Hot Feeds Part 1

It has been suggested that taking warm/hot feeds during a marathon swim has more of a placebo effect than actually helping to keep a warm core. This may be technically true, I mean,  to what degree can 12 oz of warm fluid really warm 180 pounds of “pure muscle”?

Well, I can tell you from experience that when things are getting chilly, nothing feels better than hot stuff landing my stomach, and if feed time is set at 20 minute intervals, hot feeds can extend a swim by many hours.

With a luxurious support boat, a crew may be able to leisurly microwave each feed as needed. For a swim with more primitive support craft, a more creative solution is needed.

A few years back, I purchased a few 64oz Stanley thermoses. My feed plan consisted of having  my “muthalode” mixed to a 2X concentrated level, and my crew would add 50% hot water to the feed bottle just before feed time. This system is not without flaws, and has failed on several occasions. The problems I had were 1. the thermos failed to keep the water hot for the duration of the swim, and 2. complete failure of thermos.

Stage 3 of SCAR hit us with chilly water and a bit of a breeze. Since each swimmer had a kayak as their primary support, no hot feeds were available.

For Stage 1 of 8 Bridges last year, we experienced a unseasonably cold spell on the days leading up to the start, and as a result, the water temperature was a full 10 degrees F lower than predicted. Some quick improvisation enabled the crews to warm up feeds for the swimmers, but I ‘ve been planning to come up with a better solution since then.

So… it seems that we are faced with a choice between two options;                                                                   Option 1 – Crew mixes as needed and can control feed temperatures or;                                                     Option 2 – Pre-mix and decant into single serve bottles that can be loaded into a kayak or other support craft. The go-to single serve vessel seems to be a flip-top, wide-mouth, Rubbermaid bottle. They work great, but will not keep things hot.

What is needed is a single serve (12oz) thermal bottle… and I found one, but it is not without some issues. My next post will describe how I intend to address these issues, and also provide the cooling rate results of this bottle up to 10 hours.

 

Winter Snivel

February is typically the month where I like to turn it up a few notches and log a couple of big swim workouts. Friends have been posting workouts and photos from the full olympic schedule (including prelims) set, to the obligatory 100×100’s to Bill Shipp’s 30k in 3 days, to Suzie Dodds’ 24 hour relay, and on and on….

I was planning a 49x 100fly birthday set, but tweaked my back shoveling the mountains of snow out of my driveway that I couldn’t manage a single lap of butterfly, and crawled a very slow 2500yds recovery paced swim with (oh the shame) open turns.

The seasons snow totals have been rather impressive, and the x-c skiing has been great, but with the storms come pool closures and dicey driving conditions.  Local skiing is one of the reasons I live in the Hudson Valley, and when conditions are this good, I try to squeeze it all in. Regrettably this last week was a total bust for me. The third goal of my misery hat trick is a nasty bit of bronchitis (not quite pneumonia).

Well, I have my meds and seem to be on the mend…. still 11 days left, and 4 weeks until Eleuthera.

 

Memphremagog Revisited

In September of 2011, Phil White introduced the first Search For Memphre…. a 25+ mile swim from Newport, Vermont to Magog, Quebec. Lisa Neidrauer and I were crewing for John Humenik for what turned out to be a truly insane night. I think there were 11 or 12 swimmers starting at midnight against a 25 knot headwind. Kayakers were getting blown backward, the air temp was in the low 40’s, everything I owned was wet and the wind chill was brutal. Four swimmers made the crossing that day… Liz Fry, Greg O’Connor, Elaine Howley, and Charlotte Bryn… in what were some of the roughest conditions I’ve ever seen an event take place in.

Fast forward to 2012… 2nd Annual Search for Memphre and yours truly had  a spot  to swim. This year, each swimmer was assigned a 16’ aluminum boat with a 9.9hp outboard. No frills, and not easy for the crew. Mine were Rondi Davies and Christopher Stevens. Conditions were not bad for the first 2/3rds but the winds picked up to 20 knots toward the home stretch. This time a tail wind… fun for the swimmers, but punishing in tiny boats. Despite the gusts pushing us to Magog, this turned out to be the most difficult swim  I have completed….

