Last Week at the Forum

Last Week at the Forum

So much interesting stuff happening down at the Forum these days, it’s tough to keep up with it all; and it’s not even June! Some highlights since my last update:

Forum stats as of 5/30/2012: 312 members, 1572 posts.…

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Stroke count games

Stroke count games

What’s the fewest number of strokes you can take for a single length of the pool? (No streamlining past the flags; no more than three kicks per stroke.)

I can get down to 8 strokes per 25 SCY, but it’s tough to sustain for more than one length. 9 strokes per length (SPL) I can do pretty much indefinitely – but it’s incredibly inefficient. The inefficiency is readily apparent: a huge dead spot in my momentum as I glide (glide, glide…) after each stroke. The Swim Smooth guys have a term for this: Overgliding.

I swim most efficiently between 13 and 15 SPL, depending on pace. 13 for channel/marathon pace; 14 for “threshold” pace (from the mile up to about 5K); 15 for 200/500 pace. For an all-out sprint, I’ll add one more stroke (16 SPL).

Experienced pool swimmers have an intuitive feel for this… but what if you don’t? Is there a formula to identify the most efficient stroke count for a given pace? This question led me to try the following set:

8×100, as fast as possible, with about a minute rest between each.…

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This one time, at swim camp…

This one time, at swim camp…

This past weekend Jamie Patrick hosted 50-some-odd swimmers, spouses, children, and pets at his vacation cottage in Lake County, north of Napa Valley. While the majority of guests hailed from the nearby Bay Area, others journeyed from more far-flung locations: Darren from Pittsburgh, Michelle from Florida, Bob from Portland, and Gords & Goody from Utah.

The event was nominally a Swim Camp – and indeed, many of the campers have big plans this season: the English Channel for Gords and Jen; Catalina for Goody; Tsugaru for Darren; Paul’s insane Sea of Cortez swim; and of course Jamie’s own circumnavigation of Tahoe.

But even before rumors of a mysterious itch-inducing substance in the lake, I had no ambitious training plans. I was more interested in the people and conversation – making new friends and re-connecting with old ones. I executed reasonably well on this goal.

Jamie's cottage. Photo credit: Jamie Patrick

Friday morning we caravan-ed to nearby Clear Lake, which offered cooler waters and more room to roam. The previous evening, Jen and I discovered we have a pretty good tandem-swimming rhythm together, so we partnered up for the morning.…

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Last Week at the Forum

Last Week at the Forum

Highlights from the past week at the Marathon Swimmers Forum:

Forum stats as of May 12, 2012 (exactly two months after public launch): 295 members, 104 threads, 1299 posts, 58K page views.…

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Race Report: Nite Moves #2 (of 18)

Race Report: Nite Moves #2 (of 18)

Nite Moves results are here. I was 6/115 in a mostly local field – though a “local field” in Santa Barbara typically includes some pretty decent swimmers. Mark W. was first. He’s not really in shape right now, but apparently still has enough to hold off the pretenders.

leadbetter beach
Leadbetter Beach, viewed from Shoreline Park

I haven’t been in the ocean much lately, so the water felt a touch brisk. The closest channel buoy said 57, but I’m guessing it was closer to 55. The overcast skies offered no solar relief. I opted for an in-water warm-up, which was a mistake. By the time I lined up at the start, my feet were numb.

Oh, and I forgot to bring a cap. Mmm… brain freeze.

Beach-start, beach-finish races almost seem designed to punish me. Nite Moves is even more cleverly designed to punish me: the finish is a 70m trek uphill across a soft-sand beach. Here’s how it usually pans out:

After the mad dash into the water, I’m immediately behind like half the field. By the time I’m past the breakers, the leaders have 15-20m on me.…

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Open Water Season Begins in SoCal

Open Water Season Begins in SoCal

My first open-water race of 2012 is this evening, the weekly Nite Moves 1000m swim / 5K run at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara (I skip the running part).

leadbetter beach, santa barbara
Leadbetter Beach. Photo by Instagram user "woooks"

Nite Moves is (are?) organized by triathlon-types and doesn’t (don’t?) offer separate categories for wetsuits & skins. This is sort of offensive, but whatever, I’ll play by their rules.

The “swim” portion of Nite Moves ends with a 70m run up the beach, which is also offensive (my hip replacement precludes me from running). But afterwards there’s food, beer, music, good company – and hey, it’s Santa Barbara – so I suppose I can’t complain too much.


Almost every weekend this summer, there’s an open-water race somewhere in Southern California. The first one longer than a mile is a 2.5-miler at Lake Mission Viejo on May 20.

I’m not aware of any good, complete list of everything going on (SPMASan Diego-Imperial Masters, and Active.com all have parts of the story) – so I decided to make one myself:



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