Thursday, August 29, 2013

Charlotte Brynn's swimming Catalina right now

She's about 3/4 of the way to California now.  Looks good.

This morning I did my own workout which I put up on the whiteboard:

1000 - 800 free, 200 kick
1000 - 5 x 200's odd free, even IM :10 ri
1000 Pull Large Paddles/ankle strap
1000 - 10 x 100's desc 1-5 on 1:30
1000 - 8 x 50's drill on :50, 8 x 75's weighted 25/50 fast on 1:30
1000 - 500 agility paddles, 300 kick with fins no board, 100 free w/ ankle strap, 100 IM easy

6,000 yards total in 1:45


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When life gives you lemons

Yes, I have a lemon of a car.  It's a 2004 Chevy Aveo,  and its been in the shop 4 times in the past 3 months.  This has had quite an impact of my swimming, but not in my fitness in general.  I've turned that lemon into lemonade and staying on top of my cardio, just not in swimming form.  But this morning I got the car back and it runs like a charm.  Hopefully it stays that way.

This morning I had to take care of my sick dog making sure he was getting hydrated and getting him to eat his medicine which wasn't easy.  I was out the door nearly 40 minutes later than I wanted so I wasn't in the pool until 0700, but I ended up getting in the yardage I wanted:

300 - 200 warmup, 4 x 25's free strong
200 - 4 x 50's kick no fins
600 - 4 x 150's even free, odd IM no breast :10 ri
300 pull
300 - 4 x 75's kick fins no board no rest
200 pull
100 - 4 x 25's sprint on :30
100 back/breast
600 - 3 x 200's free on 3:00

Do the same sets but backwards working back up.

Additional 100 warmdown:

5500 yards total in 1:34

Cathi laid an H bomb on me yesterday related to my swimming plans.  I'm willing to play along, and not freak, but I may have a problem.  One day at a time.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brainstorming about a calendaring tool for marathon swims

I love watching spotGPS in action!  
So I found out just this morning that Bob Needham is swimming the English Channel!  Apparently he made an attempt the same day I did Catalina, but it was too rough and had to call it after six hours.  He wasn't about to give up so he got a different pilot (Paul Foreman) and is swimming right now!  So excited for him.  I'm following his spot throughout the day today. He's got David Barra on his crew.  Pretty cool.

I also found out that Lynn is swimming around Anacapa in a couple weeks too.  This got me to thinking.  It would really be nice if marathonswimmers.org had a calendaring tool that allowed users to enter their big swims in a calendar along with links to twitter, spotGPS, or facebook for those who want to follow them during their swims.  The site already has a calendar of marathon swim events, but I'm more interested in following individual marathon swims like channel crossings or island circumnavigations that are done by individuals that I am acquainted with.

It would have to be restricted to marathon swims of significance and not just training swims, cause it would suck to have the calendar get really bogged down with more than say a couple dozen swims on a given day.

Just an idea.

This morning I did:

5500 - 11 x 500's odd free, even (drill, IM, paddles, antipaddles, kicking, you name it)

5500 yards completed in 95 minutes

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DB Lunges killed my legs yesterday

My trainer finally has me doing some DB lunges which he has let me skip in the past because of my knee, but with it getting stronger I tried these and while the knee held up, my quads were burning!  It was very humbling to struggle with only 10 pound DBs in each hand.  Wow, I feel really wimpy.  But you gotta start small.  My quads are sore this morning.

This morning Cathi woke me up, "Gordon are you swimming today?"  It was 5:50am.  I set the alarm time last night, but didn't arm it.  Crap!

By the time I got to the pool it was too late to swim with Masters, so I just did the workout they had up on the board:

500 free warm up
200 kick no fins
200 - 4 x 50's free fast on 1:000
1500 - 3 x (25, 50, 75, 100, 100, 75, 50, 25) :10 ri 1st set free fast, 2nd pull buoy and ankle strap, no paddles!, 3rd - IM by 25
300 - 4 x 75's kick fins
1000 - 8 x 125's pull - odd back, even free :10 ri
100 easy

3,800 yards total in 65 minutes


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Catalina Channel FAQ

Here's some common questions I've already been getting, so here's another list of my answers:

How far is it?


The distance varies but the traditional crossing route is approximately 20.2 miles.


Are there tides and currents involved?


There are some currents, that can help or hinder the swimmer.  The currents are not consistent so they can be great at some point during the swim, and it can be a nightmare.  They can also vary in strength so that it may not be a big deal, or can be a killer for the crossing and cause the swimmer to not make it. 
Tides may be a small factor and definitely NOT as big of a factor as it is for the English Channel, as the typical crossing for Catalina is a nearly perfectly straight line.  English Channel swims are never in a perfectly straight line due to the huge tidal flow.