The issue started on the Friday morning before the swim. I swallowed a couple of large multi vitimins while driving to meet Rondi, and found my water bottle empty. It was a good 45 minutes before I stopped for a beverage to wash down these pellets that were burning my esophagus. In retrospect… it was too late and the damage was done. At aproximately 6 hours into the swim it became extremely painful to swallow anything and I had to stop frequently to curl into a fetal position and apply pressure to my sternum. This offered a bit of temporary relief, and enabled me to plow ahead, but I continued to struggle with the pain and lack of nutrition for the next 9 hours.

THE GREAT SKATE

I didn’t know that nordic skating was even a thing until I received an email from Phil White inviting folks to visit the Northeast Kingdom and enjoy the frozen Lake Memphremagog. I think it was Lisa who planted the seed for an international “glide” from Newport to Magog with “I know where this is going?” …Thats it… 6 words is all it takes to inspire guys like Phil White to dive head first into the unprecedented challenge of trying to establish and maintain a 25 mile international skating trail.

I sold the idea to a couple of ski buddies, Erik Wightman and Dave Metzger, and the three of us ordered our skates, poles and assorted safety gear from a shop in Vermont. A few google searches and youtube videos later, we were ready to give it a go, I was surprised how easy it was to get started. The skates use a xc-ski binding, so with boots that were familiar and comfortable it was click in and go. We had a beautiful 1/2 mile stretch of black ice on the Rondout Creek in High Falls to work things out on, and after a one hour session, I felt like I was ready.

We arrived in Newport late Friday night for the Sunday morning event, so we had all day Saturday to get familiar with our surroundings and socialize with Phil and our Canadian co-adventurers. It was clear to us that the ice conditions would not be ideal, but we all remained optimistic… even with the overnight forcast calling for 6 inches of heavy snow. The plan remained to plow the path ahead of the skaters in the morning.

Well, it did snow, and it was heavy, but Phil fired up the ford and plowed away. We noticed that a bunch of skaters that we met on the lake during our warm-ups on Saturday were absent as were many of the other seasoned nordic skaters. Well… I honestly have come to never expect that getting to Magog is never going to be easy. The trail was in pretty good shape for the first five miles… up to the Canadian border, but then it was impossible to identify where the trail was. This was the moment of truth, and it looked like we would be skating back to Newport, but Phil fired up the ford, dropped the plow and headed blindly north. We stood watching him struggle through the heavy snow and when it became obvious that Phil was on a mission we followed Lisa’s lead. Magog or bust.

There were moments of absolute joy, particularly during the stretch of black ice north of Owl’s Head, but the majority of the trail was slow and difficult. A sharp focus just ahead had to be maintained the whole way to reduce the number of crashes which were most likely to occur whenever a small patch of heavy snow was encountered. Still… a bunch of us toughed it out and though it would be a stretch to say that I skated from Newport to Magog I can honestly say I stumbled the distance with skates on my feet.

Phil White the visionary… bravo, my friend! What will you think of next?

Black Ice under Owl’s Head
Black Ice under Owl’s Head
w/ Phil White
w/ Phil White
Grey Day
w/ Lisa Neidrauer

Magog or Bust
Magog or Bust

 

Eleuthera recap

The staff at the Island School/ Cape Eleuthera Institute all wear a lot of hats and have to be flexible. Clare and I headed to the boathouse for our 5 am rendezvous with Ron, and learned that Scott would be taking the first shift on kayak. Rachel (who was supposed to take the first kayak shift) was up very late taking care of a student needing medical attention.

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Our boat was loaded with kayak and supplies for the day… We only needed to board with our personal items and head for Lighthouse Beach. Ron held a course about 1/2 mile off shore. Traveling around 20 knots was smooth, and the ambient light of the full moon somehow made the air feel warmer. When we arrived at Lighthouse, Ron dropped anchor about 100 yards from the beach. There are some shallow coral formations that were hard to differentiate from the dark areas of turtle grass from topside, but once I goggled up, I could see quite clearly as I swam to the beach accompanied by Scott. It was now about 6:45… A few minutes later than the 6:30 start goal, but with my back to the low cliff, I was facing a full moon; bright white, beams shooting through the scattered clouds and striking the ocean in the distance. Behind me, and out of sight, I could sense the orange-red glow of the soon to be rising sun. What a production. The lighting crew here is top notch!

