When I do a swim, I do it for selfish reasons, ask as little as possible from folks, and typically don't give much of a performance for viewers at home.
But if I did a swim that I talked up for years, that had 55+ sponsors, 4 charities, a patron, and a charity hoodie...if I asked a million people to donate to my swim, and got tracking devices, cameras, and said in big letters at the top of my site "Filmed for a Global Audience Online and TV by Chief Productions"...at that point I'd better be ready to deliver a performance.
No, @haydn, I don't think this type of commentary forces any swimmer to up their self-promotion game. This is self-inflicted, and I cannot feel sorry when someone promises so much, then under-prepares and under-delivers.
While I am flattered to be recognized for my efforts, I'd like to be sure that the efforts of the other nominees do not go unheeded. I had a difficult time selecting between two different nominees this year, wholly because of the inspiration and guidance they gave me over the past few years.
Scott, who I've never met in person, was happy to spend some time and share stories, advice, and pro tips with me on what a sanctioning body should look like. It was the SBCSA I first looked to in 2012 on how the organization should work.
Elaine and Greg rounded out my knowledge of small sanctioning bodies during the early days. Our by laws are eerily similar. Their approach to Boston Light was in mind as we prepared for our first, soon to be second, MIMS. And their enthusiasm and willingness to take on big and little swims gave me something to strive for.
Add to that the inspiration from the 2016 winners, and you'll see I'm really just copying everyone else. If you think I'm at all organized and okay at figuring out currents, its because I watched Rondi. If you think I'm good at piloting and being really tan, you can blame Dave.
So thank you to everyone who has shown me how to do what I do, and thank you for letting me drive the boat. And if this helps anyone else get inspired to pitch in and help, then it'll all be worth it.
If you've swam anywhere in the Hudson River in the past 4 years, dig out some photos and look in the background for a tie-dye shirt. Starting in 2012 with my involvement in swimming MIMS, someone else appeared, and they haven't been able to get rid of him since. This is a person who has absolutely no swim aspirations, marathon or otherwise; he has no natural nautical ability. He once tried to kayak for me while I swam the width of the Hudson and flipped three times before we got out of the marina. Yet here he is, in the background of almost every photo of a swim done on the Hudson for the past 4 years.
Roy Malinak (he's my dad) does the manual labor and heavy lifting behind the scenes. There is no task to big, and no task too menial for him. His only goal is to be helpful. He ported kayaks in and out at North Cove for last 7 MIMSs NYC Swim ran - that's where he met @Gvanderbyl years before I ever did. He's been lifting heavy things and herding us cats at 2 Bridges all five years it has run. He uses his vacation time to hang out on Launch 5 with @david_barra and @rondi for a full week every year, and then he's also the first one off the boat when someone needs to drive hours back to the start to return a swimmer's bags at the end. He'll call me and brag: Greg let's me touch the ropes! by which he means an ex-State Trooper who has a very commanding and particular way of running his Launch trusts Roy enough to do some of the important bits, like handle dock lines on a big steel boat. "He let me help" is his reward.
You might be saying "So what? We all do that sort of stuff." Sure, we do, because we deal in the trade of marathon swim support give-and-take. But this is a guy for whom we'll never get to return the favor - we're never going to get to toss him a bottle as he swims anywhere. He's all give, no take. The only bottle he'll accept is one labeled Sam Adams after the boats are cleaned up, kayaks are on roof racks, and everyone else is headed home to rest up for tomorrow's big day.
Look for that tie-dye shirt in the background of your photos. He's there, and he'll continue to be for as long as he can.
Roy Malinak for the Streeter Award for Service to Marathon Swimming.
Photo by John Humenik
This summer, the Northwest Open Water Swimming Association is hosting a "test swim" of what we hope will become what MIMS once was in Manhattan. Mercer Island sits in Lake Washington just outside Seattle, and it begs for a mass-solo swim like this. Distance 20k, currents nil, conditions predictable, and on a sunny Friday afternoon, the scenery splendid.
As a "test swim," we are preparing for up to 10 solo swimmers and 3 relays before scaling up in summers to come.
It'll be a low-frills event, and the price is as low as we can make it: $775 for a solo spot, $1,550 for a 4-person relay (includes support boat, BYO paddle support if you'd like). This includes a NOWSA annual membership, a full Lifetime Membership can be purchased for an additional $100 per person. We've got a park permit, insurance, and we'll take care of the boats and observers. You just bring some water bottles for you and your crew, and some spare sunscreen just in case.
Registration is open! First-come, first-serve. A 25% non-refundable deposit secures your spot, payment in full by 1 May.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or for how to sign up.
With that, I present to you my first swim of the year, set to take place in two weeks, between 5 and 7 June 2015. (Note, map may not reflect intended route.) Here is some info on why I've chosen this swim: link
Melissa Blaustein, of the South End Rowing Club, completed a crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 7:41. She had beautiful conditions, which included very light winds, sun, and water temps in the typical range of 47-51F.