Can you wear a wetsuit?

The rules for Catalina are identical to the English Channel.  Start on dry land, end on dry land.  No touching the boat, or anyone for support.  No wetsuit, fins, paddles.  Just a speedo, cap, goggles and ear plugs.

Was it cold?  


The temperature for my swim on August 14th, 2013 was 65.8 at the coldest reading up to 67 at the highest. That is pretty warm by most standards.  I never felt cold at all, it was very comfortable.  It was about 3-4 degrees warmer than the temperature during my English Channel crossing, so not a huge difference, but enough to notice.

Are there sharks, or were you worried about sharks?  


I must admit that I thought about doing this crossing before doing the English Channel, but after doing some very limited research I found out that yes, there are sharks in the Catalina Channel, and Great Whites which are the ones I was concerned with.

However after doing more research, the fear of getting attacked by a shark in the Catalina Channel is completely ridiculous.  The odds of seeing one is so remote that it can be considered an unreasonable fear.  There have been no reported attacks to a marathon swimmer during their Catalina Crossing, and as far as I know, not even any sightings.  That isn't to say it couldn't happen, but the odds are so low that it isn't worth NOT going for it.

I read a book dedicated to shark behavior, I read a book that is dedicated to FEAR, I read a book that also discussed a couple Catalina Crossings.  I had done my homework and after doing so, can honestly say that I no longer had that fear.  Yes I thought about them maybe 2-3 times during the swim, but I didn't dwell on it and it didn't cause me any hesitation during the swim.
(Updated 9/3/2013) My friend, Charlotte Brynn, who made a Catalina Channel attempt less than a month after my own, was allegedly attacked by a shark the first hour into her swim.  Apparently it happened in the dark of the night and she wasn't completely aware of what happened, and just kept on swimming and didn't alert her crew.  It must have not been terribly painful, because she swam an additional 11 hours before she got pulled for hypothermia very close to the finish. According to Forrest Nelson, this would be the first attack during a Catalina Crossing attempt.  

Was the Catalina Channel or the English Channel tougher?


The answer for this is completely and totally dependent on the swimmer, what kind of shape they're in when they attempted both, and also what the conditions were on the two given days.  Personally I feel like I was in better shape for Catalina.  I was confident that I could get under the 12 hour goal I set for myself.

However there was a two hour stretch right near the start where I was feeling nauseous and dizzy.  The current was against me and the swells were more than I could really appreciate.  I thought to myself, "What have you done!"  I thought that if the conditions were to remain that way they whole time (and I knew they wouldn't), that I probably would not be able to finish.

However about 2 1/2 hours into the swim it got much better, I didn't feel sick anymore and I kicked it into gear.  So for me, the Catalina Channel was tougher thanks to that two hour span.  If it weren't for that, I'd say they were about the same in difficulty.


Did you see any sea life?


I was disappointed in not personally seeing any dolphins.  At mile 5 I could hear them nearby squeaking. That really was a boost for me.  I saw lots of beautiful jellyfish, and I felt something with my left hand in the dark propel itself away from me.  But the two coolest things I saw, were the bioluminescent plankton that I saw with every stroke during the night.  It was mesmerizing and very entertaining.

But the really neat thing was when I saw a huge Sunfish or Mola Mola.  That experience only lasted a few short seconds that I wish could have lasted a lot longer!  It was extremely moving to experience that!


How fast did you swim it, and what is the record?


I swam the Catalina Channel in 11:50.  My goal was under 12 hours.  Talk about cutting it close!  There was an incident during my swim where I was asked to swim backwards towards Catalina in order to get the kayak that was tied up to the boat.  Thanks to my friend Goody Tyler, he convinced the pilot to let him swim back to it while we continued our course towards California.  If he didn't do that, there's no way I would have hit my 12 hour goal. 
The record for the Catalina Channel is here.  I didn't even come close. I just wanted to get under that 12 hour time.


Did you do it by yourself or in a race?


Channel crossings are an individual thing.  There have been a few races both in Catalina Channel and English Channel back in the day, but today, its nearly always done individually.  You need to go through the relevant federation that oversees crossings for the specific channel.  In this case it is the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation.  That federation recognizes two pilot boats that are licensed for escorting swimmers, so there are at most two swimmers that could go on a particular day.  Typically there are  a couple dozen successful solos per year (at least that was the case for 2012).


How much did it cost?


In my case it was roughly $4000 USD to book a pilot, pay for a kayaker to paddle alongside, and to pay the CCSF for sanctioning the swim and providing a couple officials to observe.

