Tag Archives: loneswimmer statistics

Loneswimmer.com is four years old

I had forgotten about the anniversary but I started LoneSwimmer.com on a whim on the afternoon of 18th of January, 2010. Little did I guess where it would lead.

Since then LoneSwimmer has grown year on year, and often month on month. It was viewed in 185 countries in 2013 though the countries that most read LoneSwimmer are the USA, UK, Ireland and Australia, in that order. English Channel aficionados will know those are the four biggest Channel swimming nurseries. It’s possible that LoneSwimmer, which amazingly won the inaugural 2012 award for the best sports and recreation blog in Ireland, may be the most popular entirely amateur open water swimming blog in the world! This is both gratifying and terrifying to me. Though as you may know I did once get some free goggles and paddles for review, nonetheless LoneSwimmer is just me, one average swimmer on the south-east coast of Ireland, still talking shite from the middle of nowhere (and making nothing from it). Let me mention up front here my invaluable behind-the-scenes editor, partner and second-shooter photographer and all round supporter Dee. The longer a post here is, or the more typos it contains, the less likely it is that Dee proofed it. Like this this one.

LoneSwimmer monthly charts 4 years no data
47 months of LoneSwimmer.com

Writing LoneSwimmer has been challenging, time-consuming, frustrating, dispiriting, heart-breaking, seemingly never-ending, boring and exciting. Remarkably like open water swimming in fact.

I have a typically cynical Irish view of many things, including “mission statements”, but I’ve striven to keep the blog on the (extended) subject of open water swimming, and to keep anything else about me or my life away from here, and that has occasionally not been easy, because … life. My original idea for this blog was to share everything I’ve learned the hard way about open water and that has remained my guiding principle. It has also meant increasingly covering pool training aspects and ranging into entirely unexpected areas. I discovered over the four years that there many things that open water swimmers all know, but that no-one had written down. So there are other versions and opinions of everything I write, and I’d encourage you to keep those opinions, or to seek them out elsewhere or to write them down and publish them yourself. I’ve been asked by a few people about writing blogs and I’m always happy to share all the many mistakes and long learning curve I’ve endured.

I re-organised the blog in mid-2013 to index all the How To articles and they range in utility for all levels, from beginners to resources for Channel and marathon swimmers. The compliment I value most continues to be the simple “Thanks” from anyone whom I’ve helped by something I’ve written.

When I started I just knew my own swimming friends here in Ireland. Now I have swimming friends all over the world.

I read many swimming blogs, so many I had to make a separate fixed page of links for your ease-of-use. Sometime after I started LoneSwimmer, I came across another blog called Freshwaterswimmer.com by American Channel swimmer, Evan Morrison. (That link will take you to the newer version of Evan’s blog; Farther, Colder, Rougher). Evan had started Freshwaterswimmer.com within two weeks of LoneSwimmer.com.

Somehow, and I’m not even sure how or when looking back, Evan and I became transatlantic writing partners and collaborators. I suspect it was partially because Evan and I agree on many aspects of marathon swimming and the people and challenges involved, and neither of us like people hoarding information to gain some spurious power. As you know by now, that link with Evan led through various discussions with many people to the formation of the marathonswimmers.org forum by Evan, who is the site owner, and myself.

The forum is now the most vibrant community of Channel, marathon and aspiring marathon swimmers globally. This in turn led to the Global Marathon Swimming Awards, the only peer-voted marathon awards in the world. And from there it led to the recent release of the Rules of Marathon Swimming by a core group of authors and reviewers, which rules have already been welcomed and endorsed by an astonishing number of well-known marathon swimmers from around the world. (If you haven’t endorsed the rules yet, regardless of your accomplishments or level, it’s never too late, you can do it over there or email me, or email rules@marathonswimmers.org).

The foundation of marathonswimmers.org and the writing and release of the rules of marathon swimming may be the two most important swimming-related things I have or ever will do, though Evan and I are not finished with our ideas. We both believe in the democratization of open water swimming and the power of community input and ideas. 

Whew. How did all this happen an average swimmer from and in the middle of nowhere?

My very first posts were about my local swimming area, Waterford’s then not widely-known but gorgeous Copper Coast. When people think of Ireland’s coast it is often the west and south-west coasts, but four years later the Copper Coast has now become better known and more appreciated. It’s a quiet, isolated 40 kilometre stretch of cliffs, intermittent coves and small villages, and it’s my playground. A small number of you have even come here to swim it with me and you are all always welcome to join me at play here.