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I stood atop a plastic milk crate that just happened to be lying on the beach, raised my hand, lowered my arm as Scott blew a whistle to signal the boat that we were off. The low level of atmospheric light appeared to be magnified under the waters surface, and the features were quite clear as Scott and I pass through the narrow channel which (see figure 1) is very shallow, and separates the first detached rock from the island proper. Turn right…. Continue.

We hold a steady course at what feels to me like a quarter mile from shore on my right; Scott kayaking steadily along at my ten ‘clock; Clare and Ron in the boat… A 22 foot center console inboard-outboard with a t- top canopy. The bottom remains clearly visible in water that I guess ranges from 15 to 30 feet deep. The features alternate between clean sandy bottom, sea grasses, and coral heads. I see turtles, lobsters, tube sponges, sea fans, sting rays, friendly little colorful reef fish, etc. It’s a moving picture show I’ve become familiar with, so… Nothing really distracting, and no strong urges to interrupt the swim for a free dive to the bottom for a closer inspection. Onward. Before my 3 hour feed I notice the sea grassed bent acutely towards us. The ebb has begun a bit earlier than I guessed it would… But it was purely a guess, as the tide data locations are each more than thirty miles away, one on the east of the island, and one on the west of the island. From east to west there is about a 2 hour difference, so the theory is to calculate the distance from one of those points and take your best guess. Example…. Midway between the two: add an hour from the east or subtract an hour from the west. Yes, it’s crude, but since we are heading in a westerly direction, I expect the ebb to be longer than 6 hours. Still gives us plenty of time to finish with a flood.

Hour 4, and like clockwork, the transfer boat arrives with Charlie and Rachel. For a couple of minutes I swim ahead while Scott and Rachel switch out on kayak, but soon, Rachel paddles up to my left, Charlie and Clare keeping watch from “Dave and Di”, and Ron and Scott are heading back to the dock where I’m sure other duties await them.

I’m only marginally familiar with the distances and landmarks along the course on this stretch and I ask Rachel if we are approaching Bannerman Town. She lets me know that we are coming up on Davis Marina… Bannerman Town was way back. Davis Marina is 10.8 miles from where we started… half way at 6hrs 40mins. Two miles beyond Davis is Plum Creek. I vaguely remember swimming to a small wreck during a previous Total Immersion Swim Camp visit to Plum Creek, and Rachel confirms… We will be going right over it. Plum Creek is at about 13 miles from Lighthouse… Another mile and a half and we are passing Deep Creek. This is the last settlement we pass from Rock Sound until we arrive at the Island School. A few faculty members live here, and there are a couple of favorite establishments at the crossroad… Friendly Bob’s bar and liqueur store and Sharil’s Restaurant…No Swearing: No Hustling. http://www.discover-eleuthera-bahamas.com/sharils.html

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I’m not sure where we were when the next team change occurred, but I do remember that Jai was kayaking and Rob had taken over at the wheel while the ebb was still going strong. I recognized Diel Point by the monument standing tall. Things were starting to look familiar now as we were approaching the stretch favored for our early morning ” coach’s swims” from camps past. From Diel Point it was easy to see the Chub Point rock pile memorial. Up to this point, we have been moving through shallow water… Less than 40 feet, but now, Jai and I were at the edge of the canyon. To my left was the abyss and we traveled the knife edge for a bit before going deep. The sun was now pretty low in the sky, and the synchronized change in atmospheric light and my view to black was intense. Three silver trigger fish bumbled by… From a distance, i thought they were sunfish. I stopped to watch them pass. Large groups of pink moon jelly fish were bubbling up from the deep. Occasionally bumping into me and then tumbling away.

We passed Chub Point wide, and it felt like things were flooding now, but without a visual lock on the seagrass, I really had no point of reference. The shoreline here is very familiar and soon we would pass High Rock and Fourth Hole Beach. That iconic photo; fisheye lens of Terry Laughlin and me was taken right at High Rock. This one is at Fourth Hole: http://www.totalimmersion.net/open-water-camps

Scott and Rachel were heading out from Fourth Hole to join us for the home stretch… Scott swimming, and Rachel kayaking. I didn’t see Scott until he was right next to me, but I was able to anticipate their arrival as Jai was waving and raising his paddle as they approached. The green lights that I attached to the deck lines of the kayak were again visible to me, and I assumed that the green strobe on my goggle strap was equally visible. Night had fallen, but the bottom was again visible. It was hard to differentiate between the streetlights, marina lights and headlights. A large welcoming crew was waiting for our landing, and two of the school vans had driven close to the beach with their headlights lighting the finish. The flood was ripping around the point. We shot past the intended finish by about a hundred yards.

