Poll

With only a week to go until I attempt Stage 7 of the 8 Bridges swim, three questions remain:

1. Will my nasty, impinged shoulders survive? My guess is, yes they will. Between my two best friends pictured below, a big rubber band and my physical therapist, I think I’m in with a shot;

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2. If my shoulders survive, will my extremely low-mileage training get me there? Yes to that too. Not sure how, but yes.

and the last and most important question is the only one to which I have no answer

3. What suit will I wear?

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Clockwise from upper left, we have

  1. the Toowoon Bay SLSC suit that I wore for my fizzled out Catalina attempt. This is the club my nephews and niece do nippers at in Australia, and I’ve swum there a few times. I owe this suit some redemption. It’s as comfy as can be but needs the straps shortened.
  2. a new Swimoutlet.com suit in a nice maroon color.
  3. a fairly worn out but comfy black suit with red piping around the edges. Possibly still full of pollen from the lake because the last time I wore it I got a rash on my chest.
  4. a new Speedo super skinny, super small buttocked suit that I bought recently, hoping I could wear it to even out my tan lines. It has a cut out waist. I don’t think my waist is meant to bulge out of the cutouts but it does.
  5. Sparkles the Red. Super comfy, sparkly. This suit has everything. I did get a slight under arm chafe wearing it for 3 hours yesterday.
  6. The Thunder from Downunder (this refers to my thighs, not my heritage). As worn in Kingdom swim and Swim the Suck in 2010. Getting a little worn out, but so am I.
  7. The White Suit.
  8. Rob Aquatics. Veteran suit. No futher explanation needed.

What’ll it be?

Hair

2 weeks out from 8 Bridges!! I took my miserable, sore, impinged shoulders to Ohio St late this afternoon for a change of scenery.

The water was much warmer than it had been at The Point the previous day, measuring about 67 in the ankle deep bit by the shore.

That wasn’t the only difference though. After a few strokes I felt something tangled around my fingers. It felt like a long hair in the pool.

HAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It wasn’t hair.

it was weed. But it felt like hair. Yuk.
After 3 miles I was covered in it. It was wrapped around my neck and in my suit.
Long, beautiful hair. Now I’m hairy high and low. Don’t ask me why…give me down to there hair. Let if fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

Weary and condemned by the years, I decided to celebrate Anzac Day 2012 by launching my open water season at Promontory Point.

Aside from my other two dips in the lake this year, this one was my first. It was a fairly grey, drizzly day, but the water looked relatively calm when I arrived at the Point around lunch time on Wednesday.

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I could see that fellow Point Swimmers, Andre and Greg were already at the second buoy when I arrived and made it my goal to be in the water before they got out.

I really can’t resist throwing in the thermometer before I get in and was glad to see the mercury getting pretty close to the 50 degree mark! Now THAT’S a rush! After 5 minutes or so of whooping and giggling I attempted to actually swim a little. my goggles fogged up completely every time I cleared them, so I ended up doing alternating breast and backstroke back and forth and around the first buoy.

Here’s a diagram of my route that I prepared using a satellite image of The Point and my primitive version of Photoshop (a printer, sharpie and camera-phone). I was in for 20 minutes and I think it took an hour to warm up afterwards. It didn’t help that I dropped my pants in a puddle of water while dressing. Thank goodness for heated car seats!

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It felt good to be out of the pool.

Never Leave a Woman Behind

So excited! So nervous to be doing the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim on January 2nd!

The Frogman Swim is a 5km race across a stretch of Tampa Bay that started off in Jan 2010 as a fund raiser for a wounded Navy Seal. In 2011, the swimmers will be raising money for the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, which helps the families of wounded or fallen Navy Seals.

The water temperature for the 2010 event was 58 degrees, and it doesn’t look like warming up at all for the 2011 swim. I’m planning on swimming sans wetsuit, a decision made easy by the fact that I’d have to lose about 10lbs to fit into my wettie (I own one, but I never wear it so it’s ok). After already being stuck in an 82 degree pool for 2 months, and with no opportunity to acclimatise myself except for having a cold bath, I’m nervous.

