Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Put your money where your mouth is

Warning:  This is a whiny post.  But I need to vent.  So skip it if you don't want to be annoyed.

One thing that kinda bugs me is when swimmers alert the media about something they're training for and for some reason or another, don't actually swim.  That may be because they alerted the media prior to fully realizing the difficulty of the swim.  Difficulty in training, difficulty in hurdling all the logistics, difficulty in saving up the money needed.

Personally, I will never donate to someone who is raising money for their swim.  If they are asking for donations which link directly to a charity, that's completely different, and I'm fine with that.   It reminds me of those annoying calls from colleges I've attended.  They want me to donate for a scholarship.  Guess what?  I paid my own way through college, it drove me to excel, and not just coast.  Same thing with funding a channel swim.  If I pay for it myself, I'll train for it.  I'll take it seriously.

Last year I read up on this swimmer in Dallas who included ice baths for training for swimming the English Channel.  Yes, the Channel is cold, but ice baths in my opinion, are only good for mental training, or for training for an ice mile.  This is not cold water acclimatization training relevant to English Channel marathon swimming.  Ice baths are much colder than 50 degrees.  It's like a marathon runner training by sprinting 100 yards maybe twice a day and calling it good.  Exposure to super cold for maybe 30 minutes at a time is totally different than extensive multi-hour exposure to 60 degree water.

Did that Dallas based swimmer, Bryan Mineo swim the English Channel?  Not yet anyway.  The complete list of successful swimmers is here.  Dare to dream, but if it's a big dream, be sure you have done your homework and comprehend what it will take to complete it.  Especially if you plan to let other people know.

Reminds me of the guy in On a Clear Day.  He didn't even tell his wife or son, just his close friends who were very involved in his training.   If you talk, you better put up, or shut up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Techinque to prevent over-rotation in freestyle

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I'm coaching my boys early in the morning.  They all have uniquely different styles of freestyle with varying strengths and weaknesses.  One in particular, Jonas, was having difficulty with over rotation in his freestyle.

I tried getting him on a snorkel, and focusing on his head position that way, and it worked fine, until he took off the snorkel.

With him swimming and me walking alongside the deck, I would look down and his arms would cross over quite dramatically as he overrotated, and also took a breath almost at his 12 'o clock rather than a 4 or 8 o'clock position.

He has been playing a superhero game on the ipod where Superman blows his enemies away with his laser vision.  I explained that he should imagine he is superman when he swims and intensely focuses his vision on the bottom of the pool directly beneath him.  And by so doing, creates a laser between his eyes and the pool bottom.  If he crosses his hand or arm in front of that line, his arms/hand will get cut off at that point.

Once I added that imagery to his mind, he then started having a high elbow pull, his back almost remained flat in the water, with his hands pointed down towards the bottom of the pool and palms facing behind him.  He no longer had the cross over and it also fixed his over-rotation!  It was like a totally different swimmer just jumped in!  Now that we have that imagery that corrects the problem, we gotta keep working on that and get the muscle memory to kick in.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Monster Slayer Chad

Yesterday I witnessed an amazing thing.  Chad swam the length of Bear Lake.  That's a 19 mile freshwater swim at an elevation of 5,924 feet above sea level folks!

Chad picked me up on Wednesday night and we drove straight up to the marina.  The crew consisted of myself, Sue Frehse, Sarah Jones and Chad's wife Chandra.

We got the boat loaded up and had a crew conference where Chad discussed his plan including feeds, direction of swim (which we decided at the time of arrival and referring to the weather forecast for the next 14 hours).  We discussed the roles every had and safety.  We then tied the kayak to the back of his boat and motored to the north end.  We went towards lights that we thought were the marina, but once we got close the lights disappeared.  They were on the other side of the north road which was confusing.  We slowed down and saw the shoreline was covered with reeds and difficult to get to.

I turned on my handheld GPS and I could see Goody's track from a couple weeks earlier.  The marina was a couple miles east of us.  So we started heading east.  But no lights.  What happened.  Once we got close to where we should be based on the GPS Sarah turned on a flashlight and BAM!  The marina wall was right there!  If we had gone a few seconds further we would have ran right into it.  There were no lights whatsoever near the marina, no buoy lights, not even the lights along the ramp were on.  Very dangerous situation.  Good thing we slowed down when we did.  Idaho State parks really needs to think about how safe it is to not have a single light on in that area.

