Some things are just blogging gold.
Like taking a client open-water swimming. For a blog which is about two things: my work as a freelance copywriter and my sport, such a thing practically writes a post all by itself.
Jeremy is one of my favourite clients. I can’t remember when we met – it was at a networking thing years ago. He runs a marketing agency near Ascot and, over the years, has used my copywriting services for his clients’ websites, brochures, direct mail pieces and adverts. He even got me standing up in front of a room full of telecoms engineers to deliver a workshop on how to create content for blog posts.
Anyway, a while ago I met Jeremy for coffee (one of the things I like about him is that his dedication to Starbucks rivals my own) and, at the end of our meeting, he asked me about open-water swimming races. I explained some of the basic points of taking part in a race, one of them being rescue/support boats. “But don’t worry about that,” I said. “The organiser of the event will have arranged that side of things.” A pause. “Er…I am the organiser,” said Jeremy.
So over the past few months I’ve been giving him a few bits of advice on arranging and training for an open-water swimming event (you can find details of his event here – it’s in aid of the RNLI).
Yesterday, I took him open-water swimming.
It was my first time at the Taplow open-water swim venue. I cycled over (just a side note – rush-hour traffic + the A4 + final-whistle time on a successful England World Cup match = hecklers, crazy drivers and near-death experiences. Thanks, guys. No, really, thank you) and met Jeremy as he was trying on wetsuits which the Taplow guys hire out.
Taplow is a lovely venue – a large lake (which was warm yesterday – 21*C or so I’d say) marked out into 3 routes, the largest being 650m. The staff are super-friendly and there’s a BBQ and hot drinks should you want to partake. It’s £5 to swim and I believe you can buy a book of tickets at a discount. My only gripe was the (pond) weed – but I think any OW venue struggles with weed in hot weather.
I’m more used to seeing Jeremy suited and booted, but we posed for a wetsuited photo (…eyes closed, again!) before getting down to biznass.
I gave Jeremy the condensed version of my coaching sessions at Dorney: acclimatisation, sighting, turning, drafting and mass starts as we did one 650m loop, stopping at each buoy to talk about his stroke, sighting and kick. I mentioned some drills he could try in the pool which I thought might help.
Swim-hats off to Jeremy, I thought he did fantastically well. First time in open-water and he did one big loop straight off without a problem. Those of you who swim OW might remember your first training session. Those of you who don’t, just bear in mind that there’s no black line on the bottom (you can’t even see the bottom!), no lane ropes, no wall every 25m to hang on to. Then there’s weed, swans, ducks and all manner of other unusual stuff for your brain to cope with. Some people freak right out, others find they just can’t swim in a straight line, or have a panic at some point or another.
Back at the start buoy, he took off to do one extra 490m loop and I decided to do another 650m. A pack of swimmers had started a few minutes before us and I was pleased to pick each of them off in turn, finishing with a sprint for the final buoy to catch their lead swimmer.
Our session finished with a brief tutorial on how to get your wetsuit off quickly in a triathlon before Jeremy and I both cycled back to our respective homes.
Swim followed by bike? Getting wetsuits off quickly? Hang on, that sounds like triathlon stuff! You’re right…did I mention that I persuaded Jeremy to do the Marketing Industry Triathlon with me in a couple of weeks? That’s more blogging gold, right there….