32nd challenge completed – Waterpolo

Having ran for 4 days consecutively between Saturday and Tuesday, cycled the London Velodrome on Wednesday, it was time for a bit of relaxation with the West London Penguin Water Polo Club. If only the last part of that statement was true, yesterday was anything but relaxing!

Having contacted 3 or 4 local waterpolo clubs, I was really struggling to find a club that was willing to let me come along to one of their sessions. That was until the West London Penguin Water Polo Club responded to a post of mine on their Facebook site. So this Thursday I was invited to go along and train with them. 8 – 10pm sounded like a relatively long time for a training session, but I assumed that there would be a few breaks, time to discuss tactics and technique so we’d probably only be active for about hour. I was very wrong!

After meeting a few of the team, we started our warm up session – Butterfly arms with breaststroke legs. Anyone that’s watched me swim can imagine what a shocking ‘Eric the eel’ type sight this must have been for the other swimmers. This was followed by various adaptations on traditional swimming strokes, totalling around 20 lengths in total. The final part of the swimming warm up was a whopping 6×6 frontcrawl widths, alternating between face up and face down – this was done twice, so 72 widths and 20 lengths just to get the heart rate up. It safe to say that I probably only managed half of these and was in awe of the speed and power of everyone else.

I just about survived the warm up, and we moved on practicing drills. These involved various passing and swimming exercises, which on their own were very manageable, but there were no breaks between each one and I was finding it increasing difficult to remain afloat and the odd minor cramping meant that I sought the sanctuary of the pool side on the odd occasion.

After about 90 minutes of pain and exhaustion (I was actually enjoying myself), it was time for some attack versus defence drills. This was seriously tough. Whilst everyone else was regularly involved in the play I was busy preventing myself from drowning, resulting in an inability to actually raise my arms above the water to catch the ball. Nevertheless, I didn’t let this affect me and I pulled on a blue swimming hat to take part in the concluding practice match. This was great fun, if not a little brutal. These guys were seriously tough.

So where is waterpolo going to rank in my Olympic experience to-date. Overall, I’ve found it really difficult to get involved, but West London Penguin have gone a long way to changing my initial impression of the sport. Everyone was very friendly and as far as respect level goes, these guys have got to be near the top. It was a tough day, but thoroughly enjoyable.

So where are the pictures – well the big downside to the evening came after the session. I’d asked one of the spectators to take a few pictures and there were some really good shots. Unfortunately and slightly scarily at the time, I had my phone snatched from me, outside the University by two people on a motorbike. It happened so quickly that I only realised what had happened after the event. At the time I was in shock, this soon turned to anger and now on reflection I’m just putting it down to one of those things that happens – just a shame I can’t get back those photos.

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Quick update

So I’ve been quiet on this site over the past few weeks. This is partly due to starting a new job, but mainly due to giving my body a bit of a rest after the marathon.

In reality the rest didn’t last that long and I started playing rugby a couple of weeks after the marathon. The first 2 matches, despite loosing, were really good fun and I’m in a team with a really good bunch of people. Unfortunately after playing the 2nd match, we had a bit of a practice and I managed to tweak both of my hamstrings. Luckily it wasn’t too serious and I’m back playing running and playing tennis and plan to play in my 3rd rugby match tomorrow. Technically I’ve completed the rugby challenge having now played a couple of matches, but I’ll save the full report until we’ve completed the season.

Hoping to start Water Polo this Thursday so watch out for updates shortly on this as well.

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The plan for 2015

I started 2015 in a way that sums up the new me. Instead of the usual going out on new year’s eve, we stayed in as I prepared for the Serpentine NYE 10k run. In fairness we had spent a week on the road over the festive period and we’d run out of energy come the 31st. My early night was rewarded as I bagged myself a new 10k PB of 43.51.


The first 3 months of 2015 will largely be dedicated to training for the Greater Manchester Marathon and my goal of sub-3.30, although I have found time to schedule the volleyball and rugby challenges.

So this leaves an additional 13 and certainly not the easiest of 13.

The two aquatic sports of synchronised swimming and water polo will prove a challenge. Sychro is not a male sport in the Olympics and water polo is often played at a very competitive level.

Next is basketball, there are plenty of social leagues around London so it should be just a case of finding the time to take part in one.

Boxing, well I’m not particularly looking forward to this one and decided against anything that involves me getting punched. I’ll arrange a training session at some point.

Then comes the three equestrian sports of dressage, eventing and jumping. I’m still not exactly sure how this will be achieved but some sort of course or series of private lessons is probably on the cards.

Gymnastics is another sport split into three; artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline. We have a couple of friends that are coaches so the plan will be to spend a day learning various routines. Hoping to rope in a few others as well.

Hockey in a similar way to basketball has a number of social leagues in London so it should just be a matter of time before I can find a date in 2015 to play.

Modern pentathlon is a combination of:

  • Fencing (completed 23rd Aug, 2013)
  • Swimming (completed 23rd Mar, 2013)
  • Pistol Shooting (completed 2nd Dec, 2012)
  • Cross-Country Run (completed 26th Oct, 2014)
  • Show jumping

Once I’ve completed jumping as part of the equestrian sports this will be complete.

Taekwondo is available in a number of places across London but it would be good to find a proper beginners course and really get into one of the martial art disciplines.

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The Team Sports

For these sports I will be required to take part in a organised competitive match. The challenge for these events will be to persuade the relevant local team to allow me to play for them. I have played beach volleyball and water polo on holiday and I played hockey, indoor volleyball and basketball on the odd occasion at school. Rugby and handball are completely new sports for me, although I am a keen rugby fan.

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