We motored over to the end of the boat ramp and Chad started greasing up.  He then waded over to the rocks at the end of the ramp and started walking back in and we started the clock. (12:45:10 am)

Here are my transcribed notes:

Start Time: 12:45:10am

Mile Time Elpased time this mile Temp Stroke rate Feed * Conditions Notes
1 1:18 am 33 min 62° F 65 spm None Glassy Sue learning to drive and doing well
2 1:51 am 33 min 62° F 65 spm Liquid mix Glassy Sue is an awesome pilot! Chad looking smooth
3 2:24 am 33 min 63° F 63-64 spm Liquid mix Glassy Chad is a machine! Gords concerned about the higher than desired water temps, but no reason to stop.
4 2:58 am 34 min 65° F (two separate readings) 64 spm Liquid mix Glassy Water almost feels warm to the touch. Extending the thermometer to about 2 feet down. Same reading on thermometer
5 3:33 am 35 min 63° F 62 spm Liquid mix + Swiss Roll A little breeze from the north (tailwind)
6 4:10 am 37 min 64° F 61 spm Liquid mix Air temp is 62°, water is warmer than air temp. Chad says his back hurts.
7 4:50 am 40 min 64° F (two separate readings) 61 spm Liquid mix and a Buzz Bite Wind from the south, getting choppy. Like a doofus I accidentally stepped on the mercury reading thermometer and it broke. I will submerge my watch to get a digital reading. I'm getting really sleepy. Asked Sarah to resume observing duties while I sleep for one hour and I should be good.
8 5:29 am 39 min 65° F 60 spm Liquid mix Still pretty choppy Chad's stroke rate is dropping, but he is in good spirits. Doesn't say much. Feeds are very quick.
9 6:15 am 46 min 64° F 59 spm Liquid mix Less wind, chop turns to ripples now. Light on the horizon. When I awoke from my 1 hour nap I feel very. Chad's stroke rate is slowing. Says his feet are cold, but his core feels fine. His speech isn't slurred. Will continue to monitor his condition at feeds for hypothermia.
10 7:02 am 43 min 63° F 59 spm Liquid mix, Buzz Bite and Swiss Roll Less wind, chop turns to ripples now. Chad asked what the temp was. We told him and he seemed a little disappointed. I explained we still submit, and if it isn't accepted as a qualifier we try a different swim at the needed temp. He went right back to swimming.
11 7:53 am 51 min 62° F 59 spm Liquid mix Hardly a breeze now, just some ripples The sun is up and it feels great.
12.5 8:59 am N/A 61 spm Liquid mix, Buzz Bite, Ibuprofen No wind now, nice and smooth! I ask if Sue wants to pace swim with him so I take over piloting the boat while she changes. The throttle has a little "click" that takes it into first gear and then after only a few seconds of steering throttle to neutral and coast. Chad is now at a point where he's never swam this far before. Chad tells Sue he is feeling a little cold. He puts on his tinted goggles.
13 9:23 am N/A 63.1 62 spm Liquid mix Glassy Sue pace swims. Chad's stroke is less efficient. Sue is making him increase his stroke rate though, so that is good.
14 10:06 am 43 min 63 62 spm Liquid mix Glassy Chad comments "What a beautiful day!" I think I saw him smile. That is extremely rare. Sue got out a while, ago but I continue to drive. It's kinda fun. Easy to observe him and pilot cause I gotta keep the boat right at his pace.
15 10:53 am 47 min 63 64 spm Liquid mix, Buzz Bite Glassy Chad's stroke rate is up. He asked how much further. Seemed to like the "3 1/2" response. In good spirits. Air temp is toasty!
16 11:36 am 40 min 64 60 spm Liquid mix, Swiss Roll Slight ripple Sarah gets in to pace swim. She has to slow down. Chad seems tired, but steady. Chad requests advil next feed. Beach is visible from here. Sue takes over piloting.
17 no reading N/A no reading no reading Liquid mix, Ibuprofen Slight ripple At this feed Sarah accidentally loses the pen and it floats away while Chad takes his liquid and advil. I untie the kayak and jump in to get the pen. We're close enough now that I can paddle and be ready to capture some video.
18 no reading N/A no reading no reading none See Notes Had a slight tailwind breeze, notice up ahead that the water has serious ripples, once we get there the wind completely shifts from southerly to northerly and we have some serious headwind. Very windy. Chad comments to me that he feels like he isn't going anywhere. Wind is directly at our 12 o'clock and we have white horses!
19 (Finish) 13:55:16 N/A no reading no reading none See Notes I paddled into shore and noticed a small black patch. When he arrived there he started walking and the black patch were a bunch of reeds that made it really hard for him to walk over, I noticed that the patch ended about 20 yards off to his left and encouraged him to walk around instead of straight in to avoid them. He fell a couple times cause they hurt to walk over and too thick to navigate through. When he arrived on the beach he sat down to soak it in. I let him soak in his success without smothering him. I gave him a high five and he got lots of cheers from the girls on the boat waiting about 200 yards off shore.

Total time elapsed: 13:09:06

I'm so proud of Chad and how he was able to power through this.  I could tell he was tired, yet he persisted and not once complained.  Chad is the sixth person to have ever swam the length of Bear Lake!  Pretty neat accomplishment.

I had a great time crewing on this swim and although mother nature didn't help us out with a 61 degree temperature, she sure was kind in the relatively smooth conditions, until the end.  Those winds at the end were simply unreal!  I thought of the prayer that Chad asked Sarah to offer at the start.  Today's conditions were truly an appreciated answer to that prayer.  The winds the last mile were an eye opener to me of how it could have been.  Had it been like that starting half way into the swim, I don't think it would have been possible to finish.  It was amazing enough that he pushed through that last mile.  So proud of that guy!

