Iron Mike's Marathon Swims Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anyone.

Announcing the World Release of Iron Mike’s Dry Land Swimming Program

April 1, 2015 | Humor, Swimming Equipment | Permalink

A select few of you dear reader(s) know what I’ve been working on the past year or so. To you all, I thank you for maintaining the secret. I knew you were the ones to trust. And without further ado, let’s get on with the announcement!

Today I am pleased to announce the world release of Iron Mike’s Dry Land Swimming Program(), also known as IMDLSP! IMDLSP is an innovative program to improve your open water swimming performance when you don’t have access to a traditional swimming area. Stuck in a land-locked country with unclean water? IMDLSP! Deployed to the Middle East and stuck in your forward-operating base? IMDLSP-Fobbit version! Just too tired to leave the house? IMDLSP with Equipment!

For too long, swimmers were stuck to certain geographical areas of the world, slaves to the elements. IMDLSP opens up the world to swimmers. No longer will you be stuck to living in over-priced beach-side villas, or in the ‘burbs with the accompanying pool and recreation center. No longer do you have to worry about others swimming in your lane (unless you want…more on this aspect of IMDLSP in a moment)! No longer will annoying kids or noodling grandmas take over the only swim lane in  your crappy little 20 yard neighborhood pool. You have been set free! Sure you could just do dry land training, but how many of us have dumbbells lying around?

IMDLSP‘s key is its use in any location. All you need is a DVD player or computer and about two square meters of space. And after you’ve used the DVD program a few times, you don’t even need the disc! (But we’ll give you reasons why you’ll want to keep the DVD for future practices; see below.) The DVD is the basic component of the program, but we here at Iron Mike Products have options in case you want to advance your open water swimming to the next level! But first, let’s talk about the DVD.

The DVD is region-free, meaning anyone, anywhere can use the IMDLSP! Here’s a look at the chapters in the DVD:

  • Introduction
  • Improve your freestyle for open water!
  • The start
  • Swimming in groups
  • Feeding and nutrition
  • Mistakes to avoid

But I’m sure you want to see what you’ll get for your money! So here are some actual screenshots from the DVD.

Screenshot from the chapter Improve your freestyle

Screenshot from the chapter Improve your freestyle


Screenshot from chapter on Swimming in groups


Screenshot from chapter on Feeding

Screenshot from chapter on Feeding

Bonus! Chapter on unique problems in long open water swims, like changing out of your wetsuit

Bonus! Chapter on unique problems in long open water swims, like changing out of your wetsuit

How about that, right?!  Wow! You probably want to order the IMDLSP now, but wait, don’t rush to the bottom of this post. There’s more!

If you act right now (the computer knows when you’ve gotten to this point, so you have only 10 seconds to comply), we’ll throw in one dry land swimming table like you see in the screenshots!

So, to review: You are getting a DVD complete with open water training that can be completed anywhere, anytime! But there’s more. Included in the IMDLSP is one throw, knitted by my grandma, just like in the screenshots.*

And I didn’t want to mention this yet, but I will. Very soon IMDLSP 2 will be available! For the real crazy open water swimmers out there. If you’re planning a 24+ hour-long open water swim, you’ll need to consider things like logistics, advanced feeding, extended exposure to salt water, social media, compiling a team of sycophants, acting, dealing with the media, and turning your swim into an off-Broadway play.

Here’s the best part. Buyers of IMDLSP will get first notice of the release of IMDLSP 2 as well as a 10% coupon! You cannot beat that deal!

So, hesitate no longer! Call today:  +996 01 555 7IM DLSP. Have your credit card ready (we only take Diner’s Card). We’ll tell you the price when you call. Don’t worry, you can claim the expense as part of your crew costs!

*Restrictions apply. Grandma only made one. It may already be sold when you call. Or thrown up on by the cat.

Here we go again

March 20, 2015 | Humor | Permalink

The publishers of Marie Clare magazine have voted on and published the “8 Greatest Moments for Women in Sports.” I rushed off to the website hoping beyond hope that Chloë McCardel’s historic longest ever unassisted swim would make the 8. After all, she swam 77.3 miles without any assistance, wearing only a standard textile swimsuit, goggles and one swim cap. She never touched her support boat. She never had help putting on any shark-deterring suit or creams, she never had help eating or drinking, she never got on her support boat due to sharks or lightening. She swam straight for 41 hours, 21 minutes.