This was NOWSA's first successful attempt at a South to North route. Melissa boldly landed on some unexplored coastline, pushed farther east than expected by a flood tide that overstayed it's welcome. The course direction was changed in the days leading up to the swim after a disagreement with the local Canadian customs office on what are the correct procedures to follow, another sign that this swim is young and under development despite the long history.
It was very exciting to watch Melissa do this: to watch the cold water wipe the smile off her unnaturally cheerful face as she pushed her hardest to the finish. She was surrounded by South Enders, including her observer, who were there at the end to pull her from the wave break on the cliff, bring her back through the kelp, and get her back aboard before the orcas rounded the corner.
This is Melissa's second NOWSA swim this year. Earlier, she completed the Amy Hiland swim, named for the person to first person complete the route from Bremerton to Alki in 1959. Amy was the first woman to complete the Strait.
Above, my first public announcement of this swim. Below, the result of that announcement...
My plan to wait until September for the water to warm up didn't pan out too well: the water was 48-49. My plan to pick a date from a window also didn't go as expected, since the captain wasn't available on the day I wanted and we all had work on Tuesday, so I instead I chose a morning with 25kt winds and light rain.
In short, I loved learning from the mistakes I made the first time, not just in training and planning, but in immersion. By time this swim came around, the last minute details of a swim had become routine. Packing up a crew and getting everyone on the same page, from the Coast Guard to reporters, was something we'd done twice before this summer. Getting to the start, the big victory of my last attempt, went by in the blink of an eye. Once at the start, swimming through the kelp and climbing out on my starting rock was a breeze since I'd practiced it just the weekend before, only this time I was clothed.
In the beginning, it was cold, obviously. The weather was grey. The waves were frightening on such a small boat (I was glad to be off it). One of the crew vomited 17 times. The Coast Guard said "you two work it out" after notifying us of an impending collision with the 574ft bulk carrier Honest Spring. The border crossing came an hour late, and I added another half hour to my mental countdown clock. And finally, the shivering started.
Then the waves weren't as big, the sky lightened, and I could even see some blue. Then the water flattened out, and the water almost warmed as we neared the Elwha. The mountains still looked so far away, but then I remembered I wasn't swimming to the mountains. When I finally could see the ground, it occurred to me
that the last three years of work would be done once a few more sea shells passed by, an adventure that began a week after I moved to Seattle ending on that delta of stones and driftwood just ahead. Preparing for this swim has been my life for longer than I've called this city home and has led me to more places and adventures and friends than I could have possibly imagined. After a few months rest, I'll begin a search for a new adventure.
There is a thread on the forum about lessons learned from failed swims. I'm sure this is one of those lessons.
To add to @Leonard_Jansen's Number 4, I've gotten very protective of open water swimming in the Northwest. While I'm not required to file any permits for an individual's solo swim, I've coordinated very closely with one state, two federal, and two foreign government agencies to keep on their radar, out from beneath their boats, and stay squeaky clean. One of my biggest concerns is that some renegade jumps in for a short swim in the Harbor without doing their due diligence and jeopardizes not just my plans for the future, but the future of the entire sport in the area. Sanctioning bodies work hard to develop good rapport with the powers-that-be, as NYC Swim has done, and David and Rondi (through CIBBOWS) do with 8 Bridges, which enable them to pull off events that would be otherwise be stopped in the planning stages.
It is ignorant to take the view: "I don't need anyone's help to do an established swim." While you may not be seeking recognition, your name will certainly be known when you're the guy that ruins it for the rest of us.
That said, do I think NYC Swim holds the patent on MIMS swimming, or that CCSF owns Catalina, or that I get exclusive rights to the Northwest? Not at all. Like @flowswimmers said: "ever wonder why there are two associations covering the same thing?" (Although I'm not sure I follow the bit about significant money.)
After being derailed by weather in Nanaimo last August, Erika completed her first marathon swim yesterday. We'd had some weather the past few days, but as it always seems to do here, things cleared up in the nick of time and the fog parted on our sail to the start. Conditions couldn't have been more perfect if they tried.
From my end, Erika couldn't have been a better test subject. Her speed compensated for the times when I lost the current. She didn't complain about the cold spots. The seemingly random choppy spots didn't phase her. I had a fantastic time watching our SOG jump when it should, and fretted when our speed dropped to zero at one point. The ferry's were polite and we made our first channel crossing easily. On the second channel, YM Movement radioed to say they were closing in fast - and I let out a huge sigh when we got past the yellow Tango marker. That ship was huge.
But through all of that, Erika kept swimming like a pro. We had a King 5 photographer on board all day, and they live streamed an hour of the swim. The Kitsap Sun did a nice preview of the swim and caught the ex-pool swimmer saying something perfect, "In the pool it's very competitive and you time yourself. If I want to enjoy swimming, I go outside."
The Amy Hiland Swim has been revived after 57 years. People around here think the water is too cold to swim in, but Erika's swim showed again that it isn't.