Other costs include airfare, hotel, and other expenses while there.  Channel crossings are NOT cheap.  If it were free I expect that the number of successful crossings would be more than double what they are today. It is a huge commitment financially to train for and make the attempts, which cannot be taken lightly.  There are no refunds if you don't make it.  You just had an expensive charter boat.







Warrior Spirit of Kelly Gneiting

I recently have been in contact with a guy that I've done a little research on.  His name is Kelly Gneiting.  He is an unconventional athlete that most people don't fully comprehend.  Sounds really familiar (with ice swimming being another sport that most people just don't get).   Kelly is a four-time USA champion Sumo Wrestler!  He is also a marathon swimmer.  He is planning to swim the Anacapa Channel next month and I've volunteered to assist him in any way I can.  He has accepted and invited me to be on his crew.

Checkout this video:

The thing I love most is his warrior spirit.  His lack of hesitation, his humble confidence.  It's that kind of attitude that will make his channel crossing a success if given the right conditions.  

I'm very excited to be able to help him accomplish his dream swim.  I've asked him some questions about his training and it appears that he is on track to be able to do this swim.  It will be tough, but I believe he has the tenacity and determination to see it through to the end.

This morning I swam at SDRC since I had to meet up with someone at 7:30am:

5500 - 11 x 500's :15 ri
odd free strong, even (kick with fins, pull w/ large paddles and ankle band, IM, pull w/agility paddles, kick with fins)

5500 yards in 1:35

On the way to California I finished Lynne Cox's Swimming to Antarctica.  I bought it used online for like $2.00.

I know I should have read this book years ago.  But I'm a slacker when it comes to reading books.  This is now my favorite.  Marcia Cleveland's Dover solo book was hard to beat, but this book did it for me.  So many cool stories that also includes some very interesting life stories that are VERY inspiring to me.  I was really disappointed to not be able to be in San Francisco a couple days ago when she was doing some book signings.  I'd love to meet her in person.  Such an amazing legend!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Catalina Video

Here's some highlights of the Catalina Swim:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Catalina Channel Crossing - 11:50

Late last night I met up with Josh, Goody, Sue, Jim, my kayaker, Tom Reilly, and my two observers, Lynn Kubasek and Lisa Nordholm at the marina to board The Outrider, a charter boat and one of the two certified pilots by the CCSF.  Josh and Goody got together and planned a funny thing.  They were sporting chops just like mine.  I was cracking up.  It really is a unique look.  I'll post a pic once it becomes available.

Crew: Cathi - head crew member, Me, Tom - Kayaker,
Goody - safety officer, Lynn - CCSF Observer, Sue - Pace swimmer
and stroke technique observer, Lisa - CCSF second observer,
Jacob - Feed prep, delivery and backup kayaker, Josh - Coach and
pace swimmer,  Jim - photographer and videographer
We enjoyed talking and getting all the details of the logistics discussed.  Earlier in the day I put a seasickness patch on Cathi, Jacob and myself.  Which was a good thing, it was the typical bumpy ride to Emerald Bay on the Catalina Island.  When we got 30 minutes out they notified me as I was down under in the bunk area in the dark trying to relax my mind and body.  I had some really bad knots in my lower back from driving from Utah.  It was pretty painful, I could barely bend over.  I really needed a spinal adjustment from my chiropractor, but swimming is pretty good for taking the strain off the spine, so I wasn't terribly worried about it affecting my swim.

I got all greased up and ready to go.  It really reminded me of how I approached my swim in England.  Totally focused and without fear.  I had trained hard and knew that if the weather was relatively kind, that I would do it.  They got us all lined up with the area in the cove I needed to swim to.  The moon set at 11:30pm so it was a moonless night.

The pilot shared with us a little of what Joelle had to go through.  She dealt with a seal that was checking her out and also flying fish and it was a bit unnerving for her to say the least.  But for me, there was nothing there to meet me, it was quiet and calm.  The "kelp crawl" was only about 20 yards long from what I recall, it wasn't as problematic as I had anticipated.  This was my first time doing this and it went really smoothly.  I got out of the water completely and raised my hand as they had a spotlight on me from the boat.  They all cheered and whistled as I walked back into the water and dropped my hand as soon as my foot touched the water.  The time had started!

Taking some ibuprofen from the feed box.  Gotta keep the
muscles happy.
The first mile was pretty nice.  But at the second mile my stomach was really unsettled and the waves and chop were starting to build.  It was rough going.  I took the first three feeds less than willingly as I would have preferred.  Mile 2 - 4 it was so rough that I was having less than uplifting thoughts:  "Gordon, what have you got yourself into!"  I honestly thought if the swim would been like this the whole time, that I might not actually make it.  I said a prayer in my head asking that it smooth out and that I would be able to get through all the way to California.

