Dead Fish Swims

Dead Fish Swims

A “dead fish swim” is a swim that even a dead fish could finish. (Maybe not literally… but sometimes almost literally.)

This is a bit of local (SF) open-water swimming lingo that I wish would be more widely used (hence this post).

dead-fish

Dead fish swims require bodies of water affected by substantial currents — as fast or faster than “fast” swimmers swim. Let’s set the minimum current threshold for a dead fish swim (arbitrarily) at 2 knots.

Most of the organized swims put on by the Dolphin and South End Rowing Clubs in San Francisco Bay are dead fish swims. Coghlan Beach to Aquatic Park on a flood (the traditional route for the fall Inter-Club Triathlon) is a dead fish swim. Pier 7 to Aquatic Park (the most popular SERC “sunriser” route) on a big ebb is a dead fish swim.

Even the challenging Bay to Breakers swim is sort of a dead fish swim — until the last mile or so, when the current goes slack and you have to get around Seal Rocks and into the beach via actual swimming (and bodysurfing).…

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MSF panel ratifies five swims, endorses new world distance record

MSF panel ratifies five swims, endorses new world distance record

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—An international review panel ratified five marathon swims submitted to the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF) as part of the inaugural year of its Documented Swims program. The panel also endorsed Chloё McCardel as the World Record holder for Longest Unassisted Ocean Swim.

All ratified swims were independently observed, exhaustively documented, and conducted according to the highest standards of transparency and integrity.

This year’s review panel consisted of fifteen esteemed marathon swimmers from seven countries:

  • David Barra (United States) – Co-founder of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim and Triple Crown marathon swimmer.
  • Donal Buckley (Ireland) – Author of award-winning blog LoneSwimmer, MSF co-founder, English Channel and Manhattan Island soloist.
  • Anne Cleveland (United States) – Honour Swimmer, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
  • Sylvain Estadieu (France) – first male to swim the English Channel butterfly.
  • Elaine Howley (United States) – Co-founder of Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association and Triple Crown marathon swimmer.
  • Andrew Hunt (Australia) – Triple Crown marathon swimmer and 11x Rottnest Channel soloist.
  • Andrew Malinak (United States) – MSF Rules co-author and one of only three ever to finish all seven stages of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in the same year.


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A marathon swimmer for each month of the year

A marathon swimmer for each month of the year

A couple months ago, my Forum and Federation co-founder Donal (of loneswimmer.com) had the brilliant idea to create a Wall Calendar of Marathon Swimming:

MSF 2015 Wall Calendar

– to recognize outstanding photographs of (and by) marathon swimmers around the world.
– to render a ‘snapshot’ of the year in our sport — a sport that few ever witness, outside the small contingent aboard an escort boat.
– to raise a small amount of funds to offset the operating expenses of our website, marathonswimmers.org.

Donal posted a Forum thread soliciting images, fielded the submissions (over 100), and winnowed them to a mere dozen — plus one of his own, ‘The Channel Swimmers,’ as a cover:

'The Channel Swimmers.' Image by Donal Buckley
‘The Channel Swimmers.’ Image by Donal Buckley

 

The resulting set of images is (in my clearly unbiased opinion) stunning, and eloquently captures the peculiar beauty of our sport. The calendar can be previewed and/or purchased here:

http://marathonswimmers.org/msf/photo-calendar

The MSF 2015 Photo Calendar features an already-iconic image of Anthony McCarley on the beach near Cap Gris Nez, having just swum across the English Channel.…

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Mare Incognitum

Mare Incognitum

My feet are weary
of these callused trails.

Time to step off shore —

far from the machines
to watch the bottom fall away
and get tossed by the swells
to contemplate the abyss and find
where the sea meets the fog.

To immerse myself
fully in the journey.

Down there, do you see me? (Do you care?)
Am I going the right way? (Does it matter?)

The destination is hidden
and the arrival uncertain.

