You may remember that every year we give away a training pack and support to a swimmer via applications to our Charity Swimmer package.  This is an initiative to help relatively new swimmers train for their events with free training and support from South West Swim.

This years applications were fantastic, causing the judges much thinking and pondering, but in the end Chris Marsh was chosen.

Chris also becomes are official 4th GOLD HAT recipient, joining Debbie Wayman, David Stephens and Luke Campbell.  SWS Gold Hats are given to those who have done something or achieved something exceptional.

Chris has written his first blog below to introduce himself and his charity, we will keep you informed of how Chris’s training is progressing in future blog posts.

over to Chris……..


Hi Everyone,

Firstly can I say a massive thanks to Jason and those at SWS who selected me to be

this year’s sponsored athlete. In a way this selection has come to my rescue at a time when I have

no choice but to drastically improve my swimming. So I wanted to just do a short post to tell you a

little about myself , how I became involved with SWS and how Jason is helping me (a relatively

inexperienced swimmer) to improve towards a massive charity raising challenge that I have set

myself in September this year : The lake Coniston End to End Chill Swim (5.25miles).

Here is a little round up of my story so far: Around three years ago I started running to

improve my fitness and over the next couple of years I discovered the world of Triathlon. Last year I

decided to try some open water events and so I purchased my first ever wet suite and very excitedly

entered the following Triathlons : The Cotswold Sprint at lake 32 (750m Swim) , Blenheim Palace

Sprint (750m Swim) and very ambitiously the Cardiff Olympic distance (1500m Swim).

Here begins my tale of woe, first swim at Lake 32 I decide to race out ahead of the pack so

as not to get involved in the white water fight at the beginning, so after my fastest ever 100m sprint

guess what? Yep, I’m dead in the water can’t breathe….. I’m exhausted and have to stop, as I turn

around to look behind the rest of my wave crash over me and I take a few blows as they speed past,

once they have gone I breast stroke, then slowly front crawl to the swim finish where I am pulled out

of the water exhausted, embarrassed and about 3 rd from last. At Blenheim Palace I start to the side!!!

let everyone go and then gently follow, but again the breathing is difficult and I do some breast

stroke to help, I get out of the water near the back of the wave, exhausted but happy not to have

been kicked and slapped too many times on the way around!!! With the lessons of the first two Tri’s I

went into Cardiff 1500m very apprehensive but decided to let everyone else go and then pace myself

, breathe alternately every 3 strokes , keep sighting the buoys and just enjoy it and save myself for

the bike . Amazingly I see loads of swimmers zig zag of course in front of me and I actually pass

some of them !! I get out of the water after 30mins and I feel great: best swim ever.

So after Cardiff I came to the conclusion that I can swim but my technique doesn’t feel right, my

swim conditioning is very poor and this is leading to breathlessness in the water (pool or open water).

I made a decision to really improve my swimming by doing some lessons and / or more swimming

near my work in central Swindon ( by the way I live in Gloucester) and then get back into the lakes

ASAP in 2017.

This is where I found South West Swim and contacted Jason for some help. As a starting point we did

an Endless Pool video analysis that showed up so many faults in my swim technique! But also gave

me the support to begin correcting these faults. Secondly I signed up for the Friday (6am LOL) swim

squad where my conditioning and technique has immensely improved , because unlike the 400m

gentle swims in my local pool , the Friday swim squad has challenged me to swim for an hour, at a

pace and usually covering around 2km (in my lane). I also recently joined Jason at Lake 12 for an

“Introduction to Open Water Swimming” which was great and where I picked up a lot of insight into

many of the mistakes I made last year in my first open water swims .So with much improved stroke,

better conditioning and a great club and people to train with I am really looking forward to some

serious amounts of swim training this year to achieve my goals.

As test milestones on the way to Coniston I have signed up to the following two swims: The Tri Ferris

Cotswold Big Swim (Two Mile), and the Padstow to Rock Estuary Swim (1m).So if you guys know of

any other nice swims that I could benchmark myself against between now and September I would

appreciate your advice.

I’m certainly hoping to meet a lot of new friends in SWS and the local swimming community this year

so as a start I have joined Lake 32 and signed onto the COWS Facebook page. I don’t have a

dedicated Charity Facebook page, but I’m happy for anyone to contact or friend me on Facebook:

Chris Marsh or email me on and if you would like to read more about

my fund raising for the Alzheimer’s Society you can find my story at JUST GIVING under the link : Swim-Coniston

Hopefully see you all soon