“The Siljan Diary” – a new and very worthwhile blog by Dave Van Mouwerik as he prepares to swim the length of Lake Siljan in Sweden. Dave is a fellow SBCSA director and was the official observer of my Santa Cruz Island swim. He’s a deep thinker, an excellent writer, and this blog is a must-read for anyone interested in how unique marathon swims happen – from the initial spark of an idea, to the planning, to the execution.
Dave’s planned swim route across Lake Siljan, Sweden.
As I mentioned, Mark Warkentin (2008 10K Olympian, crew member on my Catalina swim, crew member on my Santa Cruz Island swim, and all-around good guy) was recently named head coach of the Santa Barbara Swim Club, the team we both grew up swimming with. Mark has been on the job a couple months now, and by all accounts things are going great. The future of swimming in Santa Barbara is bright indeed.
Donal is my Irish BFAM and fellow co-founder of the Marathon Swimmers Forum. He’s an English Channel and MIMS soloist known for his stunning photography and authoritative writing about cold-water swimming. We founded our blogs in the same month, literally (February 2010).
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.
When I cracked open the latest (February/March) issue of H2open Magazinea few days ago, I did a bit of a double-take when I got to page 15:
My humble, minimally-marketed, emphatically anti-populist marathon swimming blog is one of H2Open’s “favourite” OWS websites! Many thanks to Simon Griffiths and his team for this recognition. I’m truly hono(u)red.
Here’s a zoomed-in view:
And for good measure, here’s the front cover of the magazine.
If you’re not already subscribed to this excellent publication, I urge you to get on that – stat.
Conrad Wennerberg is Chairman Emeritus of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and author of the authoritative history of marathon swimming: Wind, Waves, and Sunburn. Originally published in 1974, the book was re-printed in 1999, and is now out of print once again. (Used copies are available through Amazon.)
Conrad (or “Connie,” as he’s known to friends) is a familiar face at Promontory Point in Chicago, my preferred training location in 2010-11. Now in his 80s, Connie still takes his noontime dip in Lake Michigan, May through October. Connie is also responsible for rescuing a treasured thermos of mine, which his friend Frank the Klepto had stolen during a late-season training swim. True story.
I’m just now getting around to reading Wind, Waves, and Sunburn, and it’s delightful.…
This is a time of year when many marathon swimmers are ramping up their training in earnest, in preparation for big swims this summer. It’s a time of year when reports of epic workouts appear with increasing frequency on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. While it’s fun to read of others’ training exploits, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize – maximizing your performance for your event – and not get caught up in cyber-rivalries.
My friend and former training partnerJared Woodford recently wrote an excellent post on this subject, and I asked his permission to re-print it. Jared is a professional triathlete, a commercial pilot for ExpressJet, and a former collegiate swimmer at Delta State University. Last May he was featured in an interview on SlowTwitch. …
Barbara Held and I crossed paths three times in 2011: at the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, where she was the first woman to finish; at the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim; and then again during my Catalina Channel swim, for which she was a CCSF observer. She did her own Catalina swim in 2010 (in the blazing fast time of 9:36), and set a new age record in the process.
Barbara’s marathon swimming feats are even more impressive in light of how she completed them all after the age of 55. Now 58, she will tackle the English Channel in August – a swim she says will be her last before retiring from marathon swimming.
It’s an exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive sport – in which “careers” don’t often last more than a few years. …
I’ll go out on a limb and say: This may be the best video ever made about a marathon swim. At least, it’s the best one I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a few). Perhaps it’s more appropriate to call it a “short film.” The production values are that high.
The film, by Stephen Lewis, tells the story of Marc Lewis’ unprecedented 27.5-mile swim between Santa Rosa Island and the California mainland in 2008. It features 720p video quality, an imaginative soundtrack of Sigur Ros, The Ventures, Radiohead and Beethoven, stunning photography of the Santa Barbara Channel, and thoughtful interviews with Marc’s family, coaches, observers, and crew.
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.
After brief segments on the history of the NYC waterfront and two of the shorter NYC*SWIM events (Liberty Island & Brooklyn Bridge Swims), there’s an extended look at the 2009 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. The film focuses on the duel between Australians John van Wisse and Penny Palfrey, and a 6-man American relay who chased them. The footage is pretty incredible.