Alas, no such luck. The folks at Marie Clare magazine did include a female open water swimmer in their list of 8 greatest moments for women in sports. Sadly, that woman is Diana Nyad.

Let’s get one thing straight. DN did an amazing thing, both in the water, and in the field of logistics. She did spend an incredibly long time in the water, 53-something hours. She did swim for most of that time, or all that time. Who the hell knows; she didn’t have an impartial observer. But I do believe she spent the vast majority, probably 40+ hours, of her swim actually in the water. If she spent the entire 53+ hours, then she’s probably done the longest assisted swim, or one of the longest. Who the hell knows; she didn’t have an impartial observer & her swim documentation is seriously lacking.

But to put DN in the same list with the likes of Billy Jean King, Nadia Comaneci and Mo’ne Davis is to lessen the accomplishments of the other seven. And why did MC put DN in that list? Crappy journalism, certainly. It takes work to actually read up on the sport of marathon swimming, then researching the spirit of marathon swimming and what that means, the rules, the people. It is much easier to simply search for amazing female swimmers. Why didn’t they find McCardel? Why not Janet Evans and her amazing 800m in 1988 [link Youtube video…ignore the hokey music, but look at her swim!]?

As if you need anymore evidence to their crappy journalism, check out some of these doozies that the editor didn’t catch:

Who could you forget Nyad?

…San Antoni Spurs are so effing lucky.

…she made that ocean her beotch.

This is what passes for journalism nowadays. Oy.

The ice has melted!

March 13, 2015 | Humor, Swimming Anthropology | Permalink

This is what my pool looked like a couple months ago.

frozen pool

Dear reader(s) remember that those bottles are Kyrgyzstan’s answer to draining pools during the winter. Those empty soda bottles contract when the ice expands. I paid about $20 for specialists to come in and winterize my pool. Maybe next year I’ll just do it myself. (Granted, I am supporting the local economy, so maybe next year I’ll just pay the 1000 som.)

Well, weather has been pretty nice lately, so here’s what the pool looks like now.


Look at those little guys floating around in the corner. So ready to get them out of there and do some swimming! Although we had snow just yesterday, and I just found this when I looked at the pool really closely.


That looks disgusting. And I don’t think I want to swim in that, even if the water did warm up higher than its current 38F. I’ll have to pay the gardener to get those experts back soon to clean the pool and make sure the pump is working because I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this one from jumping in.


Best commercial ever!

March 12, 2015 | Humor | Permalink

Someone had this posted on their Facebook, and I must say I wasn’t even going to play it. But since it was one of my OW swim friends, I thought it might be worth the two or so minutes of my life that the video will take from me.

I did my best searching the Interwebs for this Marco character. My bet is on this simply being a fictional character, a commercial filmed to look like it was recorded years ago. It’s a cute story and fun, with a bit of OW swimming in it.

But most of all I like it because it features two of my favorite things: Open water swimming and shaving my chest beer! There’s nothing like a Guinness after a swim. Dedicated dear reader(s) will remember that my first stop after my first 10K in Dartmouth, UK, was a local pub, where I think I went through two pints of Guinness. You know, to refuel the carbs I’d lost to that 14C water!

Things you can’t do in sub-zero weather…

January 31, 2015 | Humor, Swimming Anthropology | Permalink

…that you normally do in more agreeable weather.

Went to the pool last week when it was about 14* F outside. As usual, I’d left my swim stuff in the car. My suit was stiff with some white spots on it, and my sandals were frozen shut. I wear Adidas water sandals, the kind with a velcro fastener over the top of the foot.


I have the familiar Speedo swim bag, and I put both of my sandals in the small “wet” pocket in the bottom front of the bag. That strap over the top of the sandal got squished on both, and when I pulled the sandals out of my bag so I could enter the locker room, I had to pry those straps open. I barely got my toes into the sandals and was walking like a geisha girl into the locker room. Recall, dear reader, that here in the former Soviet Union, one does not enter a locker room with one’s outside shoes on!

So I figured I’d solve this little problem of mine. I lined the back of my Rav4 with cardboard and after the next swim I laid my towel and suit out flat. I put the sandals on there too. At least the towel and suit will freeze-dry flat. Well, here is the result of my equipment sitting in the back of a car in 10* F.

frozen sandals

The towel was pretty stiff, too. Thankfully, by the time you go through the requisite steps of taking off your jacket and hanging it on the hook matching your locker number, taking off your outside shoes and putting them either under your jacket or in a cubby or in a plastic bag, and putting on your swim sandals, your towel and suit are defrosted.