I envisioned Paul Newsome, founder of swim smooth swimming just ahead of me and I was drafting off him. I yelled out to the crew during one of my breaths that I wanted coke on the next feed.  They did, and that was just what I needed. I felt the current that I had faced headlong turn and felt the influence of the current coming from behind.  Mentally I was swimming in Paul's current and my arms were turning at a high rate!  There is a rule against having a pace swimmer to draft off, but not mentally!  I saw him ahead of me in my head really creating a nice little channel for me to get pulled along.  Loved it!

Each stroke was very similar to seeing this under water.  It
was very dramatic and surprising how bright it was.  This is
due to a glow that the plankton emit when they are disturbed
in the water.  During one stroke near the boat I looked
underwater at the boat props off to the side, and it was
a major light show!
From that very first stroke in the night I really enjoyed seeing the fireworks display that I saw during every single stroke under water.  I read Bob Needham's report of his swim and was really looking forward to the night swim to see this light show.  It did not disappoint!

After that "Paul Newsome" feed I heard dolphins close by underwater squeaking to each other.  I yelled out to Tom in the kayak during a breath:  "Dolphins!"

During the night swim, I would occasionally get hit by a jelly sting.  Some more intense than others.  I was keeping count of the two categories of stings into:

  1. No big deal stings: a 1 or 2 on the pain scale that quickly go away.
  2. "Son of a " stings:  a 3 to 6 on the pain scale that too go away within about 10 seconds.  These don't really feel like shocks, but like someone takes a small stick, sets it in a campfire until the end of the stick is on fire, and then carefully places it on a random part of your body.  I got several on my forearms, back, and elbow.  They caused me to cuss in shock when they hit, but again don't last very long at all and I just swim through it.  Nobody even notices on the crew when these happen, perhaps the fish do when they hear the profanity bubbles.

Tom and I getting down to business.
The night swim was also difficult to really bond with anyone, I could see shadows and silhouettes of my crew, but could not identify them individually.  Tom was a shadow and I swam between him and the Outrider.  I thought of Joelle doing her swim with no kayaker.  Man she is tough as nails!  Having Tom there to watch over me during the entire swim was VERY calming to me mentally.  He has the experience to handle many different scenarios and I couldn't have had a more qualified person in the water paddling with me.

I was keeping track roughly of my progress based on the number of feeds.  I had set it up that even feeds included solids, so it was much easier to keep track of the number.  I figured that I was going about 2 miles an hour in average including time spent during feeds and peeing.  However, near the end this assumption was not quite accurate.

It took until feed 11 or so before the swim went from pitch black with blinding lights from the boat to grays and faces.  I loved it.  I could see smiles and clapping.  The swim had now really come to life at this point.  The sun was out, but it was completely overcast and foggy.  The suns rays never touched my back the entire swim.

Jacob paddled for me while Tom took a break.
I had the crew give me a 5 minute warning before a feed so that I could pick up my pace.  That was a great move as it gave me a chance to double time it and get that stroke rate up there.  Each feed was well placed and went by smoothly.  The first 3 hours I was a little concerned because I hadn't peed yet.  But about 3 hours into it, my body was processing all this liquid like clockwork.  My bladder was painfully full and every single feed from that point on and included anywhere from 10-30 seconds of enjoying the moment relieving myself.  For me, it is very difficult to be efficient at swimming and peeing at the same time.  I can do it, but not comfortably.  Near the end of the swim it was starting to get really annoying how often and how desperately I had to urinate.  Over the course of the swim, I wasted probably 5 minutes holding still and doing this.  Just one of those things.

I enjoyed several specific moments during the daylight swim:


I could have sworn I chose Aug 14th, cause it was a half
moon, not full!  And since when did we get two?
Thanks Goody and Josh for keeping things light.
  • When the darkness merged to a grey hue and I could see the crew, at one point I was breathing to my left to the Outrider and saw a couple of white exposed buttocks.  Goody and Josh were mooning me!  I growled out firmly, "Hey!" while getting saltwater in my mouth from laughing and smiling.  They all got a kick out of that on the boat.  
  • Watching Cathi stand there smiling at me during my swim.  It was the same look she was giving me in the English Channel.  A look of sincere love and that she was proud of me.  
  • Lynn and Lisa when they were watching me and occasionally taking my stroke count and smiling.  I desperately wanted to make each and every member of my crew proud of my efforts and satisfied that they're calling to be on the crew would produce fruit.
  • Tom was great.  Whenever I felt alone, it didn't last long as he was right there at my side and was in the right position during the swim.  I would HIGHLY recommend anyone interested in doing a channel crossing use him, because he is one of the most experienced and trained paddler you could possibly get!  It's a huge piece of mind having him there, and totally worth it.  
  • At sunrise Tom took a 30 minute break while Jacob paddled for me.  He was such a great support during the training swims paddling for me.  He looked too serious probably because of the lack of sleep and earliness of the hour.  I yelled out during one of my breaths to the right, "Jake!.... Smile Bro!"  Those of the crew who were watching smiled and took his picture.  
  • Goody was the crew jester, made me remember
    that this experience is just for fun!  
  • Goody made the five minute warning during the day really fun.  He used a towel to give the warning.  The serious Goody would just wave it around and around over his head, but most of the time he would do something interesting and totally entertaining like wrapping his hair up in the towel like a woman and dance around.  Or use the towel as a thong straddling the towel and doing a very funny dance.  I could help but laugh underwater.  It was a scene that took the moment and lightened it greatly.  He did one of these just dances as the darkness of the night made way to the foggy daylight and I yelled out during a breath:  "Better than bagpipes!"  referring to the Bottom Scratcher's tradition of playing bagpipes at sunrise.  He laughed and shared that joke with the crew.
At feed 19 and 20 I caught myself sighting forward only once or twice.  It was so foggy that visibility was about 1 mile or so.  But nothing.  My feeds apparently weren't a complete mile.  I was starting to get tired.  I honestly swam 80 percent effort the entire swim, except during those 5 minute sprints where I was more like 90%.  That pace was catching up to me.  Goody's jokes weren't as funny to me at the time, and he noticed and started to look and point at my stroke with Sue and Josh.  He informed me that my stroke was breaking down just a bit and that I needed to focus on my catch and pull on my left arm.  I took his guidance and made sure that my stroke form was solid and strong.  But I was getting tired and worn out.  
Sue really pushed me to swim a fast pace. 

Sue and Josh both took turns swimming for 30 minutes along side me.  They both swam at a pace that pushed me to go the fastest I could.  It was nice to get that push to really swim strong in order to keep up with them. 

At this point at the next feed Cathi and the crew yelled out, "You only have two more miles left now finish strong!  We can see the cliffs through the fog!"  I poured it on.  I took the energy of that feed and it fueled my muscles efficiently and I went back to 80-90 percent effort.  During this time I looked down underwater and about 10 feet below me was what I at first thought was a dolphin swimming right towards me!  It was huge and within a second realized it wasn't a dolphin but a humongous Mola Mola fish.  It went from swimming towards me to swimming off to the side and it went from a large fish to a HUGE fish and it made my heart skip a beat or two, it was only about 10 feet or so from me.  My pace was going so well that within a few strokes it was now behind me and gone.  That was a wonderful memory and one of the only eventful marine life experiences I had.  
I could see the entire crew on the side of the ship looking at the horizon at my 2 o clock, they broke out the binoculars and cameras and were snapping pictures.  Yesterday I saw tons of dolphins jumping out of the water next to the Outrider when Joelle was coming in.  When she was about a mile out.  I knew this was the same thing they were witnessing.   I was hoping that I'd see or hear this school of dolphins, but I did not see or hear them at all.  I was sad about that.  


During the 22nd feed my left leg completely cramped up.  My quads, hamstrings, and calf muscle.  It was debilitating.  I could not swim like that.  I had to stop float on my back and stretch it out.  It took a good 30 seconds to get to a point where it would release and let me move.  

There was one dramatic moment.  At one point Tom took a quick break and boarded the Outrider and a crew member helped him board and then tied his kayak off for him.  After some cramping during a feed I eventually got it worked out and back to swimming.  Several minutes later I saw lots of scrambling on board and the crew waved at me to stop.  The kayak had come loose and was about 100 yards or more behind the boat floating and drifting further west away from us.  The pilot yelled out asking me to swim back alongside the boat so they could retrieve it.  Goody told him
that he would swim back and get it
Check out the dolphin in the background.  Goody had
to get quite a way out there to retrieve it.  What a
lifesaver!
with some fins and not to make me stop and backtrack to get it.  He agreed and kept going California bound while Goody swam as fast as he could back to the kayak to board it and catch up.  I saw many of the crew with binoculars watching him the entire time.  It felt like he was there a long time.  He later told me that it was drifting with the wind backwards so he had to swim quite a while to get it.  Plus he had to one arm swim since he had to swim with the paddle. When he finally caught up he paddled right up along side me in his speedo and fins and made some funny gestures that made me crack up again under water.  Goody totally saved the day!
 I'm not entirely sure but it looks like a
clove hitch, which personally I HATE.
I have a knot called the Gridley quick
release that is easy to release, but practically
impossible for it to come loose on its own.
I tie my two St. Bernards to poles with this
knot and they break the leash but never the
knot! The Clove hitch is notorious for not
being a very secure knot!

