Planned Lake Pontchartrain Swim

edited February 2013 in Event Announcements
As we were talking about in http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/360/responding-to-unaccredited-claims-of-marathon-swims#Item_7 this thread, I am in the process of planning a swim across Lake Pontchartrain this coming fall. While I haven't nailed down an exact start point, it will be somewhere on the Tchefuncte River in Madisonville, LA. The finish will be at the Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans, LA. I am doing this swim to benefit the Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital Foundation (www.ololchildrens.com).

My initial meeting with the foundation staff went much better than I expected. They were very excited at the possibility of the attempt. I was asked, as a follow up from that meeting, to provide a list of the personnel and supplies that would be needed. I gave a tentative list, and stated that it was preliminary, and I was going to vet the list with folks who can offer advice. I think that the experience in this forum is a great pool to draw from.

Map of my proposed route is here: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/proposed-pontchartrain-crossing. Distance, starting at the drawbridge in Madisonville is right around 26.5 miles. The jog in the middle of the lake is to find the closest opening under the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The swim is planned to be attempted in early November, in order to give the water a chance to cool off.

The original document had an audience without any exposure to marathon swimming, hence the explanations that probably sound overly simplistic for this audience.

Is there anything I'm forgetting?

Below is what I wrote for personnel and supplies:
_______________________________________________________________

Personnel:
Boat Captain –
Responsible for navigation of boat
Medical Support – Person with at least EMT (or higher) medical training shall be present on the boat in case a medical emergency arises.
Crew Chief – My wife shall serve as crew chief. The crew chief shall be the primary decision maker aside from the boat captain.
2 Kayakers – Close contact support for swimmer. Messenger between swimmer and boat. Responsible for handing feeds to swimmer. 2 kayakers to allow for relief and break for kayakers.
Observer – Responsible for timing and enforcement of swim rules. SBCSA Rules will be adhered to during the swim.
2-3 Person Support Crew – Responsible for preparing feeds and mixing bottles. Crew handling other responsibilities (medical, media) may be able to double as crew members, but will need at least one dedicated person, aside from other designated roles, to serve as crew.
Media Coordinator – Responsible for photography/videography/GPS Tracking Equipment, social media updates, etc.

Swimmer Nutrition:
Water –
At a planned intake of 32 oz/hr, and a planned time of possibly 15 hours, this would require approximately 4 gallons. I would like at least 6 on board for the swimmer.
Mouthwash – The alcohol in the mouthwash helps tremendously to cut through the saltwater in the swimmer’s mouth, and hopefully will reduce the tongue swelling and dry mouth associated with the long swim. I understand that Pontchartrain is brackish instead of saltwater, but it will still help. Not sure how much I will end up going through over the course of the swim.
Carbo pro – Primary source of calories. Dissolved in water.
Hammer Perpetuem – Dissolved with Carbo Pro in water as additional carbohydrate source with some protein
Energy Gel – Flavor and type to be determined later. Primarily for flavor, but provides ~100 cal, mostly carbs.
Solid Food – In general, my stomach struggles to process very much solid food with an elevated heart rate, but it can be nice to have some solid food to break things up and have some variety.
Clif Bloks/Fruit Snacks – I’ve had good success as a cyclist with Clif Shot Bloks. These come in a variety of flavors, and have a consistency similar to fruit snacks. The packaging of the clif bloks makes them easier to consume during the swim than fruit snacks can be.
Fresh Fruit – I like the flavor of citrus and other fruit. Additionally, the acid in the fruit can help cut through the taste of the saltwater.
Red Bull/Diet Mountain Dew – I really like Red Bull and Diet Dew. If I don’t crave these during the swim, I probably will after. The carbonation will probably also help me burp and keep pressure in my stomach down.

