Friday, 21 November 2014

69. Diving - Synchronised 3m Springboard

Event: Diving - Synchronised 3m Springboard
Date: 11th November 2014
Location: Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre
Cost: £6.00
Rules: Diving is the sport of diving or falling into the water from a platform or springboard. It requires poise and courage. During the fall, athletes can perform a number of spins, flips and twists before hitting the water at speeds up to 55mph, with as little disturbance as possible. Each dive has an assigned degree of difficulty, upon which their score is based, along with the ease displayed by the athletes. The Springboards are 3 metres high, and their flexibility is fully adjustable. Synchronised competitions see pairs of divers try to coordinate dives with perfect coordination in take off, plunge and entry to the water. Women's pairs must complete five dives, with at least one dive from each category; Forward, Back, Reverse, Inward and Twisting.

The Event:

Olympic Gold Medal London 2012: He Zi and Wu Minxia, China

Sarah: It was a bit easier doing the synchro dive compared to the individual, as I had less time to think about it. We just walked to the end, did a quick '3-2-1-go!' and I had to jump, or Ellie would have to do it all again, and would probably punch me for ditching her.  Again, I can't emphasise enough how scary it was to even step off the board. If you want to get all technical with us; this feet-first approach unbelievably counts as a proper dive.
Ellie: How amazing would it have been if there was a lovely video of us doing somersaults in synchronicity! Alas, it was not to be. It was just too scary. Thankfully, knowing that your partner was relying on you made it slightly easier - it would have been awful to have seen them jump in and be the one left on the springboard. This is not an event I'm happy to leave behind; not because I enjoyed it, quite the opposite actually - I want to conquer the feeling of fear. Maybe one day that video of flips and tucks will exist... probably not though...!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Bonus Event #2 - Curling

Event: Curling
Date: 8th November 2014
Location: Fenton's Curling Centre, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Cost: £20 per person - minimum of 8 people
Rules: A curling team consists of four athletes. One match consists of 10 'ends' or rounds of throws. The score for the end is determined when all 16 stones have been delivered. A team can have one or several stones closest to the centre and score; therefore one or several points  are available in each end. The team with the most points after all 10 ends have been completed, or after the opponent has conceded, is the winner.


Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 Winners: Canada
Sarah' Team: 2
Ellie' Team: 1

Sarah: Some of the best events of our challenge have been the ones where we've roped in a bunch of friends to help us out. The team events always seem to bring out an excellent level of competition amongst us all. When we heard about Fenton's rink, we decided to book a Curling session as our first Winter Olympics event and second bonus sport, because why stop at a mere 114 events?! We were all a bit nervous about falling flat on our face as soon as we stepped onto the ice, but the shoes were magic, and we were soon running up and down chasing the stone. We had a brief introductory talk; how to sweep and curl the stone, but were quickly left too it, and we managed to squeeze in five games. We got to alternate between the bowler, sweepers and captain; who remains up in the end and is the only person who can sweep the other team's stone once it passes over a specific line within the house (target area). The most difficult element was trying to figure out how much pressure to put behind the stone when bowling; what felt like a comparable push sometimes sent the stone flying too far and out of play, and the next time it failed to even reach the score line. It was loads of fun though, and felt like we really progressed within the two hours. We were all getting carried away with yells of "SWEEP", "LEAVE IT", "SWEEP, SWEEP" by the end. I'd definitely go again!

Ellie: I think Curling was the sport I watched most from the Sochi Winter games and was certainly one that I wasn't very familiar with; to find that there was a purpose built rink within a few hours of Essex was very interesting. It was also heartening to find six other friends that were keen to give up a Saturday to come along and try it with us. The rules and principles of Curling seemed straightforward and we were able to have a rudimentary game after only a few pointers; but the technique and strategy was a bit more elusive! As Sarah says, getting the power levels right was really difficult and I also found that I accidentally spun my stone so it was often out of play before reaching the target. That being said, when one of us was able to get a stone to the scoring zone it was really exciting and there were some great scoring debates between teams - some of which I still dispute!! I'd be very happy to make the journey to Kent to try again in the future!