When I got about 100-200 yards out Jacob, Sue, Josh and Goody all got in their swim suits and swam behind me to the shore and watched me get out.  I could see all my kids up on the steps and Joelle and her Dad were there.  The finish was such a blur to me.  It was awkward as I expected getting out.  The
Finish at the beach at the bottom
of Terranea Drive at Cielo Point.  Lucy
was there with her ipod to capture
this moment.
rocks aren't sharp, just placed randomly and it is just awkward to get a stable footing.  Kind of made me feel uncoordinated getting out, but I swam until I was merely inches from the bottom.  I did a push up during one of the backswells of the surf and as quickly as I could take a few steps off those rocks to the completely dry rocks.  Turned around and raised my hands.  They stopped the clock:  11:50:00

If I had to swim back with the boat to get that boat I definitely would not have got under 12 hours which was my goal.  Thank you GOODY!  My goal time would not have been possible without you.  
Best breakfast burrito ever!
I was treated with a plate full of chicken nuggets which Goody heated up before hand.  It was a real treat and oh so good!  But then the cook gave me a plate of a breakfast burrito which was simply amazing.  It was the best breakfast burrito I have ever had.  It was perfect.

Now I'm really sore.  My shoulders, lats, neck are shot.  I remember giving Ned Denison a hefty pat on the shoulder at a conference right after he did his Catalina swim and he firmly told me:  "Don't touch me, I just swam Catalina and my shoulders are in really bad shape."  Now I feel that pain.

I had a crew that were great taking TONS of video and pictures, but at this time am waiting for them to share their spoils with me.  I will add a few later to this post, and a link to the entire collection.

I'm so grateful to my crew for this swim!  They ALL provided so much support that made the swim a success.


SpotGPS trail
I'm sure people will ask me to compare it to the English Channel and my answer will be:

Every swim is different, but for my two swims, the Catalina Channel was tougher.  The conditions were much tougher.  However, the crew for the Catalina swim was much more lively and interactive which made that experience better for me.  However I got a REALLY smooth day in England so to say that the Catalina Channel is tougher would be a major over generalization.  I can only say that for those two distinct days, Catalina was tougher.  It was mile 2 through 4 that made it that case.  Had those two miles not been so rough, I would answer that the two were the same in difficulty for me.  

Some unofficial stats that Cathi noted:

Water temp ranged from 66-67 degrees, and colder at the finish
Stroke rate ranged from 65 to 74 spm.
Start time: 11:15:40 pm, Finish Time: 11:05:40 am;  Elapsed: 11:50:00

Here is the official observers log.
Here is my video/photo album of the trip (upload still in progress):.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Introducing tonight's theme: Making some magic

Right now it's eight hours until my time to jump in the water.  I am scheduling this post to go active while the Outrider motors us out to Catalina Island.

I've pondered how marathon swimming is like life.  We come to existence on Earth individually, but not completely alone.  We are part of a family unit.  We have our trials individually and within a family.  When a family comes together to support each other, that is when life is really meaningful and pleasurable. Individually we wouldn't be able to amount to much, but collectively, well that is quite a different story.

In order for a channel swim to be a success takes essentially three things (well and many more, but here are the main three):
  1. The swimmer
  2. The goal.  (The swim)
  3. The support group (crew, boat pilot, kind words from home, etc...)
Take one of those elements out and you could have either nothing special, a fatality waiting to happen, or just a fancy party cruise.  When you have all three, that's where some real magic happens, regardless of the end result.

Tonight my crew has been hand picked and before I even jump in the water, I want to express my appreciation for their willingness to come and be a part of my family!  I couldn't do this alone.  And thank you to every one of you who has sent messages of support online on facebook, email, or in person.  It means a lot to know I have many friends who are interested and care.  Thank you!  Without your support, this swim wouldn't be nearly as magical for me.  

Next post will be after the finish...  Go to facebook or twitter for realtime updates, or to my spot GPS for my location during the swim.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Supporting Joelle at the Cielo Point Beach

This afternoon we arrived at Terranea Trail at Cielo Point and walked down to the beach.  I could see a small vessel way off to the west.  Good thing I brought my binoculars.  They really did help figuring out that indeed the Outrider was there what seemed like many miles away still.  We waited for over an hour as it got closer and closer.   I saw there were many dolphins jumping out of the water when they were out far.  It was really cool to see.  Then she got close enough to see without binoculars and I got my swim suit on.

Here's the video I took of her coming in.


