Auau (Maui) Channel solo swim – Preview

Auau (Maui) Channel solo swim – Preview

I was in Maui over Labor Day weekend, and managed not one, not two, but three round-trip crossings to nearby Lanai: as a member of a 6-person team in the Maui Channel Relay; a solo swim along the same course; and a snorkeling outing (via ferry) to otherworldly Hulopoe Beach.

Here’s a short video with some pictures & GoPro footage from the solo swim (click through to Vimeo for HD version):

Maui Channel solo swim from Evan Morrison on Vimeo.…

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Race Reports & Wrap-Up: Semana Nautica 2012

Race Reports & Wrap-Up: Semana Nautica 2012

Saturday, 30 June 2012, 9am. East Beach.
3-mile Ocean Swim
Water temp: 61F. Air temp: 65F.

The course: Bathhouse –> Stearns Wharf –> end of East Beach –> Bathhouse
Wetsuits = DQ
An unusual east wind gave us a nice ride to Stearns Wharf. But then the real fun started: A 1.5-mile grind against the current & a head chop. At this point I was leading by ~20 seconds.
First out of the water, 1:27 ahead of a 2008 10K Olympic Trialist.
Santa Barbara News-Press article, Part 1 (click to enlarge)
Santa Barbara News-Press article, Part 2 (click to enlarge)



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Guest Post: Abby Nunn on winning the 2012 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim

Guest Post: Abby Nunn on winning the 2012 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim

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? Apparently, she had been advised that “trying to maintain [a 6-beat kick] for 7-8 hours is counterproductive/a waste of energy, if not impossible.”

Some Forum members agreed with this sentiment. I did not. If someone has been 6-beat kicking her entire swimming career; 6-beat kicking in training; 6-beat kicking in the 500/1000/1650 pool events; 6-beat kicking in 5km open-water races; 6-beat kicking around Key West – why would she fundamentally change her stroke for MIMS? 

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Race Report: Reef & Run #1

Race Report: Reef & Run #1

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.
East Beach and Cabrillo Bathhouse. Photo by Flickr user Damian Gadal

Neither series distinguish between wetsuits and skins in the results – which is an argument I may never win.…

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Race Report: Point Bonita to Aquatic Park, San Francisco (Part 2)

Race Report: Point Bonita to Aquatic Park, San Francisco (Part 2)

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.

Point Bonita swim course
Swim course: boring Google Maps view

The tide tables showed a slack current at 7:29am, max flood at 10:33am. We set off around 9:15, I think? So there was already a pretty good push – sucking us into the Bay.…

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Race Report: Point Bonita to Aquatic Park, San Francisco (Part 1)

Race Report: Point Bonita to Aquatic Park, San Francisco (Part 1)

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.

This would be my coldest swim of more than an hour in duration; it would also be my longest swim in water cooler than 61F/16C (my four-hour MIMS qualifier in September 2010 was 61F).

And it would be my sharkiest swim. Sharks aren’t common inside the Bay, but Point Bonita is almost three miles west of the Bridge – solidly in the Red Triangle.…

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Joining the South End Rowing Club

Joining the South End Rowing Club

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.

Two outfits, the South End Rowing Club (SERC) and the Dolphin Club, organize most out-of-cove swim events in the Bay (Swim-Art should also be mentioned). The clubs are next-door neighbors in Aquatic Park and both buildings are open to the public.

The South End Rowing Club (L) and the Dolphin Club (R).


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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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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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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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