whose love of Star Wars and big smile made him a smashing character to cover when as a journalist I worked on his story.

On June 9, 2008 Ashley was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Ashley battled through endless rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a complex operation and lots of procedures.
Throughout Ashley's gruelling battle with cancer, the Hyde family kept his spirits up, doing lots of fun things with him like training as a Jedi Knight.

‘May the Force be with you,’ Ashley’s parents would reassure their little Jedi Knight. And it seemed it was. In July 2009, Ashley was in remission.

Ashley described himself as a young Padawan Jedi in training for battle. But sadly the battle was just too big for such a little warrior.
After just six months, in December 2009, Ashley relapsed. Ashley’s family and friends constantly fundraised to send him abroad for treatments not available here. But the disease was too advanced and too aggressive, and despite all the treatments they tried, on September 8, last year, Ashley finally lost his last battle.

Hundreds of people, including four Star Wars storm troopers turned out to pay their respects to him last September.

Ashley’s family continue to honour him by fundraising in his name to help other children in his situation. Neuroblastoma takes more children in the UK than any other cancer. It can be treatable, and as I write this, there's many urgent appeals. Families Against Neuroblastoma help families like Ashley's get urgent treatment. Often abroad and often expensive, and campaign for all the treatments to be available for everyone here too.
FAN is run by ordinary parents, like Ashley's, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to help these kids. I've always been touched by their enthusiasm.

And one year on, on September 8, as Ashley’s family remember him, I’ll be thinking of him too as I set off on our fundraising ferry-dodging swim across the Solent.

Ashley, may the force be with you!

And if you’d like to help Families Against Neuroblastoma battle our most deadly childhood cancer, please take a minute to sponsor my swim:
Thanks, Ben x

Monday, 22 August 2011

Ferries are for wimps!!!!

... Though as this swim's getting nearer, the amount of stuff I'm beginning to worry about is multiplying, from the 'Jellyfish soup' that keeps appearing in the news this summer: to the amount of advice I'm getting off just about everybody, and their nan down the pool about how I'm swimming all wrong. My stroke's either too high, too low, too long or too short. I can barely supress a smutty snigger at the word 'stroke', is it any wonder I'm no expert?

As far as I'm concerned if I'm floating it can't be all that bad can it? Though I don't like it when seasoned swimmers look me up and down, asking, 'REALLY? - So are you a STRONG swimmer, then?' 'You've down this sort of thing BEFORE, right?' Then, eyes misting up, 'GOOD LUCK, MATE,' in the tragic tone NASA scientists must've sent the first chimps into outer space with.

I must admit you could fit all I know about swimming into the tightest speedos with plenty of room left over. And it's still an iron man challenge for me to just squeeze into my tight wetsuit. DO I still need to buy some goosefat from Waitrose? Will olive oil do just as well? Will sharks find me tastier if I baste myself with either?

Motivating me throughout this swim, will be the rather urgent need to make it to the other side without sinking in the middle bit.

My other motivation is Families Against Neuroblastoma. Some really brave parents, ordinary parents, ceaselessly fundraising to get treatment to children fighting the UK's deadliest childhood cancer. Neuroblastoma cancer is the most common cancer in infants. It's treatable. But it kills more children than any other disease in the UK. It needn't.

Please sponsor my fundraising ferry-dodging & help these parents with some really urgent appeals:

& for more on my rigorous training regime:

All the Bestival, Ben x

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Panic Training

Started panic training now, as the event grows ever closer. Did a wonderful one mile swim around Burgh Island in Devon recently, which was a tad choppy, but generally very enjoyable. The island boasts a stunning art deco hotel where the likes of Noel Coward, Amy Johnson and Agatha Christie used to stay. In fact the latter wrote Evil Under The Sun and And Then There Were None while staying there.

The swim has been going since the 1920's, when spectators would drink gin and tonics from boats anchored off the island and shout support for their favourites. 50 people took part in the professional swim first, but I joined the second wave who were just doing it for fun. I was joined by Sophie, a friend who is also a news reporter on BBC Radio Devon and we had a good chin wag on the way around.