13 hours 41 minutes 55 seconds… A beautiful journey!
My exit through the rocky strip was surprisingly graceful… I had warned everyone not to be alarmed by what would almost certainly be a spastic-stumble-crawl to the beach. Better to prepare for the worst.

Rather than swim back to the boat, I opt for a van ride thinking I could probably be showered, dried off ,and dressed before the boat docks and unloads. Ron gives me the shirt off his back and the hat off his head for the ride. Karen delivers food… some delicious wahoo and pasta. I’m too tired to eat, but wake up early the next day and devour it all.

I got a bit burned. Perhaps the sunscreen was a bit past its best by date. Clare wants to go for a swim, and a little cool down swim sounds like a good idea. We do a few laps around the reef balls outside of the dining area and then swim north toward the CEI dorms. We swim into a group of 12 spotted eagle rays in four feet of water. They divide and swim around us… one bumps Clare and they swim onward. It’s a lazy day for us that goes by quickly, and a celebratory dinner at Sharil’s was the perfect way to gather all those who made the swim possible and talk about future plans to introduce this amazing place to more swimmers.

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So many thanks to an amazing crew!
Team coordinator: Karen Knight
Pilots: Ron Knight, Charlie Sandor, Rob Lloyd
Kayakers: Scott Aland, Rachel Shapiro, Jai Leal
Mixologist, observer, better half: Clare
…and to those responsible for introducing me to the amazing swimming world of South Eleuthera: Terry Laughlin, Justin Dimmell, Andrew Farrell, and Chris Maxey

Eleuthera update

We had a meeting yesterday afternoon to firm up a few details and address concerns.

WEATHER

The wind has been howling at nearly 20 knots. It is slowing down, and the forecast is still good for Thursday with 10 -12 knot winds from the north and wave heights less than 2 meters.

CREWS

Support will be divided in shifts. Clare and I will meet up with Ron and Rachel at the Island School boathouse at 5 AM. We will motor some 24 miles to Lighthouse Beach for a 6:30 splash. Sunrise is at 7:10, so we will start the swim with a few of the standard green flashing lights on my person and along the kayak deck lines. Rachel will be paddling. Ron will be setting the course.

At approximately 10:30, Charlie will motor out to meet us with Scott. Scott will take over kayaking, Charlie at the helm, Ron and Rachel will head back to the Island School. The third and final shift change will take place around 2:30, with Ron back, and Jai kayaking. Scott might stay on and join me in the water.

CONCERNS

There is currently a lot of bullshark activity in the marina at Powell Point. Clare and I went over there yesterday afternoon to check ‘em out, and there were a few swimming around. The final mile of the swim will pass through a couple of their hangout spots, so, Clare and I thought it might be a good idea to create a larger presence for the home stretch. There will be an additional kayak at Sunrise Beach for someone to paddle out and meet us.

The Cape Eleuthera Institute is planning to tag a few of the bulls in the marina this afternoon, so hopefully we will be able to watch the process. I’m excited about that…. The only other thing I have to do today is rest and stretch and keep hydrated!

Eleuthera

The seed was planted sometime in 2006 during the first Total Immersion Open Water Swim Camp. We were the guests of the Island School www.islandschool.org at an ideal location… Cape Eleuthera; surrounded be water. Every one of the staff has a strong relationship with the ocean, and it was Justin Dimmell who first proposed the swim as “wouldn’t it be awesome to….”

I’ve had the opportunity to explore a bunch of spots along the route during several OW camps and extended visits… the last in 2009, and though it has always been in the back of my mind, this swim has taken a back seat for a few years. The planets have finally aligned, and Clare and I are back at the Island School ready to give it the old college try.

