Aug 26, 2009

Alcatraz Swim

Found a you tube post of the Alcatraz Swim from two years ago that was my first. What a blast!!

Aug 23, 2009

Training swim - Madison, WI 2.4 mile race

Had fun in Madison, WI yesterday with the 2.4 mile open water race. Finished in 1:11:03 very relaxed and comfortable. Could have easily kept going a long time and that made me feel good. Swam with DOug McConnell and he had a great swim at 1:01. He has a very base and excellent stroke mechanics. He will continue to be a good inspiration and training partner as we go to these elsewhere.

My first official mass start was all the arms, legs, kicking and "bumper cars" of the 288 person start,,,,something. Threw me off a little bit especially when you really dont get a chance to warm up correctly. Doing more of these races in the future will be training but warming up a good idea if allowed.

Once out threre, got settled after 1/2 mile and worked through into the second mile. This came easier and I was able to focus on stroke rate and long pulls catching wet suit folks consistently. Swimming without a wetsuit is a great mental motivator to me as I look at it as "I'm tougher and still go as fast or faster" I think with some more experience with these starts I'll do even better. Overall a nice experience and good start to the racing side of open water swimming. As for finishing, Doug got I 15th and I finished at 38 out of 288. We both were pleased since this was a tough field. Many major tri-athletes were there gearing up for the Ironman and let me tell you some of them are really in shape!

In all, I am most pleased with how comfortable I felt, giving the level of training done to date (20k per week with no weights, cross training, etc) and know as I bring in other cross training and activity I will only get better.

Aug 21, 2009

Old saying - age, cunning & deceit...shall over come youth, brawn...

Well this week has been harder than expected on the body. I finaaly gave in and had to go see a orthopod. neck and left shoulder been bothering me with dull low grade pain. At this point (e.g. without MRI) it appears to simple overwork and lack of conditioning. The physical theripist has me doing some basic stretching and weight work to strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles back into balance.

I knew this was coming and now that its here will be joining the health club for weight training in the next several weeks. This will be a good break since outdoor swim practice at 630 am ends next week and back inside at the highschool. Because masters swim only 3x per week I was going to have to join a club anyway.

Tommrrow I have the Madison, WI 2.4 mile race. As this will be my first mass start should be interesting. I am planning to cruise at 30 minute mile pace so a 1hour and 10 minute finish would be nice, relax and negative split the back part. I seem to be able to make up good ground and concentrate on stroke technique for long pull cycles later in the effort but this has always been by myslef not in a pack. I need to find my own way and pace.

This should be a good training benchmark going forward.

Aug 12, 2009

Charity Ideas

I am in the formative stages of deciding what charity work I might tie into this effort. One aspect that intregues me is the potential to partner with several in a sponsorship arrangement where I do the swimming and us the miles swum as the donation metric. Perhaps they can manage the money side and folks could donat?

I would like to consider ideas from folks in Goshen, Indiana my original home town and where I live now Barrington, IL as well.

If you have ideas please let me know.

A fun picture swimming across Lake Wawasee 2007 Dad and daughter

This picture was taken in summer 2007 while vacationing back at Wawasee. Rachel decided to try a short cross morning swim with me and dad took the pictures. Reminded me of many summers, swim club swims across Syracuse and swimming the big 8 miler with Steve Conder.

Anyway - This weeks practice has been good above 4000 each day with hard sets, kicking and IM's. Fly is coming back around as shoulder strength increases. Starting to get serious about nutrition assessment and fuel for longer swims and looking at alternatives for practice as summer pool closes labor day so back inside.

Thanks to Emily Springer for joining the blog, appreciate the support. Emily was also a good swimmer from Goshen days.

Aug 7, 2009

how do you eat an elephant?

answer - one bit at a time.

goal setting both short and long term will be essential...

Aug 6, 2009

Friday lake swim

Looking forward to my usual Friday lake swim. plan a few miles hopefully its cold and choppy :).

I have a 2.4 mile swim planned in two weeks in Madison, WI called "MOWS" with US Masters so this should be fun. Since I am a loner when it comes to open water swimming, I have never done a mass tri-athlete type start, suppose I should bring my boxing gloves or I am sure my old water polo skills of grabbing swim suits should come in handy??

Thanks to Steve Conder, from Goshen, IN and an old swimming buddy for being the first supporter. Lets find a way to do an open water swim?

Aug 4, 2009

As I begin learning about what it will take to successfully cross the channel through others before me I will try to pass along key bits of information and give credit where it is due. One I recently came across is Hugh Tucker who in his own right is accomplished as a long distance swimmer according to his web site. So I thought I would share his comments and descriptions.

The Channel

Just over 800 of over 4,370 attempts have been successful since the formation of the Channel Swimming Association in 1927. THis according to Hugh Tucker back in 2004. Successful attempts are just below 1000 this year.

Captain Mathew Webb was the first person to swim the English Channel. He accomplished this feat on August 23, 1875 on his second attempt, with a time of 21 hours and 40 minutes, swimming from England to France. Not only was the swim significant as the first successful swim, but his course was altered by the tides, making the ordinarily 20-mile swim considerably longer.

As shown on the diagram of his route below, Webb was pushed west, then east, followed by another larger western push, and finally by a huge eastern push, ending with a landing in Calais. Most English Channel swimmers follow a variation of this crossing. Missing the coast is the largest single reason for a swimmer to quit the attempt to conquer the Channel. For most swimmers, the thought of swimming another six hours while waiting for the tide to change is too demoralizing, painful, and cold to endure.


