This past weekend I attended the annual banquets of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation (CCSF) and Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association (SBCSA). For the past few years the two events have been scheduled for the same day, in the same city (San Pedro), with CCSF providing brunch at the Doubletree and the SBCSA providing dinner at a restaurant downtown. This arrangement seems to maximize cross-pollination between the two events – reminding everyone of the patch of ocean we share, and giving us just a little more time together.
This is my third year attending “Banquet Day” in San Pedro.
In 2011, I was a swimmer-honoree at the CCSF event, having just crossed the Catalina Channel (8:55 on August 25, and I didn’t even have to look it up).…
In summer 2011, I started using two pairs of Swedish goggles (Speedo Swedish 2-pack) – one with dark metallized lenses for daytime, one with clear lenses for mornings, evenings, & night. As per usual, I eschewed the included latex straps for after-market bungee straps.
It’s a testament to Swedes’ durability that I’m still using these same goggles almost two years later.
Notice something else about the above photo, though: The color of the straps. Two years ago, these straps were the same color. Remember, the top pair I wear during the day, in bright sunlight. The bottom pair I wear in low light.
These are your goggles. These are your goggles on UV radiation.…
A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. – Eudora Welty
My friend Rob D is a man of many talents; among them a knack for taking remarkable photographs with relatively low-end equipment (typically, smart-phone cameras). What follows may be a bit self-indulgent; but I thought it worthwhile to collect a sampling of his images (of, um… me) in one place.
One photo in particular, I might even call “iconic.” I can’t remember a picture (of, um… me) that has ever spoken to me so powerfully. From just a few minutes before jump-time for Santa Cruz Island swim last September: Now, going back to the beginning…
2010 – “Freshwater Swimmer” is born
On the shores of Lake Michigan, where it all began. Ohio Street Beach, home of the Big Shoulders 5K.…
Ashby Harper was the second person to cross the Santa Barbara Channel between Santa Cruz Island and the mainland – and the first to do so by the longer (23.5 mile) route, finishing in Santa Barbara. He did this in 1984, when he was 67 years old.
Princeton senior class picture. Found in the New York Times (6/19/1939) by Morty Berger.
Ashby Harper penned a “jaw-inspiring” article about the swim for Sports Illustrated.
Ashby Harper graduated from Princeton University in 1939, 63 years before I did. He was considered the best all-around athlete of the Class of ’39, earning nine varsity letters — in football, baseball, and (wait for it…) swimming. He trained in a pool that has been lost to history. Dillon Gym pool – considered the “old pool” when I was at Princeton, was not built until 1947.…
The biggest season in the history of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association officially began yesterday, with a previously “undisclosed” relay crossing from San Clemente Island to the mainland – a distance of 54 miles.
Compared to the most famous Channel Island – Catalina – the remaining seven Channel Islands are still relatively virgin waters for marathon swimmers. Here are the number of successful solo swims, by island:
- Anacapa to mainland (12.6 miles) – 25 swims by 23 individuals
- Santa Cruz to mainland (various distances) – 8 swims
- Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz (6 miles) – 2 swims
- Santa Barbara to mainland (37.7 miles) – 1 swim
- Santa Rosa to mainland (27.5 miles) – 1 swim
- San Miguel to mainland (25.9 miles) – 1 swim
- Anacapa to Santa Cruz (5.6 miles) – 1 swim
There are 80 possible swims between and around the eight Channel Islands (including Catalina) and the U.S.…
These are swedish goggles:
Swedes are only goggle I’ve worn since 1992, and are among the most iconic swim gear ever. Their sleek, minimalist esthetic transcends both time and nationality. Their simple construction renders them both disposable and indestructible. Here’s an interesting history of swedes (the goggles, not the people) from Malmsten AB.
So popular are swedes among competitive swimmers that Speedo was forced to offer Speedo-branded swedes (with original Malmsten lenses, naturally) so their sponsored athletes could wear swedes at the Olympics without being in breach of contract!
Swedes’ functional minimalism cuts both ways, though. They’re cheap goggles. The lenses scratch easily. The latex straps rarely last through more than a month of regular chlorine exposure (I opt for an after-market bungee strap).
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s this:
Blueseventy carbonRZR goggles
The ultimate in superfluous luxury.…
I previously alluded to a “spiritual bond between mountaineers and open-water swimmers,” in describing Jen Schumacher’s back-to-back Mt. Whitney/Lake Tahoe adventures. To illustrate what I mean, consider the following book quotations. Do they refer to mountaineering or marathon swimming? I’ve redacted any clues that would make it obvious.
Mountaineering or marathon swimming?
There were many, many fine reasons not to… but attempting to [climb Mt. X/swim Channel Y] is an intrinsically irrational act—a triumph of desire over sensibility. Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument.
Mountaineering or marathon swimming?
By this time [so-and-so] was a full-time professional [climber/swimmer]. Like most of his peers, he sought funding from corporate sponsors to pay for his expensive [climbs/swims].
Correcting a bit of misinformation from the comments section of a recent post…
Tandem swimming is allowed on Catalina swims, so long as each member of the tandem is sanctioned by CCSF. This is from a CCSF official:
The CCSF recognizes a difference between a SANCTIONED swimmer and a COMPANION swimmer. Sanctioned tandem swims are allowed.
What’s at issue is the COMPANION swimmer, who typically knows the swimmer but has no relationship with the CCSF (eg application, swim history, insurance). For safety purposes, the CCSF wishes to limit that swimmer’s time in the water to a maximum of 3 hours in shifts no longer than 60-minutes. That’s more in accordance with English Channel standards. Different than Dover, a CCSF swimmer could– if they so desired– recruit 5 companion swimmers.
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.…
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.…
Two of my favorite new phrases (well, they’re new to me, anyway):
“Getting chicked” and “grandpa pace.”