The views from the water were stunning...although I did spend some time considering whether I could swim around the island 4 times - which is the distance is the Isle of Wight swim!

We were all rewarded with tots of rum at the end of the swim...although I rewarded myself with a few more drinks after as well! My theory is that it's not just swim training that is necessary for Bestival, but drink training as well!

I'll definitely be doing Burgh Island again next year, although perhaps in a vintage all in one swim suit, if I can work out where to buy them from! Happy training everyone! x

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Last long training swim - completed!

Tonight I banked a 2 hour slow session in the pool (5k+, surely?!). The last splish splashy, monthly endurance bore off until we brave the Solent.

For once I didn't suffer from calf cramp, shoulder pain or needing a wee. For me this is PROGRESS! I swear I was doing doggy paddle by the end... I was as delirious as Martin Strel, but lacked the bottle of Jamesons on the poolside.

Previously I'd reached the 3k mark by means of the Big Speedo Swim in Nottingham. (See piccy; that's me in the green cap and black wetsuit... I'm the one trying to dunk my faster mates!)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Swimmer Profile: Matt Newbury

My name is Matt, a 41-year-old Devonian living in Torquay on the delightful English Riviera. I've signed up to the Swim to Bestival event as it sound pretty cool - and the closest I have come to combining swimming with a festival before was at Glastonbury several year's ago, when the weather got all biblical on our asses and the seats inside the car we came in were under water!

I'm doing the swim with my sister Hayley, who I suspect has been doing quite a bit more training than I have, although now the event is getting so close, I have been jumping in the sea a bit more. Then after a bit of a splash around, I usually feel I deserve an ice cream or perhaps a little drink or three to warm myself up!

I do actually plan to do a series of island swims over the next couple of years and have done a few already. My biggest swim so far was an Escape from Alcatraz a couple of years ago, when my partner and I swam to the mainland! More recently I entered the annual round-the-island swim at Burgh Island, which was where Agatha Christie wrote And The There Were None and Evil Under The Sun. I though swimming to, from and around a few famous islands might even make a good book, if Speedo or Richard Branson happen to be reading this and fancy sponsoring me! Well some of these tropical islands are quite expensive to get to!

Talking of sponsorship, my sister Hayley and Me are doing this swim for Water Aid, which seems perfectly appropriate! WaterAid's mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. For a gift of just £15 WaterAid can provide one person in Africa or Asia with a lasting supply of safe, clean water, sanitation and hygiene education. Surely this is the most basic of human rights.

if you can support us, please visit

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

O my gosh we're less than a month away

So far my training has consisted of:

1. a sea swim in Brighton which didn't go ahead because the sea was too choppy
2. the occasional pleasure paddle in my local lido

It has not:
1. been the, at least, twice weekly habit I had intended to get me up to fighting fitness
2. involved any kind of wetsuit which I am yet to purchase and the thought of which, in itself, scares me silly
3. given me any confidence that I will be able to complete this swim.

Hopefully a week's swimming holiday in Croatia will long as I don't drown first!

I need motivation: please donate as much as you can spare at


Swimmer Profiles: Alison Coldwell

Just as Time and Tide wait for no woman, I've never been one to do things by halves. As a lazy Yogi, I once drunkenly agreed to do a hilly triathlon in the Peak District - that set the standard for my Raving Rehab... I swapped late night endurance dancing for early morning mountain biking and a Half Ironman that involved swimming in one of England's coldest lakes, cycling up 'The Struggle' and running up its second highest Peak.

Alas, swimming hasn't been my number one ting. I'm not the fastest fish in the skool. Nor have I swum further than a mile and a half (2.5k) so I can assure you the prospect of four miles (7k) and in the salty, choppy sea is quite a challenge! Best train 'ard! Think of the festival, think of Bestival.... and the hot rum skanking!

Sponsor me -

Swimmer Profiles: Ben Gelblum

I'm 38, turning 39 on 10 September - will we be swimming on my birthday - not sure of the exact date of the swim?

