Cyprus Blog 2015

On the 30th September, Stephanie Blakeburn, Freya Williams, Hayley Briggs, Jude Blackmore, Jack Harwood, Sam Chell and Jordan Mogford will travel to Cyprus to participate in an intensive week long training camp. The camp will involve 2 swimming and 1 land based session each day. In between the physical activity the swimmers will receive coaches feedback, video reviews and sports massages. All of which makes for a pretty intensive week for the swimmers, but thanks to the beautiful surroundings of the Constantinous Bros Athena Beach Hotel in Paphos, it will be a little less strenuous for the parents.

Our thanks go to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation who helped to arrange funding for our pool hire. You can click on their logo to find out more about the beautiful island of Cyprus

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Day 8 – 7th October 2015

The final day has arrived! The World Record attempt day! The day we pack up and go home!

The day started early, as always at 7am before the walk to the pool. All swimmers, coaches and parents wore their white Cyprus t-shirts.

The swimmers had chosen the records they wanted to attempt earlier in the week. They were allowed to use any equipment they wanted, they had a 20 second break after each length and then the combined time was calculated.

Steph attempted the 200m Fly Michael Phelps world record; Freya the 400m freestyle, Jordan the 200m IM and Hayley the 200m backstroke and they all came close.

Sam attempted to break Paul Biedermann’s 200m freestyle world record of 1:42.00 – and did so by 1 second.

Next up was a combined effort from Jude & Jack who took on Shiwen Ye’s 400m IM world record of 4:28.43. Jack started off with the fly and backstroke and Jude did the breast and free to finish in a time of 4:23.

A final effort was made by the 7 swimmers, plus Josie Blackmore in a relay format, to break Katie Ledecky’s 800m freestyle record of 8:11.00. After some terrific effort and encouragement by all, they came in with a time just under 8 minutes.

That concluded the training camp, but one record was still in sight! The breakfast pancake challenge and congratulations to Sam Chell who managed a total of 9 – breaking Chris Wilkinson’s long standing record. Needless to say his seat was close to the toilet on the flight home.

Huge thanks go to all those who made this a successful camp. The coaches, the parents and the swimmers. The behaviour and attitude shown by all is a credit to our club; all the staff and guests at the hotel where very complimentary and supportive of our young athletes!

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Day 7 – 6th October 2015

Day 7 in the Big Cyprus house was not a day of rest!

The swimmers rose for a 7am meet before the mile walk to the pool for the first 2 hour session of the day. It seems the week has taken its toll on the swimmers as the walk to the pool was the quietest yet with everyone suffering with aches and pains. Alex will have a busy day soothing away the muscle tightness and knots.

Following breakfast at 10am the swimmers met to complete their log books and training diary before commencing an hours stretching and team building activities. The swimmers then met again at 2.20pm before their last real training session of the camp. At 5pm everyone commenced the walk back to the Haagen-Dazs coffee shop for one last ice cream – again richly deserved.

The evening’s activities were extra special as we also celebrated Jude Blackmore’s 13th Birthday and also held a presentation to thank Guy, Dan and Alex for their tireless dedication and commitment to the past week which has proved to be a very challenging one. All the swimmers have worked exceptionally hard; each day has brought different challenges. Mentally the swimmers have been taken out of their comfort zone at times and physically the challenges have been immense. Swimming 4 to 5 hours a day plus land training in between; all in temperatures of 30 degrees. However, despite all the blood, sweat and tears the swimmers have done everything asked of them – all with a smile on their faces. As many of the hotel guests have mentioned, the group of swimmers are extremely well behaved, always polite and a credit to the parents and the coaches of Billingham ASC.

Tomorrow is our last day and it will be the world record session. Each swimmer has chosen a world record to break and they can make their record breaking attempt using any means necessary –including fins, snorkels etc. They will swim each 50m – have a quick rest and then continue the swim. Their accumulated times will hopefully break some world records!

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Day 6 – 5th October 2015

Monday proved to be one of the hottest days of our visit so far and it was also the toughest day for our swimmers. The day started at 7.15am when the swimmers met before breakfast to undertake a 3 mile run to the marina, and back to the starting point of the sea swim. As mentioned previously – most of the parents received their own challenge for the training camp and this was Darron Harwood’s chance to complete his own as he became the first parent to ever complete the sea swim – well done Darron!

Breakfast was then enjoyed before the swimmers walked the 1 mile to the pool before a 2 hour session. Lunch was taken between 1.00-2.00pm whilst everyone had a rub down before land training begun. At 3.00pm the swimmers were joined in the water by the Masters as they completed another 2 hour session which proved to be one of the most challenging so far.

On the return walk back to the hotel everybody stopped off to enjoy a delicious Haagen-Dazs ice cream to replace the lost calories!

As with previous night’s everybody met in the bar for ‘Happy Hour’ at 7pm before dinner. Following which everyone split into teams for Don’s quiz. The Men v The Women v The Swimmers. Unlike the previous quiz, all mobile phones were collected and set a side so cheating could be avoided but the result was still the same – The Swimmers won again. I guess GCSE’s are tougher than O Levels!

The swimmers are now choosing which World Records they will attempt to break on Wednesday, but before that we have our last full day of training with another 2 sessions in the water.

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Day 5 – 4th October 2015

Day 5 is a Sunday and as such, tradition dictates that it is a day of rest! Therefore the swimmers and parents enjoyed the rare luxury of a late breakfast. Afterwards the sun beds were claimed and the days ‘relaxation’ activities were decided.