“Getting chicked” is when a man is beaten by a woman in an athletic event. Commonly uttered by exhausted men after ultra-distance races. Some might find it misogynistic, but I see it as a celebration of female superiority in endurance sports.
- Jim got chicked by Shelley Taylor-Smith in the 1985 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. And again in 1987. And again in 1988. And again in 1989. And again in 1998.
- Evan got quintuple-chicked in the Nike Swim Miami. But at least they were almost all teenagers.
“Grandpa pace,” popularized by Gordon Gridley (e.g., in this post), describes a relatively slow or conservative rate of swimming, suitable for channel crossings.…
The 2011 open water season hasn’t even started yet, but I have an important announcement to make regarding my plans for 2012.
I call it the “Four Lakes, Three Rivers, and a Canal” Swim.
Mid-June of 2012 I’ll set off from the mouth of the Chicago River and swim 375 miles north to the Straits of Mackinac. From there I’ll swim the 250-mile length of Lake Huron to the St. Clair River, which will lead me (via Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River) into Lake Erie. I’ll then swim 250 miles across Lake Erie (hugging the Canadian shore) to Buffalo, where I will enter the Erie Canal. From there it’s 360 miles to the Hudson River near Albany. Finally, I’ll take a 140-mile “victory lap” down the Hudson to New York City!…
The three traditionally recognized jewels in the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming are the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.
These aren’t necessarily the most challenging marathon swims in the world (though they are certainly challenging), but they’re arguably the most famous and iconic.
One might argue this traditional definition unfairly favors North Americans – and penalizes our friends in the Southern Hemisphere. A more “hemispherically balanced” Triple Crown would likely include the Cook Strait between the north and south islands of New Zealand.
But why settle for just one Triple Crown? Leave it to Steven Munatones to produce an almost comically long list of alternative triple crowns, depending on one’s geographic perspective. As it turns out, the trifecta I’ll be attempting this year (Tampa Bay, Manhattan Island, Catalina) is one of them – the “American Triple Crown.”
So now you know.…
NOTE TO VISITORS WHO CAME HERE LOOKING FOR LAP POOLS IN NEW YORK CITY:
Hannah’s blog, 40 Pools, is the most comprehensive resource available.
(Actually, this post is just about lap pools. As for love – sorry, you’re on your own.)
New York City’s a great town and all, but not exactly a mecca for lap swimming. I would assume, in a city where space is at such a premium, it’s tough to make the economics of a lap pool work. As a result, almost any pool of regulation length is either behind the walls of expensive and/or exclusive athletic clubs, $1000/night hotels, or, if public and reasonably priced, then extremely crowded.
I learned this the hard way when I arrived in town the day before the Little Red Lighthouse Swim last fall and tried to find a place to swim a few laps.…
Have you ever wondered…
How many [yards] can I swim in [4 hours] if I hold a pace of [1:15] per [100 yards] … and you wanted an answer right now? Perhaps you didn’t have a calculator handy, or didn’t want to fire up Excel… or maybe you just didn’t feel like thinking very hard.
Or, perhaps you have wondered…
If I swim [10K] in [2 hours, 45 minutes], what is my pace per [100m] ?
In conclusion: Bing sucks, people.*
* Full disclosure: I am a former employee of Google.…
I mentioned in my tentative 2011 race schedule that I was contemplating a date with the Catalina Channel in the late summer. That date is now set: August 25, 2011.
My support crew (tbd) and I will leave the Port of Long Beach aboard Capt. Greg Elliott’s Bottom Scratcher (what a fantastic name for a boat) around 8:30pm on the 24th. Upon reaching the northwest end of Catalina Island at Doctor’s Point, my swim will begin around midnight. I will swim at a NNE-erly bearing until I reach the San Pedro Peninsula on the California mainland, 20 miles away. If conditions and luck are favorable, I should stumble onto the beach near Rancho Palos Verdes, just SE of Pt. Vicente lighthouse, between 8 and 9am.…
What’s a marathon swim? Distance is how it’s typically defined – any swim 10K or longer. Another indicator? If you need high-level satellite imagery to view the course map.
Saturday, April 9, 2011 – Nike Swim Miami – Miami, FL – 10K
Saturday, April 23 – Tampa Bay Marathon Swim – Tampa, FL – 24 miles
Saturday, June 18 – Manhattan Island Marathon Swim – New York, NY – 28.5 miles
Saturday, July 9 – Kingdom Swim – Newport, VT – 10 miles
Saturday, August 13 – Boston Light Swim – Boston, MA – 8 miles
Yesterday afternoon, NYC*SWIM announced that the Little Red Lighthouse Swim is moving up the Hudson. The 5.85-mile course has traditionally run between 56th and 172nd Streets (or vice versa, depending on the tide). Tomorrow, and possibly also in future years, the swim will begin at the 79th Street Boat Basin and finish near Inwood Park, all the way at the top of Manhattan Island.
The new course is a full 10K, and will pass climactically under the George Washington Bridge just over a mile from the finish. The Daily News of Open Water Swimming reports that it will be the largest 10K swim in the world, with 250 swimmers.
This past week was a perfect storm of events to temporarily derail my training, and I should have seen it coming. But there are some things you can control, and some you can’t.
It’s tough to train while traveling. Not impossible – I got in 7,900 LCM within 12 hours of arriving in Chicago – but usually tough. Add a few late nights, some occasionally excessive drinking and fraternizing, frequent use of public transportation, and, well, you’re asking for it.
And I sure got it. This wasn’t one of those bugs that teases you for a few days with a sore throat. This one hit me like a truck. Down and out.
At which point there’s nothing to do but rest and wait it out. For me, it has meant 6 days out of the water right before my taper was to begin.…