Introduction to 100%’ers…
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So I had this idea after reading part of Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life, which is beautifully written with the intention of offering life improving affirmations and philosophies. One of the themes within the book is take responsibility for your actions, which will then give the actions focus, which then gives them a certain ‘meaning’ or credence. I interpreted that as, in order to reach for the stars, you have to shoulder the possibility of falling short, but do your bloody best to reach the stars anyhow…
So after some deliberation, and particularly due to the time of year (just before New Years 2019) I decided to run a programme called the 100%’ers, on my Thank The Universe website. The idea is simple enough - for those that have plans and goals for 2019, they are able to shoulder the responsibility via this website.
This platform will allow you to commit to, in writing (and on a public forum) your short, medium and long term goals, whilst having a your website profile updated each month or on each milestone acheivement. This I believe will encourage you to keep those so often neglected targets within your sights - as well as remembering why you started in the first place. Negative doubts often hold people back - and there will be (no doubt) detractors, gossipers and people that will genuinely wish failure upon you, especially if your goal is well publicised - HOWEVER, do not let the voices win. How else do we get the gold, other than by facing down the big scary fire breathing dragon!?

So as the guinea pig, so-to speak, I am the first member of the 100%’ers… and as such, my profile is below. I hope this inspires others to take part… Thanks for reading…

Update 8 - 22/05/2019

Progress is going well... After 3-4 months of what seemed slow progression - almost plateauing, it seems there has been an increase in the degree of the upswing. Again, getting in the pool regularly even when I still have horrendous sessions, the better sessions do outweigh them. The next step is to get in the open water. I say this in every update but I really need to get it in there in June. The wetsuit is here and I’m jus waiting for the cap and the float before committing. Still a bit hesitant about it all though. Thanks for reading.

Update 7 - 25/04/2019

I want to say thank you to all the people for their kind sponsors and the the anonymous person that felt the need to explain their contribution; all sponsorship is welcome and thank you very much for taking the time, contributing financially and wishing me luck. I appreciate the support, no matter how big or small - and I'm sure MIND do also...

Update: My technique is definitely improving, I'm boxing off 8-10 lengths at front crawl now which is 200-250mtrs, around half way for the race. As a comparison, when I started training regularly in January, 1 length was all I could manage.
Keeping up with the regular sessions and re-booked on to the adult improvers lessons in additiona to the open pool lane sessions.
Looking forward to getting into the open water sometime in May - a couple of experienced open water swimmers have offered me to join them when they start up again.

No particular issues lately - just my own mindset blocking progress in some sessions.

Update 6 - 26/03/2019 (Edited 31/03/2019)

  • My original estimate was to have been in open water at this stage. I now appreciate that this was perhaps an ambitious estimatation. The pool work has been consistent as usual and I've actually started to notice small increases in both smoothness of technique and endurance. Managing to box off 40 lengths (1km) on a regular basis now, albeit in fits and starts. My last session before writing this, was a 52 lengths session (1300m). I broke this up into 5 sets, 1x10, 1x8, 3x10 then a final set of four at the end. The first set of 10 was relatively comfortable with the majority done in front crawl. As the sets progressed I incorporated more breast stroke. The final 2x sets of 10 consisted of 1 sprint length of front crawl and 1x length of breast stroke to catch my breath. I then finished with 4x uninterupted lengths of front crawl at a casual pace.
    I have 3 more weeks of lessons to do before the they come to an end. I’ll probably sign up again if the offer is there, as it is a good opportunity to have a quiet pool and get some technique and lengths banged out uninterupted.
    So getting in open water by the end of March is not going to happen, but I will make it my next goal to get a wet suit sorted in April then look for an open water club to get some practice in by the close of April…
    No blog article would be complete without a bit of a moan so I thought I’d update the latest blog update with that past few days progress.
    So the end of March saw some decent progress which is good as I’m approaching the end of the classes. Thankfully this week the coach was a bit more switched on, putting me through my paces whilst being strict on my technique. Which is a far cry from the previous week, where one of the middle aged swimmers constantly kept he busy with his inane chatter - and I think she was too polite to tell him to STFU.
    I wanted to stop and box of some more consecutive lengths after the class had finished and the open pool session started. But unfortunately, the pool was bombarded with old women swimming two abreast and families not giving a flying frenchman’s fandango about anyone else trying to swim.

    So I made it to the pool on Saturday morning after a night out on the rum. I was fairly delicate but wanted to box off half a mile (32 lengths). It was a struggle to be honest but I felt better for it and thought I could put more effort in on Sundays session.
    Sundays session started off with a weights routine before setting off to the pool. It was a complete disaster to be honest. 5 lanes were roped off where the forst 3 were populated by beast strokers… The 4th lane was empty which was great - so I decided to use that one. The 5th lane had somebody using it for a swimathon.