Here's a few pics and video I took.
Chad joins a pretty exclusive group to have ever slain the
Bear Lake Monster!  (Image created by Josh Green)

Some things to work on:
He does have some stroke techinique that'll we need to work through to help with his lower back pain.  He needs to drive his head a little lower to get a more streamlined position, and we need to work on bilateral breathing.  The goal on a long swim like this should be at least 34 minute miles.  Why? Because in order to hit Cap Griz Nes in a tide cycle that lasts 6 hours, a 12 hour swim is ideal.  Unless your Trent Grimsey and can swim it just under 6 hours.

The English Channel from the shortest distance (Cap Griz Nes to the coast in Dover), is 21 miles.  If you're able to swim the English Channel in 12 hours, you're averaging 34 minute miles (including time wasted at feeds).  The more you deviate from that 34 minute mile average, the more you're gonna miss the cap which means a longer swim, because of the contours of the French coast.  I'm sure I'm over simplifying it, but regardless a 34 minute mile is something that is definitely achievable especially in good conditions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I consider the most inspiring clip from a swimming movie

The past few months I've been supporting several swimmers in fairly big swims.  2 out of 3 were pulled for hypothermia.  It's a serious thing to be on a support crew where you need to measure safety and support and know when the scale is tipping and what kind of support to give.

It made me think about my favorite scene from my favorite swimming movie.  If the swimmer is not in danger, the thought of being the crew member that convinces the swimmer to not give up and continue on until they actually finish.  That gives me goose bumps!  Now THAT is inspiring!

This clip is from "On A Clear Day".  If you're training to swim the English Channel, BUY IT

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sarah Jones' Bear Lake Double aborted due to extreme hypothermia

