The Pool

It’s September and that means one thing – CMT Awareness Month. During the month of September I will be using my blog to play a part in raising Awareness with an “alphabet challenge” – blogging a letter / key word almost every day. Today is brought to you by the letter P. I hope my blogging will help you to learn more about CMT – the most common but least well known hereditary nerve disorder – and me. And I hope this will also help to raise funds for the Charcot Marie Tooth Association to support its efforts to find a treatment for CMT. You can join me in learning more about CMT by clicking onto and of course a donation would be wonderful too!

As I ease into off season training I find myself back at the pool.


Thursday at St George’s. Weekends at the Lido. That is – when I am around. The autumn typically also brings with it a lot of travel for my job, so a fair bit of disrupted training as I finish work things as we approach the end of the year.

This year I continue to swim with Red Top and my coach Tim Denyer. But I have also added swims with London Fields Triathlon Club. Ideally I’d like to get up to 3 swims a week in the offseason – but I have to balance that with my target bike training too. And run maintenance. And strength and conditioning work. And like I said, work travel too. Busy times. Busy. Times.


One of the things about getting back into the pool is the return of the dreaded calf cramp. For those of us with CMT leg cramps are a bane of our existence. I get them swimming. I get them in the middle of the night. A constant unwelcome feature of life with CMT.

One of my calf cramp triggers is pushing off the wall when turning in the pool. It is why I hate doing flip turns. And why I lose seconds versus my lane mates when we do hard sets. (I gain them back and stay even with everyone in the smooth water in the middle of the pool – if only my push offs didn’t trigger cramps!)

I asked my neurophysiotherapist why CMTers are more prone to calf cramps. It all comes down to muscle imbalances.


In the image above, the muscles along the right side of the image (the lateral side of the leg down to the foot) are called the peroneus (longus and brevis) and these atrophy quickly due to CMT. This means that they do not provide the natural counterbalance to the tibialis posterior (in red in the center of the image). The tibialis posterior attaches to the foot right by the big toe. So with a weak peroneus group, a strong tibialis posterior, the muscle can over-activate (my thinking not my physios), the foot contracts inward (toward the body center) and the calf cramps. I can only straighten my foot out with my hands – the calf cramping is severe and strong – and very unpleasant.

A body in balance is an amazing thing. A body that has issues – like nerve disease that causes muscle atrophy and imbalance – well… Let’s just call it a challenge to manage through.


Speaking of more time in the pool… Back in March the kind people at Audioflood sent to me a waterproofed iPod shuffle for use in the pool, in exchange for a review.


I have been waiting to fulfil my side of the bargain – posting a review of the Audioflood in exchange for the product – until I could find out from my swim coach Mel and another Red Top distance swimmer Dave what they thought of it. However, I feel like I have held off reviewing for as long as is ethically possible. I will do an update once I get the swimproof shuffle back and hear their thoughts!

The Audioflood comes with instructions (what I read as a warning) on how to change out the ear buds. As far as I can see, and based on my own experience of not giving this too much attention – you really need to get the ear bud fit right in order to have the best user experience possible. As I was keeping an eye on time and do not have much patience, I just chose a bud and jumped in. The consequence is that the seal can be lost leading to a less than optimal sounds. But I am sure if I spent more time I would be able to sort this out.

I think the concept is awesome – take an iPod, waterproof it so you can swim with it, just clip it to your goggles and go. I did not have any issues with water leakage and found the shuffle just as easy to use as any other shuffle or apple product I have owned. As an Apple user it fits well into my technology basket of toys, so to speak.

I think for a swimmer with an hour of a hard set to do, the concept of swimming with music probably isn’t the best. The best target audience to me would be a) a casual swimmer not knocking out a time / distance set; or b) a very long distance swimmer knocking out a continuous unbroken swim. That said, if I had bothered to get the earbud fit right, even for a fast set it could be interesting to choose high cadence songs to swim to, to provide and extra aspect of rhythm to the stroke and a focus on arm cadence during the hard work.

I am hoping that I can nab the Audioflood back for the offseason. I can see how I can integrate it into my third swim session each week – I can structure a fitness set focused on continuous distance with a play list to match my objectives… Fingers crossed Mel and Dave want to give it up!

If you are interested in swimming with music I think this could be a good solution. If you get one, let me know what you think!

It’s CMT Awareness Month. Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “P” – pools, push offs, and peroneal / tibialis posterior muscles. You can learn more about CMT and donate to support the search for a treatment for this (at present) incurable progressive degenerative nerve disease at — Thank you!

Note: Audioflood provided a free waterproofed iPod in exchange for a review. Therefore this post contains sponsored content. If you would like more information on my disclosure policy, about how I handle requests for sponsored posts, or my thoughts on the products I choose to review, please feel free to drop me an email to Thank you!

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