Return to the cold is a shock to the system
9th February 2012 - London Evening Standard
Wearing T-shirts and shorts and training outside for the last three weeks in Tenerife is something I’ve got used to, so landing back in the UK today was a real shock to the system. Wow, it’s cold.
Training has been going really well and we even had a bit of a celebrity visitor in the form of Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
For our coaches, it's the perfect way to test where we are ahead of next month's British Gas Swimming Championships.
He and the Newcastle squad were also out training in Tenerife for a few days. We didn't end up having a kickabout or anything like that but we got talking to some of the guys and they seem a good bunch.
Pardew is just a really nice down-to-earth guy. He's quite reserved and quiet actually, not like the guy you see on the touchlines at the weekend. He came to watch us train in what we call the flume but didn't get too involved, he just stood there taking it all in.
I had a nice chat with him afterwards and he just seemed genuinely interested in what we're doing and wished us all the best of luck for the Olympics.
I'm afraid, though, my football allegiance lies with a different St James Park - that's the one of Exeter City, who are towards the bottom of League One but I reckon they'll be okay come the end of the season.
The flume I mentioned before has played a big part in our training out in Tenerife. It's a small pool that has a continual flow of motion and you swim in the middle of it at your chosen speed - a bit like a swimming treadmill.
The aim is to replicate our top-speed swims so it's as if we're racing.
It's amazing and you can't make a single mistake. Your dive in has to be just right and, if you miss a single stroke, it's not like in a proper pool where you can make amends, in the flume it'll throw you back a metre or, worse, to the end of the pool.
For our coaches, it's a perfect way to test where we are just ahead of next month's British Gas Swimming Championships, which is our Olympic qualifying in the Games pool.
We're still in hard training at the moment and haven't started the tapering down yet but I'm already pretty excited about swimming in the Olympic pool.
My main focus is on the 100m Backstroke but I'm entered in a couple of other events as well. I feel in great shape after the training camp, which was a mixture of using the flume and training in the long-course (50m) pool as well as the short-course (25m) pool for our speed work.
I wasn't too bad but my room-mate Ross Davenport proved the Rory McIlroy of our group.
The weather's been beautiful, in fact we didn't have a drop of rain during our entire stay. Our hotel was right by the sea and, while most of the time has been spent training, we've had a couple of days off, too.
For the first, we hired a car and drove to Mount Teide, a volcano on the island, which was really cool as you climb up above the clouds.
For our second rest day, we just relaxed at the hotel preparing for the next training session. There has been a couple of team meals out and an evening of mini-golf. I wasn't too bad but my room-mate Ross Davenport, proved the Rory McIlroy of our group.
But now we're back at home, the focus is on the trials and swimming fast.
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