When: Monday, September 1st, 2014 Start time: @3:40am Course: Cisco Beach boat ramp to Bear Lake Marina and back. Distance: 13.5 miles Swimmer: Sarah Jones - Sarah is a frequent swimmer with SLOW and member of South Davis Masters. She swam the Utah Triple Crown summer of 2014. She is an experienced and successful open water swimmer. Report written by: Gordon Gridley Crew: Steve Jones - Support Kayaker for the first width Gordon Gridley - Support Kayaker for the second width I drove to the marina to witness Lisa Gentile and Sarah finish their first leg of their double width crossing. Lisa exited the water north of the marina by the pavilion at approximately 7:40 am and within just a few seconds reentered the water to go back east. The sun had risen over the eastern mountains about 30 minutes prior to that. Using my binoculars I could see Sarah arriving about 10 minutes behind. I walked down to the water’s edge when Steve paddled up with Sarah right next to him. I quickly transitioned and got in the boat, yelled back to Steve to throw me his kayak which I put on. The sun was warm and the breeze was slight. It was the perfect morning for a swim. No threat of rain or storms whatsoever. Her time for the first leg: 4:10 When she stopped briefly at the shore, I could tell she was shivering a little and complained that she was a little cold. I told her we’d need to increase her stroke rate to get her warmed up and that the sun would also feel good as she’d just swam many hours in the darkness. She took feeds every 30 minutes like clockwork. Consisted of two different bottles one with a white cap, another with a black cap. I don’t know exactly what was in them, just that she has special homemade mixes that she swears by. She had buzz bites, fig newtowns and a banana for a solid food. The first two feeds were uneventful and relatively quick, she didn’t say much but just kept swimming. But at about the third feed she asked me how far she went. I didn’t have my GPS with me since Goody still had it from his length swim a couple days before. I estimated based on the time of 30 minute miles (which she’s probably much faster than that), that we were three miles into the return leg. She complained, “is that all?” After this she started to get really moody. She stopped only about 20 minutes after that one to complain that she was tired. She looked desperate for the swim to be over. She stretched and I asked if she wanted an early feed which she declined. She swam another 10 minutes and I gave her a feed. I saw that her stroke still had good form and that she was at 60 spm. Her feet were high in the water and she had a good two beat kick. About 5 minutes after that again she stopped and said, “I want Steve!” I reached for my phone, and realized, well he was on the east shore without a boat to get out to us. She shortly went back to swimming. Steve had taken my car from the marina back to the east side to get his kids up at camp and to watch over them. He had my cell number and I was hoping he’d call so I could at least have his number should I need him. This cycle continued for several rounds of swimming for 5 minutes and stopping. I asked her if she wanted to stop and get on the boat, she yelled out “No!” and that her seven year old daughter was expecting her to finish. I told her she should swim for 20 minutes without stopping. However she only continued for about 10 minutes and then stopped again. She again complained of being tired, and I could tell her speech was starting to slur. I asked her what her youngest daughter’s name was, She yelled out “What?” (She was wearing ear plugs) I yelled back, “What is your youngest daughter’s name? Your 7 year old!” She yelled back at me “Lauren! And she’s not my youngest daughter. That’s Clair!” And she gave me some daggers with her eyes that I’ll never forget. Like she wanted me to die right there and then. I figured if she could remember their names so clearly, and with such emotion that she was OK. But then again, to freak over something like that seemed quite odd to me, but I let it pass. But at the next feed I noticed her hand was shaking as she was pouring the liquid from her bottle into her mouth. Her eyes just seemed off to me. She kept asking how much further and was wasting so much time treading water complaining, that I didn’t feel right about it. I knew she was going to put up a huge fight about quitting, even if she was completely mentally with it, which she was not. I yelled back at her, “If you don’t get your head in and give me one straight hour of solid swimming, I’m gonna get you in those boat right here!” She was so fatigued she moaned “NO!” I started to count like a mean parent, “20!” “15!” All the while she just stayed there moaning “No! Stop! I can keep going!” But she wasn’t swimming. I saw a boat speed past us about 300 yards north of us, and I raised my paddle up high vertically in the air waving it back and forth and whistled as loud as I could, but with the sound of their engine they never heard me, and didn’t look south in my direction apparently. All the while Sarah is moaning “No! Gordon No! What are you doing!!!” I started to collect all my electronics, my wallet, anything else I cared about and put them in my waterproof container. I took a small pillow that I had stowed for my back and placed it in front of me. Even though there wasn’t a seat there, there would be room enough for one more person in front of me. I paddled up right next to her and yelled, “Grab the boat! You’re done!” Again the eye daggers of death were delivered, but I didn’t care, she was in never ever land. I was prepared in case she did something completely nutty like tipping me. She attempted to climb on board while I leaned far to the right to counter her weight. But we were taking on water. Even with my weight on the boat we only had about 3-4 inches of clearance to the surface of the water. She wasn’t even able to climb on board with the lack of strength anyway. So I jumped out and with the kayak between us, grabbed her hand and helped pull her on top of the kayak. She was able to get her left leg up on the kayak near the bow and I encouraged her to keep edging up on top. She was able to, but was off center. I went around to the other side and started to push her up more towards the centerline of the kayak to keep it from rolling. I covered her with a thin blanket I brought with me and her upper body with a jacket. I went back to the waterproof container and then realized I didn’t have Steve’s number. He hadn’t called me yet and I wasn’t about to call 911 yet. I asked Sarah what Steve’s number was, thinking there was no way she would remember. But about 20 seconds later she blurted it out. Thankfully I had the keypad up on my phone ready to dial so I quickly dialed it in. He answered and I explained to Steve that the swim was off and the she was in severe hypothermia and we needed his help getting a boat out to us. I said we were about 1.5 miles due east of Cisco beach, but realize now I meant due west.” Within approximately 10-15 minutes I heard a boat, but couldn’t see it up ahead and realized that it was coming from the west behind us. During that time I was breast stroke kicking behind the kayak trying to stabilize it at the same time. I took some video right after the call with Steve to capture her state of mind in case she wanted to see how bad she was gone. She did say a few things about how sad and disappointed she was, nothing to demonstrate her mental deterioration, but could still hear how slurred her speech was. When the boat motored up Daniel (the Utah State Park ranger) encouraged her to sit up in the kayak while he steadied her to step up onto the boat from the starboard side. I held onto the kayak pressing it into the rescue boat to ensure she didn’t fall back into the water. She was unable to climb into the boat with her own strength and Daniel had to lift her up. He got her to the front of the boat and covered with coats. I moved the kayak to the back of the rescue boat, climbed in and after Daniel had her wrapped up helped me lift it over the port side into the boat. I went to the front of the cabin and helped secure the coats around Sarah as we motored towards Cisco beach. She wasn’t talking, but shivering which was a good sign. When we arrived I could see an ambulance backed up and Steve and Richard (the Bear Lake Marina ranger) on the boat ramp. We asked Sarah if she could stand up, but we Daniel and I had to help her stand and walk slowly to the edge of the boat and up on to the ramp where Steve and Richard helped her up. We wrapped a blanket around her waist and asked the Ambulance operator to fully back up completely to the ramp so she didn’t have to walk on the rocks. We got her up into the ambulance where Steve and the EMT took over. About 45 minutes later, Steve came out and said that the EMT reported that her initial temperature was 78 degrees but had climbed up to 94 within 20 minutes. Oh my gosh, she was much worse off than I thought. I should have pulled her probably half an hour before that. She was in really bad shape, but thankfully we got her out no later than that and we had a quick rescue. Video of Sarah’s condition shortly after getting on the kayak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8I2mvBXJMM

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Season wrap up with Deer Creek

Yesterday the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon took place and it was fun.  Even though I wasn't able to swim, I paddled for Sarah while her husband Steve paddled for their daughter, Sophia, who swam the one mile course.