THE ROUTE
I think it is best if a Marathon Swim is defined by certain geographical features, and this one easily complies. The southern coast line of Eleuthera terminates at Powell Point on the west and East End on the east. The swim will begin and end on land beyond these two points. 22 miles. The start will be just north of the eastern most contiguous point of south Eleuthera. There are a few detached rocks beyond, and it will likely be necessary for the boat and kayak to take the long way around, but I plan to thread the needle. The coastline runs parallel to the Exuma Valley where ocean depths exceed 5000′, and in one area, affectionately referred to as “shark alley”, the Valley closes in to less than a quarter mile of the shoreline. From here, it will be another 3 miles west to round Powell Point and land on Sunrise Beach.

THE PLAN
Though this is still a work in progress, I think we have most of the details sorted out. The winds have been from the south for the past few days, which has created a good amount of chop along the coast…not great, but the good news is that the forecast is for a 180 degree shift for the next few days, and it looks like Thursday, march 27 will be ideal with some overcast and air temperatures in the 70′s. Daylight is good, so the plan is to splash just pre-dawn and , hopefully finish before sunset. We will meet up at the boathouse at 5 AM. Clare will be handling my feeds and keeping stats. The remainder of the crew will be working shifts… Scott, Rachel, Jai on kayak, Ron and ? Driving the boat. Personnel will be transferred to location from the Island School dock by another of their fleet.

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La Traversee du Lac St. Jean

July 25th, 2012 at 11:41 AM (1757 Views)

Mental imagery…. I did much to prepare myself for this swim in Quebec by focusing… on details… yet unknown. Quiet time (too little in my life) meant: eyes closed; slow rhythmic breathing; details. One at a time.

Imagine: the water… color/clarity/temperature/taste/feel/movement the weather… wind/clouds the scenery… shoreline features/boats etc. When one arrives in a new place, there is always a comparison…. one by one real details displace the imagined.

THE COMMUTE
It is a 10.5 hour drive without traffic/ without rest stops/ without customs and immigration checks, and we left High Falls at 4 PM Thursday afternoon… you do the math. The sun was setting by the time we hit Montreal. The roads soon narrowed to two lanes and there was very little evidence of civilization for hours and hours. No lights, no cars, nothing. The few signs of life looked like camp sites so… I imagined that we were driving through a vast wilderness of lakes and forests. There was very little change in elevation. At about 3 AM Friday morning, we arrived in Roberval. A couple of motels, a hardware store, some fast food joints, and there… our hotel on the left. It was obvious that the lake was across the road; no lights, no reflection, but one could sense the water. There was a little confusion at the desk… check in for the 20th starts at 4PM. OK, check us in for the 19th we need to hit the sack. It took a little juggling, but 10 minutes later we were asleep.

MEET AND GREET
The highway forks onto a “main street”. La Traversee posters on the light posts mark the way. We pass the hospital, a few restaurants, banks, shops, offices… then a park, and just past that, an impressive complex that include a small cove with grandstand seating below an array of international flags. There is a triangular swim course set up… 500 meters per loop I am told; a blue floating dock with a touch pad bridge; another permanent dock with some workers attaching ramps. Behind that a couple of large white tents, and then… the Traversee offices. I enter the offices and am quickly met my Marie and Caroline and Roger. Roger takes us on a quick tour of the facility and gives us a little history of the event. Marie presents me with a copy of the local paper and tells me that a local news station will be coming by to chat in a little while… but until then the tour continues. On the dock, I meet The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Coach, Gilles Potvin. Monsieur Potvin has competed in La Traversee du Lac St Jean and a bunch of other professional marathon races that took place in the rivers that we drove past last night in the dark. We board his boat for a short tour of the finish and to take a few temperature readings. When we return to the dock, I have a brief interview. I find some of these questions difficult to answer… especially the whys. I think the “why do you want to do this?” question is more easily answered in the past tense.

FIRST DIP
I am anxious to get in the water, so I goggle up and jump in for a few loops around the triangle. It feels good. Cool 70ish degrees. The water is hard and translucent brown from the iron content (as per M. Potvin) but clear. I fall into a comfortable pace and suddenly there is a swimmer passing me. I match a few strokes and then quickly stop myself as another and another swimmer flies by. They were part of a group of swimmers attending a training camp in Roberval. Many would be participating in one of the races (1k, 2k, 5k) on saturday and are (or will be) national team members. Another of the swimmers that flew by washttp://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?…_van_der_Hulst ….crazy fast! Ian is swimming the pro 32k next week.
A couple of loops quickly turned into 3k… time to get out, dry off, eat, sleep, arrive back here at 4:50 AM to board the van to Peribonka for a 7 AM splash time.

