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 email@example.com 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.
If you don't have a nearby club, it is either because nobody wants to swim where you are, or nobody has yet discovered how great local swimming can be. Before you waste time on mission statements and formalities, you should probably assemble some swimmers, and that isn't something you'll do by copying text from a group's website.
It takes some hard work and dedication to catalyze a community on your own, but it is possible.
To start, pick a place (be it a pool or beach), and go there with regularity - every Saturday at 9:30am, or every night at 5pm, or whatever you can stick to. Do what you think works best for your future community, even if it means waking up earlier than you'd like. At this point, you are the glue. Your presence and dedication hold it all together.
Next, encourage people to join you there. Make the focus the time and place, don't give into the temptation to suit a newcomer's schedule or to try something different, because you'll break the habit. The community is still fragile at this point, so treat it with care.
Then, keep it going. At some point you'll realize the group has a life of it's own, and forms without your goading. At this point, you've got your core, and the group will perpetuate, especially during the warm months. Tend it and shape it during this period, see how durable things are.
Then give it a few years, and voila! Community! Now you can start thinking about fees and insurance if you're still into that sort of thing.
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.)
I will be a little jealous of my crew during this swim, so many fun folks on one boat without me. Luckily, they'll all be jumping in to join me throughout since it's going to be a blisteringly hot, sunny 80F outside tomorrow.
The AIS can be tracked here: http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:450878/mmsi:367575160/vessel:367575160
And a couple auto-posts going up on andrewswims.com tomorrow.