Joelle smiles proudly of her all night swim!  
She started her way back in and I reminded her that she ought to take a rock with her.  She quickly found one and started back.  During the last couple days I haven't been in the water and it sure felt great to get back in even if it was just for a few minutes.  All the knots in my back from driving were instantly melted away and the salt water tasted SO GOOD!  I'm used to the salt taste being overwhelming and in your face, that the slight salt flavor wasn't bad at all.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't drink it, but it instantly reminded me of England.  Had a humongous smile on my face thinking about my own swim in less than 48 hours!

As I was swimming with her back to the boat.  I had a couple thoughts:  For her, this "Christmas moment" is over.  Santa has come and she gets to play with her toys and enjoy the achievement, but the journey is complete.  The excitement and this point will only dwindle with time.  For me, I'm that nerdy little kid still in his long john jammies anxiously shaking with excitement under the covers in his bed, envisioning Santa on his way.  So excited.  The forecast looks fantastic!

Here's a link to all the pictures from our Catalina trip:  https://plus.google.com/photos/115941833045847154407/albums

Tonight I'm taking the family to a Dodgers game in LA.  That should be fun.  I'm not a big sports fan, but it should be a good memory maker.

Total:  about 100 yards in about 3 minutes.  Man did that feel great!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Celebrating my Channelversary

Exactly on year ago to the minute I was in the middle of the English Channel in the zone.

Lake Tahoe - probably the most beautiful fresh water
swims in the western US.
Last night I spent in a large tent with my family at Jamie's Swim Camp in Truckee.  It was really cool talking with some friends that I rarely see.   I especially enjoyed the conversation that I had with Evan and learned more about MIMS and the application process.  I always enjoy talking with Lynn.  She is such a bright ray of sunshine.  I'm so glad she's my observer.

This morning I got the kids to help me break camp and we all drove to the west side of Lake Tahoe.  Goody and I were in for a long route which Jamie said was 2.5 miles.  We got to the second long pier that was the turnaround point.  We got there exactly in one hour.  No way that was 2.5 miles.

The water so clear and blue it was breathtaking.  I dove down and picked up several items from the bottom which was about 12 -15 feet down.  I picked up:

  • Someone's reading glasses
  • A fishfinder console
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A dead prawn


Karen Rogers has a couple kayakers with us which was nice as an extra precaution against getting ran over by boaters.

It was a beautiful swim this morning and a fantastic way to celebrate my Channelversary.  Next up - Catalina.  If the conditions are kind, it should be a success!

Be sure to checkout my Spot starting around 11pm on Tuesday night!

Total:  Estimated 4 miles in 2:02

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Final swim

This morning is my final home swim until my Catalina Crossing.  I'm stoked!  This morning I got into the pool, but even if I'm just a couple minutes past 6am James and Paul have already gone 200 into the warmup.  My warmup was shortened in order to stay with them.

100 warmup
200 - 4 x 50's on :50
300 - 4 x 75's kick no fins
400 - 4 x 100's drill
1200 - 6 x 200's pull on 2:30 (The board said R :30 and I thought it said 2:30, so I left at an interval :15 faster than the other two guys.  Which wasn't terrible cause it pushed me to go hard with little rest)
300 - 4 x 75's  fast free 25, backstroke easy 25, fast free 25
400 pull finger paddles
400 - 8 x 50's free on :50
500 - 4 x 125's IM

3,800 yards total in 1:04

Probably pulled a little too aggressively as my left shoulder was a little achy at the end.  Good thing its getting lots of rest over the next week.  I'll probably only get one decent swim this next week.  Friday I plan to swim 6 miles by doing a double width of Donner Lake at Jamie's swim camp, then taking it easy the next several days.   It's gonna be a fantastic next couple weeks!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Afternoon swim

400 free
200 - 4 x 50's drill
300 - 4 x 75's kick
400 - 4 x 100's free/IM

1000 - 5 x (200 free/IM)

300 swim
300 - 4 x 75's kick
600 - 8 x 75's first four IM rotating, second four 25 under 50 over (hypoxic training)
100 easy

3,600 yards total in 1:00


Lots of kids in the pool, thus lots of boogers, but it was good practice dodging them like they were jellies.  Looking forward to Jamie's swim camp in two days!

This afternoon I googled Catalina Channel swim blog and read Doug McConnell's swim from last year:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Spontaneous cold water swim

Can you see the small fish? It's kind of a blur cause it's
really swimming fast to get out of the way.
Last night's plans to go see a movie as a family fell through due to a meeting with Isaac's football team that Cathi offered to go to.  I was going to do a short swim at the pool, but with this new development decided to grab the two youngest and go up to the cabin for one final cold water swim.  It went well and I really enjoyed the view of all the various rocks under the water.  Such a variety of rocks that it really amazes me.  How in the heck did they get there?  I mean they're all so different that I just don't understand how they could have been put there.  One of the mysteries of God for me.