L-R: Claire, Greg, Sarah, Clare v Ellie, Laura, Simon, Carl

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

68. Diving - Individual 3m Springboard

Event: Diving - Individual 3m Springboard
Date: 11th November 2014
Location: Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre
Cost: £6.00
Rules: Diving is the sport of diving or falling into the water from a platform or springboard. It requires poise and courage. During the fall, athletes can perform a number of spins, flips and twists before hitting the water at speeds up to 55mph, with as little disturbance as possible. Each dive has an assigned degree of difficulty, upon which their score is based, along with the ease displayed by the athletes. The Springboards are 3 metres high, and their flexibility is fully adjustable. Women must compete five dives, with at least one dive from each category; Forward, Back, Reverse, Inward and Twisting.

The Event:

Olympic Gold Medal London 2012: Wu Minxia, China

Sarah: This is one of the most terrifying things I've ever done. I'm a confident swimmer, have no fear of the water, or heights; but, standing up on the 3m board looking down into the water filled me with utter fear. The most annoying thing is; it looks really easy! It doesn't even look that high, does it? It really, really, is though! We went for two sessions, and I tried every trick I could think of to get me off the board- including building my confidence diving from the 1m springboards and even climbing to the top of the 10m Platform and looking down, in the hope that when returning to the 3m boards, the distance would seem nothing in comparison. Technically, the 'dive' I completed does qualify as a proper dive, but I'm so annoyed at myself for not being able to get over my mental block and force myself in arms-first. Look at Ellie though! It was incredible when she did it! Since we started our challenge, the most common response from people has been "what, even the 10m dive?!", and we've always replied "yes! of course!". I'm now on the side of the doubters about that event!
Ellie: The only way I could do this dive was to actually over-balance. I had to lean over until I fell off and then it was all okay. The hardest part of it was working up the courage to 'dive' off, once I was falling I felt quite safe. That all being said I couldn't go up and do it again. It's such an odd sensation - your brain is telling you to jump, that it's safe and you'll be fine but it was almost an uncontrollable physical reaction.
I'm sure if I'd been 20 years younger I'd have had no issues at all which is infuriating! Of all the sports I've had problems with this is the one I'd like to master... I definitely agree with Sarah though, I doubt I'll ever be able to overbalance myself off the 10m board.

67. 200m Butterfly

Event: 200m Butterfly
Date: 7th November 2014
Location: London Aquatics Centre, Stratford
Cost: £4.50
Rules: Competitors swim four lengths of butterfly as fast as possible. Athletes dive in, and some part of the swimmer must touch the wall at the end of each length and at the finish. Most will touch the wall and push off with their feet.

The Event:


Olympic Gold Medal London 2012: 2:04.06 - Jiao Liuyang, China.
Sarah: 8:52.08 
Ellie: 8:43.45
Sarah: I wasn't looking forward to this one after struggling through the shorter distance a couple of weeks ago, but it turned out that the 200m is somehow easier than the 100m. I didn't feel the need to try and go flat-out, and there were even sections when it felt like I was doing something approaching Butterfly. It's such a complicated stroke, and I find I can only concentrate on either my arms, or legs, or breathing; thinking about the whole combination seems a bit beyond me for some reason. Only one more Fly event left now!
Ellie: Whatever I was doing, it probably couldn't be called Butterfly.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

66. Pole Vault

Event: Pole Vault
Date: 19th October 2014
Location: Colchester Harriers, Arena Sports and Leisure Centre, Colchester 
Cost: Free
Rules: Competitors use a long and flexible pole as an aid to jump over a bar. Competitors plant their poles in a one-metre long box that is 60 cms wide at the front and 15 cms wide at the back. The crossbar is 4.5m wide. Once the vaulter leaves the ground he/she may not move their lower hand above their upper hand on the pole, nor move their upper hand higher on the pole. A successful vault is one in which the crossbar remains in place once the vaulter has left the landing area. Each athlete has three attempts at clearing each height and is eliminated if they fail to reach the height.

The Event:


Sarah: 95cm: xxx

Ellie: 95cm: xxx

London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal: 4.75m - Jennifer Suhr, USA.