Fortunately, I’ve been assured by the race director that every swimmer has their own personal escort for the swim. I’m already having fantasies about being surrounded by Navy Seals, and am pretty sure I’m getting a whole unit as my escort. Here’s an action shot of them practicing our mid-swim stealth hot chocolate feeding:

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Navy helicopters chock full of Seals will be standing by in case I get too cold and need rescue:

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Anyone trying to draft in my wake will experience unexplained warm currents, but will also have these guys to contend with:

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Here’s hoping my body remembers my cold swims from September and October and I’ll make it! I’ll be wearing my new robaquatics.com swimsuit, so I’ll be stylish no matter what the outcome. So stylish, in fact, that I’m a bit worried I’ll be bombarded by affectionate Seals at the finish line and will be too exhausted to take my daughter to Harry Potter Land after the race……

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Seriously, though, if I don’t raise some more money for this worthy cause, my crew may well consist of

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To donate to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation in my name, please go to: http://www.imathlete.com/donate/AmandaHunt

Addendum

I’m still feeling great in the pool.

FEELING great, but not BEING great (and by “great” I mean mobile).

At around 7.30 last night, I retrieved Bill White’s Sewickley Seadragons Lane B workout from the trash folder of my email and headed to the pool, full of confidence.

The workout included two 800yd straight swims on a 14 minute interval. I haven’t done a straight 800 in a long time. In fact I don’t even remember the last time I swam that far without breaking it up with some elementary backstroke or breaststroke at some point. The 14 minute interval seemed nice enough that I thought I could just cruise. Merely completing the 800′s all free would be the goal of the night.

I did some drills during the warm up and felt pretty smooth. I really enjoyed the first 800 and remembered at about 300-400 yds into it that the longer the swim, the better I feel. When I landed, though, the clock said I’d taken 12 minutes and 35 seconds!!! I was horrified!! Even swimming slowly should have taken less time.

Bottom lip quivering, I launched into the second 800. This time I did as the workout suggested and swam every third 50 “fast” (hehe). Twelve minutes and 30 seconds later I landed, feeling like I was having a coronary. My heart rate was 105… I even did flip turns the whole time!

I’m really devastated by this slowness.

I’m still quite fat from my fruitless Catalina Channel swim weight gain and my bum circumference probably exceeds my wingspan by now.

I wonder how much speed you lose by being fat (and having most of that fat on your backside)?

When I returned home I looked on facebook to see if anyone had reported more tragic results than mine from the evening’s workout and noticed that Jim Thornton had consumed a healthy lunch of raw squishy things and some sort of macrobiotic excrement. Assuming he didn’t soil himself during the workout, I’d be willing to bet his 800′s were a lot faster than mine!!!

I made a list of things that I’d eaten during the day to see if I could blame my poor performance on fatness and diet, but all I’d eaten prior to swimming was:

1 cupcake;
2 plates of leftover breakfast sausage and mashed potatoes;
1 toasted ham and cheese sandwich;
2 bowls of full fat Greek yoghurt with honey;
1 large cinnamon roll;
1 bowl hamburger helper; and
2 bowls of apple sauce with caramel sauce on top.

At a complete loss and feeling quite depressed I ate three Trader Joe’s chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, a packet of flaming hot cheetos and a diet coke.

I’m changing things around today and drinking extra coffee. I’m on my fourth cup of espresso now. I think I’ll do the same workout and see what happens.

Relativity

It’s about five weeks since I ended my post-Catalina sulk and crawled back into the primordial soup that fills the pool at Edward Health and Fitness Center.

I’ve never been fast, but marinating in the lake all summer turned me into more of a barnacle than a swimmer.

For the first couple of weeks of my “return”, I averaged about 1m 35s per 100 SCY. That’s swimming time, not total interval, and with a rest of about 25 seconds in between each 100!!

I felt slappy and uncoordinated, and would have looked it too, had my practices not been performed in secret.

I’ve got a history of being a giver-upperer, but this time was different. I persisted with my agonizingly ugly workouts and finally made a breakthrough this week!

I went to the pool last night after eating a roast chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. 2000 yards seemed like a goal and I did 4 x 500 yds of swimming. The first 500 was half drill, the second was half backstroke, but the third was 500 yards of real swimming all in a row! all 500 yards joined up end to end!! I don’t remember the last 500 because I was dizzy.

Today was even more magnificent. I swam an actual Sewickley Seadragons, Lane B workout, and stuck to the intervals-for the first time in well over a year. There were 400′s and 200′s. I made one of my 200′s in 3 minutes!

Going from stationary to merely prodigiously slow never felt so good.

A Clayton’s Season

2011 was a strange open water season for me.

I knocked back a chance at doing the Memphremagog and the Ederle swims, pinning all my hopes on Catalina. Catalina didn’t work out this time, and as a result I’ve been moping and thinking 2011 was a complete failure.

Not so!!!!

