European Masters Mess Up

So appealing is the opportunity to race in the competition pool at the London Aquatics Centre that entries for the Arena European Masters Championships, 25-29 May, sold out in two days last month.


A massive tick for London’s 2012 legacy, 14,000 opportunities to compete in the Olympic competition pool were snapped up, leaving many with the conundrum of having flights and accommodation booked, but no entry into the Championships.


LEN, the European governing body, responded to pressure by reopening entries with no upper limit on numbers, and they rapidly doubled. Racing will now take place in the training pool, which was not designed for competition and has zero spectator provision. Warm ups and swim downs can’t be offered and only a ‘very limited’ number of spectators will get into the Aquatics Centre.


Masters swimmers from across Europe have become so infuriated by organisational blunders that lawyers have been called in with just over two months until the start of the Championships.


Many are disheartened and have asked for a full refund, something that would seem to help solve some of the problems. LEN has refused this in line with Regulation MA-G 2.8. However, other regulations, such as the number of events each person can take part in, have been changed, although not appropriately communicated.


Swimmers could initially enter five events each, as is normal at championship events. However, the LEN Bureau has approved a change to provide for a maximum of three events per swimmer to facilitate ‘maximum opportunity’ for participation.


According to the recently amended FAQ on the event website, those that do not withdraw by 15 March will see ‘LEN selecting the events to be withdrawn on your behalf.’


Masters swimming is about fun and friendship, and everyone who met the qualification standards for this event and paid their entry fee has a right to be there. However, at a championship event that gives out medals it is a shame that some record holders and champions will now not be able to compete in the events they originally entered, despite being in London.


The issue here has been the failure to recognise the level of interest and not to mitigate for it. The qualifying times were too easy, and there is no reliable system for checking times; the annual European rankings lists are fraught with errors and are not extensive enough. The result is a large bank deposit to LEN, and an event that will not live up to the expectations of competitors.


This event has demonstrated that an engaging offering at the right time of year can inspire swimmers to train more, even come out of retirement to take part. The FINA World Championships in Kazan had underwhelming numbers, but Masters events are selling out in Britain as swimmers prepare for the Europeans.


Keeping them involved and inspired is the next challenge, and ensuring that the provision is engaging and fit for purpose. Masters swimming cannot afford to become exclusive by cost or opportunity, but the governing bodies that represent masters swimmers should review every aspect of success and failure from the Arena European Masters Championships to ensure that this scenario cannot not happen again, especially with the FINA World Championships in Budapest likely to be popular next summer.




You can tell it’s an Olympic year because the first two weeks have been crazy busy! I’m not one for resolutions, but here are a few of the things I’m most looking forward to in 2016:

  • The Olympics – this cannot fail to inspire and having been to Rio last summer, I’m sure it will be one of the most ‘fun’ Olympics ever. I have my part to play in the lead up, then I hope to enjoy watching as much of the action as I possibly can.
  • R.10 – after nearly two years, it’s time to get blueseventy’s new performance swim suit launched. This has been a big learning curve, has seen us overcome some enormous challenges and it’s time to let it swim!
  • New business challenges. It’s been a fantastic couple of years working with some brilliant people, but it’s time to adjust slightly (no major changes!) and do some new things later in the year…
  • European Masters Swimming Championships – this is taking place in London in May and I hope to win a few gold medals. It’s the last chance to set new records in my age group before moving up in 2017.
2015-08-02 08.57.30

The Olympic triathlon & paratriathlon events on Copacabana Beach will hopefully see some medals being won by British athletes, and be highlights of the Games. I can’t wait!

Maybe a resolution needs to be to write more blogs… lets see how things go. Have a brilliant 2016!

Katie Henderson

The news about the sudden and tragic death of Katie Henderson last month was surreal. How could someone so young and incredibly talented have died? One minute she’s on her way to race in a triathlon, the next minute she is involved in a car crash and gone forever.

I met Katie in a 200m breast stroke race in 2008 when she broke ‘my’ British masters record in the 25-29 Age Group. The record had stood since 1997, and although you never really want your records broken, it was clear that Katie was a lovely person. A year later she completely smashed it with a world record time, incredible.

There’s camaraderie amongst swimmers doing the same events, and I hoped Katie, Karen Key and I might be the white haired ladies of the future, chasing the breast stroke records in the 70+ age groups.

Katie was also a formidable triathlete and was selected to be a guide for visually impaired British paratriathletes. I was excited about working with her through my BTF role, and seeing her progress even further.

At Katie’s funeral nearly everyone wore pink, it was a glamorous affair with nearly 300 guests. The parting thought was for everyone to live more like Katie lived. It was really obvious that her hardworking and happy approach to life not only made her successful, but also had a hugely positive impact on everyone around her. To touch so many lives in such a positive way was a remarkable thing.

None of us know what lies ahead, but even in death, Katie will inspire others to live like her in the future. Her legacy fund raised over £8,000 in the first month, I hope it will continue to grow and keep her spirit alive.

Keep on swimming, pedalling, running and smiling, Katie.

Planning a photo shoot

One of the most rewarding areas of working in PR is getting a brilliant set of images back to use to promote a brand, event, cause etc. However, it can also be one of the most challenging. Photography is subjective, so keeping everyone happy isn’t always easy!