Thought this year rather than the usual tedious birthday booze marathon, I'd go for one of the most exciting sporting tests of excellence known to man. As there were no spaces for unfit fatsos on the Olympics, it had to be Swim2Bestival!

I managed 7 lengths of the hotel pool in Ibiza last week before being sick in my mouth. Which unfortunately I had to swallow. I'm hoping to get a bit more fit in the next few weeks and conquer the smelly stretch of sewage water that is the Solent. It's only one-way, so it can't be that hard, and for some of it at both ends I'll be able to stand up, I guess...

If watching me drink 7k of sewage isn't enough of a good cause, the charity I'd like to publicise and do this fundraiser for, has some pretty urgent appeals on. It's for young kids battling UK's biggest childhood cancer killer, and as I write there's a few urgent races against time.
The charity is FAN . Neuroblastoma kills more kids in the UK than any other disease. It can be treatable. Donations will help save children's lives. FAN help families get urgent treatment, often abroad & expensive, & campaign to get it here for everyone on the NHS.

FAN is run by ordinary parents who have gone to extraordinary lengths to help these children. I've been touched by their enthusiasm ever since as a journalist, I first interviewed Linza who helped start it up.
Linza told how her son Max was a very handsome, cheeky, loving little boy. At just 5 months old, Linza's son Max was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. No one in the UK could help, so his family launched an appeal to raise the sums needed to take him to America. Max held on but was declared unfit to fly, and just hours later, as if he knew, he quietly slipped away in his Daddy's arms. It is Linza's reaction to her loss that humbled me. Dedicating her life to fight her son's killer. Through FAN, she and parents like her do their utmost every day to fight to give children like Max a chance to survive.

Swimmer Profiles: Andrew Hudson

I am a 40 year old proprietor of a Nursing Home for the Elderly in Alverstoke, just behind Stokes Bay. I grew up in this area and have been over to the IOW in most forms of transport and have always wanted to swim across. A friend suggested trying for the Bestival Swim and now I'm in training. I am hoping to get Residents and their families to come and support the event as its local, and also abviously friends and family. As I drive past Stokes Bay every day to work I have no excuse not to jump in and have a practice.

Sea swimming is definitely harder than the pool. I have chosen Macmillan Cancer Support as my charity because they have helped people I know with Cancer and also my wife is a Lecturer at Southampton University who is currently on a fellowship helping Macmillan with their Helplines, so I know what valuable work they do.

Swimmer Profiles: John Shippey

Male, 37, from Brighton, gsoh, wltm mermaid. Always up for a challenge and a festival, and hoping to raise money for the Football Club of Canacona. Visit my Just Giving page here:

Watch this video of my friend who founded the charity for inspiration!

All donations go straight to the running of the club, which makes a direct and concrete difference to children’s lives – nothing is spent on administration or marketing.

Swimmer Profiles: Sadie Crapper

Born under the sign of Pisces as Sheffield under 10 individual medley swim champion* I was oft compared to a dolphin – more recently the comparison has been with less flattering creatures of the sea (think beached whale) after too many years spent working too hard (as a barrister) and partying to excess. Fresh for 2011 gone are the afternoons of cake and evenings of debauchery (well, for a little while anyway) to be replaced by triathlons and open water swims (Ferries are for wimps!).  However, all that has gone before has been mere child’s play in the face of the once in a lifetime opportunity to combine my two loves: open water swimming (the Solent) and epic fun (Bestival)...and I absolutely cannot wait.

I’ve chosen to swim for Action Aid which is a charity close to my heart as they do fantastic work with projects all around the world which make a direct impact on the communities and families they are able to help.  The charity is fully behind the event and have helped me to set up my fundraising page is:  

Sadie C (31 from London)

* it doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Swim to Bestival 2011 is with us and this is the home for those embarking on the swim to tell their tales, talk about their training, their social activity and raise money for charity.  For good measure, here's a picture of last year's team at Bestival 2010.

Be a fan on the swimmer's on facebook too