Lessons from the Circle Line

Lessons from the Circle Line

The Circle Line cruise is almost a rite of passage for first-time MIMS swimmers. A 3-hour circumnavigation of Manhattan island, the cruise boat traces the same path as the marathon swim – albeit starting from 42nd St on the Hudson instead of South Cove.

The Circle Line is a unique and worthwhile experience in itself. The Manhattan skyline is visually stunning and full of interesting history – and the city’s geography lends itself to being viewed by water. But for MIMS swimmers, it’s essential research. Unlike most other marathon swims, you always know “where you are” in MIMS (i.e., how far you’ve gone, how far you have left) – so long as you’re familiar with the landmarks. Actually, I can’t think of a single other marathon swim with as many visual stimuli as MIMS.

The lower Manhattan skyline, as seen from the entrance to the Hudson River on 27 May 2011. The building under construction at center-left is the Freedom Tower, which will eventually rise 1,776 feet above Ground Zero. Swimmers will pass this view just a few minutes after the start of MIMS.


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On Recovery Drinks: a DIY recipe

On Recovery Drinks: a DIY recipe

Recovery drinks are expensive. My go-to “branded” recovery drink – Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite – retails for $50/tub. That works out to $1.56 per serving (2 level scoops of powder, mixed in 10 oz water), which might not seem like a lot, but multiplied by 5 workouts/week and 52 weeks/year adds up to $405.

Chocolate milk, of course, is a perfectly acceptable alternative. And at $2.99 per half-gallon, the cost per 10-oz serving goes down to $0.47 ($122/year, a 70% savings). My favorite supermarket-bought recovery drink, though, is Silk Soy chocolate milk – at $3.99/half-gal, still only $0.62 per 10 oz).

Two downsides to chocolate milk: refrigeration and expiration (and therefore, more frequent shopping trips). Powder-based drinks such as Recoverite travel better and, in my opinion, taste better at room temperature.

But powder-based recovery drinks don’t have to break the bank – even ones with approximately the same ingredients as a branded recovery drink. The main thing, according to nutrition scientists, is a carbs-to-protein ratio of somewhere around 3:1 or 4:1. The carbs restore muscle glycogen, the protein repairs and builds muscle tissue, and the two act synergistically to help you recover.…

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Passing Lieto in NOLA

Passing Lieto in NOLA

I wanted to pass along training partner Jared‘s fascinating report from this past weekend’s 5i50 New Orleans triathlon. I enjoyed, in particular, (1) how nonchalantly he accepts the swim portion of the event being canceled and replaced with a 2-mile run (this would have made me very grumpy); and (2) his story of passing Chris Lieto on the (2nd) run.

Jared ended up 8th out of 22 Pros – a great result given the strength of the field.

In other news, our new mayor (maybe you’ve heard of him) is now swimming with our Masters group. Ah, big city life.…

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Bucket Lists

Bucket Lists

For all my RSS lurkers out there, I wanted to alert you to some changes I’ve made to the site.

First, there’s a new item in the top navigation menu, Bucket Lists. The menu includes links to a variety of open-water swim lists, including:

I’ve also organized my other random “projects” – my Global Water Temp Dashboard, my Open Water Pace Table, my collection of Swim Narratives, plus the two calendars mentioned above – into a new FWS Exclusives drop-down menu.

I hope you find them interesting and/or useful!…

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No shortcuts in marathon swimming

No shortcuts in marathon swimming

As a sort-of counterpoint to my post on Kevin Murphy, I want to highlight this item about Andrew Gemmell, winner of this past weekend’s Crippen SafeSwim 10K. Munatones writes:

He took off time from his collegiate career at the University of Georgia to train with world 10K champion Chip Peterson and coach Jon Urbanchek who has developed 28 Olympians winning 5 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals.

“I have tried to break [Andrew] down,” commented Coach Urbanchek. “But he is tough. He keeps coming back ready for more.”

Notice Coach Urbanchek doesn’t harbor any illusions about minimalist training or competing on “efficiency.” You don’t make it to that level without already being efficient.

What Coach Urbanchek does say is: “I am trying to break him.

Marathon swimming is now an Olympic sport, so objective standards become necessary – in particular, speed. At the elite level, “willpower” is necessary but not sufficient. To be an Olympic marathon swimmer, you have to be fast. And to swim a 10K fast, you have to train your butt off.…

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Must one be a Fast swimmer to be a Great swimmer?

Must one be a Fast swimmer to be a Great swimmer?

An excerpts from an interview with Kevin Murphy, the real “King of the English Channel”:

I don’t regard myself as a great swimmer. What I’ve got is an overwhelming ability to keep going, physically and mentally; I’ve got this obsessive willpower to keep going. As a swimmer, there are lots of people who are much better than me; there are a lot of swimmers who are a lot fitter than me. But the point about what we do is… I like to say that 50% of it is willpower; 25% swimming ability; and 25% fitness. The only thing about it is, the fitter you are and the better swimmer you are, the less it hurts psychologically.

Kevin was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 – and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009. Among other feats, he’s completed 34 crossings of the English Channel.

And he is not a fast swimmer. (His fastest E-F crossing was 13 hours, 31 minutes).

This cuts to the heart of marathon swimming and is perhaps the most significant difference from pool swimming (in which athletes are judged only on the basis of time/speed).…

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The Kitchen Sink Set

The Kitchen Sink Set

Here’s a workout I sometimes do if I show up to the pool without a plan. It consists of 10 sets, each totaling, respectively: 1000, 900, 800, 700, 600, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100. You make up each set as you go along. Usually, I’ll do the first 1000 as warm-up, and tack on 5×100 cool-down at the end, for an even 6,000 yards/meters.

I call it the Kitchen Sink Set. Here’s one version I did this past weekend (SCY):

  • 1000 w/u: 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull, 2×100 IM
  • 3×300 pull, moderate
  • 4×200 IM, threshold
  • 14×50: 2x {fly, fly/back, back, back/breast, breast, breast/free, free}
  • 6×100 kick, descend 1-3
  • 100 loosen, 400 Free AFAP (as fast as possible)
  • 4×100: 50 drill / 50 swim, choice of stroke
  • 6×50 fly, smooth
  • 200 IM, broken @ the 50’s, 10 seconds rest – AFAP
  • 4×25 sprint under-water SDK (streamline dolphin kick) on back

I like this workout for a couple reasons. The structure of descending distances keeps you motivated to push through to the end (important when training solo).…

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