Kilfarrassey rocks_MG_8854.resized
Kilfarrassey on The Copper Coast

My next post was about cold water habituation. Little did I realise that for four years I would continue to write article after article about cold water swimming.  I collected those ongoing articles into a Cold Water Swimming Index in mid 2013 and was amazed to find there were about 50 articles on that subject alone to which I continue to add. Surprisingly only nine months later, the index page itself is now the second most popular, and the most linked into and referenced page on LoneSwimmer. Two of the articles on that subject are the site’s most popular individual articles, the perennial and humourous Introducing a precise open water swimming temperature scale and the eternal question “What temperature of water is too cold to swim in?”.

This_is_your_brain_on_open-water_swimmingI’m not a naturally funny person, so when I write something humourous I get a special kick from it. I can’t draw, at all either, so I did one cartoon in a simple graphics package that I’ve seen appear elsewhere a few times since and I still think is accurate.

In 2011 I wrote an April’s Fools post that caused outrage across the Channel swimming world. I got some shall we say strong messages, which made me laugh all the more. I remember leaving the pool that Friday evening, to a phone that was almost red-hot with all the emails, calls and SMSes. DNOWS and many in Dover and elsewhere were all caught. That post is long deleted, I did a another one on a different subject  in 2012 that caught many actual Channel swimmers but when I suggested to Evan that we combine our blogs for the 2013 version, we once again sucked in more people, including, again, the open water swimming media. A good April’s Fool’s joke should sting the victims, and hopefully made them laugh later. Catching people globally once was great fun, twice even more, but three times? Well I don’t know what that says about you all, or me. I am now retired form April’s Fool’s jokes.

I almost stopped writing LoneSwimmer in late 2013, as was obvious to regular readers, for what was and continues to be a combination of many reasons but for the moment, LoneSwimmer struggles fitfully on. Actually even this post has had three different revisions, one more negative, and one more positive, than this one. I never know where LoneSwimmer is going, I never had a plan beyond that original idea. Most often I have panic, when I think I have already written everything I could say. Right now, as I write this, I don’t feel like continuing, but tomorrow I may be different. I’ve learned to mostly ignore how I feel about it. Sometimes writing has been almost all I have had to hang onto.

One thing I do know, is that had I not started writing LoneSwimmer I would never have written the posts of which I am proudest:

Two golden rules of open water and marathon swimming. This ideas in this post have become embedded in the rules of marathon swimming linked above. It’s worth it all for that alone.

My multi-part series on Trent Grimsey’s and Sylvain Estadieu’s English Channel records. Our sport to this day is still one that is essentially done in private and we still huddle around the electronic campfire  telling stories of swims. It was a fantastic honour that both swimmers and friends allowed me to see firsthand and later tell their stories. I have other stories of other friends, which were not covered here, not willingly, but because I did not think it was my place to so do. These most obviously include Rob Bohane, Alan Clack, Gábor Molnar, Owen O’Keeffe and Páraic Casey. I love covering swims, and you know where to find me…

Part Five of the series on Diana Nyad: Probity & Integrity. Evan & I, as co-founders of the forum were dragged into the astonishing unveiling of the truth in the Diana Nyad story on that extraordinary thread which set international headlines. I had written previously about her a few times before this series, changing from being a fan and supporter into a cynic and eventually an opponent, while the swimming and regular media embarrassed themselves, again, with their unquestioning sycophantic acceptance of her duplicitous lies and bullshit. I’ve been saying recently when asked, that when you see a sportsperson whom is suspected of cheating, who has an asterisk beside their name in the records books, someone had to put that asterisk there. Someone cared, someone wanted honesty and integrity in their sport. I believe all us honest swimmers put the asterisk after Diana Nyad’s name and I am proud that that post seems to articulate something with which every single swimmer I’ve met has agreed.

The series on MIMS 2013. I think NYCSwim treated most of the 2013 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim entrants shamefully and things currently look no better for 2014. I put a lot of effort into covering what happened, once again doing a news story which none of the actual swim news sites covered ,especially since LoneSwimmer isn’t a swim news blog.

Much of what I write is intended to be functional and/or instructive. For example, when I wrote down the etiquette of lane swimming, I wasn’t saying anything new. Others had written similar before me and I was just exercising the demons that all pool swimmers are plagued by, when joined by people who don’t know what they are doing. A couple of years later, those rules have now been read thousands and thousands of times.