But I am nothing
if not patient.…

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Swimming out of the Devil’s Teeth: Observing history at the Farallons

Swimming out of the Devil’s Teeth: Observing history at the Farallons

By fortuitous circumstance, I’ve been fortunate to observe two out of the four successful solo swims in recorded history between the Farallon Islands and the California mainland.

In April, Craig Lenning stunned the marathon swimming world with the first successful Farallons solo in nearly 50 years (read observer report). And then 12 days ago, Joe Locke claimed Ted Erikson’s record on the longer, trickier course to the Golden Gate Bridge.

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I recently completed the observer report for Joe’s swim

Craig and Joe are two of the toughest swimmers I’ve ever seen, and I was honored to accompany them on their respective journeys.


The Farallons, a grim rocky outcropping at the edge of the continental shelf, are similar in land mass to Anacapa Island but more than twice as far out, across far angrier seas. They’re often visible on a clear day from San Francisco, especially from elevation, but I think most San Franciscans hardly notice them. Living in the Outer Sunset (which my girlfriend, a Farallon relay swimmer herself, jokingly calls the “Inner Farallons”), I can see them from my living room, and I watch them every chance I get. …

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Information Wants to be Free: Sandettie Lightship and the English Channel

Information Wants to be Free: Sandettie Lightship and the English Channel

(tl; dr — 10 years of English Channel weather data, in a single CSV file. And some fun charts.)

Weather can turn on a dime in the English Channel, and the dreams (and finances) of English Channel swimmers often turn on the weather.

sandettie lightship
Location of Sandettie Lightship in the English Channel

The most important source of information about that weather is a 156-foot lightvessel called Sandettie, which serves as both a floating lighthouse and a weather station. Here’s a nice photo.

Sandettie collects a variety of important meteorological data – air and sea temperatures, wind speed and direction, wave height and period, humidity, and barometric pressure. These data are then fed back to the UK Met Office, who publish the most recent 24 hours’ of observations on their website.

Anything before the last 24 hours are what the Met Office call “chargeable data” — at the rate of £6800 per 10 years, per two elements (e.g., air temp & sea temp). According to the today’s exchange rate, that converts to no less than $11,575 USD.

LOL! (And yes, I actually requested a quote from the Met Office.)

Just sayin': In the US, quality-controlled meteorological data are available from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center — for free.

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NOAA Buoy Cams: A (potentially) interesting resource

NOAA Buoy Cams: A (potentially) interesting resource

The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), operated by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, maintains a global network of data-collecting buoys that provide useful information for, among others, open-water swimmers in their vicinity.

I utilized NDBC data in my observer report on Craig Lenning’s recent Farallon Islands swim.

Recently, I noticed a new feature on the NDBC website: A few buoy stations now have cameras!

Granted, there are currently only 11 BuoyCams worldwide, most in locations people have never swum (and probably will never swim), but still: Potentially an interesting resource for marathon swimmers, if this program expands.

Current "BuoyCam" locations
Current “BuoyCam” locations

Just imagine: How cool would it be to have a camera on Sandettie Lightship? (n.b., that’s a UK Met Office buoy, not NOAA)

And if I were planning a swim from San Miguel Island anytime soon, I’d probably be monitoring this guy daily.

A sampling of BuoyCam shots from today (click to enlarge):

Buoy 46054: 38 NM West of Santa Barbara, California
Buoy 46054: 38 NM West of Santa Barbara, California
Buoy 41009: 20NM East of Cape Canaveral, Florida
Buoy 41009: 20NM East of Cape Canaveral, Florida
Buoy 44007: 12NM Southeast of Portland, Maine
Buoy 44007: 12NM Southeast of Portland, Maine
Station 51021: mid-Pacific Ocean, west of Kiribati
Buoy 51021: mid-Pacific Ocean, west of Kiribati
Buoy 46061: Between Montague & Hinchinbrook Islands, Alaska
Buoy 46061: Between Montague & Hinchinbrook Islands, Alaska
Buoy 32322: S. Pacific Ocean, west of Ecuador
Buoy 32322: S.


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