I saw several fish including the big silver one, and the many different "lizard fish".  Did 45 minutes this evening and then enjoyed a meal with the kids and watched some Sponge Bob Square Pants with them.  Went to bed and slept in again this morning.  Ahh, that feels so good!

Planning a short swim after work on the way home at the pool.  Then tomorrow will be my last home swim before Catalina!  Yippee!

Total: More than 1 mile - 45 minutes of swimming

Monday, August 5, 2013

Funny dream

Last night I had an interesting dream.  I'm not an interpreter, so I don't know what it means really but here is the gist of it:

In my dream, I had an agreement to meat up with Rob Dumouchel to swim with him and a group at Avila Beach.  I was really late getting there at the agreed time and when I got there the two lifeguards said they had already gone out.  They showed me a box at the base of the lifeguard stand, reached in and asked me to put on this orange old-school wool swimsuit for the swim.  I was confused.  I never saw Rob wear one of these.  Why were they enforcing a rule that I wear one of these goofy looking things?  I asked them why, and they said that all noobie open water swimmers had to wear them so they could be more visible to the guards so if the swimmer had a problem, they would be easier to see.

I got a little defensive.  I was like, "Dude!  What makes you think I'm a noobie? I swam the English Channel last summer."  They were like, "Yeah right, then why are you wearing fins?"  I looked down and I was like "What the hell?"   I never swim with fins in open water, how did they get there?   I woke up laughing.

Yesterday Goody sent me this picture via facebook.  I had to share with Cathi, I thought it was quite funny.

This morning I slept in and man did that feel great!  I'll get in a short swim in this afternoon after work.  One week from right now Joelle should be only a few miles from finishing her Catalina swim.  And I'll only one day away from starting mine.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

300th open water swim

Today I did a bunch of yard work, and then went lifting.  A few hours later I left for Deer Creek to meet with Goody and Sue for a swim.  I got there about an hour later than I planned.  My triceps were very sore from the last two lifting sessions.  It was tough keeping up with Sue.  She was pushing me pretty hard, and I ended up letting her go the last mile.  I was spent.  The water temp on my watch read 75 degrees.

The SLOW Board (minus Chad)
After the swim met up with Josh, and we had our "clinic".  Funny thing only three people registered.  It was a very personal instruction followed by a swim.  Rachel and Tanya were our swimmers and we took them for a swim out from the ramp.

Tanya told me that just one year ago she didn't know how to swim at all.  She's overcome some fears and is now a swimmer, and her stroke is fantastic!  I'm very impressed with how Kate has done coaching her.  Her form looks very good.  She has some confidence issues, but once she gets more experience and mentally aware of her strength, she'll be a rock star.  Goody and I swam side by side with her to encourage her.  We swam a round trip route that was probably 200 yards.

No lie, I saw her stroke and saw a marathon swimmer.  What a great day!

Today was my 300th swim in open water.  A pretty cool milestone I think.

3.75 miles in 2:05

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Last Logan Run before Catalina

Last night I swam up at the cabin in the Logan River.  I took Jonas and Sam up with me.  They played while I swam.  The water was awesome as always.  Clear visibility and I saw probably a 16 inch fish swimming around me.  I couldn't tell what kind it was.  It definitely wasn't a rainbow trout or a cutthroat trout.  It was pretty huge.  I also so about 5 bottom feeding algae eaters  They could be called the rivers lizards.  They just sit motionless on rocks and when they move its very quick and robotic.

Stayed in for 70 minutes and swam strong during that time.  I estimate it was equivalent to at least 2 miles.  

I couldn't get my mind of Cathi.  She's had a very rough couple of days, no thanks to me.  I decided that after the swim I'd just go back home instead of stay the night and do a short swim in the morning.  I stopped at Sonic and picked up her favorite treat - crushed ice.  No calories and guilt free enjoyment for her.  I got home, poured a cup of that ice and gave her a foot massage with lotion (I hate the feel of lotion on my hands so when I use lotion, she knows I really love her).

I got up at 0500 and went to NWRC and did the workout that was on the board:

400 swim
200 - 4 x 50 kick
300 - 4 x 75's 50 drill, 25 stroke
400 - 4 x 100's free/IM
1000 - 5 x (150 pull descending paddle size each set, 50 fast) :10-15 ri
300 swim
300 - 4 x 75's kick
600 - 8 x 75's first 4 IM, second 4 weighted 25's/50 sprint
100 easy

3,600 yards total in 65 minutes

Saw my mom again in the "river" at NWRC.  Good to see her in the water again.

Catalina is now less than 2 weeks away.  I'm getting so excited!