The more the pilot knows about the tides, weather and the swimmer's ability, the more accurately can he plan his intended course. Pilots draw on their experience and local knowledge to forecast the best departure point and time for their swimmer. The Skipper's own observations of the actual conditions on the day, the regular advice supplied by the Coastguards and the position fixes given by modern navigational instrument all combine to permit fine course adjustments to be made en route, to the swimmers best advantage.

The tidal flow is most parallel to the coast and the swimmer is swimming at approximately 90ยบ to the coast. Fortunately, the tides flow first one way and then the other way, and their effect is largely evened out over a 12-hour period. Even though the swimmer may hold a steady Heading through the water towards his destination, his "Ground-Track" will be curved. So there is little to gain -and much to lose - by doing battle with the Tides trying to achieve a direct Ground Track! There are places during the crossing where one can get a little help from the tide, but there are also areas where progress will be hindered. The idea is to get a balance between the two.

The Pilots job is to guide the swimmer so that he can be in the right place at the right time, in order that the currents give the maximum assistance - and the least hindrance. To achieve this, he will need to know, in advance, the swimmer's sustainable swim-rate over the period of the swim. He needs to time your approach to the Coast so that the tides do not work against the swimmer just when he is most tired.N.B. The Coastline of France is not parallel to England. It 'drops away" either side of Cap Griz Nez.

Adequate and appropriate nourishment is vital to the swimmer's success, but has to be done briefly: an over-run of the half-hourly feed time by even as little a 1 minute every time could make the difference between landing with the tide or of having to swim on for several more hours!

The English Channel is one of the busiest shipping zones in the world, with approximately 500 vessel movements every day…..and there are ferries, hovercraft, sea cats, and jetfoils crossing between England and France at very regular intervals. Because of this, International Shipping Lanes have been agreed and their areas marked on the charts. On the English side, we have the 'South West Lane' which is for vessels travelling down the Channel to the Atlantic. On the French side, we have the 'North East Lane' for vessels, which are travelling, up to the North Sea areas.

The English Coastguards, stationed at Langdon Battery Dover, and the French Coastguards, stationed at C.R.O.S.S. Cap Gris Nez, keep radar and VHF watch on the whole area…..liasing with the vessels using the Channel. They broadcast navigational bulletins every half hour and log vessels using the lanes to co-ordinate ship movement and to monitor safety. In these announcements, they warn shipping of the presence of Cross Channel Swimmers, and give the latest known positions of the Escort Vessels.

Channel Swims differ from other swims of this distance by their complexity and the local environment. There are hazards such as jellyfish, seaweed, flotsam and jetsam. Most particularly, the swimmer has to navigate safely across the Commercial Shipping Lanes - and give way to most other vessels in the Strait.

Swimming the distance of approximately 35.8 km each way is only part of the challenge. Other factors which have to be encountered, making it the "Everest" of swimming, include:

cold water temperature
divergent currents
water pollution
waiting time
sea conditions on the day
sea sickness

In addition, there is an element of luck involved in getting everything to fall right on the day.This is why it is one of the ultimate challenges….the 'Benchmark' of Marathon Swimming.

Waiting for the conditions to materialise

One cannot plan the exact day on which you are going to swim. Whilst you may have booked your 1 week window within which you hope to swim, weather conditions from day to day may delay or even prevent a swim indefinitely - many swimmers have had to pack up and return home without even having had a chance to swim. The unpredictable English weather changes from being sunny and calm, to stormy, within a few hours.This waiting game and uncertainty plays havoc with your mind to such an extent that when you do climb into the water all your mental preparation and 'psyching' oneself up, has been long forgotten and is wasted. On top of that, being a harbour port and a military base, Dover is not the most pleasurable place to spend your days waiting. A further aspect is the relating to training when waiting. Do you carry on training while waiting or do you rest in case your swim is the next day?

Conditions on the day.

You are on continual standby and are sometimes only given a couple of hours notice before swimming. The weather may be fine when starting out but invariable changes (if not a few times) during the swim. What may have been expected to be a calm sea may turn into gale force winds and rough sea after only a few hours into the Channel.

Sea sickness.

The problem with sea sickness is that you either do not feel like taking in any liquids or foodstuff or alternatively if you do, you tend to vomit everything up, thus losing all the energy source and nutrients. If you do not replace these nutrients then, not only do you endanger your well being, but also will not have enough energy to pull trough the tough period.

Of the more than 6200 known attempts only about 474 people have successfully swum the Channel: a success rate of only about 7%

Exert from Hugh Tucker - 2004.

Aug 1, 2009

Ohio Street Swim - Friday July 31, 2009

Had a nice afternoon swim in slight chop, water temp 67, clear day. Swam 2 miles at 30 minute mile pace and felt very relaxed, pulse steady at 130 and pulse at recovery (1 minute later) 110 beats per minute. Nice finish to the week.

Will try to sign up with BAM's Doug McConnell for a 2.4 miler in Madison in Mid August, should be a good lake swim and tune-up.

Looking forward to Alcatraz in September where 2 years ago I clocked 33 minutes in wetsuit (I know...wetsuit??, it was a first time) but this time going without. It will be interesting to see time difference and feel in the water?? May also do the Tiburon mile the next day if I can get signed in.