When writing you can’t always go to the well. You’d run dry very quickly, run out of things to say. Had I stopped writing LoneSwimmer early on, maybe I wouldn’t go the well at all. I certainly wouldn’t have written this post from just over a week ago which I think is the single best post I’ve yet written.

Another Winter Dawn, my most popular image on Flickr.
Another Winter Dawn, on Flickr.

Had I never started writing LoneSwimmer, I’d also likely never have taken up photography. Luckily my tastes in photography tend toward the exact images that we open water swimmers enjoy, and which are often disregarded by others as mere landscapes.  You can check out my Flickr page  RSS in the sidebar and you can always contact me if you want prints of any photo here. For the record, this has never happened! I shall keep trying to get better.

I’m an average swimmer and resource-restricted so I don’t or can’t aspire to extraordinary undreamed of swims.

I’m Irish, where we as individuals are not encouraged to be proud of our own achievements and where as a country very many people are still in a very dark place, including myself.

Writing LoneSwimmer, friendships in the swimming community and your continued interest, all have allowed me to achieve and aspire to other things in swimming.

My name is Donal Buckley. Some people now even call me the lone swimmer. I’m a Channel Swimmer, and a swim blogger.

Thank you for visiting my site.

Everyone is a lone swimmer

LoneSwimmer.com reaches a quarter of a million page views this weekend*, and I wanted to thank all the readers, viewers, commenters, subscribers and occasional visitors. It is very gratifying for an average swimmer in the middle of nowhere.

When I started this blog I honestly never expected it to reach such a figure, I never had such a goal or target. In fact I never had any particular target other than a continuing desire to share whatever I’d learned. It took a year and a half to reach 50,000 views and I remember both being very pleased but wondering how much life was left in the blog at that time, (something I still often wonder). And I was also pleased as you know by now to win the Sports and Recreation Blog of the year for 2012, to my very great surprise.  Personally one of the greatest pleasures have been the direct contacts and friendships I’ve made with swimmers around the world resulting from the blog.

loneswimmer monthly views Mar 2013

Readers come from almost all over the world, though Equatorial Africa and parts of the Middle East seem uninterested. The four regions for most readers are the USA, Ireland, the UK and Australia, with Canada, South Africa, India and the EU countries being the next most common origin. Darker colours in the map represent more readers.

loneswimmer world map Apr 13

About 700 posts, have been published (some have been removed due to being obsolete…or rubbish). Over 1200 comments have been left, and that’s despite my being sometimes poor at responding, especially in the early days of the blog. There have been over 42,500 SPAM comments! Most SPAMmer are idiots, but not are all and those few can confuse the SPAM filter, and the sheer volume means that occasionally a genuine comment or question will get caught in the SPAM filter & I might not see it for months. My apologies if this has happened to you and if I never responded it probably means I missed it entirely.

The most commented post is Introducing a Precise Open Water Temperature Scale, which is also the site’s third most popular post. “What temperature is too cold to swim in”, and the amended version of the same being the most popular posts, ongoing.

Apart from variations about cold water swimming, the most popular search is for Sea Lice, a continuing problem for open water swimmers around the world, and which seem to increase in volume in spring and late summer of both hemispheres. The incoming searches can be very varied. I see people who have plugged in the entire question from their homework verbatim, or others looking for images of some of my swimmer friends in bikinis or even naked. And those friends don’t have to be women!  Someone wanted to know if a dog can swim the English Channel and there are other occasional odd ones. How to get water out of your ear is perennially popular (I still prefer the hop up and down on one leg as my preferred method, for the jovial aspect at least).

English Channel from the ISS

Quite a few people visit because of images here, such the English Channel from the International Space Station, European Space Agency’s Grid Waves, (which caused a huge influx of traffic recently after it got shared around on Facebook, many thinking it was a fake). Other very popular images include the depth of the ocean to scale (look very carefully at the bottom of that image) and lot of people click-through on this image!  Also images for Jellyfish ID, the Training Zone chart, different types of athlete’s bodies, understanding waves, and how waves can interfere with swimmers, understanding prevailing winds are all popular, often or maybe even usually amongst irregular swimmers. My open water swimmer’s brain cartoon has escaped in the wild also.