When the 10 mile swimmers began they stayed relatively close together for the first half mile, but then spread out a little.  At that point Sarah was right on my starboard side about 3 feet out.  She did some drafting for a few minutes off various people, but I found that most of the other kayakers were doing a terrible job in guiding their swimmers.  I knew that if I could get her to follow my line closely, that we could swim a shorter path and "swim faster" than those who were having to sight every 5 strokes.  
At the end of Wallsburg bay she moved into 5th position.  Once she got around that buoy she quickly moved into 3rd position.  Then by the time we got to the mouth of Wallsburg bay again, she was only 25 yards behind Lisa and George.  By the time we got about 2.5 miles into the race she had passed Lisa and George and was continuing to lengthen that lead.  When I told her at mile 2 at her first feed she could win this thing, she splashed me and didn't believe me.  I told her I was serious and that if she maintained this pace she would definitely win it.  They were slowing down and she was speeding up.  Their kayakers were all over the place and I noticed they both were sighting frequently.  Sarah didn't sight more than a couple times the entire time I was with her.  

I was expecting Steve to catch me around mile 2, but he was no where to be seen so I stayed right with her.  I'd occassionally give her a sign of "You're doing really well", but holding a fist up.  I'd give her a two minute warning before her 30 minute feeds which went really fast.  They were about 30 seconds or so. She'd drink and go.  

When we got to the 5K turnaround buoy at the Rainbow bay she was doing very well.  We made it all the way to the 4.25 miles into it when Steve paddled up behind me.  I told him she was due for a feed in one minute and that if she kept going at this pace she would win.  

At this point I had to go to the bathroom really bad.  The whole experience made me much more appreciative of Tom Reilly and Terry O'Malley my paddlers for Catalina and MIMS.  That sure is a long way to paddle and I was only paddling for 3 hours.  They both did way more than that.

Today was a special day for me as it's my "Channelversary".  What a dream it was two years ago when I was able to tour Dover and England having just swum the channel!  I'm excited to go back and experience that all over again as a coach for Chad.  Here's a video that still gives me chills!

It's my ultimate goal to share that experience with him.  At yesterday's race he had an incident where a kayaker got too close to him and he ended up breaking and dislocating a couple fingers on his hand.  That was about a mile into the race so he swam the remaining portion in terrible pain, but he finished!  I can only imagine the frustration, disappointment and worry he must have gone through during the race.  
Charles, Lisa, Sarah, Chad and Stacey.  Utah Triple Crown
swimmers for 2014!
He is taking a couple days off to let the swelling go down and to heal, but he is very determined to continue his training and get his qualifier done in September.  I'm praying for him that it heals quickly.  Fortunately you don't have a ton of pressure on your fingers so the strain on them should be relatively small.  It's a significant amount of pressure if they're in pain I'm sure, but once they've even partially healed, it should be just a matter of keeping that pain under control.  

I'm so proud of my two close swimming friends Sarah and Chad for their performances on Saturday.  There were 5 swimmers total this year that swam the Utah Triple Crown during race day.  Pretty impressive!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Paying the price for pushing

Shoulder pain continues.  Went to see my surgeon this morning with the MRI images and he told me of three issues.  He said I have arthritis and tendonitis in my shoulder.  First off, I'm wearing down the tendons around the AC joint, instead of cartilage, there is none, it's bone rubbing bone which is the source of the pain.  He said it can be fixed fairly easily and without much impact on my training.  It's like a 4-5 week recover is all.  You cut down the bone and it fills in with scar tissue.  That part alone isn't a big deal.

But he noticed a couple things, a cyst near where my rotator cuff attaches to the bone.  There was a good amount of liquid in the tendon and in the bone around that cyst meaning that its been irritating that joint and its inflamed.  The amount of tendon that attaches to the bone concerned him.  Instead of it attaching along the full length, it was only attached at a fraction of the length, which implies there could be a partial rotator cuff tear there.

He seemed more concerned about another image which meant there could be a partial Labrum tear going into my bicep.  It would mean going in under my armpit, severing my bicep tendon and reattaching it to my bone instead of my shoulder.

There was a lot of information to take in and I hope I got it all right. He gave me several options like doing one surgery for the AC joint, or additionally having him go in with a scope and get a good look at things at the time of the AC joint surgery to see how bad it is and fix it.

It's got me thinking about my future and where I really want to go with this.  Do I want to keep pushing my body with training 8-10K yards a day several times a week in preparation for a ultra marathon swim?  I worry when I see my mother who doesn't have full range of motion in her shoulder due to her body breaking down and having surgery, but never back to full range.  If I get this surgery now, do I risk needing another surgical procedure later on, cause I've "worn out" that fix?  Do I take this as a sign to move on to a different sport?  My shoulder still needs some rest.  I tried swimming with it a little this morning while working with the kids.  Still pretty painful.  Makes me really sad.

I mentioned this idea to Dr. Gardiner and he said that there wasn't anything that required surgery for day to day functionality, but that if I wanted to train for big swims, that it would be a good idea to proceed.  So I'm leaning towards letting it all just rest and move on, then reassess in a year.  It's like I'm closing a chapter in my life that has brought me so much joy and purpose.  I have to be happy and extremely satisfied with what I've accomplished.  I know there are other activities I enjoy that will keep me young and fit.