After much delving I’ve been able to dig up some wonderful memories of my 2011 aquatic season including an unconventional marathon swim or two. My memories are a little fuzzy, 2011 already being about seven times the length of a conventional year (2011, the Dog Year?), but here goes.

After floating around in the 50-odd degree lake for most of June, I headed east to Maine to celebrate the nuptuals of KGirl and swim the 2.4 mile Nubble Light Challenge. The Nubble swim was first done in 2010 and was apparently very cold indeed. I was quite nervous going into the swim but on the day the water was 65 and smooth. It was wonderful! I loved swimming around the headland between the mainland and the lighthouse I’d only ever seen before as a non-swimmer tourist. I think I ate 7 lobster rolls on the weekend I was there and had a really fabulous weekend. Can’t wait to go back!

Here’s a photo of the Nubble course:

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and a picture of the lighthouse:

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The remainder of July and August were uneventful. Lake Michigan was very very warm in 2011 and I spent those months at Promontory Point in high 70′s water. Very strange for the lake. I even developed a rash…..

On 1st September I swam what was to be my first and only “marathon” swim of 2011 (and calling it that is really pushing the definition).

I drove to Promontory Point at the devil squealing hours of the morning and swam a mile in the dark. A mile at Promontory is one loop to the pier and back to the ladders. I was the joined by the usual 6am Point swimmers group and we did another mile. The sun was now up and I did a few more mile loops, feeding at the ladder and lurking around the 2nd buoy to see if I could find the watch I’d dropped down there two weeks prior. I got out a few times at the ladder to take some photos and play a few moves at Words with Friends, just to keep from getting too bored

The water was pretty calm until about mile 9-10, when it developed the disorganized, washing machine type chop that we’re pretty used to at the Point. I felt pretty good until mile 12. I was joined by Vivebene, thank goodness, because mile 12 felt rotten. Miles 13 and 14 felt great though. I called it quits after 14 loops because I was kind of bored and needed to go to the toilet. So that was it, I guess. THe water was 78 degrees when I began in the dark and possibly a little warmer when I finished.

Here’s the Point, as it usually looks:

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A week later I did a 15k yard workout in the pool and felt surprisingly good.

Two weeks later I returned to the Point. Back pain defeated me that day and I drove back to the ‘burbs after 8 miles. I took some Advil and finished another 8 miles in the pool for a total of 16 miles. At least the lake was 65 degrees that day so, aside from back pain, I was able to enjoy the water!

Three days later I swam Big Shoulders and didn’t come in as slowly as expected. It was probably one of my most enjoyable Big Shoulders, as the water was 65 and quite smooth. I’ve finally identified the building to sight off on the second leg of the triangle. Better late than never.

Here’s a photo me with some of the 6am Promontory Point swimmers who left our little south-side sanctuary to swim in the race:

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Late July/early August saw an unexpected trip home for a family funeral :(

While I was there I did some swimming at the Entrance Baths, a 50m sea water pool cut out of the rock platform at the end of The Entrance Beach (just north of Sydney). I was also able to swim off the beach at Toowoon Bay, where my nephews and niece do nippers. Such a beautiful place, it was more like snorkeling than swimming! I lurked around the area where the blue grouper supposedly frequented, but didn’t see him. The people at the surf club might have been pulling my leg about that one! The surf lifesavers in this photo were practicing rescues with their zodiacs the day I swam.

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Although I didn’t have time to swim, I was able to go for a quick visit to my place of origin, Freshwater Beach. This is where I was hatched and where I’d like to be flung after I die. I suppose I should be cremated first.

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My last swimming experience before leaving Oz was a paddle at the famous Bondi Beach and then 1000m at Bondi Icebergs club. I paid $6 to swim in the 59 degree water (watched by a row of crabs on the pool deck) and then had a sauna. The weather couldn’t have been better. There was practically no surf and I could see someone swimming across and back between the headlands just inside where I assume the nets were. I wasn’t brave enough for that :)

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Aside from the Catalina crewing adventure and attempted swim, that’s it for 2011!

2011: the season you have when you’re not having a season. Bring on 2012, please!

The Leap

Before I forget the details, I’d like to jot down a very brief account of my very brief attempt to swim the Catalina Channel. This is mainly for my records.

I didn’t make it all the way across this time.

Personally I’m actually very encouraged by my experience, but I feel bad for my crew who went to enormous lengths to help me out on what turned out to be a short swim.

In brief, I think I only swam a little under an hour and a half.