The HOW TO series is continually popular, which is why I leave the link up there on top, and those How To posts tend to be the ones I most like writing since they are at the core of what I am trying to do. (I really need to organise an index for them). Interestingly theraband work for shoulder strengthening is the most popular of those, with the annual cold water swim advice for irregular swimmers being the second, and the next three are all on the subject of understanding and addressing hypothermia in swimmers. There have been three different April Fools joke, which have caused varying levels of consternation (2012 & 2013) or even panic (2011) but have always entertained…me!

In comparative terms to loneswimmer.com, marathonswimmers.org, which Evan and I founded early last year, is coming on 600 members and has page views coming up on half a million! Are you a member yet? The power of community is always stronger than one person’s views.

So there we are, a quick overview and Thanks to you all!

Sometimes we are all lone swimmers, and everyday is the Channel.



{* In fact since quite a few people receive posts by email and aren’t recognised in the overall figures, the number was passed a while ago. In order to so some site housekeeping, email updates will revert to summary only for the moment and you’ll have to make a one-click jump from email back here to read the full article.}

Monthly loneswimmer.com views

Some loneswimmer.com facts as celebration

I started writing this post a few weeks ago when 50,000 pageviews was starting to become visible in the near distance. One of you reading this today will be the official 50,000th person. (I won’t be able to tell which of course).

Recently I realised that should be at least 50k. WordPress (the site platform) was not reporting internal links from other WP sites, so I’ve no idea how many were missing, over almost two years (the first year I had low numbers anyway) and once the WP referrals started to be counted, the numbers jumped over a week, then they (WordPress) broke the reporting again, but it looks like I passed 50,000 some time ago, maybe weeks. Page views is a pretty inaccurate figure, but it’s one of only measurements I’ve got for this niche open water swimmer blog. (I actually hate that word blog, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, and will again). Traffic has been steadily incremental.

But Thanks Very Much Everyone!

This is the 492nd post! I have no idea how many words. About 600 images uploaded (Maybe two-thirds of those I’ve taken myself).

In Analytic terms, I broke into the Top 4 Million of popular websites … Yeah, I know, that doesn’t sound like much. It can vary on a given week though by up to three-quarters million ranking, which doesn’t seem to be traffic related or even related to the pages linking in. Links-in continue to increase, thanks very much to those who add my page to their links.

Links-In are important for Google Search results. The Site Page Rank is Three, compared for example to Sandycoveswimmers.com, also at Three and Evan’s freshwaterswimmer.com. at Four. Congrats Evan! The Page Rank Scale is out of Ten. However the Average page rank of the webs billions of page is … Zero! Google hold onto details on size of ranks, etc.

email Subscribers are from the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines, Germany Switzerland and Netherlands, at least! Hello to you all and thanks very much.

Ok, it’s not quite what Google itself gets every minute (two million). But it’s not bad for a niche sport and again, it wouldn’t happen without readers.

What you readers have to put with:

  • Some guy blathering on about the sea and swimming.
  • Who regularly manages to put his foot in it (you should see some of the comments and emails I’ve received, and I’ve never tried to be controversial, natural Irish ability?)
  •  Who does continue to try to stick to his ethos of putting everything he knows about open water swimming here. Even if it’s sometimes wrong, or there’s better ways of doing it. And even with all the digressions.

I have NO regional stats however, but readership is about 50% USA, 50% everywhere else.

Apart from Front Page views, the most popular ever day was during my own English Channel swim (giving you value for money by spending an extra six hours in the water!) and the What Temperature Is Too Cold To Swim In articles (variation). Expect occasional further ruminations on this question as they occur to me.

The Top Ten searches that brought people here aren’t very revealing, they seem pretty random, except the loneswimmer moniker seems alive and well, and has grown in recognition beyond my imagining, thanks to the Sandycove Swimmers crew and Steve Munatones and Daily News of Open Water Swimming. Diana Nyad’s publicity for her swims seems wildly effective if the searches are anything to go by. Penny Palfrey is also hugely popular. A short post on a prehistoric sea creature, Anomalocaris brings in a lot! And in a windy world, we see an obvious interest in weather. As an open water swimmer, who therefore don’t look like an athletic ideal, I am delighted that people are open to the differences in athlete’s body shapes.

A lot of people have seen my Swim Box and were curious. I put the Swim Box up for a laugh, and I’m constantly surprised that it seems to have developed a personality of its own, and I often meet people who have already seen it, either on the site or at the Guillamene, before I’ve met them.

