Yesterday the South End Rowing Club of San Francisco and the Bondi Icebergs of Sydney officially became “sister clubs” as a delegation of visiting ‘Bergs joined us for a Tuesday morning Alcatraz swim.
In need of, I suppose, new challenges, I decided to attempt the swim using only sculling drill - both forward (hands in front) and back (hands by hips). I filmed the event with a GoPro on a head attachment.
I ended up resorting to a few strokes of backstroke (so as not to stretch out the support vessels), but for the most part I did it: Alcatraz to Aquatic Park… sculling.
Here’s 52-minute video condensed to just over two. Unfortunately the GoPro memory card reached capacity shortly after I entered the cove, so I didn’t capture the finish.…
Last month I crewed for Swim Smooth founder Paul Newsome on his victorious Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Though we had not met in person, Paul read my 2011 MIMS report and felt I could assist him in navigating the twists, turns, and tricky currents of the rivers around Manhattan.
It was a great honor and pleasure to meet and spend the weekend with Paul, his business partner Adam, his paddler Amanda, and all the rest of the Perth squad. They treated me very well, and I left New York City with a swirling headful of inspiring memories and new friendships.
I’ll defer to Paul’s story of his own swim. Instead, these are more general reflections on the experience of seeing MIMS from on the water – quite different, naturally, than being in the water.…
The swimming stroke is not unlike a golf swing: a complicated, interconnected series of fine and gross muscular movements. For the few who do it well, it appears fluid, natural, unified, and effortless. For most, the movements of swimming and golf can feel unnatural, difficult to integrate, and frustratingly unamenable to brute force.
Even those who have mastered the swimming stroke/golf swing can develop subtle technique flaws, of which they may not even be aware. One must maintain constant vigilance against these creeping flaws, ideally through a combination of mindful practice, well-selected drills, coaching, and video analysis.
One method I find useful in maintaining proper form and guarding against creeping flaws is: stroke thoughts. I didn’t invent this phrase or idea, but I define it as: simple, succinct technique pointers repeated subvocally (internally) while swimming.…
In “Stroke Count Games” and “A Better SWOLF Formula” I suggested a test set of 8×100, as fast as possible, holding a specific number of strokes per length (SPL), to hone in on your most efficient combination of stroke length and tempo.
I frequently do a modified version of this set as a quick tune-up before a competition or a challenging distance workout: 12×100 short-course, aiming for the following SPL on each rep: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Moderate, controlled pace on all – no more than 75%.
Obviously, the specific SPL goals will differ for each individual. For me, 15 SPL is my 400m/500yd race pace. 14 SPL is my 1-2 mile race pace.…
Last September I joined some San Francisco friends in Maui for a memorable few days of swimming and leisure (but mostly leisure). You may have seen the short video I posted a while back of my solo Maui Channel swim. Two days before the solo, I did the same swim with my friends in the annual Maui Channel Swim Relays.
So, this video has been a long time in the making. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing? Nothing beats the February doldrums like Hawaii (or at least, thinking about Hawaii).
The relay was loads of fun and mostly uneventful, with the unfortunate exception of our third swimmer getting tangled in a jellyfish (probably a box) only a few minutes into her 30-minute leg.…
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):
The blue whale is the largest known animal to have ever existed – up to 110 feet long and weighing nearly 200 metric tons. The whales are drawn to the deep waters off the coast of Southern California in late summer and fall to feed on krill (up to 40 million a day for an adult).
These magnificent, peaceful creatures were hunted nearly to extinction in the 20th century. Though still endangered, their West Coast population (estimated at 2,500) has been gradually recovering – to the delight of whale watchers… and swimmers of the Catalina and Santa Barbara Channels!
Check out this guy kayaking with them off Redondo Beach a few days ago. See, especially, the underwater shots at 1:12 and 2:15.
I’ve never been much of a museum guy – even less so when I was kid.…
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 quite enjoyed this video of Hallie H.M. swimming 26.2 miles down the Tennessee River near Chattanooga.
Hallie, who I Swam the Suck with last year, retraced the scenic 10-mile course but started further upriver, and then kept on going several miles further into the Gorge. The video, appropriately backed by Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” (ha, ha), is pure joy. Makes me regret I won’t be returning this year.
Here’s what Karah (Swim the Suck founder & race director) had to say:
She is a REAL trooper. No touching another human, no standing, no wetsuit. She did the real thing.
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?…
A coach recently alerted me to a couple non-canonical things I’m doing with my freestyle technique. Of course, I had no clue I was doing these things. It occurred to me that it’s been years since I’d seen my stroke on video (my brief appearance in the Swim the Suck documentary excepted). Actually, probably about 15 years – at least as far back as high school. What else am I doing that I’m unaware of?
Having multiple underwater cameras positioned at different angles is ideal, but can be expensive to set up. On the theory that something is better than nothing, I bought a small tripod to mount and secure my trusty Canon PowerShot, which shoots HD video. Then, it was just a matter of propping it up at the end of my lane and pressing the shutter button.…
In case you missed them on my Twitter feed, here are a couple videos I took at Sunday’s group swim at the Point. A few intrepid souls will continue swimming into November, but for many this was the last swim until spring. The air was chilly that morning – about 50F – and the water not much warmer at 58. But the main obstacles to swimming were the strong northerly swells, reaching up to 6 feet once you got away from the rocks.
Five of us (or so) got in for a short swim, but it was a little too wild for a trip to the pier. Ruth-Anne, the star of these videos, arrived later which allowed me to document her adventure from the comfort of warm clothes.…
This past week in Roberval, QC Canada, the best open-water swimmers in the world converged on Lac St-Jean for the FINA World Championships. The contested distances: 5K, 10K, and 25K. Team USA made an impressive showing: Eva Fabian (5K) and Alex Meyer (25K) took gold in dramatic fashion, and Fran Crippen took bronze in the 5K (and 4th in the 10K). Fabian, who kicked my ass ’round-and-’round the Miami Marine Stadium in April, was also co-leading the 10K until she was disqualified for missing the final buoy.
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.…