I’m just in the process of organising a shoot for blueseventy using the brilliant Simon Wright from GBSwimstars. This stunning photograph of the limited edition tartan neroTX is one of my favourites and we’re planning to capture some similar images in other swimwear, but also to capture the essence of what swimming is all about – competition and fun.

tartan neroTX performance swimsuit

blueseventy Tartan neroTX, photo by Simon Wright, GBSwimstars

Too many kids quit the sport in their teens, so the aim is to produce images that show that swimming is cool and something that is fun to be part of. Over to you Simon!

Turbo powered pancakes

A favourite breakfast – easy and quick to make, full of protein, super tasty and perfect to take to the pool for lengthy competition days.


Almond butter
Apple sauce
Golden linseeds
Coconut oil


Mix the following together into a smooth paste:
Approx. 2 tablespoons of almond butter
2 tablespoons of apple sauce
1 egg
A few good shakes of cinnamon
Around a teaspoon full of golden linseeds.

Heat a frying pan with some coconut oil – keep the heat low otherwise the pancakes will easily burn. Pour the mixture in to make 3-4 pancakes – American style, not crepes.

Flip them over when you start to see bubbles appearing on the surface or when you think they are brown enough. If you’ve not put enough almond butter in, or you’ve made them too big, they can fall apart at this stage.

There’s a bit of trial and error involved to get the consistency right and how you like it, but persevere as they are worth the effort!


I have them with warmed fruit – raspberries or blueberries usually, some full fat Greek yoghurt and maple syrup. I usually also have some bacon and asparagus with them – hence this is usually a post training breakfast! They taste great and digest really easily if eaten cold with some raspberries at a swim meet.

The instructions above make enough pancakes for two people if served with other things, or one very hungry swimmer. You can increase any of the quantities as necessary to make more, it’s not an exact science at all.


These are less calorific then you might think, just go easy on the maple syrup and slightly reduce the amount of apple sauce if you’re watching your sugar intake. There are 100 cals per tablespoon of almond butter and 80 cals in the egg. They don’t make you feel bloated and full, but you’ll not feel hungry for a while after eating these – almonds are full of protein, good fats and are generally brilliant!

Veg. for breakfast

Yeah maybe it’s a bit weird, but green veg is the healthiest food you can possibly eat, so why not have it for all three meals? Trust me, you’ll get used to it and feel better for it very quickly!

Stolen bike

My stolen Focus Cayo. Must be a small market looking for one of these in size Extra Small?

My stolen Focus Cayo. Must be a small market looking for one of these in size Extra Small?

New Year’s Eve was spent tidying and cleaning. Not usual behaviour but essential following a break in. Everything I had with any sort of value was stolen. The loot included a few bikes, prize pick amongst them being a carbon frame Focus Cayo Ultegra.

UK bike thefts

Well over 500,000 bikes are stolen every year. The hotspots are London, Manchester and Cambridge – Derbyshire doesn’t feature near the top of the hot list, but statistitians can add my three bikes and a nice set of race wheels.

What can you do?

Insurance: It’s difficult to get decent home contents insurance to cover high end bikes, for burglars reading this I sadly won’t be replacing the Focus because my insurance doesn’t cover the full value of what was stolen. Shop around, most policies only cover £500 of bikes but others will go to £1500-£2000 and cover you at and away from home. For anything higher look at and you might be surprised how cheap the policies are! I certainly was!

Register your bike: I’ve registered the theft of my Focus Cayo via and offered a reward of £100, it’s worth a try! I’ve also found websites where you can register your bike, including images, information and the frame number. This one looks good and has a police log in section, which looks positive… but even if they don’t log in, at least you have all your bike details stored:

Lock it: Even when locked away in a garage I will now lock my bikes to something solid. Anything to slow them down a little!

Thanks for reading, I’ll be interested to see the result of the poll! And remember, if you hear of someone selling a Focus Cayo XS give me a shout!


Earlier this week I saw a statistic relating to typical productivity on the first full day back to work after the Christmas break. It went like this:

Catching up on email: 8%
Small talk about Christmas / New Year: 19%
Trying to remember what your job actually is: 32%
Pretending to look productive: 27%
Actually being productive: 2%
Inevitable weeping: 12%

How did your first day compare? My first day involved a lot of social media catching up, email catching up wasn’t necessary due to my compulsion to check emails on my phone every half an hour (or more, most of it was spam, not sure why I felt so compelled to check it).

After an obligatory check of the British Swimming Masters Rankings (which hadn’t changed since long before Christmas) I was confronted with a lot of proper, real, genuine work to do.

You see, we were about to launch the Cambridge Triathlon and the local newspaper needed all of the details by 5pm. However, the contact at the local council wasn’t available to sign off what we were sending. Herein lies one of the key obstacles of working in PR; sign off. As often as you want to stick to deadlines, there’s always something to throw you off track and make the task more of a challenge.

Day one back in the office also featured the dreaded board reporting. It’s only a few reports a year but it feels like board reporting comes round many more times a year than it actually does in reality. That report also needed to be completed by 5pm.

So 4-5pm passed in about 10minutes flat. Plus or minus some of the activities from the above chart, and day one was out of the way by about 6.30pm. Fortunately I do actually love what I do, and the effort with the Cambridge Triathlon press release was rewarded with a double page spread in the paper, so bring on the rest of 2014…