The MIMS segment begins at 22:37. Unfortunately Vimeo (unlike YouTube) doesn’t allow you to skip ahead without loading the full video.…
So apparently this is Lance Armstrong finishing the 2.4-mile RLE Open Water Swim at Mansfield Dam in Austin, TX. He’s the third guy out of the water, behind pro triathletes James Bonney and James Cotter:
And here’s (what I assume to be) the three of them rounding the buoy at the halfway mark:
A couple observations. First, Lance isn’t really close enough to Bonney and Cotter to be getting any draft – which is evidence against some folks’ theories that he must have drafted the whole way. Second, it sure doesn’t look like these guys are going 48-high/49-low speed. Lance even does a little breaststroke coming into the buoy. But who knows.
Am I crazy to think it’s newsworthy that one of the most famous athletes in the world competed in an open water swim?…
I recently came across some stunning photo slideshows at Surfline – aerial shots of the Southern California coast. (They require you to watch a short ad before viewing the slideshow – sorry about that.)
The photos are geared towards surfers, but there’s great stuff for swimmers as well. Or for anyone – I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be awed by the power and beauty of the ocean and this magnificent stretch of coast.
My Dad surfed some of those same breaks (in Ventura County) on his longboard in the ’60s. I, on the other hand, never spent much time in the ocean as a kid – despite growing up in Santa Barbara.…
More good stuff from Penny Dean’s history of Catalina Channel swimming. Here’s the story of Myrtle Huddlestone, who in February 1927 became the first woman to cross the Channel [emphasis added]:
Huddlestone, a 30 year old widow from Long Beach, had only begun swimming during the preceding year to lose weight. She had been motivated to enter the Wrigley Ocean Marathon in order to pay for her son’s education.
Her swim was far from routine. Beginning at 2:30 p.m., Huddlestone encountered one problem after another. Fog appeared after midnight and the lights on both support boats went out. Unable to see the boats, she drifted off and for three hours she was lost. During this time she was attacked by a barracuda. She received bites and cuts on the left side of her body.
Gertrude Ederle was one of the greatest swimmers of her time, and a founding queen of marathon swimming. In 1926, she was the first woman to cross the English Channel, in 14 hours 39 minutes – almost 2 hours faster than any man had done it. This feat earned her a ticker-tape parade in New York City, her hometown.
I’ve been reading Penny Lee Dean‘s wonderful history of Catalina Channel swimming, in which Ederle makes a notable appearance. Though Ederle never attempted a Catalina swim, the first successful crossing (in 1927) was directly inspired by her success in the English Channel.
William Wrigley, Jr. (of Wrigley chewing gum), seeing an opportunity to promote tourism on Catalina Island (in which he owned a controlling interest), offered Ederle $10,000 to become the first person to swim across the channel between Avalon and the San Pedro peninsula.…
Before it becomes stale news, I wanted to note several fascinating, inspiring, “water-level” accounts of the recent Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. The 28.5-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan is one of the generally-accepted crowning achievements of open-water marathon swimming (along with the Catalina and English Channels), and is the only race among the three.
This was posted a few days ago on the Daily News of O.W.S. – it’s the finish of the Men’s 10K U.S. National Championship last weekend in Long Beach.
This is why these guys train so hard – to be at this level, you need not only endurance but also speed. After 9,500m at a pace most people can’t hold for 100m, it all comes down to a sprint. The dude nearest the camera (Chip Peterson) is using an 8-beat kick! Simply… awesome.
Steven Munatones’ detailed write-up (including the women’s race) is here. His write-up of the 5K is here.…
As Chris Anderson described in The Long Tail, the internet has made possible a previously unthinkable wealth of content for niche interests – e.g., Masters and open-water swimming.
Here are two great examples from the past week:
First, Rich Abrahams. The consensus “swimmer of the meet” at the recent Masters Nationals in Atlanta, Rich threw down a 49.4 100 Free and 22.1 50 Free. Fast times for anyone, but guess what? He’s 65 years old. In other words, not just fast, but almost-unbelievably fast.
How did Rich do it? Through several candid posts on the USMS forums and a video interview with Swimming World, you can gather hints. The most interesting nuggets, to my mind:
his focus in practice on lots of race-pace swimming
his approach to dryland training:
focus on overall, balanced strength rather than swim-specific strength
one long workout Sunday morning, one shorter workout Wednesday (providing several days recovery between each)
the importance of long-term consistency (i.e., over several decades)
his preference for swimming with 1-3 like-minded training partners, rather than with a team