Abby Nunn has had a big couple of months. In May, she graduated from Yale University with a degree in History of Science and Medicine. A scholar-athlete in the truest sense, Abby received the Kiphuth Award for highest GPA among varsity athletes – while specializing in distance freestyle for the Lady Bulldog swimmers.
Five weeks later, Abby became the 30th champion of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.
I got to know Abby through the Marathon Swimmers Forum, and have enjoyed keeping in touch as she prepared for her biggest swim yet (her previous-longest was the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West).
One interesting bit of trivia about Abby is that she’s a 6-beat kicker – which is unusual for an ultra-distance swimmer. Back in March she asked the Forum: Is 6-beat kicking prudent for a marathon swim?…
My sleepy little beach town of Santa Barbara has not just one – but two! – weekly summer evening splash n’ dash series. Nite Moves, now in its 23rd season, is Wednesdays at Leadbetter Beach, and involves a 1000m swim and/or a 5km run up Shoreline Drive. Reef & Run, a more recent addition to the local scene, is Thursdays at East Beach and offers the choice of a 500m, 1000m, or 1-mile swim followed (select weeks only) by a beach run.
Last week I participated in the season-opening Reef & Run, which was free to all comers. From a swimmer’s perspective, it has a lot to recommend it:
meatier, 1-mile swim (plus 500m and 1000m options)
locker room and showers at the Cabrillo Bathhouse
more affordable $120 season pass (or $15/day)
large, easily-sighted buoys
East Beach is, quite simply, a great beach – one of the best in town.
When we left off in Part 1, I stood aboard the SERC boat Dauntless, trying to summon feelings of, well… dauntlessness. I wore one blue polyester Speedo Endurance square-leg, two caps (yellow latex on orange silicone), blue Malmsten Swedes, and earplugs. I’d never worn earplugs before, but I think they helped quite a lot in keeping the cold at bay.
At the start. Photo by Lee Bruno
The nearest ocean buoy read 54.6F; the buoy inside the Bay was about a degree warmer. After reciting DBAP a few times, I leaped off the side of the boat – about a 4-foot drop. The water felt… actually pretty nice! I swam up to Cathy and wished her a fun paddle. She should have been in water instead of me; but as Plan B’s go, this was alright.…
Swimmers in parkas milled about, organizing their nutrition and applying lube. Paddlers secured their kayaks and stuffed dry-bags. Other volunteers helped launch Zodiac boats. It was earlier than most preferred to be awake on a Sunday morning… but the tides of San Francisco Bay wait for no one.
The Golden Gate as seen from Point Bonita. Photo by Flickr user Bob Franks.
Swimming in the Bay, the tides are king. The rising waters of the flood and the falling waters of the ebb must squeeze through the narrow Golden Gate Strait – magnifying the currents. The morning of June 3, we would be pushed through the Strait by a max 4.6-knot flood – impossible for even the fastest swimmers to fight, even briefly. Faster than any of the river currents at MIMS.…
For six years I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area – and not once did it occur to me that anyone would swim in the Bay. Literally and figuratively, I swam in a concrete box. So when I returned this past weekend for the first time in several years, a top priority was a visit to Aquatic Park.
Aquatic Park. Photo by Chamois Moon
Part of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Aquatic Park is the hub of open water swimming in the city, and among most historically significant swim spots in the world. The cove – bounded by horseshoe-shaped Municipal Pier, Hyde Street Pier, and the Maritime Museum beach – is closed to boats and offers a safe, protected venue for cold-water swimming.…
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.…
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, 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.…
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.…
Last year I undertook an ambitious program of marathon swims:
in April, the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim;
in June, the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim;
in August, a 20.1-mile solo crossing of the Catalina Channel;
in October, the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim from Sandy Hook, New Jersey to Manhattan.
While I usually keep my personal life out of this space, in this case it’s essential to understanding my experiences this year. I undertook this schedule of swims while going through a divorce (a process that began 4 days before MIMS), and while moving 2,100 miles from Chicago to California.
My Catalina swim has been marinating for more than three months now, so I figured it was time to put this one to bed. Previous posts have covered my star-studded crew, a video, my GPS tracks, and my fear of deep water. Now to the swim itself.
You may have already read Rob’s account, but here it is again for those who missed it.
A Long Swim: View of San Pedro Channel and Catalina Island from Pt. Vicente. The island is barely visible in the distance. The white speck shows my location at 8:06am (an hour before I finished). Photo Credit: Mom
And now, a few words about the CCSF and SBCSA annual banquets (before the memories are too far from mind). Rob already wrote a fairly authoritative recap - to which I don’t have much to add.