Guy and Darron were the nominated drivers to take the swimmers out for 15 minutes each on the Jet Ski’s before they all enjoyed the sea sofa ride. This is where the swimmers sit on an inflatable for 10 minutes whilst a speed boat drags it through the water. Everybody survived the adventure and had great fun but Jack was a little wetter than the rest after falling off just after leaving the marina.

The rest of the day was taken up with a walk around town and some snorkelling. Just before our evening meal the group met to set some swimming objectives for the year, then it was early to bed before tomorrow’s training which promises to be a tough day – it is the repeat of Day 2 and will commence with a morning run before an open water sea swim before breakfast.

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Day 4 – 3rd October 2015

Day 4 started at 7.30am with a lengthy stretching session on the beach front of the hotel. The hotel has a beach front path which is used by many fitness fanatics in the morning. As a result a number of people stopped to watch our swimmers – copying their stretches. If only we could charge…..

Everyone then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before the swimmers met up to complete their log books and diaries at 11am.

After this everyone was free to enjoy the sunshine, pool or sea before rendezvousing at 2.30pm for the next pool session. This was a cross between a gym and pool session in which the swimmers undertook a gym exercise for a minute before rushing to the poolside to complete a 25m sprint. This was repeated numerous times.

The evening was then taken up with a night of great food and entertainment at “Fat Mamas” in the centre of Paphos celebrating the birthdays of Jude Blackmore (actually 6th October), Don Briggs (or ‘Eddie’ as he his known – and actually it is not his birthday, but he looked a pillock wearing a stupid hat) and the whole restaurant applauded the clubs most successful year with Steph’s achievement’s at the British Championships.

As tomorrow is a Sunday and a day of rest – the swimmers and parents can relax with the only planned activity being a Jet Ski session before another brutal day on Monday – a repeat of day 2.

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Day 3 – 2nd October 2015

For some of the parents, Day 3 started as the morning after the night before! The previous evening Guy had cajoled some parents in to setting their own swimming target and Friday morning was the harsh reality of what they had agreed. From learning to swim, to completing a 50m fly in a long course pool or the open water swim – Shirley Fawkes was on hand to provide a lesson at 7.30am.

After almost 90 minutes – all the parents who took part felt as if they had learnt new skills and their goals seemed a little more achievable.

The real swimmers however successful complete a hard 2 hour pool session before racing back to the hotel before the breakfast buffet closed at 10am.

A log book and training diary session then followed for the swimmers, before they started a land training session in the grounds of the hotel. Everybody worked hard on the exercises and problem solving activities before enjoying a little relaxation time in the hotel pool of all places. Although the hotel fun police were in operation as they enforced the ‘No Ball Games Allowed in the Pool’ rule!

At 2.20pm it was time to set off on the 1 mile walk back to the pool for another 2 hour session. The swimmers were also able to have any aches and pains soothed away as Alex was on hand with some needed sports massage.

Another tiring day was brought to an end with a well-deserved ice cream on the way back to the hotel and an after dinner quiz host by Don Briggs. Everybody headed off to bed looking forward to an extra 30 minutes in bed as we meet up at 7.30am for land training.

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Day 2 – 1st October 2015

Day two was quite simply brutal. The parents knew it, the coaches knew it would be and the swimmers expected it! The morning started at 7:15am with a 3 mile run to the marina. After a lengthy stretch off it was the start of a 1km sea swim back to our beach front hotel. Some swimmers were apprehensive at the start, with the fear of the unknown. Water visibility was poor when they first entered the water in the small bay, but once they had swam out to deeper water beyond the buoys, the visibility was excellent. This helped to relax the swimmers and they all enjoyed the swim – so much so that a couple of parents will join in the next one on Monday!

After a delicious and much needed breakfast the swimmers walked the 1 mile journey to the 50m outdoor pool. Here they undertook the first 2 hour pool session of the week at 11am. A break for lunch was then followed by a difficult 1 hour land training circuit before commencing another 2 hour pool session. Overall the swimmers covered between 9km and 12km over the two sessions.

At 5pm it was time to pack up and make the journey back to the hotel stopping for an ice cream on route with a debrief session. There was still time to enjoy a couple of drinks in the bar before dinner before lights out at 10pm after an exhausting but really enjoyable day.

Sea Swim

Sea Swim

The Outdoor 50m Pool

The Outdoor 50m Pool

Time for lunch

Time for lunch

Land Trainig

Land Trainig

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Day 1 – 30th September 2015

The first day of the Cyprus training camp was a long one. A rendezvous of 5am at Newcastle airport meant an early rise for most. Before the 7am flight however, there was still time for the swimmers to catch up with old friends who have left for university via Face Time – namely Lewis!

After a very pleasant flight we arrived in Paphos just before 2pm local time and we were all delighted to be greeted with temperatures of around 29 degrees.

The first team meeting took place at 4pm with talks by Guy, Dan and Alex to explain to the swimmers what will take place over the next week. This was then followed by the first team building activity before dinner and an early night before the real work starts.

Day 2 promises to be a tough one with a run and sea swim before breakfast, followed by two sessions in the 50m outdoor pool and a further strength and conditioning session.

FaceTime with old friends

FaceTime with old friends


The team before departure

The team before departure

The Hotel - Athena Beach in Paphos

The Hotel – Athena Beach in Paphos