Sarah: Pole vault! One of the big ones, and one of the most technically difficult events we've tackled so far. I wasn't expecting the mental barrier of flinging myself forward, up and over the pole, and looking at the photos I clearly wasn't raising my knees high enough; meaning I jumped straight into the bar each time. Despite not being my most successful event, I really enjoyed learning how to hold the pole and the technicalities involved. Once again, we had some of the young Harriers helping us, and showing us how it should be done; putting our efforts to shame!  

Ellie: Argh! Never miss the opportunity to try Pole Vault - it was super-fun! Our Harriers coach started us with some exercises to get us used to holding and relying on the pole. These mostly saw me rolling around on the soggy ground but, once I had a run up marked out (a very short one which was pleasing) and knew how to hold the pole properly it became possible to feel how you might use it to lever yourself up and over - if never quite getting it right myself. I'd loved to have kept trying this one as I did feel that the bar was mine for the taking but it's such an exhausting sport that it was wise to stop when we did. My aching muscles the next day were proof of that. Again, this is an event I'm sad to see the back of but what an experience! 

Massive thanks to our coach, Chris, and to Ellie and Jess for their amazing demonstrations and enthusiasm. You can follow Colchester Harriers Athletics Club on Twitter - @ColchesterH 

Monday, 13 October 2014

65. 100m Hurdles

Event: 100m Hurdles
Date: 5th October 2014
Location: Colchester Harriers, Arena Sports and Leisure Centre, Colchester 
Cost: Free
Rules: Competitors sprint over 100m, whilst jumping over 10 hurdles evenly placed along the track. The fastest wins. Each athlete must stay in their allocated lane. They are allowed to knock the hurdles, but will be disqualified if they hit the hurdle with their hand.

The Event:

Sarah: 0:26.35
Ellie:   0:35.90 

London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal: 0:12.35 - Sally Pearson, Australia.

Sarah: We couldn't have hoped for a nicer day to hit the track and tackle the 100m hurdles. We started with a warm-up and introduction to the hurdling technique before working through clearing one hurdle, increasing the height, then two and three so we could develop our stride pattern. The demonstrations by the other Harriers were a huge help, and showed up how effortless it should look! I was really pleased with the hurdle height I reached in the practice, but by the time we came to the proper event, my legs were starting to tire and I had to reduce the height. I threw myself into this one, and felt it in lesser-used muscles the next couple of days! I really enjoyed hurdling, and am looking forward to returning to it over the longer distance.

Ellie: I was really glad to be attempting hurdles with no warning (we were originally down to do pole vault today) as I'm not too fond of running and it was good not to have time to dwell on it. The magic thing with hurdling is that the athletes manage to keep their upper body constant and still and that they 'just' bring their legs up and over the hurdle. We had some young Harriers giving us tips and demos; it was amazing to watch it done so well.
It was a lovely day for an outside event and our hurdles were set nice and low. The strangest thing was that I experienced a real mental block. After successfully, if not a little clumsily, hurdling for about 6 turns I was suddenly really conscious of what I was doing and unable to launch myself over. Thankfully, that wore off for the main event and I was able to trot through the 100m without any negative thoughts. I actually enjoyed it and really look forward to returning to it in the 400m form and the heptathlon event.

Big thanks to Chris for the coaching and Harriers Ellie, Ellie, Hannah, Imogen and Jess for their enthusiasm and showing us how it's meant to be done!  

Monday, 6 October 2014

64. 100m Butterfly

Event: 100m Butterfly
Date: 3rd October 2014
Location: London Aquatics Centre, Stratford
Cost: £4.50
Rules: Competitors swim two lengths of butterfly as fast as possible. Athletes dive in, and some part of the swimmer must touch the wall at the end of each length and at the finish. Most will touch the wall and push off with their feet.

The Event:


Olympic Gold Medal London 2012: 55.98, Dana Vollmer, USA.
Sarah: 4:18.38 
Ellie: 3:50.26

Sarah: After a very early start and very hectic day in the office, the fact we even made it to the pool deserves a gold medal. We had to fight hard against the more appealing pull of loads of wine. But, like all proper athletes we put our training first and made it to the pool (postponing loads of booze until after the swim - again, just like proper athletes). I wish I could blame my slow time on tiredness, but I can't: I just don't get butterfly! We've done lots of practice, but I'm obviously not doing it right, as I just don't get anywhere. I seem to mainly go up and down and waste lots of energy rather than glide along in a more effective forwards movement. I love swimming, but this stroke just isn't for me! I'm looking forward to getting the 200m and 400m medley events out the way, and never having to do butterfly again!     