Other Supplies:
Bottles –
The Rubbermaid Chug bottle is my preferred water bottle, and is what I used in the Pensacola 25k. The bottle is leak proof with an integrated loop that allows for easy attachment to the feed rope. Easy open top allows for easy feeding in the water.
Feed Ropes – I have two ropes that I’ve fitted to be used as feed ropes, and a couple others that I could use, as well. These are ropes, one is 10-15 feet long with one carabineer, and the other is 35-40 feet with 3 carabineers. Near the carabineers is a pull buoy that can be painted or outfitted with glowsticks to allow me to more easily fine my feeds in the water.
Glowsticks/LED lights – The length of the day in Early November is between 10.5 and 11 hours. I’m expecting the swim to take at least 12. So, we will need some method to light items during dark hours.. I will need to be illuminated so that the boat and kayaker can see where I am in the water Feed bottles and ropes will need to be lit so I can find them. My kayaker will need to be lit so I can find them. There are probably other things that I’ll need them for that I’m not thinking about right now.


Crew Nutrition:That long on the water, we will need enough food and water for perhaps 3 meals for all crew on board, plus snacks and soda/Gatorade/juice. We will need this, but I don’t know what facilities the boat will have, and what the crew will want. The kayakers likely will have different needs than the other support crew

Media Interaction:The media and others hopefully will be interested enough to track the swim.
Cell Phone – Able to provide Facebook, Twitter, email, and phone updates, provided there is sufficient signal in the middle of the lake.
Camera – During the initial meeting, there was talk of streaming video of the swim. If local media won’t post video, UStream is a free online service for streaming video. I’m not very familiar with this service, and I don’t know how strong of an internet connection is needed to keep the video streaming.
GPS Tracking – An easy thing to do will be to provide a live map with plotted progress of the swim. The service I have followed other swims with is the Spot Personal Tracker. The GPS receiver can be placed on the dashboard of the main support boat. The GPS tracker sends a coordinate point every 10 minutes, which is then plotted on a map for online viewers. There are some other alternatives that could be researched.

Comments

  • Tim, it looks like you are preparing for this swim correctly. If you have not done so already, you should contact Matt Moseley. He did a Pontchartrain swim last year with Glynde Mangum. It is unclear if they swam it side by side or as a relay. His email contact can be found at the bottom of the following web site:
    http://saveourlake.org/matt-swim.php
  • I miss the observer.
    And a shipmate/helper for the captain. He can't be at the helm 100% of the time.

    Watch out for the total number on the boat. The more people the bigger the boat you need.

    Grease.
    Ginger (tea).
    Whiteboard.
    Thermos bottles for hot / cold water if the boat hasn't a fridge / cooker
  • @gregoc - Thanks for the information. I think I've read about that swim, I'll have to get in contact with them. I know I wouldn't be the first person to swim across that lake.

    @Niek - I had the observer in there, but I forgot to bold it. It should be fixed now.

    Before the initial meeting, I had mentioned that I was thinking it would be a decent number of people on the boat, and that we'd need a big boat with a cabin. Hadn't thought about putting grease down, but I know I'll need it, and have about half a tin of Bag Balm left at home, and can get more very easily at a pharmacy here.

    I hadn't thought of ginger, whiteboard, and thermos bottles, though. Thank you for that catch.
  • Make sure you get your swim permitted through the USCG (http://www.uscg.mil/d8/staNOLA/), and that you have a well written safety plan that includes emergancy exit points and emergancy contact #s.
  • gregoc" said:
    Make sure you get your swim permitted through the USCG (http://www.uscg.mil/d8/staNOLA/), and that you have a well written safety plan that includes emergancy exit points and emergancy contact #s.
    I wondered about that, but wasn't sure if it was a requirement or not. Glad to know that so early in the game. Thanks very much.
  • Different goggles for day and nights.
    Feeding plan.
    Make sure the entry and exit points are easy and free of debris.
  • At the risk of showing my ignorance of all things Louisiana (I was only there once - in Baton Rouge), are there scary things in the water, like alligators or giant flesh-eating nutrias? If so, have someone specifically tasked with watching for them.
    Also: sunscreen (I like SolRx) and Desitin.
    an extra cap or two - they do rip occasionally.