In my occasional series of Swimming Anthropology…

January 29, 2015 | Swimming Anthropology | Permalink

So today I swam a nice comfortable 3000m at Kalipso after my 3800m killer workout a couple days ago. It felt great. I shared the lane with another chap during my warm-up, then he left and I had the lane to myself.

I like the pool. Small, dank, little-to-no supervision. Only two lanes, sure, but rarely full (I just jinxed myself). Sharing the same space/water is a wide “lane” attached to an area like a lagoon. Hard to describe. But it is a shallow area, with a bridge to a hot tub. Some of the noodlers/babushkas hang out over there trying their damnedest not to get their hair wet.

There is a spout underwater over in that shallow area that pushes a huge amount of water out. It points across the two lanes that I swim in. When I hit that current, I have to swim to 1 or 2 o’clock to keep straight. It is really good practice for open water currents.

Well, today I saw something odd. Thus the swimming anthropology designation of this post. A Kyrgyz dude, who was swimming next to me, a serious swimmer I think, judged solely on his using pull buoys and paddles and fins (first seen for me), was using the jet to massage his big old belly. For minutes. Each time I swam by, he’d be moving his belly through the jet, as if that would make it disappear. It reminded me of those scary slo-mo’s on television showing some fat guy running for a beer, waves upon waves rolling over his ample flesh. I finished a couple 300s and then he was gone.

Then, a Kyrgyz junior babushka-in-training stood in front of the spout/jet. She had her bathing suit pulled up her butt-crack and was putting her butt cheeks in front of the jet, as if to massage herself. She did this literally for 15 minutes. I know because of the sets I was doing. And it was hard to miss her as the only other person in the pool at the time and her massaging happening only five feet from me.

She massaged herself that entire time. Each time I passed, she was emphasizing a different buttock and thigh each time. I don’t know if she stopped because the lifeguard turned off the spout or if she has control over the spout. (I haven’t yet checked it out.)

I never saw this in Moscow. Granted, I swam at a serious pool (home of the 1980 Moscow Olympics) and always swam in a center lane. Perhaps I was missing something on the ends, near the powerful spouts? Should I try this aquamassage?

The Story of Toru-Aigyr/Тору-Айгыр

January 26, 2015 | Grand Plan | Permalink


On the shore of lake Issyk Kul lived a small boy, an orphan, who at birth was named Bakyt, almost in mockery because Bakyt means happiness in Kyrgyz. This boy’s parents died while he was young. He himself expected a quick death from starvation, but a rich neighbor felt for the boy, and, more importantly, wanted the land of his dead parents, so he adopted the boy and sent him to work in the fields of his dead parents.

Bakyt slept with the cattle and ate whatever fell from his adopted father’s table. When Bakyt turned 17, his adopted father gave him a half-dead foal as a gift for all his hard work over the years. All the master horsemen in the village predicted the imminent death of the foal, but Bakyt took care of it and the foal turned out to be a beautiful chestnut pacer horse. Bakyt so impressed his adopted father that he entrusted Bakyt to caring for his large herd of horses.

Bakyt not only protected the herd from blood-thirsty wolves and horse-thieves, but he also trained them for jumping and other equestrian competitions. All of Bakyt’s horses were good horses, but the best of them all was the skally-wag foal he raised. In all competitions, that horse won first place. Bakyt named his horse Toru-Aigyr.

Big money was offered for Toru-Aigyr, but Bakyt refused to sell him. The horse was his friend. Likewise, the horse lived for Bakyt. Toru-Aigyr could identify Bakyt from a great distance. And when his owner was sad, Toru-Aigyr would make him feel better.

One night, a black soul came and knocked Bakyt out with a large club, almost killing him. When he came to, he realized his trusty steed was missing. He searched everywhere for Toru-Aigyr, but could find him nowhere. Bakyt and the villagers realized Toru-Aigyr was gone for good.