    Slowly but surely the 4th lane got busier and busier with more experienced swimmers. One thing I’ve noticed about swimming is that it is both a very selfish sport and that there is very little pool etiquette. So as the lane got busier the more experienced swimmers decide that it’s ok for them to take over and command the use of the lane by overtaking or crowding the space (even clashing) at times. This is supremely frustrating and lacking in etiquette. I don’t think there are a lot of other physical exercise environments where this would be tolerated. So with a bit of a face on, I quit after 12 lengths. Seething deep inside from these ignorant arse wipes. I’ll be taking a much more defensive stance next time around.

Update 5 - 09/03/2019

This is my first update for nearly a month. I had a full week of during this time to give the old bones a rest from the swimming and weights routines I’ve been regularly following. Apart from the week off, the training has been consistent. I now regularly box of 32 lengths per session (800m) with the last 3 sessions clearing over 1km (40 lengths). The good news from from my perspective is that various people have commented on my technique becoming smoother since I started - obviously the smoother you can become the more energy efficient you are, which is always a boost to hear.
This last swimming class, I was tasked to carry out some ‘pyramid training’. Not something I’me accustomed to with swimming, but our original coach has been off sick and the guy that stepped in for her had me carrying out these horrendous beasts. Now it’s probably not a big deal to most experienced swimmers, but this routine showed me how much fitness is actually required when it comes to high velocity and (fairly high) output. Starting with 1 length at maximum output, working my way up to 6 lengths albeit consistently reducing the velocity. Each set had a 45 second rest in between and it didn’t feel like enough after the set of 3. The last 3 sets of 4’s, 5’s and 6’s was a struggle. I had to alternate my breath between the standard 3 strokes and sometimes every second due to my tiredness.
This was great training as it made me focus on finishing the reps and sets where-as when I’m in the pool in an open swim session, it becomes a lot of the time about avoiding people who either don’t follow the usual pool etiquette by swimming in pairs and having a chat or simply ignoring the requirements to swim in a clockwise direction by swimming in straight lines.
There was a particularly stubborn old bastard swimming in straight lines one Monday dinner time. The pool was particularly busy during office hours which meant that there was quite often a bit more etiquette required and a lot of waiting or swimming ‘around’ certain people. The stubborn old bastard I mentioned would simply not move or take a backwards step. If at any point you’d swam into his path by manouvering around others he would simply swim into you, rather than for example following the path of the people ahead of him who you had just swam around. He was a fit old sod to be fair to him, he didn’t stop for the full hour.

My original estimation of being in open water by March may have been slightly ambitious. I did forget one vital point when making this assessment, and that was the temperature of the water. I’ve given the March date a second thought and will aim more towards the end of April early May. This will still leave me with 2-3 months of Open Water practive before the race…

Update 4 - 11/02/2019

I guess the only thing to update is that I’m grinding this thing out… I’m certainly putting in the time and effort, although the technique (especially the breathing technique) is taking some mastering.
Initially starting out at 10 lengths, moving up to 15, then 20, then 24, I’m now boxing off 32 lengths (half a mile) repetitively now. Over 2/3’s of these lengths are front crawl and the majority of the front crawl lengths are done in pairs (2 lengths) which is a massive improvement from when I first started.
It does get quite frustrating at times when it seems that most other pool users swim like Aqua Man and would probably use 32 lengths as a warm up…
One thing I may have overestimated, is being in open water by the end of March. I will assess this closer to the time, but until then, I will keep grinding out the lengths and attending the classes.
The good thing is that I am still enthusiastic even after the initial / usual cooling off period of the good intentions from New Year.

Oh and as I have a fear of open water (I probably watched Jaws at an impressionable age) I don’t think watching the Netflix film, 47 Meteres Down, was a good idea! ha…
Until the next update…
God speed…

Alex Cook - 100%’ers Profile

I have two main goals this year that both fall under the Thank The Universe umbrella. Ideally, I would like to make 2019 the year that Thank The Universe became financially sustainable in it’s own right, whether this is through the Vanquish Clothing sales or The Priory Podcast being refined and gaining enough popularity to attract sponsorship attention.
My two main goals however, which will require the largest portion of my attention (certainly for the first half of 2019) are the 500m Derwent Epic Lakes Swim in July, which I’m participating in and raising money for Mind - West Cumbria, and secondly I will be aiming to write and publish (hopefully the first of several) an autobiographical book of self deprecating observations of some of the most cringe worthy and sardonic points in my life. A ‘how not to…’ style book…

Main Aim (Long Term Goal 1): July 7th 2019
To complete the 500m Derwent Epic Lakes Swim, whilst raising money for the charity Mind - West Cumbria.

Main Aim (Long Term Goal 2): August 1st 2019
To write and publish my first autobiographical book on the observations of certain points of my life so far.