    -LBJ
  • edited February 2013
    Niek" said:
    Different goggles for day and nights.
    Feeding plan.
    Make sure the entry and exit points are easy and free of debris.
    Makes sense on the goggles. I have plenty of light and dark shades. I can easily put together a feed plan closer to the swim, thanks.

    I've changed the initially thought of entry point because of the probably presence of alligators. I will need to go scout out a suitable starting spot, and make sure the finish point will be clear. I think that beach has been closed, so it's a valid concern.

    Leonard_Jansen" said:
    At the risk of showing my ignorance of all things Louisiana (I was only there once - in Baton Rouge), are there scary things in the water, like alligators or giant flesh-eating nutrias? If so, have someone specifically tasked with watching for them.
    Also: sunscreen (I like SolRx) and Desitin.
    an extra cap or two - they do rip occasionally.

    -LBJ
    Interestingly, I live in Baton Rouge. It's a nice town.

    Nutria are herbivores (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coypu), but in the river, the concern for gators is very real. As I mentioned, my initial thought on a starting point is prime territory for Alligators. We'll have to keep spotlights on and looking around for Alligators. I need to highlight that in my safety plan. I've heard that out in the Lake itself, the threat should be less, as Alligators tend to not like wide open water.

    SolRx has saved my shaved scalp from terrible sunburns. Since I'll be directly escorted and don't like swim caps at all, I'm planning on swimming without one. I figure I can attach lights to my goggle straps.

  • Bump for this, as I've had more time to pay attention to it the last few weeks, and have made some progress. Information, as it becomes available, will be at www.facebook.com/swimacrossthetrain. I've also pulled together a draft of the rules. Please comment and offer your suggestions:

    1. The boat captain has the ultimate authority on the boat. (S)he may call off a swim at any time because (s)he perceives that anyone’s safety may be in jeopardy.
    2. The observer is in sole charge of interpreting the rules during a swim. (S)he may call off a swim at any time because of failure to comply with the rules or danger to the swimmer. Failure to follow the observer’s instructions by the swimmer or any support person will result in abandonment of the attempt.
    3.If the swim is called off by the captain or observer, the swimmer must immediately exit the water.
    4. The swimmer is permitted to wear one traditional-style swimsuit, one standard cap, goggles, ear plugs, a nose clip, and may grease their body. Luminated objects may be worn by the swimmer during periods without daylight to assist the boat and paddler (see rule 7) in supporting the swimmer.
    4.1. A traditional-style swim suit is one that is made of a porous material, is sleeveless, and is legless. Women may wear suits that come up to their necks, with the zipper up the back. Men may not wear jammers (since they are not legless) or suits that cover their torsos. Any suit that extends to the thighs or shoulders, reduces drag in the water, increases buoyancy, or improves heat-retention is considered non-traditional. Suits in the non-traditional category (which means they affect award eligibility) include jammers of any type; Speedo LZR Racer, Speedo Aquablade, Speedo FS II, Speedo Fastskin, TYR Aqua Shift, TYR Aquapel, TYR Fusion2, Nike Liftsuit, blue seventy zeropoint3, and suits with similar materials.
    4.2. Caps shall be defined as headgear conforming to traditional swim cap design and not extending to protect the neck or shoulders. Neoprene accessories such as caps and socks are also classified as non-traditional items.
    4.3. Support swimmers (see rule 7) shall not be subject to swimsuit rule 4.1 or 4.2.
    5. The swimmer may not use or be assisted by artificial aids of any kind.
    6. During the swim, the swimmer may not make supporting contact with any person or object.
    7. Paddlers are allowed. Support swimmers are allowed as long as they are not in the water for the entire duration of the swim.
    8. The swimmer may not intentionally draft off either the escort boat or the support swimmer.
    9. The swimmer must start from one connecting shore, either standing above the water line or touching a cliff face or other unscalable landmass, and finish on the opposite connecting shore, either standing above the water line or touching a cliff face or other unscalable landmass with no water beyond (e.g. a natural or man-made wall).
    10. The timing of the swim starts when the swimmer enters the water or releases contact with the cliff face, and ends when the swimmer clears the water or touches a cliff face or other unscalable landmass on the opposite shore. The observer is in sole charge of timing the swim.
    11. No alcoholic beverages may be consumed by anybody associated with the swim or the escort vessel, from dock to dock.
    12. A swimmer must not take any drugs that are on the U.S. Olympic Committee's list of prohibited medications.
    13. The swimmer or crew may not intentionally pollute the body of water with trash or debris (including but not limited to feed cups and gel packs) at any point before, during, or after the swim, from dock to dock.
  • edited August 2013
    rule 4.1 - Why are women allowed a to wear suits that come up to their necks and men not? Disallow it for both. Or use the CSA rules for swimwear. (not the CS&PF rules)