I'll still be involved in coaching and participating in my friends adventures, but as for me training superhuman distances and planning long swims, that is postponed for at least a year.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jonas does it! One mile straight swimming

Cathi observed and Jonas swam one mile
After Isaac's successful open water swim at the swim camp, Jonas has been getting ribbed pretty good from Isaac about his aborting the swim.  So Jonas has been desperate to prove himself to Isaac, and probably himself.  So today Jonas swam 36 laps continuously in the pool while I gave the younger two a swim lesson.  Cathi sat there at the end of the lane to make sure the count on his laps was correct.

He did it and I was so proud as I saw him really sprint that last lap. He still had ton left in the tank.  What a proud moment for me to see that kid make it.  Cool thing is he now gets his Mile Swim patch for scouts.  Probably the youngest scout to get it in our troop.

Nice job Joey!

Monday, July 28, 2014

1000 miles swam in open water

This morning I woke up with some shoulder pain just by lifting it.  This is new.  Not the typical ache at my ac joint.  Seems like it's my deltoid muscle itself and not the joint.  Who knows.  If it doesn't get better by tomorrow afternoon, I'll schedule an appointment with Dr. Gardiner like I should have done in the first place a few weeks ago.

So I hurried to hook up the trailer and got out to Pineview to paddle for Chad, Goody, and Sarah.  I stopped at Walmart
and picked up a nice headlamp and some glow sticks.   Met at the marina and got all ready to go.  We were in the water at 0440 and Sarah went at a slightly faster pace and had to stop a few times to let the boys catch up.

We got to the buoy line and I encouraged them to sprint the distance which is about 300 yards or so.  Then we made our way up the south side and then the sun started to show a little bit of light on the horizon.  When we got to the "Cigarette Buoys" as Goody calls them, I saw that Emily and Michelle's car was at the parking lot.  We were about 15 minutes past due so we had to hurry.

When we arrived they were on the beach preparing to get in.  Took a bit of coaxing, but we got them in.  Goody escorted Emily along the buoy line (1 mile), while Sarah and I escorted Michelle.  They did great.  They still are new to open water swimming and are a little apprehensive about it, but with more practice and confidence they'll do just fine.  They're strokes look good, it's just a matter of practice and persistence.

Looking forward to another session.  Chad's big Dam to Dam swim is this Friday.  He's planning to do one more big workout this week, and then taper down for a fully energized day in Idaho on the water.  Good luck Chad, you're gonna do awesome.

Oh, I hit a pretty big milestone this past weekend at the swim camp.  1000 miles swam in open water in my lifetime.  Doesn't sound like a lot, considering I also just hit over 5000 miles total (both pool and open water swimming).

Given the 10,000 hour rule for being a master in your field of choice, which actually Malcolm Gladwell, the inventor of the 10,000 hour rule, clarifies as not being completely relevant to sport.   Anyhow, given a 30 minute mile, I've only achieved 2,500 hours of swimming.  In order to get the 10,000 hours, I'll need to quadruple my total so far.  At the rate of swimming 500 miles/year till I'm 80, I'll finally achieve that distance of swimming the circumference of the earth at the equator. Woah!  I wonder how many miles someone like Phelps has swam in his lifetime.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 2 of 2014 Swim Camp

This morning we all slept in a little because of last night's night swim.  We started our swim after breakfast and decided to swim across the reservoir to the other side.

Last night Gary arrived and this morning swam with Cathi.  Cathi hasn't swam more than a mile in open water before and this would be a new PR for her.  She's a backstroker so she swam the whole thing backstroke.  She didn't even wear goggles.  Problem is she could sight very well unless the kayaker was at her 7 oclock almost behind her so she could see her out of the bottom of her eye, as she was looking up.  She would keep her eyes closed rather than use goggles to keep the sun out.  Made for a very wavy course to say the least.  Karl's wife Char paddled for them.

Sarah, Joelle, Sue and myself all stayed right together with Renee Beard as the kayaker.  Sarah experimented with drafting off different people along the say.  She found that drafting off a big person (me), was more effective and could tell the difference than drafting off someone smaller, Sue or Joelle.  Makes sense.  A bigger boat will create a bigger wave and displace more water than a smaller one.  I suggested that for deer creek we work together and swim as a pack, taking turns drafting.  I think I may get a couple takers on that idea.  That would be fun.

After we got back Joelle and I turned back around and swam out to Cathi while Sarah paddled.  She had never paddled before and wanted to see what she was asking Steve, her husband to do.  When we got back to Cathi we swam backstroke together back to the finish.  I was glad for the change of stroke, it was fun.

After this swim we had lunch, broke camp and said our goodbyes.  It was such a fun weekend!

Total for the day: 3.25 miles

Friday, July 25, 2014

Day 1 of 2014 Swim Camp

This morning's sunrise swim oute.
This morning I woke up at 0530 and met Sarah and Sue at the waters edge at the Lucerne Group camp site only about a 2 minute walk from our tent site.  The sun wasn't quite up yet but the sky was starting to brighten.  We decided to follow the shoreline heading towards Wyoming.

Sarah, Sue and me enjoying the sun rise.
The sun coming up was majestic as always.  We went out about a mile and Sarah wanted to be back in time to make breakfast for the waking children.  I agreed.  We all were about the same pace which was wonderful.  When we got back we enjoyed talking and eating breakfast together.
Lovely views from the water!

