Sharks Live in the Ocean

Sharks Live in the Ocean

So, there was this local news item last week. While Santa Barbara isn’t typically a hotbed of shark activity, this was a reminder that indeed, sharks do live in the ocean.

That’s right, readers. Sharks live in the ocean.

great white shark

It’s always interesting to observe how ocean swimmers deal with this fact.

Some take a spiritual, new-agey approach: If you just, you know, become one with the ocean and don’t give off the “fear signal,” the sharks will leave you alone. Fittingly and rather ironically, these people often are residents of San Francisco. (It’s OK, I used to be one.)

Others avoid the issue with euphemisms: “Man in the Grey Suit,” or “The Landlord,” or “Old Whitey”… or, most comically of all, “the S-word.” I guess the idea is, if you don’t talk about it, maybe it’ll go away.

Others put their faith in technology. Because obviously, the 6-meter, 2-ton “fish” attacking from below at 25mph is going to respect the little Shark Shield zapper dangling off the end of the kayak. Good luck with that.

And then there are kooks like this guy.…

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Last Week at the Forum

Last Week at the Forum

Highlights from the past week at the Marathon Swimmers Forum:

In other news, the Forum was featured in the “Open Water Surfing” section of the latest issue of H2Open Magazine. Which makes it two months running

Remember, you can follow the Forum not only at marathonswimmers.org, but also via email (daily or weekly) and RSS.…

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TBMS 2012

TBMS 2012

The 15th annual Tampa Bay Marathon Swim is this Saturday! TBMS is – I think it’s fair to say – the toughest organized swim race in the United States.

tampa bay marathon swim
Five minutes before the start of TBMS 2011. Photo by Distance Matters

New this year, the race will have live GPS tracking. I’ve also agreed to provide some color commentary on the official TBMS Twitter account – follow @DistanceMatters if you’re interested. For those following the GPS tracking, here are two paths from last year’s race: mine, and Bob Needham’s (1, 2, 3).

Current weather forecasts call for a 60% chance of rain (possible thunderstorms), with 10-15mph winds out of the SSW. That’s a favorable wind direction, but let’s hope the lightning stays away.

Best of luck to all the swimmers!…

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Letters from Connie: Why?

Letters from Connie: Why?

The second in a series of posts inspired by Conrad Wennerberg‘s classic Wind, Waves, and Sunburn: A Brief History of Marathon Swimming.


In a brief chapter titled, simply, “Why?”, Chairman Connie ponders marathon swimmers’ reasons. In the end he concludes, basically, Why ask why? – but he offers some intriguing thoughts and observations along the way. One passage is particularly striking:

In my twenty years of observing the world-champion swimmers I have discovered an interesting common denominator. It became evident while discussing their personal lives with them. Hours of conversation with fourteen swimmers… brought to light the fact that twelve of them were under severe emotional tension during the time they were champions. Only two were not under such tension and seemed to have planned a course of action that led to their achievement without emotional involvement.

The others were reacting to the tensions incurred by: (1) the breakup of a marriage and divorce; (2) loss of a job; (3) sexual maladjustments. Physiologists tell us that such serious threats to one’s personal life are manifested by bodily response.



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Last Week at the Forum

Last Week at the Forum

After little more than a month, the Marathon Swimmers Forum is approaching 1,000 posts! In the interest of making all this content as accessible as possible, we’re now offering Email Digest Subscriptions.

  • To receive a daily email containing all forum posts from the previous 24 hours, sign up here.
  • To receive a weekly email containing links to all updated threads in the previous 7 days, sign up here.

If you use RSS, copy this address into your feed reader to subscribe to all new posts.

You do not have to be a member of the forum to subscribe via email or RSS. However, membership has its benefits: viewing member profiles, using the private messaging system, and participating in discussions.

Here are some of the highlights from the past week at the Forum:

A chlorinated swim

A chlorinated swim

Last weekend I drove 90 minutes for a 19-minute swim – which would be unusual for me nowadays, even for an open-water swim. But this was a pool swim! Heresy!

There were other good reasons for the trip, however. I met up with my old buddy Rob D., as well as fellow SBCSA director Dave VM. Dave joined me for 30 lengths of freestyle, while Rob lap counted and shot some video with his GoPro. Later, we caught up on the latest OW/marathon swimming gossip over beer and burritos. Good times.

San Luis Obispo Swim Club occasionally puts on combined USA-S/USMS meets, and this was one such occasion. I had no interest in hanging out on a pool deck all day dodging 10-year olds… but they were offering a 1500 (LCM) as the last event of the day, and it was tempting. I could sleep in, show up early afternoon… get in, get out…. one and done.

When I showed up, the kids’ meet was still in full swing and they were running only a single warm-up lane.…

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SWOLF and swimming efficiency

SWOLF and swimming efficiency

Follow-up posts:

Swim golf – or SWOLF – is an interesting drill, intended to measure efficiency in swimming. It’s important to understand how to use it correctly. Here’s the drill:

  1. Swim one length of the pool
  2. Count the number of strokes you take
  3. Get your time (in seconds)
  4. Take the sum of (2) and (3). That is your SWOLF score.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4, trying different combinations of stroke rate, stroke length, and effort. Which combinations produce the lowest score?

 


Recommended Products for Swim Training


 

Please note:

  • “Number of strokes” means total number of hand entries – left and right combined. It is not the number of stroke cycles – as the Swimsense uses in its SWOLF calculation. H2oustonSwims and TI get it right; About.com gets it wrong. FINIS gets it right on its website but wrong on the Swimsense.
  • “One length of the pool” means one length of a 50-meter pool, starting from the wall. No long streamlines – that’s cheating. This doesn’t mean you can’t do SWOLF in a short-course pool.


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Promontory Point in the 1940s

Promontory Point in the 1940s

A recent post at Open Water Chicago alerted me to an incredible collection of photos at the Indiana University Digital Library, taken by Charles Cushman between 1938 and 1969.

Of particular interest are the numerous shots he took at Chicago’s Promontory Point in the early 1940s. Through Cushman’s keen eye, we can see the Point was a special place even back then, when its great trees were mere saplings.

But Cushman was apparently drawn less to the landscape and water features of the Point than to the… human features. Specifically, women in bathing attire. The Point just happened to be an unusually rich source of subjects.

Here’s a sampling of Cushman’s work, with his original captions. The entire collection is available here.

Very Important Announcement

Very Important Announcement

This summer I will attempt something truly audacious… groundbreaking… unprecedented… game-changing.

I will attempt to (ahem…) cross the English Channel. Not once, not twice or even thrice. Ten times. Consecutively. 210 miles without stopping.

Needless to say, this has never been achieved by a swimmer. Which is not to say I’ll be swimming. Indeed, I’ll be doing everything possible in order to not swim. Actually swimming 210 miles would be far too difficult.

I will be aided in my quest by several important tools:

1. A monofin. I’m thinking the Competitor model from FINIS looks pretty sweet.

2. Paddles. But not just any old paddles. Special paddles. My usual training paddles (Strokemakers) are sometimes mocked as “dinnerplates,” which frankly hurts my feelings. So I’m taking it one step further. I will be using actual dinnerplates as paddles. Fine china, in fact. I’m happy to count Lenox among the proud sponsors of my “swim.”

3. A drysuit. Because I don’t want any part of my body to actually touch the water. Did you know, the English Channel is apparently cold!…

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