PREP
I assembled a few bags of feed (5 scoops perpetuem/ 4 scoops endurolytes) and explained the system to Clare. Each baggie was to be mixed in a 1/2 gallon container (the motherlode). This mix consumed at a rate of 12oz/30min. Each 12oz mix would have an additional 2oz water added to it. I would get 2.5 hours out of each motherlode. Other feed items available by request.
I lay out my pre swim clothes, pack my post swim clothes, set the alarm and go to sleep.

GO TIME
We wake up, load the car, grab some coffee and head for the office parking lot. Everyone is there already and to my surprise, the van is filled up with women to see us off! Marie is our tour guide for the 90 minute drive and gives a bit of local history as we pass through a few rural villages, and over white water rivers. Its really beautiful and still.
We arrive at the marina in Peribonka a little early and the boats are being checked over and loaded up. My escort would be a small armada consisting of a 16 foot skiff with an 8.8 hp motor. Clare would be feeding me from this boat. There was a spare 16 footer with an extra motor on board. Also, a 25′ cabin cruiser with an EMT and a 17′ army zodiac complete with a rescue diver on board.
They gave me some instructions…. 3 buoys in Peribonka keep them on your right, right, and left. A countdown in french… I didn’t know where we were until they got to trois… and splash time! The start is actually up river to a buoy, turn 90 degrees to another buoy, 90 degrees and………

There is a small triangular island not too far from the start. I’m guessing its formation has something to do with where the rivers converge, and after that… there is nothing to see for a long time. The water was dead flat at the start which created quite a contrast with a minor chop that would accompany me for hours and hours. I tried to find a good stroke rate to accompany it, but sadly, it always felt just a bit awkward. The 16 footer Clare was in seemed to bob quite a bit. I could see her hanging on… not for dear life, but enough to try and stabilize. I started with a stroke rate of 68 for a couple of hours and then settled into 62. I did try to bring it up a bit several times, but it felt sloppy and since the water was a comfortable temperature, there wasn’t the need to try and generate extra heat.

So it went for hours and hours, feeding every 30 minutes on delicious strawberry-vanilla Perpetuem and plugging away toward Roberval.

THE HOME STRETCH
I asked Clare to alert me when we were 3 miles to the finish. I really had no idea of how far we had come or how far there was still to go. Gilles Potvin pointed out a water treatment plant and warned me, “you will be looking at that for a long time, but as soon as you pass it, the finish comes quickly”.
I tried to avoid looking at it and started to breathe on my left so to eliminate the temptation. I switched to feeding on chocolate GU for the last 2.5 hours. After 10 hours of milky bland Perpetuem, the sweetness of the chocolate was intense, but in a good way. I didn’t want to dilute it with water, and since the sprinkler system was working well, I felt adequately hydrated enough to forego additional H2O.

An additional support boat had come out. I assumed this meant we were close. Still breathing on my left, I was suddenly startled when I noticed a bunch of boulders a foot or two beneath me… I stopped… looked right… I was nearly on top of the breakwater that protects the little cove… one last buoy, and head for the touch pad.

THE FINISH
There were a good number of people waiting for me on the dock, including press, medical personnel, officials, and a bunch of young swimmers who I imagine swam one of the races earlier in the day. Many thanks to Gilles Potvin for bringing his swimmers to greet me! I took a long minute before walking up the stairs to the dock… making sure that I had “good legs” for a dignified exit. I was tired of course but felt good otherwise. A blue terrycloth robe was places on my shoulders, and I was handed a bouquet of flowers, and (as Clare and I were told is tradition) a most delicious square of fudge. Kisses, handshakes, high fives, congratulations… and we were off to the event hospital for a quick check up. Blood pressure; temperature; blood sugar…good, good, good. Off to a quick shower and then a sit down with the press for a few q’s and a’s.