Steve was the camp chow champion!
The swimmers who were there at camp this year were: Karl Christen, Sarah Jones, Sue Frehse, Joelle Beard, myself.  This was a camp for families so the kids really enjoyed playing games together.
The campsite we had was awesome.  It was plenty spacious, and we didn't have any neighboring campers besides our group.  We had our own water entry which wasn't very hospitable to swimmers, but doable.  We had a fairly steep and narrow path to the water which we were able to get the kayaks down to, but the rocks getting in were sharp and slippery which made for
Kids clinic about to start
some minor accidents with the kids.

After breakfast we had our kids clinic.  Sophia, Ryan, Lucy, Jonas and Isaac started out planning to swim one mile.  Jonas quickly got cold and started to cry.  We were only 100 yards into it and he was already shivering.  I tried to encourage him, but he was done.  I told him to climb into the front of the boat and we continued to escort Isaac and Lucy, while Sophia and Ryan stayed with Cathi in her boat (which was also accompanied by Sue swimming alongside).

Me and my kids "Got Salt?"  Austin and Jacob had to work
and weren't able to join us at camp.
Sophia and Ryan were about the same pace while Lucy was quite a bit faster than Isaac, so Sarah escorted Lucy.  She was content to swim the course breaststroke, while Isaac resorted to backstroke.  I tried getting Isaac to swim front crawl, but he struggled keeping he face in deep enough to keep his legs high enough in the water to stay streamlined.  Something we will definitely work on at the pool this next month.  I had my GPS in the boat and was watching it carefully.  Once we got around the northern point from our camp it was a quarter mile.  We continued on and I yelled ahead to Sarah to have Lucy touch the next big rock around the corner which was the turn around point.  It was .52 miles from the start.  Perfect.

He started crying at about .6 miles into it.  He kept asking me up to that point, "Do you think I can do it Dad?"  and I also heard him mutter to himself, "You can do this Issac, you can do this!"  It made me laugh, he's such a determined kid.  He never touched the boat or asked if he could quit, he was gonna do this.  (Forget the fact that I gave him a financial incentive)

When we got around the point coming back, Lucy was already done.  Isaac continued on despite crying and exclaiming, "This was so much harder than I thought it was going to be", or "I'm so tired!  I
feel sick."  It made me realize why they don't let kids under 16 swim the English Channel anymore.  It's just too much to ask a kid to do.  But this was one mile and were almost done.  When we finished there was still a good sized group of kids and adults there and everyone cheered for him.  He was so proud of himself.  Quite an accomplishment for a 10 year old kid who really is still very much a beginner.  Next time, we'll get him to do the whole distance front crawl without stopping.

The afternoon we had our main swim with Joelle, Karl, Sue, Sarah and myself.  We all drove to "Swimmer's Beach", a short 5 minute drive from camp where there was a beach that was quite long and much more friendly to kids and swimmers entering/exiting the water.  We decided to swim along the shoreline back to camp and back.  We had two kayaks, one for Joelle, Sue Sarah and myself and Karl had his wife Char with him.

Sue and Joelle were going at a faster pace than I like to cruise at, but I decided to just stay with them.  The water was fairly calm unless a boater sped by and then we'd get a brief moment of wake, but it wasn't bad.  Joelle's Mom, Renee, paddled for us.  We stopped for a minute at our camp beach and then swam back to the start at swimmer's beach.  When I got there, Isaac asked me if I wanted to accompany him for a swim out to the no wake buoys and back.  A distance of about 300 yards round trip.  We did.  He did mostly breaststroke this time. I swam alongside him and continued to encourage him.  This time he didn't cry and enjoyed it.  It's so fun to watch him get excited about his potential and discover what really cool things he is capable of.

We let the kids play a little longer and then took of to return to camp, where Steve and I cooked hamburgers.  The potluck dinner was outstanding.  Lots of good food and we enjoyed it.  I attempted to get the movie put together, but realized I failed to install the right software for playing a movie.  I had to reinstall Windows on my machine and forgot to get everything I needed on it.  It wasn't a big deal, the kids enjoyed playing games and swinging the glow sticks around.

I collected up all the glow sticks for one final swim which Karl, Joelle, Sarah and myself did.  We swam out to the point and back twice which was a .40 mile swim.  Sarah had dark goggles on and relied on my left arm which had a glow stick stuffed under my watch.  Every stroke she'd either see my arm on the recover lit up, or under the water with my pull.

We stopped at the turnaround point and floated while watching the stars.  There were no external lights out and they were brilliant.  I suggested floating and then sculling in a circle while looking up.  It was unreal how beautiful the sky was!

Today was the perfect day.  Lots of swimming, fun and food!

Total for the day: 5.4 miles

Monday, July 21, 2014

First coached workout with Chad

Met Chad at 24Hr Fitness in Murray this morning.  It's been a long time since I've gotten up in the 3's to workout.  I was so excited that I actually woke up a couple times in the night and again at 3:09, one minute before the alarm went off.  Awesome morning.