Although the water was about 63 (my guess), glassy, and the air about 60, I got very very cold to the core. I can normally warm myself up after an hour, but was unable to do so even with the warm feeds my wonderful crew was throwing at me. I started shaking uncontrollably after an hour, something I’ve never experienced in act of swimming (after getting out is another story). It scared me. I couldn’t kick properly, which for me means I couldn’t swim. I really didn’t think I was going to be able warm up at that point. I am sorry to say that I bailed. All I wanted to do was go home and see the kids.

I know now I probably would have been ok if I’d stayed in and swum hard for another half an hour. “What ifs” are a waste of time though.

I regret getting out of the water, but I’ll never regret getting in.

I’ve had a pretty rough year. Those close to me know why. Although everything has turned out well, I’m exhausted and still recovering from a lot of stress. I’m not sure if it made any difference, but I experienced several sleepless nights with night sweats prior to my swim. These are not excuses, but possible contributing factors to my not coping with a temperature that I could normally settle into for a good, long swim. I don’t like to analyse too much, but my guess is that my mind, body and heart had just had enough for 2011 and chose a really expensive time to let me know.

My swim:

Prior to the cold part, I enjoyed a very unique and wonderful swim from the Bottom Scratcher to the shore at Doctor’s Cove on Catalina Island and back again.

For those not familiar with channel swims (myself until very recently!), the swimmer most often jumps from the pilot boat, swims to the nearby shore of the starting land point, clears the water, then begins the swim by reentering the water.

Jumping in was easy, but then I’m the person who jumped off a bridge in New Zealand about five minutes after bungee jumping was invented, just because I had a crowd chanting “jump” at me.

I knew I was jumping (well, flopping) into a thick sea of kelp. It was very clearly visible under the full moon and I knew to expect it. The kelp was interesting. I thought I’d be afraid, but it felt good. The weed was so thick that I swam head up towards shore, getting used to the experience. The stems wound themselves around my arms at each stroke but were easy to unravel. I used the kelp to pull myself forward many times. I could see a dancing shadow on the shore (the pilot boat had a spotlight on the beach) and thought perhaps it was a sea lion. I said as much to my kayaker, Beth and we agreed, but then had a laugh when it turned out to be the shadow of her paddle.

The water felt lovely. Not cold. Very soft and welcoming.

I swam to the shore at Doctors’ Cove, walked on the smooth pebbles until they were dry, raised my arm and then walked back towards the water. It was dark but only one night before the full moon. There was sparkling light everywhere. When I reached the waterline I dropped my arm to indicate the swim had started.

My swim began. I was facing the moon and the shining water. Once the Bottom Scratcher turned off the spot light I felt like I was in an aquarium. There was nothing frightening about it. It was simply wonderful. I had time to consider what I’d do if I were to become afraid. I followed the advice of fellow Point Swimmer, Ted Erikson and closed my eyes. It didn’t make any difference because I wasn’t scared. I had no need to sight because Beth’s kayak was festooned with glowsticks, but I chose to do so on a few occasions because of the beauty of the water in front of me.

The best part of my swim was the chance to see some friends that I’ve really missed lately. I also made new friends. Swimmers are without doubt the best people I know.

Thanks:

Evan Morrison: I treasure you. You have no idea.

Robbie D: the best warmer upperer of sobbing swimmers ever! I’m sorry if I snotted your beard. xxx
ps I feel like bailing a swim again just so I can have a cuddle.

Michelle Nelson: came all the way from Florida to help a friend. much love from Chicago xxxxxxx you are doing an extraordinary job with your kids

Sue Free: thanks for coming all the way from San Francisco!

Beth Barnes: SO glad I got to sign the paddle!

Lynne Driscoll, Anne Cleveland, Liz Fry, Randy Nutt, Leigh Ann Doherty, and many more… have been so lovely and helpful. None of this is lost, despite the DNF.

I’ll be back for another attempt. i might try something else next year just for a change, but I’ll be back.

The Captain’s Log

On Wednesday, August 24th I was privileged be part of the crew for Evan Morrison’s (Evmo’s) solo swim from Catalina Island to the mainland.

It was the first time I’d ever crewed for a swim and, with my own Catalina swim just around the corner, a great learning experience. In the incredibly short time it took Evmo to swim the channel, I was able to familiarise myself with the pilot boat, the Bottom Scratcher, and see first hand the work that goes into putting on a successful (or unsuccessful!) marathon swim.

Most of the swim took place in the pitch dark in some fairly lumpy seas. I was pretty queasy and didn’t take many pictures until the sun rose. Here’s my view of what went on:

Congratulations to Evmo on an amazing swim, and thanks for letting me be a small part of it!