Ellie: Forcing water up ones nose does not seem like the most efficient way to get from one end of the pool to the other but, unless I'm doing it wrong, that seems to be the butterfly method. It's. So. Hard. I haven't been able to gain any momentum with this stroke in practice and this evening was no different; I think it was brute force that got me from one end to the other. I was super aware of others in my lane and at one point had the feeling that the lifeguard might get in and rescue me just to save me from the embarrassment. I'm not going to be defeated though as this is by far the most impressive/smug/irritating stroke to see people doing and I want to be part of that!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

63. Archery - Team

Event: Archery - Team 
Date: 28th September 2014
Location: Colchester and District Archery Club
Cost: Free (thank you!)
Rules: Olympic archers shoot at a target measuring just 122cm from a distance of 70m. The target has ten circles; the largest outer ring is worth one point, with the score increasing by one point per ring as it gets closer to the centre. The gold (centre circle) is worth 10 points. Each competition has two rounds; the initial ranking round and the second Olympic round. The Olympic round is a head-to-head elimination round. Each team shoots 24 arrows; 8 arrows per archer, and the team with the highest score wins. In a match, each archer shoots two arrows each, with team members alternating to take their shot, with a time limit of 20 seconds per arrow. If the score is tied after 24 arrows, each team will shoot three arrows (one per archer) and the highest scoring team wins.

The Event:


Set 1: S 115  v  E 135
Set 2: S 133  v  E 144
Set 3: S 129  v  E 116
Winner: Ellie's Team: 2 v 1

London 2012 Olympic Winner: South Korea.   

Sarah: Our last archery event, and we couldn't have hoped for a sunnier day. We had a brief re-introduction to the bows and shooting stance, before shooting a few arrows to make sure our sights were properly aligned. It was great to have a chance to use the sights, and I found it was a much more effective way of bunching my shots on the target.  I definitely preferred the team event to the individual; working together in opposition to the other team, whilst against the clock made it feel much more fast-paced and somehow more competitive. I think we both progressed within the couple of hours we were at the club. There is a lot to remember when preparing the shot, and I found - unsurprisingly - when I did manage to focus on everything at once, my arrows were much more on target.     

Ellie: Returning to Archery on such a beautiful day was a real treat. We got to experience archery on a different level this time round as we were moved on to shooting using sights which changes the dynamics slightly. Once again, I really enjoyed archery. I find setting up the shot, getting in to the right position and aiming really therapeutic. The team format has time constraints which add pressure to each archer and if you drop an arrow or have to restart your set-up it can really effect your other teammates. It was great to watch people using advanced bows and shooting at longer distances at close quarters too.

Thanks to everyone at Colchester and District Archery Club for making us feel so welcome and all your time helping us with the team event! We'll never call it a bulls-eye again, honest! The club run lots of taster days and beginner courses, so drop them a line if you'd like to give archery a shot (!)  


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

62. High Jump

Event: High Jump
Date: 24th August 2014
Location: Colchester Harriers, Arena Sports and Leisure Centre, Colchester 
Cost: Free
Rules: Competitors may begin jumping at any height announced by the chief judge, or may pass, at their own discretion. Jumpers must take off on one foot, and have three attempts at each height. A successful jump is one in which the crossbar remains in place when the jumper has left the landing area. Three consecutive missed jumps will eliminate the jumper from competition. The victory goes to the jumper who clears the greatest height during the final. If two or more jumpers tie for first place, the tie-breakers are: 1) The fewest misses at the height at which the tie occurred; and 2) The fewest misses throughout the competition.

