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Guildford 12 - Lockdown edition 2020

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

Last Saturday we had planned to be in Guildford, at the beautiful lido with Team Soggy Squad..... taking part in the Guildford 12 event - swim a mile an hour, on the hour, every hour for 12 hours.... it's a fantastic event which takes place every 2 years (the 2Swim4Life 24h version happens in the inbetween years) and we love it. But of course, this year it has had to be postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the current UK lockdown situation....

Having accepted and come to terms with the new prospect of a quiet Saturday at home, I was just randomly scrolling through some of my friends' posts on FB when I spotted one from Sarah (you know who you are!) about the 'alternative' G12..... Sarah and I met at Guildford, in the registration queue for one of the Zwim Events there some years ago and have kept in touch and shared swimming tales ever since.... Sarah is part of my very special Swimming Family so ... when she posted that she was going to do a walking version of the G12... walking a mile an hour every hour for 12 hours in her garden, and that a number of others who were planning to be at G12 were either walking, swimming (in endless pools or with tethers!) or rowing (yes, rowing!) instead, it took about a nanosecond for me to sign up!

With very little distance walking 'training' and a dodgy hip, 12 miles seemed a little foolhardy so I thought I'd mix it up a bit and add some of the Tom Daley HIIT workouts I have been using daily in Lockdown to #StayInWorkOut.... the plan was set.... I would do 2 miles walk, one 20min HIIT in rotation for 12 hours... My long suffering wife Jo who happened to be sitting on the sofa at the time of the FB conversation and who is part of Team Soggy Squad was cheerily drawn into the madness, and decided 12 miles walking was preferable to 8 miles walking interspersed with 4 rounds of HIIT with TD!

So, with 24h of prep time, it was all hands on deck. There was shopping to be done - ingredients for the essential peanut butter and jam sandwiches, bacon butties and post event traditional pasta bake. The garden was measured and some maths was done to work out that 12 circuits of the front, side and back with an odd little out and back to the gate for good measure made up our mile (Jo's magic watch says so, it must be true!). TDs workouts saved to my phone, our recording grid made up and pen poised, a plan of what to do in between each mile formulated, an early night with an early alarm and we were ready to go.

As agreed with Sarah, we set off on our first mile at 8am, in the tipping rain, in full waterproof gear.... Some of our merry swimmers were, of course, out in their swimsuits but that seemed just a little too bonkers for our chilly corner of Wiltshire.... comforted in the knowledge that in gardens, sheds and kit rooms variously located around the country other swimmy friends were up and out and being energetic within the constraints of the Lockdown guidelines....

After the first mile we did a quick WhatsApp video call with Sarah to see how she was doing and check she was indeed up and walking.... which of course she was! The best laid plans of 'what to do in between miles' soon went out of the window, scrub sewing, books, house tidying were all abandoned in favour of sharing photos, tales, videos and catching up with who had done what for each mile in their own corner of the country and making sure that everyone was safe and well, particularly those lovely folk actually swimming in their pools with 'chillier than you might ask for' water! Although there was none of the well rehearsed changing, warming, feeding routine that we know and love from previous Guildford events, we quickly got into a routine which made the day race by in super speedy time, the rain finally stopped at around mile 5 and before we knew it we were half way through.... this necessitated a little celebratory living room dance to 'Superstylin' and then Bacon Butties!!!!

The next 6 hours went as fast as the first 6 with TDs HIIT sessions for me breaking up the garden walking but with some additional challenges brought about by the lovely Gigi who didn't really understand the spirit of activity and exercise that was required for the day as she tried to take over my gym mat and attack my toes mid lunge!

In between miles we were entertained and spurred on by posts and videos on social media - some of my favourites were the videos from Lesley 'swimming' around her garden with a different swimsuit for each mile, particularly impressive was her 4 x 1 IM and her Fly with paddles. And then one of our swimmers had a challenge none of us could have anticipated.... The event is all run for charity with this year's fundraising being split between NHS charities together and Guildford Lido... So, when TC was offered an extra £50 to swim a mile in skins (literally!!!) he took it on!

After mile 11 we caught up with Sarah again on Whatsapp and then got ourselves ready for mile 12..... Everyone who has done one of the Zwim Events at Guildford will know, mile 12 (or 24 in the 2S4L or 8 in the XLR8 events) is special. Swimmers find a final burst of energy and fun, costumes and fancy dress abound, the pace slows a tad and everyone is poolside cheering. Many will do the last length fly, if they can pull it out of the bag somehow. So our last G12 Lockdown edition mile was no exception. There were swim hats and dry robes, wetsuits and goggles.... and that was just from some of the walkers! And there was fly... on land, in the water and probably in a few places in between!

Huge thanks to all, especially Sarah for getting us into the '2020 Lockdown version' of the event and to everyone online who kept going the whole day and kept everyone's spirits up. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in October when hopefully the rescheduled event will be able to go ahead, fingers crossed! The last word really must go to Lesley Zimmerman of Zwim Events who organizes the G12, 2S4L and XLR8 events at Guildford lido and to Lewis who did his challenge on a rowing machine and just for good measure kept going for 12h more than the rest of us... 30mins on, 30mins off for 24h.... Legend!

For more details of the original G12, the 2S4L and XLR8 events go to

If you'd like to donate to either of these fantastic causes..... see below:

for NHS Charities Together go to

Tom Daley's HIIT workouts and heaps of other great content can be found on his Youtube channel.... I used his 20min workout #6 and #9 for this event....

And... for those of you who have read this far.... there's one more little treat in store.... evidence! If you're brave enough..... Check out the video on Zwim Events website

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