Meanwhile, on the other side of lake Issyk Kul, a handsome horse fought for his freedom. The herdsmen on the southern shore of the lake could not keep the horse under control. They decided to hobble the horse, to keep him from escaping. One night, the guards fell asleep, and Toru-Aigyr decided to run north, where he knew his friend Bakyt was. It was hard for him to run because of his legs being hobbled. The guards woke and gave chase, catching up with the horse just as he arrived at the southern shore of the lake. The guards called him back, but Toru-Aigyr ignored them and jumped into the lake.

Toru-Aigyr swam to the northern shore. The swim was difficult for him. The salty water rubbed against his fetters, his muscles ached, waves rolled over him, filling his ears, yet he continued to swim. Finally, with his last effort, Toru-Aigyr reached the shore, giving out a loud neigh, to call out to his friend Bakyt.

Bakyt heard the call of his friend and rushed to the lake, where he found Toru-Aigyr. He wrapped his arms around the neck of the horse, shouting with joy. But the journey was too difficult for Toru-Aigyr, and with two tears running from his beautiful brown eyes, he fell down dead at Bakyt’s feet.

To this day there is a village on the place where the horse died named Toru-Aigyr.

Why do I tell you, dear reader(s), this fairy-tale? I think this might answer your question:

Toru-Aigyr swim route

Toru-Aigyr swim route

Akhmed Anarbayev/ Ахмед Анарбаев

January 21, 2015 | Grand Plan, Swimming Anthropology | Permalink

Ахмед Анарбаев

Ахмед Анарбаев

Learned of this gentleman from our local embassy doctor. He lives somewhere here in Kyrgyzstan (not in Bishkek, as Wikipedia says), and the doctor has promised she’ll introduce me to him the next time he’s in the city.

The exciting part of this is that Mr Anarbayev apparently crossed lake Issyk Kul some years ago in 1982. His route took him 35 kilometers in 11 hours, with a tailwind, in 16C water. I intend on interviewing him so I can get some details, in English, on his accomplishment.

Anarbayev on the left.

Anarbayev on the left.

In 1968, he represented the USSR at the Mexico City Olympics, but didn’t make the finals in the 400 free. In 1970, he improved on his performance with a silver in the European Championships. In 1991, he and some other Kyrgyz swimmers attempted to repeat Lynn Cox’s historic swim from the USSR to Alaska. The water was 6C, and the group were not allowed to swim. In 2001, he took part in a Bering Strait swim.


He is also the organizer of an annual open water festival at lake Issyk Kul. The tournament consists of a few short events, 50 and 100-free, and a 100 medley. Also there is a 500 meter mass start swim. That should occur in August; if I get to attend, I’ll blog about it!


500m mass-start from 2014 Issyk Kul swim festival.


Issyk Kul!

January 20, 2015 | Grand Plan | Permalink

Went to ski in Kara-Kol this weekend. The greatest part of the trip was our passing the lake. What a beautiful lake. OMG.


Lake Issyk Kul from west of Cholpon Ata

The lake is just as beautiful as in the pictures. On Monday we stopped at a nice little beach so we could dip our toes in the water. Unbeknownst to me, the Soviet-Korean doctor that accompanied us stripped to a red bikini and jumped into the lake. It was Epiphany, after all.

I didn’t bring my suit, unfortunately. My wife recommended I take off my jeans and jump in. Just as I was taking my belt off, my kids begged me, “Please dad, no.” I guess they didn’t want the 20 others to see their dad in his skivvies.



Talked with the doctor and compared notes. The doctor agreed the water was above 10C, I’m thinking in the 12-13C range. Not bad for January at 42° north latitude. The lake is purportedly lightly salty, but I didn’t taste any. Water tasted very clean.

The wife and I and 3/4 of our kids at Issyk Kul.

The wife and I and 3/4 of our kids at Issyk Kul.

I learned something new today about lake Issyk Kul, about which I’ll blog tomorrow.


Wow! Look at the numbers!

January 14, 2015 | Humor | Permalink

Thanks to all my dear readers. (Notice the -s- is not in parentheses, for once.) The last three days my blog had huge numbers. Well, huge for me. I had 77 views on 11 January, the best in a long time. I haven’t had numbers like that since I live-blogged Diana Nyad on Dancing with the Stars.

I’ve had over 200 views since the 11th. That’s awesome. I know many of my FB friends who read these posts on FB hear from me too many times, begging them to comment or read on the actual blog. Perhaps my delicate proddings (“Comment on my blog, dork!”) were finally heard?!