The Event:

80cm     85cm     90cm
o            xo          xxx

80cm     85cm     90cm
xxo         xxo        xxx

London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal: 2.05m. Anna Chicerova, Russia  

Sarah: Our lesson started with Chris showing us the women's world record jump height, which perhaps lulled me into a false sense of security. I may be short, but for some reason, I thought I was going to be quite good at high jump! Reality hit when we started with scissor jumps and I failed to clear even the most weedy heights. Luckily, we quickly moved on to the Fosbury Flop, which was far more successful. Not learning, I really thought we were going to sail over 1m, but it was still far more tricky than I expected. Despite failing the 90cm, our technique definitely improved each time we jumped, and I really worked on trying to power upwards, though clearly not enough! I'm glad we get to return to the high jump as part of the Heptathlon, as we both definitely have more cms in us! Surprisingly, high jump has been one of the events where I've had the most aches and pains afterwards. Unused muscles in my neck and shoulder definitely woke up for this one.

Ellie: I was really pleased to see the sun on Sunday morning; as I write this on Tuesday it is pouring with rain and being soggy whilst forcing my body to (try and) contort over the bar would have been zero fun. As it was a fine and dry day it was, actually, very much fun.We had a great couple of hours with the Colchester Harriers coach, Chris Akehurst, and his protege, Mia, showing us the ropes. We worked through the warm ups and the practice exercises, through to scissor jumping and to our own version of the Fosbury Flop. It was so rewarding to clear the bar and to make little tweaks and see them make a difference. I could have carried on jumping and I'm pleased that we are able to return to the High Jump when we take on the Heptathlon at some point in the future. The 1m height is calling us both and until then I can continue to practice by flopping on my bed and sofa like a proper armchair athlete!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

61. Beach Volleyball

Event: Beach Volleyball
Date: 5th August 2014
Location: Tendring Volleyball Club, Clacton Beach Volleyball Courts
Cost: Free
Rules: There are two teams of two players competing over a 2.24m high net. After the service, each team is allowed three touches of the ball before it must cross the net. The game is played over the best of three sets, with 21 points needed to win a set in the first two; 15 points in the third and deciding set. All sets must be won with at least a two point advantage.

The Event:


Set 1: Ellie & Gemma - 14 v 21 - Sarah & Lottie
Set 2: Ellie & Gemma - 11 v 21 - Sarah & Lottie  

London 2012 Olympic Winners: USA  

Sarah: We had planned to complete our beach volleyball event last summer after we'd been to several practices, but the weather kept working against us each time we arranged the match and we had to postpone a whole year! A year-long break from a sport probably isn't the wisest training strategy, so we returned to the beach courts for a practice ahead of the big match. We were more than a little rusty, and our unconditioned arms soon remembered the familiar sting of the ball. The match was really fun, but fairly short and concise. We could try to blame the wind for the shocking lack of any real volleys during the match, but we should probably step up and claim responsibility for our own lack of volleying talent! If we'd got round to a few more practice sessions, it would definitely have improved the fluidness of the match, and helped us remember how to move more accurately through the sand. On the flip-side of our bad form, it was great to return to the club and catch up with everyone after a year away.

Ellie: I've really enjoyed our involvement in volleyball. I had played at school and enjoyed it then too so it was good to go back to it after (Oh Dear God) 20 years... Beach Volleyball is something else; trying to move in the sand is like trying to run through custard - it's really difficult and slow and er...very yellow? Our match was a little one sided and Gemma really was carrying our team. I took pleasure in the little things I could get right like a good serve, reaching the ball before it reached the sand or the times I was able to actually 'pass' the ball on to Gemma! 
Any skill I'd built up last year has been lost which is a shame as I feel we'd learnt a lot in a short time. 
Volleyball is firmly on my list to return to once our project is finished. Tendring Volleyball Club have been a great example of a friendly, welcoming and highly skilled, all-ages club which is exactly what we hoped to find.

A huge thanks to Gemma, Lottie and John for helping us out, especially with their sore bodies and heads after their big tournament the previous weekend!

L-R: Sarah, Lottie, John, Gemma, Ellie

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

60. Road Cycling: Road Race

Event: Road Cycling: Road Race
Date: 3rd August 2014 (Sarah), 19th August 2016 (Ellie)
Location: The Essex Countryside (Sarah), Aquatic Centre Gym, Stratford (Ellie)
Cost: Free 
Rules:  Riders compete with each other on regular roads to complete the course in the fastest time. All competitors start together for this long-distance race where tactics and stamina are vital. Due to the length of the race, competitors are allowed to consume food and drink and receive technical assistance in the event of medical problems. The women's course in London 2012 was 140.3km, or 87.2 miles.

