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Angelique’s Swimspiration

Angelique Duffield cold water swim 7C Lake Okanagan 400m

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Since 2009, I have lived with my husband Paul in West Kelowna, but I grew up in Ottawa, and lived for 4 years in England from 2005-2009. I was a self-employed wedding and portrait photographer for 2 years in the UK, and continued to do portraits, business and events photography when we moved to the Okanagan.

Now, I’m self employed as an online marketing strategist with my company Bright Spark Media, teaching business owners and entrepreneurs how to use social media, photography and video marketing to get found online to attract more customers and grow their business. I also developed the curriculum and teach Social Media for Photographers as part of the Digital Photography program at the Centre for Arts and Technology.

One of the reasons we chose to live in the Okanagan was to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, from swimming in lakes and camping throughout BC, to snowshoeing and hiking.

How long have you been swimming?

I’ve always loved the water. I grew up with a backyard pool and we had a lakefront cottage until I was 11 years old. I wouldn’t call it “swimming” as much as splashing around with friends to cool off at the beach, or floating on inflatables and relaxing.

I didn’t start to learn proper swim technique and distance swimming until last August, and I guess you could say that my husband’s swim involvement finally rubbed off on me. Paul had always swam in pools in the UK – up to 2 miles at a time – then he decided to try the ATLS in 2009 and he joined the Okanagan Masters Swim Club (OMSC) in 2010, and he’s been hooked on lake swimming ever since.

I became a regular fixture at OMSC events as I occupied myself photographing the swim events, and was the official photographer for the ATLS for the last 2 years.

Last summer Paul started giving me tips from his own swim training experience, and within a few months I was swimming up to 1500m in the lake.

Paul is also Canada’s only official “ice swimmer” having swam 1 mile in water colder than 5*C. He and I kept swimming in the lake in the autumn, and I was able to swim 1200m at 12*C and 400m at 7*C. I’d love to be the only “ice swimming couple” but I have a long way to go before I could safely make that attempt 🙂

Why did you choose the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim?

I love open water swimming, especially lake swimming, rather than pool swimming.

Having been the ATLS photographer for a few years, and seeing the fun and supportive environment for all levels of swimmers, I decided it was time for me to take up the challenge.

Why do you want to swim across Okanagan Lake?

The group swim of the ATLS gives the only opportunity to swim across Okanagan Lake in safe environment. It will also be a big achievement for me to say that my first big open water swim is across the lake in my home town.

Will swimming 2.1km across a lake be an easy or difficult challenge for you?

I think it will be fairly easy for me. I’m a slow swimmer, but I can swim for a long time. My only concern is if it’s windy or rainy, but fingers crossed that the July ATLS weekend is as clear and sunny as it has been the last few years.

Do you have a fear about swimming across a lake and if so, how do you plan to overcome it?

I would definitely say that I am an open water swimmer and I have no fear of swimming across the lake. I am not a big fan of pool swimming at all. The only reason I started training indoors over Christmas holidays was that I signed up for the ATLS, and knew I needed to improve my technique, which is somewhat easier to do in the controlled environment of a pool.

I love the “zen” feeling of swimming in a lake, and the scenery is enjoyable and relaxing, both above and below water…except when the occasional weeds or stick brushes against me making me squeal.

Can you give us a quick overview of your training?

Paul coached me on technique from his OMSC training, including sculling, rotation drills, and breathing. We watched “Swim Smooth” videos demonstrating swim technique training.

In February I signed up for the British swim magazine H2Open’s 12 week training via email, that includes 3 workouts each week, leading to a 1 mile open-water swim. This added sprint drills to build up stamina, and 100m timed drills to develop a consistent baseline of my swim abilities.

In May, Paul and I will get back to outdoor swimming, starting with short distances until the water temperature increases. We also plan to swim in various lakes to change up the scenery, starting with Tuc-El-Nuit in Oliver and Lake Osoyoos, which will be several degrees warmer than Okanagan Lake.

What do you enjoy most about swimming?

I love the rhythm – the Zen feeling – and beauty of open water swimming. Like I said, I don’t particularly enjoy pool swimming with the chlorine and dodging other people.

What advice would you give someone who is starting out?

Take some lessons or get a coach right from the start, so you can swim efficiently and not have to unlearn bad habits.

I think the swim clinic series at Gyro Beach that take place over several weeks before the ATLS event is a good place to get some tips and feedback.

Visit Angelique’s website: www.BrightSparkMedia.ca

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