Short Term Goal (1): January 11th 2019 (ongoing)
The first point of call is to strengthen my swimming ability in the pool. This means booking onto lessons, which I have done and they start w/c 7th January. These lessons will also be subsidised with open sessions in the pool.
I have already booked (and paid for) my place in the race for 7th July Derwenter Epic Lake Swim. This will also help to keep me motivated.

Short Term Goal (2): January 11th 2019 (ongoing)
To write, however bland, my thoughts on particular situations that are particularly toe curling in times (both recent and distant times) gone by. My aim will be to write ~500 words a week and to also understand the structure and

word count of books I wish to emulate.

Medium Term Goal (1): March 1st 2019
This medium term milestone will be to step foot into Open Water for the first time. I believe this can be achieved by March this year after a 7-8 week schedule of strengthening my indoor swimming ability and having been able to complete at least 500m in the pool uninterupted.

Medium Term Goal (2): April 1st 2019
To have the full unedited draft ready for streamlining.
Also to fully understand the selfpublishing and marketing process.

Update for 11th January:
1a) Feedback on the swimming lessons and pool training.
1b) To have organised a Just Giving page with the consent of Mind - West Cumbria

2a) To have commited the first 500 words to paper.
2b) To started the understanding process of self publishing and marketing…


Update 2 - 13/01/2019

I have been at the gym most of the week but had my first swimming class on Thursday at the Copeland pool. I didn’t realise how bad of a swimmer I was, although I knew I was bad. The coach had me swim 1x 25m length so she could assess my form. It wasn’t good. Breathing practically non existant, legs all over the place and arm actions completely over the top. God knows what I must have looked like.
Thankfully the pool was fairly empty and I didn’t feel too self conscious while pretending not to drown.

The coach gave me pointers and techniques to try throughout the class, which I tried to take on board.
It was clearly evident that my horrendous technique and poor fitness levels would not allow me to do more than one length of the pool without stopping and gasping for air.
Managed 1 more pool session this week which was this morning (Sunday 13th). Tried to implement the techniques that the coach had given me on Thursday - but I’ve got to admit, that it was tough.
Concentrating on technique and whilst controlling my breathing seemed like an impossible task this morning. I felt slightly out of my depth, if you excuse the pun, as there were some very accomplished swimmers in the pool today. It was like The Man from Atlantis had let his family free in the pool whilst I was there struggling like Augustus Glupe when he fell in the river of choclate…

Small goals for week 2:
I’ll be back in the pool Monday morning and Thursday night and potentially Saturday morning also. The goal this week is to manage 3 lengths uninterupted, maybe 4 (100m). And also to box off at least 20 lengths per session overall to increase stamina.


#StayTrue #100’ers

Update 3 - 26/01/2019

Having just completed my 3rd week of swimming training - I thought it would be an ideal time for an update. I’m slowly creating a regular routine of training which includes incremental ‘improvements’ each week.
So the objective is to be able to complete at least 500m non-stop (using front crawl) in the pool by the end of March, as that seems to be the bench mark for Open Water Swim requirements. However, unless I make huge improvements in February, I think 500m non stop by the end of march maybe a bit of an ask. I’m currently stuttering at 2 lengths of the pool using front crawl but having boxed off 100m (4 lengths) mixing Crawl and Breast Stroke. I guess you can now get a feel as to why I only went for the 500m Open Water Swim!

So the lessons are good, I have one lesson per week, where my technique is assessed and advice given as to the improvements I need to make. There are numerous… Who knew swimming was such an art!?
- Keeping my lower body higher in the water
- Learning to kick with a certain kind of technique
- Breathing on every 3rd stroke
- Reach and Pull stroke technique (I’ll do the jokes, please)
My main issue (to me anyway) is the erratic breathing - this seems to be hampering my ability to do more than 2 lengths of crawl. The physical or muscular exertion side of swimming however, seems to be manageable.
Other than the lessons, I’m subsidising my swimming with 2-3 extra lane sessions a week. This is where I’m trying to implement all the techniques I have been shown, whilst completing a minimum of 24 lengths (550m) with the least amount of pauses. It’s a daunting task when the pool is full of people who are direct descendants from Aqua Man.
Anyway - consistency and perserverance is key…
Once again - I need to give a shout out to MIND - West Cumbria, who I will be raising money in this Open Water Swim. I will have the Just Giving Page set up by the end of nedt week - but if any company’s would like to jump on board to help support the cause please get in touch!
I will be printing new 100%’ers t-shirts to wear in the gym where I will be advertising on Instagram, Twitter and Linked-In, as well as this website and future Podcast episodes… So if you fancy showing some support - I will put your logo on the shirt and you will be included on all the above advertising platforms!
You can get in touch on the contacts page on here or on any of the social media links in the margins…

Cheers, AC
#staytrue #100percenters