The Event:


London 2012 Olympic Gold: 3:35.29, Marianne Vos, Netherlands - (87.2miles). 
Sarah: 6:54.29 (without breaks) / 8:35.23 (with breaks) - (87.2miles) 
Ellie: 5:50.00 - (100km)

Sarah: I've spent the past few months since my Time Trial event, training hard on my new bike. I've been really lucky that a few of my good friends have also caught the cycling bug lately and we've been out for some brilliant rides together. We've been gradually increasing our distances, and even purposely doing a bit of hill training (seriously, what's wrong with me?!). I can't quite describe what it is about cycling that's so addictive, but I'm amongst thousands of recent converts to this amazing sport. For me, it's the freedom, the effort, the achievement, the fact you can get somewhere (anywhere) under your own steam, and travel through some beautiful countryside along the way, seeing things you would normally miss (for us, on one cycle, a giant fibreglass gorilla).

The week before I tackled the Olympic distance, some friends and I took part in the Essex Castle event; 75 miles of constant, horrible, painful hills. It gave me some confidence that I could pull off a longer, flatter ride, so I hit the road at the start of my Road Race feeling good. I had decided to time myself over the Olympic distance of 87.2 miles, but actually ride a century. I mean, I would be so close, it'd be silly not to do the 100 miles, right?! Greg kept me company for the first half of the route, and it was an absolute delight. We left early, so the roads were quiet and the Essex/Suffolk countryside was stunning. I felt really good for the first 50 miles; fresh legs and only marginal bum pain. I had decided to break the distance down into 10 mile chunks in the hope of not getting daunted by the overall huge number and that seemed to work well, giving me lots of little targets and benchmarks. However, as the miles crept up to 70 I started to really feel it, and everything was much harder. My back and hands were starting to hurt, and I began to mentally struggle. I couldn't quite understand how I still had 30 miles to go?! I forced myself to keep my legs turning, and slowly started to approach the Olympic distance. Reaching that target of 87.2 miles was a relief, but I also felt really despondent. Over the last ten miles, I had convinced myself to call it a day at 90; I just didn't think I could go any further. Although I'd achieved the Olympic distance I felt like I'd failed as I made my way back as I hadn't reached the full 100. But, luckily, I misjudged my route, and as the odometer clicked over to 91 I just couldn't quit! Looking back on it now, it's crazy how it was all in my mind- my body could always do it, but it was my mind that was struggling and had given up. As soon as I'd got my head in gear and set on finishing the 100, everything was so much easier; the last nine miles sailed by and were so much fun! I felt giddy (that might have been due to dehydration) and euphoric watching the distance creeping closer and closer to 100!

Two days later, the achievement is just about sinking in and I feel incredibly proud to have tackled 100 miles, and with over half the distance on my own. I had a little picture of my Dad stuck to my crossbar and the thought of him helped me through so many of the harder moments. I just dearly wish I could tell him all about it. I can safely say I will never attempt that distance again, and I'm so glad it's behind me. I can now go back to cycling for fun! I think around 50 miles is my perfect long-distance cycle!    

Ellie:  I elected to do my long cycle in the gym as I don't have a light weight bike. Both the velodrome and the triathlon cycling events proved to me that without one I'd probably be struggling to make the distance in one day the way I cycle! The upside of this is that I had access to TV, music and to WiFi throughout my event, the downside, and ultimately why I only managed 100km was that I was thoroughly bored. I just didn't have the mental stamina to keep going and once I thought about the fact that I didn't have to keep going I stopped. The distance that I managed was good for me and achievable under the circumstances, I'd be really interested to see if I could manage a similar amount out on the roads. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

59. 200m Individual Medley

Event: 200m Individual Medley
Date: 21st July 2014
Location: Charlton Lido
Cost: £6.00 each
Rules:  The swimmer competes in equal distances of every swimming style. The event combines technique, speed and endurance. The swimmer completes 50m of: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall at the end of each length and at the finish.

