Jump Shots

Jump Shots

To me, there’s something quite special about the moment someone enters the water to begin a marathon swim. It’s an act of great courage; a willing surrender to a foreign and potentially dangerous environment; an acceptance of inevitable pain and struggle soon to be experienced.

The moment is even more dramatic when “entering the water” requires jumping from a dock – as in MIMS. Tom M. (a.k.a. bklynpolar on Flickr) and his camera were on the dock for the MIMS start, and captured these moments for a number of swimmers. Here are the “jump shots” for the top 8 seeds, in descending order. Click to enlarge.

Race Report: Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (Part 1)

Race Report: Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (Part 1)

A few minutes before 10am Saturday, I jumped off a dock on the far southwestern tip of Manhattan and into the Hudson River. After a brief countdown I began a journey that would bring me around the Battery, up the East and Harlem Rivers, and back down the Hudson to the very same dock. 28 and a half miles in 7 and a half hours (give or take).

I had a lot on my mind in that moment – suspended in midair, before plunging into the 67-degree water – not all of it relevant to the task at hand. But some portion of my thoughts were directed at the question of how it was that I found myself there – jumping off the dock at South Cove.

Photo Credit: Tom McGann


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Big race today

Big race today

The USA Swimming Open Water National Championships are this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I would have posted this earlier, but I didn’t realize the 10K is actually today – actually, 5 minutes from now! – to give athletes a rest day before the 5K on Sunday.

There’s a live webcast here.

The 10K main event is effectively the “Olympic Trials” for London 2012. “Effectively” because the top 2 Americans at today’s race advance to the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, and the top 10 from that event advance to the Olympics. Steven Munatones explains the full process here.

A couple friends-of-the-blog will be competing. Mark Warkentin will be trying for his 2nd straight Olympic berth in the 10K; and fellow Masters swimmer Adam Barley will race the kids in the 5K.

Best of luck to both of them.

UPDATE: Alex Meyer and Sean Ryan took top two, with Gemmell, Warkentin, & Frayler close behind (not sure about order). Mark led for much of the race but Meyer and Ryan pulled ahead into the finish. On the women’s side, Eva Fabian and Christine Jennings took top 2.…

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Swimming around Manhattan, tides are (almost) everything

Swimming around Manhattan, tides are (almost) everything

Just over a week ’til the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim! Hard to believe it’s already upon us.

Sometimes people ask me if I have a “goal time” for the swim. That’s an interesting question. As anyone who’s spent much time in open water knows, the relationship between time and distance is somewhat complicated; even moreso for marathon swims.

MIMS is a different beast, though. I’d go so far as to say that MIMS times are pretty much meaningless — as an indication of speed. The typical winning time of 7 hours, 30 minutes works out to just under 59 seconds per 100m. So: world record 1500m pace, 28.5 times in a row. In MIMS, the tides are king – perhaps moreso than any other major marathon swim.

How important are the tides? Think of it this way. My ultra-marathon pace is about 2.3 knots. A world-class marathon swimmer? About 2.6-2.7 knots. The slowest swimmer in the MIMS field? Maybe 1.6 knots. Why am I describing swim speeds in terms of knots? Because that’s how river currents are measured. Now, guess what sort of current we will encounter when we round the southern tip of Manhattan and enter the East River?…

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In Asheville

In Asheville

A friend’s wedding brought me to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend. While hunting ’round the ‘net for a place to swim while in town, I noticed Asheville Masters was hosting an open water clinic Saturday morning. I emailed coach Andrew Pulsifer to ask if I might join them and swim around on my own during the clinic. As luck would have it, two AMS members are also preparing for upcoming long swims – the Noblesville 25K for one guy, the Ft. Myers 10K for the other guy. Andrew graciously invited me to join them.

I rolled into the tony Biltmore Lake community around 7:45am and found Coach Andrew setting up. I was the first swimmer to arrive. We chatted for a bit and I was soon reminded of how small the open water swimming world can be. One of the guys I’d be swimming with was a fellow soloist from the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim.

Biltmore Lake near Asheville, NC

We helped set up the buoys and set off on our workout. The lake (man-made – there are no natural lakes in western North Carolina) covers 62 acres, but we were confined to a triangular 200-yard course near the beach.…

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