THOUGHTS
The hospital and showers are all contained in the same building that the Traversee offices are in, and all within 50 paces of the finish. The efficiency of this organization is inspiring… the Gold Standard that I as an event director can’t possibly duplicate, but will do whatever I can to move toward. I’m not entirely surprised by this as I met Eric Juneau at the USMS sponsored Open Water Safety Conference and was quite impressed by his presentation.
I can’t recommend this event enough. It is a rare opportunity that an amateur swimmer can experience the professional atmosphere that La Traversee has created. I think every race director could benefit from a pilgrimage to Roberval.

http://www.traversee.qc.ca/index.php?id=1&lang=eng

…gotta go now, off to Finland and Sweden! more thoughts later

8 Bridges 2012 Stage 5

8 Bridges 2012

Approaching the Tappan Zee
Approaching the Tappan Zee
 June 29th, 2012 at 03:40 PM (1638 Views)

Its water that connects us.
Having just spent 4 days in or on the Hudson, and covering over 50 miles, its impossible not to look south at the river as it winds through the highlands and widens out (and will again narrow before we reach the NY Harbor) and not imagine the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Pass Breezy Point, NY on the port; ditto Sandy Hook, NJ on the starboard… hang a right, and a week or so you can be somewhere between Florida and Cuba. Penny Palfrey won’t wait that long. She is already well under way to Florida, with Cuba fading in the distance behind her.

Stage 5 of 8 Bridges is tomorrow. I am swimming! …so is Rondi Davies, Grace Van der Byl, and Elias Falcon… thats it, just the four of us. Neither Rondi nor I finished this stage last year; Rondi, deciding to take an easy day got out after 4 hours; I (intent on completing every stage) resigned after 9 hrs 30 minutes… battling the flood for three and a half hours and getting stopped dead less than 200 yards from the Tappan Zee Bridge. In the world of open water, this is commonly known as unfinished business.

I will attempt to take care of business tomorrow. There will be some dark moments…. it is expected to be in the 90′s, and water temps will be in the low 80′s for a good stretch, thanks to the Indian Point nuclear power plant… sucking our energy while generating energy.

I’ll be channeling Penny when things get rough, and draw some inspiration knowing that we are swimming simultaneously separated by a mere 1286.24 miles of water.

2012 Schedule

2012 Swim Schedule

  June 10th, 2012 at 12:19 AM (1175 Views)

Well, I’ve planned a season of mostly under the radar swims, but I’m still quite excited to explore some new venues, and (hopefully) revive some old ones.

My OW season opened in Arizona with invitations from Kent Nicholas and Gia Kolack to swim part of each of their lake series swims. Though there is a lot of overlap in each of their visions, each series is quite different and offers unique challenges. I hope they both are inspired to turn these into annual events.

Gia’s series consists of 6 lakes; 10 miles in each lake. The courses were marked out by GPS. From the starting point, the support boat would cruise out 5 miles and drop anchor. Swimmers turned around the boat and headed back to the starting point. Janet and I joined Gia for Roosevelt Lake on May 6th. It was the third or fourth lake in her 6 x 10 mile series.

On May 4th and 5th, we swam with Kent in Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake. These courses were determined by the lakes themselves, and we swam the lengths… dam to dam. the S.C.A.R challenge continued on to Lake Apache, and will conclude with a night swim at Lake Roosevelt.

I’ve been quite busy planning events in the Hudson, so haven’t gotten in any long swims since… a broken rib (slipped on the trail to Saguaro Lake) had me on the sidelines a bit as well, but… the show must go on!

2012 Swim Schedule

May 4th Saguaro Lake, Arizona +/- 9.5 miles
May 5th Canyon Lake, Arizona +/- 9 miles
May 6th Lake Roosevelt, Arizona 10 miles
June 30th 8 Bridges Stage 5, Hudson River 19.8 miles
July 21 La Traversee du Lac St Jean, Quebec 32k
July 28-29 Lake Inari, FInland 20k
August 4 Vidostern, Sweden 21k
August 21-23 Cape Cod Bay, MA 20 miles
???Sept 9 Memphre, Newport, VT 25 miles Committed 
???Oct ??????????????? (a few ideas in the works)