Another thing from the searches is that while the more technical HOWTO topics might not capture people’s attention when they are published (and very rarely garner any comments at all), they nonetheless bring in a constant flow of people.

Meteorology and sea-related related articles, such as exploring prevailing winds or tides or waves, bring in a continuous stream and occasional diversion on swimming locations and Irish landscape and language are surprisingly popular. My article on the etiquette of lane swimming is also a perennial, showing the frustrations of lane swimmers worldwide, and it’s been know to be printed out for swimming pools that care about their customer, unlike one pool I could mention.

95% of the time I can’t tell what will be popular, which is just as well I think, since I’m writing from whatever interests me and what I can consider relevant or useful to open water swimming. For example an ordinary post called about An Ordinary Irish Early Summer’s Swim was popular when I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in it.

So far I’ve managed to stick to my own self-imposed rule, at least to my own standards. I do like to explore aspects of the natural world that occasionally seem tangential, but mostly the marine environment. Mentions of Irish Place Names and the images from my Project Copper, swimming all of Waterford’s Copper Coast were also popular. The inspiration from Evan Morrison’s Freshwaterswimmer to be more assiduous in posting mixed media seems beneficial, I’ve always been visually driven anyway, just not very good at photography, but if you take enough photo’s, some will turn out okay.

If I take out references to people, the top results become more interesting. Searchs related to Tramore and or the Waterford coast are unsurprising, since that’s where I swim and write most about.

prevailing winds
jellyfish id
different athletic body types
tall ships waterford
swimovate review
salt water chafing
destructive waves diagram
keypod review
third spacing
helvick swim
cold water swimming
peoples republic of cork
sandycove swimmers

Who would thought a swim watch review would be so popular? Also with Google’s Auto-complete now used as standard, terms will bring people here when they almost definitely were looking for something else (tentacle porn anyone?)

Given I write drafts for future posts, and usually have a list of posts ready in the background, I don’t often (but not never) write any posts specific to what people actually search for, as Finbarr and Lisa remind me when I write one of my more “flowery” posts.
About a third to more than half of views every day come from search engines, sometimes swim or weather related, general or a specific person (like Fran Crippen, Diana Nyad, Penny Palfrey). Shark-related brings in constant trickle.
According to a WordPress comment: Successful blogs draw between 30 – 60 % of their incoming targeted readers from search engine referrals.
My tagging system was very poor from a search point of view, and I’ve only recently changed it, and removed the tag cloud from the front page, leaving only categories. Tags will now be more post specific, which means the Tag volume will get larger, which will make searches more accurate, but a Tag Cloud feature will be too unwieldy for readers so I removed it.
I regularly get see some weird search terms that bring people here; sandycove nudist is one of my favourites, (Ned I guess). I occasionally get hits from people who have typed in an entire school homework question except for answer, e.g. if you are farther from the amphidromic point, the tidal range is … I hope you know the answer to this now, I’ve written about it here.
One of my favourites is:
How to tell a swimmer from a normal person?
(Expect a future post with that title). I’ve always said that open Water swimmers are the proud freaks, weirdoes and outsiders of the swimming world. Apparently the same applies to our relationship to the human race as a whole.
One question that reappears that I haven’t felt qualified to address is
Is swimming in cold water bad for pregnant women?” despite all my writing about cold. I’ll try to find someone who can answer this better, or I’ll look into the research.
I’ve asked a few people to write guest articles on subjects of their own choice, you’ve seen Julie Galloway’s guest post earlier this week, expect another high-profile guest post soon. Some others have said yes but we’re still waiting …(you know who you are).
Oh, and I still have plenty to write and post about, (though things will probably slow down a bit over the winter). There are enough and better people writing about most swim technique stuff that I can’t add much, so only whether it’s relevant to me, and therefore possibly to you.
Below are some of the funnier or just weirder search terms that people have inputed into search engines that have brought them to this site, because there was something apparently here. Some I can understand, others I have no idea. Would you imagine more than one person in the world is looking for pictures of jellies babies in relation to first aid in one day? Every term here has occurred more than a single time.
  • pictures of first aid/jelly babies
  • tennis tights
  • парусники
  • where are they putting the skips in palfrey
  • سباح
  • y u no
  • the most unusual thing ever
  • infrared pics of swim teens
  • shoe helps alleged swimming
Here’s to the next fifty thousand, or whatever. I hope you continue to visit.
Thanks again …
I’m just an ordinary swimmer, in the middle of nowhere.