(L-R) Anne Cleveland, Marcia Cleveland, and Cindy Cleveland. Photo credit: Paula Selby
Despite the recent surge of interest and participation in open-water swimming, marathon swimmers are still a rare breed – and our efforts are distributed across the globe. It would be unusual for more than a few of them to be in a room at the same time. How often, for example, would you be able to get a picture of the three great Clevelands together? (No relation – see picture at left.)
November 5th at the San Pedro Doubletree (a place I’ve come to know rather well this year!), the CCSF filled a large conference room with marathon swimmers (past and present) and their families.…
I met Janet Harris at a CIBBOWS gathering after the Great Hudson River Swim in May. A few weeks later, we swam side-by-side for a few minutes during the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Janet is known in the NYC-area swimming community for her infectious smile and tasty baked goods. Recently, she’s been making a name for herself as a marathon swimmer – as part of a 1st-place MIMS relay duo with John Humenik, and then completing two solo stages of the 8 Bridges Hudson River swim.
San Pedro Channel – bathymetry by Scripps Institution of Oceanography
There’s no “going back” in a channel swim. No parallel shoreline to offer a mental security blanket and visual stimulation. No (predictable) current to artificially speed your progress. No intermediate landmarks for last-minute course adjustments; the stated distance is your best-case scenario. The only escape from a channel swim is getting on the boat – and even then it might be an hour’s ride to the closest shore.
So, starting a channel swim feels a bit like stepping into the abyss. That’s almost literally true in the case of Catalina, where the ocean bottom drops off to nearly 3,000 feet within 4 miles. Everything I said about the MIMS jump shots is true of a channel swim – but moreso.…
Why was this the first thing I did? As most of my readers must know by now, I have as much fun (probably more fun, actually) analyzing marathon swims as actually doing marathon swims. Hence my six-part MIMS report.
As usual, the data tell an interesting story. The yellow path shows the GPS tracks of the boat which, except at the start and finish, was between 5-25 meters off my left side. The red line shows the straight-line “ideal” path between the start and finish. The white placemarks are self-explanatory.
I covered the first 5 miles in 2:06:50 (25:22 per mile), my fastest pace of the swim despite big swells and chop throughout the night.…
Early last Thursday morning, I crossed the Catalina Channel in 8 hours, 55 minutes, 59 seconds. There’s a good story to tell, but I’ll start with a video. Many thanks to my fellow Promontory Point swimmer Amanda Hunt for getting this footage.
No ultra-marathon swim is possible without support – and the selflessness of a marathon swim crew is one of the most beautiful aspects of our sport.
I couldn’t be happier with the motley collection of folks supporting my Catalina swim. The sheer aquatic talent and marathon swimming experience on the Bottom Scratcher this Wednesday night will be something to behold! I’ll be in good hands.
Anne Cleveland (CCSF observer)
- IMSHOF inductee
- double English Channel crossing, 2004
On a whim in late May, three weeks before MIMS, I flew out to New York on a Friday evening, woke up the next morning and did the Great Hudson River Swim. The first race of the NYC Swim series, the GHRS is a quick 1.6-mile dash down the Hudson. I had a free hotel night expiring soon, found a cheap flight, and had an itch for some early-season racing. So I figured, what the hell. Perhaps I’d even gain some immune-system benefit from a quick dip in the Hudson before MIMS?…
This past week I had the timely opportunity to crew (as a pace swimmer) for fellow MIMSer Cliff Crozier on his Catalina Channel crossing. Timely because my own Catalina swim is scheduled for exactly a week after Cliff’s (August 24-25). A chance to help a fellow marathon swimmer, and also conduct a “dry run” for my own swim a week later? Where do I sign up?
Kevin the Kayaker at Doctor's Cove
It was a valuable experience. Unlike Tampa or MIMS (my two other big swims this year), Catalina is a full-blown channel swim – in the open ocean, with volatile, unpredictable conditions; in 3,000 feet of water that’s home to all manner of marine life, including white sharks. Catalina swims also generally take place in the middle of the night – starting around midnight and finishing mid- to late-morning. …
As I rounded the 90-degree bend in the upper Harlem River into Spuyten Duyvil, I was not a happy swimmer. My shoulders throbbed – seemingly immune to pharmaceutical intervention. I had gone from 3rd in the upper reaches of the East River, to 4th (when John VW passed me just before Hell Gate), to 5th (when Miguel A. passed me near the Triborough Bridge), and finally to 6th (when Miguel S. passed me somewhere between the Third Ave Bridge and the Madison Ave Bridge).
My 20-minute feeds – Maxim interspersed with Perpetuem – kept me going, but just barely.…