    rule 7 - During solo swims a swimmer may be accompanied in the water by 1 person only & not accompanied at all until after the first 3 hours. This accompaniment will be for a maximum of 1 hour & cannot be repeated until at least 2 hours have elapsed after the cessation of the accompaniment. Relay swimmers can't be accompanied in the water.

    rule 10 - .... on the opposite shore with no lake-water beyond. The observer declares when the race is legally started and finished.
  • @Neik -

    In general, the rules are based on the SBCSA rules, available here: http://santabarbarachannelswim.org/rules.html


    4.1 and 4.2 are from the MIMS rules. I'm not planning on wearing a jammer, and I (a male) am the only one on this swim subject to 4.1. MIMS Swimsuit rules are available here: http://www.nycswim.org/About/Policy.aspx#51

    Rule 7 is based on SBCSA rules, not CS&PF

    Rule 10 - I like your suggestion. Much more simply stated. Thanks.

  • timsroot" said:
    10. The timing of the swim starts when the swimmer enters the water or releases contact with the cliff face, and ends when the swimmer clears the water or touches a cliff face or other unscalable landmass on the opposite shore. The observer is in sole charge of timing the swim.
    Niek" said:
    rule 10 - .... on the opposite shore with no lake-water beyond. The observer declares when the race is legally started and finished.
    timsroot" said:
    Rule 10 - I like your suggestion. Much more simply stated. Thanks.
    The longer version, including verbiage about cliff faces, is necessary on SBCSA swims because of the different geographical features of the islands we deal with. The general spirit is, "If there's a beach available, use it. If not, touching a cliff face without clearing the water is acceptable."

    Tim added the part about "or other unscalable landmass," though I kind of like it, actually...

    Generally speaking, for an unsanctioned (but still rule-bound) solo swim like this, I think it's OK to have much more simply-stated rules, e.g. :

    1. I will wear a textile brief swimsuit, and nothing more.
    2. I will wear a single latex cap, goggles, and ear plugs.
    3. Apart from my suit, cap, goggles, and ear plugs, I will not wear or use any artificial aids or devices.
    4. I will not draft off people or boats.
    5. I will not pollute.
    6. In addition to boat captain and crew, I will have one official observer who may call off the swim at any time, for any reason.
    etc. etc.
  • @evmo Generally speaking, for an unsanctioned (but still rule-bound) solo swim like this, I think it's OK to have much more simply-stated rules, e.g.
    And who might be the sanctioning organization there?

    If there's none than @timsroot is the start of one and I agree with him that the rules should be more elaborate than you propose.
  • Well, I tried. Made it about 9 miles and 4.75 hours. I started to get warmer when the sun came up, but the chop was too big, 3 feet or so. It got even bigger as the day went on. I was in a tough mental spot and when I got rolled a couple times, I just couldn't dig myself out of it and bailed.

    It was good experience, and I've learned some stuff for the next swim. The fundraising side for the children's hospital went well, so at least there's that. I'm not pleased with my mental strength, but that is practice as much as anything, probably.
  • Great work @timsroot! You'll conquer it next time.
  • The mental thing comes with experience so whether you feel it or not you have gained something here to keep you going on your next adventure.
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