The Event:

Sarah: 07:00.96
Ellie: 07:33.48
London 2012 Olympic Gold: 02:07.57 - Ye Shiwen, China.
Sarah: I can safely say that butterfly isn't my stroke. I never seem to get into the flow of it, and it felt like it took hours to reach the end of 50m. The final three lengths came as a pleasure, and despite my aversion to butterfly, the Medley is a really fun event. The combination of strokes really mix the swim up, and it's fun turning from one stroke into the next. This was the first of two Individual Medleys we'll be completing, and I definitely need to get some more butterfly practice in before the longer event!  

Ellie: I am seconding everything Sarah says. By the time I got to the end of the butterfly length I was really tired and just spent the backstroke length getting my breath back!
In theory, I really like the butterfly. It makes a nice change from the 'normal' strokes and I can feel where you should be propelling yourself out and through the water. It just hasn't clicked for me yet, hopefully it will given some time and more effort. As the weather remains nice, I will try and make the most of it and get more swimming practice in. I am also going to experiment with the idea that I am faster through the water when I don't use my legs. It's an odd theory but I do feel more powerful and streamlined when I'm not kicking... I wonder if anyone else feels like this? Answers on a postcard...(or in the comments box).

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

58. Archery - Individual

Event: Archery - Individual
Date: 20th July 2014
Location: Chelmsford Tudor Rose Archery Club, Writtle College
Cost: £10 for taster session
Rules: Olympic archers shoot at a target measuring just 122cm from a distance of 70m. The target has ten circles; the largest outer ring is worth one point, with the score increasing by one point per ring as it gets closer to the centre. The bulls eye is worth 10 points. Each competition has two rounds; the initial ranking round and the second Olympic round. The ranking round sees each archer shoot six ends of 12 arrows each with the total score determining their seeding. The following Olympic round is a head-to-head elimination round. Archers shoot three arrows each (alternatively) with a time limit of 20 seconds per arrow. The archer with the highest score for that end of three arrows wins a set. Two points are awarded for winning a set, one point for a draw, zero points for a loose. Matches are the best of five sets; the archer first to six points is the winner and goes through to the next elimination round, until an overall winner is decided.

The Event:


Set 1: S 18 v 19 E
Set 2: S 11 v 13 E
Set 3: S 14 v 22 E
Set 4: S 24 v 19 E
Set 5: S 14 v 13 E
Winner: Ellie

London 2012 Olympic Winner: Ki Bo-Bae, South Korea.   
Sarah: We ended up stumbling upon the group by accident after getting pretty lost around Chelmsford and the multiple campus' of Writtle College (get some better road signs Chelmsford!). As we were late, we jumped straight in and had a quick but thorough introduction before stepping on to the course. I've tried archery a couple of times in the past, but hadn't stored any of the techniques, so it was great to have a recap at the start of the session. We were able to have lots of shots, and were given tips as we went along. We were shooting at the 20 yard target, as apparently it would be impossible for beginners to get anywhere near the 70m distance. After trying both shooting and archery, I'm discovering that I don't have the most accurate hand-eye coordination, and my hits are fairly unpredictable. Today I struck everywhere and everything between the 9-point circle to the wood of the target support, to the grass behind the target.

Ellie: I thoroughly enjoyed my initiation into the world of archery. We were warmly welcomed by Angela, the secretary at Chelmsford Tudor Rose Archery, who gave us the always unnerving safety talk whilst kitting us out with the correct gear. I arched (?) with my left hand but it seems I might be right-eye dominant which would add extra interest to my already awkward left-handedness. Today I used my left eye and it seemed to work out okay. I got rather attached to my left-hand bow and also with the sport as a whole; I am looking forward to the team event a great deal. 
As with shooting, I enjoyed the aesthetics of the targets; it all looked beautiful against the green grass and the blue sky. I also really enjoyed the precision and ritual of the sport. The intricacies of where to stand, how to load your bow, when and how to approach your target and the scoring of each arrow. It is astonishing to me how much difference changing a small part of how you stand or where you position your fingers can make and I found it completely fascinating. With my very last arrow I landed this beaut right in the Gold; being a total show-off I had to take a photograph to show you!