2 Bridges 5k and 2.5k Swim Under the Walkway

2 Bridges – 5k and 2.5k Swim Under the Walkway Edit Blog Entry

, June 3rd, 2012 at 09:56 PM

http://www.flickr.com/photos/4878240…7630020724192/
PLANNING
It was a few short months ago I was introduced to Gunter Spilhaus and was asked if I would like to put together an open water event as part of an outdoor adventure multi-sport expo in Poughkeepsie. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to plan another swim in the Hudson River, threw together a rough outline after laying out a theoretical course on google earth and enlisted Rondi Davies to co-direct the event with me. Time was short, as we were already past the 135 day deadline for marine event application submittals to the Coast Guard, so I made a few phone calls to see if the application would even be considered. I wasn’t told no… which is as good as I could expect, so… CG application, Safety Plan, USMS sanction application, CIBBOWS BOD approval, Entry Form submission, etc etc… full speed ahead. Fortunately much of the legwork and equipment would be provided by the Expo including tents and tables, t-shirts, food, P.A. system, land based permits, etc.

GEAR
I drove to Long Island to gather equipment that has been in storage all winter… kayaks, buoys, anchors, rescue equipment, marine radios; drove it upstate and took inventory. I decided to try and refine the buoy anchoring system a little so purchased some shackles, carabiners, and 1000′ of anchor line. SInce the average depth of the course is 55′, the anchor lines used at Coney Island would be too short. I supplemented the rescue equipment with rescue rings and a spinal board. Banners were ordered for my boat as well.

TESTING
Rondi is certainly the brains of our operation and excels at things like creating forms, and spreadsheets and calculating current speeds from tide charts… all the things that make my brain hurt. I’m good at things like moving heavy objects. Since the date for this swim was already set by the Expo, We (Rondi) calculated that an 11:30 start for the 5k would be optimal. The 2.5k would start 30 minutes later. A test swim a few weeks prior to the event on a similar tide confirmed Rondi’s predictions. I was happy that Hannah and Janet were able to participate in our test swim since they would both be in Iceland for the IGLA games during the event.

COURSE LAYOUT
Both events would take place on the same course… a rectangularish course that would wrap around the eastern stanchions of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge. Both roadways are over 120′ above the river, so it is quite an experience to pass through the shadow and then look up at the bridges under bellies. The course would require 7 buoys. One each 100 yards beyond the stanchions… south of the Mid-Hudson, and north of the Walkway. One at 25 yards east of each of the stanchions, one at 25 yards west of each of the stanchions. Finally, one buoy at 100 yards from the start. There is a 25 yard security zone around each of these stanchions, and we wanted to respect that. There are also a few cables running across the river bed, so care had to be taken when anchoring the buoys.
2.5k swimmers would enter the water at the Poughkeepsie boat launch, swim 100 yards to the turn buoy, turn 90 degrees south, swim around the Mid -Hudson Bridge stanchion and head north, swim around the Walkway Bridge stanchion and head south again until they reach the turn buoy again, then head east 100 yards to the finish. 5k swimmers would do 2 loops.

EVENT DAY
The forecast for event day worsened every day of the week prior, so much so that on 2 Bridges Eve, I was receiving lots of emails requesting race status. I hate the idea of canceling or postponing an event, and my standard reply was “unless there is sustained electrical storm activity, the event is on!” It rained on and off all night… I got less than 2 hours sleep listening to the rain and checking the radar weather maps every few minutes. I memorized Riverkeeper’s water quality testing charts with all the data for the Poughkeepsie area… how long after how much rain does the water quality deteriorate to a point where it would not be advisable to swim in????? Fortunately, this storm brought us no where near what I would consider questionable… I even put my wife Clare in the water! Rain continued into the morning and we were quite drenched setting the course. Swimmers began to arrive by car and by train. Four agencies provide us with marine patrol… Ulster County Sheriff’s Dept, Dutchess County Sherrif’s Dept, Poughkeepsie Fire Dept, and the Coast Guard. Additionally, we had my boat, a jet ski, and 13 kayakers on a course that is really easy to navigate.
The rain trickled off, and the sun even poked through shortly after the 5k began.

72 swimmers total… a good number for a “first time event”. It was thrilling to have so many aquatic friends come together in one of my favorite bodies of water. I think all the Hudson River newbys were pleasantly surprised by the water quality and the beauty of the Mid-Hudson region. It shouldn’t be hard to convince them to return!

Thank you to everyone who made this event a great success! So many helped with set up, course marking, check-in, timing, safety, operations, break-down, awards/prizes, etc!
Rondi and I couldn’t have done it without you!