Was out the door in 10 minutes and on my way.  I wrote up this workout last night:

1000 warmup
- CSS Test -
400 timed swim (5:55)
Recover Set: 300 drill, 200 free, 4 x 75's free on 1:15
200 timed swim (2:48)

Chad's CSS time calculated to: 1:33

Used that time to figure the intervals for the rest of the workout:

1800 - 3 x 600's CSS + 6 (10 minutes)
1600 - 4 x 400's CSS + 5 (6:30)
200 easy

I didn't swim the CSS test, but did the recovery set with him as well as the warmup and modified red mist stuff afterwards.  I ended up swimming a total of 5,350 yards

But this workout completed entirely comes to 6,000 yards which is what Chad did.

Nice work!  First decent workout I've done in over 2 months.  I'm excited to watch Chad's speed and power improve.  He's gonna totally be ready for next September, but the next big thing is his EC qualifier in mid September.  That itself is gonna be epic!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Report of Bear Lake Monster Swim

I paddled for McKenzie Thomsen, a 20 year old girl from Salt Lake and this was her first open water swim.  She was fully neoprened up.  Booties and all.  No way she was gonna get hypothermia on this swim, that's for sure.  Water temp was 72.

When we started about 2 minutes into the swim she stopped and said, "I'm panicking!"  I told her to make sure to exhale completely and slow her breathing down.  Which she immediately did.  After that not a single stop or complaint the entire swim.  She got into a rhythm and just kept it going, like the energizer bunny.

As you can see the line
was pretty straight
until half way across
and then I made a
slight course correction
directly to the red arch.
She asked to have me stop her every mile for a feed, which she had supplied.  It was 2 little power chews and that's it. She didn't pack any liquids at all.  Her first feed at one mile was at a little over 35 minutes.  I saw that she was treading water while eating and I advised her to roll over on her back so she could chew and conserve energy as well as maintain a forward progress to the other side.  I had my GPS so I had a close eye on her distance and pace.  Her stroke rate was about 61 spm the entire way.

At her 3rd feed (at just under 2 hours), I told her she needed to drink at least half a bottle of gatorade.  I explained that muscles are 70% water, and they need water to be able to process properly.  She didn't give me a fight and downed the first half.  She said, "A mile sure seems longer here than it does in the pool."  True that.

We kept on going and her pace seemed to be constant.  She was bilateral breathing the entire time which itself is extremely impressive.  I only saw her sight maybe twice the entire time.  She trusted me enough to guide her directly to the finish. I began to see the big red arch just after mile two.  I was using the mountains as a guide to get to the location I was estimating the red arch to be which was pretty close.

I forgot to put on sunscreen so my shins and arms got a little burned, not visibly though.  They weren't red, but last night I felt them a little sensitive.

When we got to the finish her family was there with a huge sign and tons of family members there to cheer for her getting out of the water.  What an awesome support system she had.  Her mother was a little nervous and asked me to really keep a close eye on her.  She did just fine.  Like she was a pro.  Not a word of complaint, and no stopping.  She did awesome.

As for the entire race, there were a few issues, but a majority of the people made it across and there were no emergency issues to deal with.  Chad was a great help out on the water monitoring the swimmers and pulling those that needed.  A success I thought.  We did have issues with shirts.  We didn't have enough for everyone since we had a lot of last minute registrants.

I also had a conversation with a swimmer that bothered me, so I wrote up this article to address it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day before the Bear Lake Monster

This morning I met Chad at the Bear Lake State Marina where we planned to start our own version of the swim the day before.  We started at the beach just north of the marina at a little after 8 am.  The water felt a little cool, but not overwhelmingly so.  After letting my watch adjust, the first reading came to 72 degrees.

Since Chad and I shared the support boat it was agreed that we would swim fairly close to each other.  You wouldn't want to get separated and have issue with other boats out there not seeing you.

The water was very clear and blue.  Just as I remembered it last time I swam out here.  It was a sensational treat to swim there.  The wind was calm so only a slight ripple here and there.  Occasionally I'd see a clump of dead weeds that would float at the surface and I'd run into it.  Kinda freaky!  Last week at the Low family reunion, Isaac was playing in the pond and started collecting all the seaweeds and piled them up on himself and yelled out to me with a big grin, "Hey Dad!  Look!  I'm the Swamp Thing!" Love that he has no irrational fear of underwater things and how they feel on his skin.  This kind of creeps me out, unless I build my mind up to expect it like with Catalina and the kelp.

Anyway the swim went well and I did a lot of drills, and when I got sick of that did one arm fly, and after that did breast stroke.  I didn't mind the pace.  It was nice feeling not rushed and had all the energy in the world.  Left shoulder was giving me a bit of a fit though.  Nothing terrible, just a little ache.  But concerning given that I have the Deer Creek 10 mile in a month.  Need to get at it, and not keep this slump I've been in.

As we got closer to the other side I saw the small driveway down into Cisco Beach with the toll shed.  Pointed the boat to that direction and we made our way there.  The finish area sure was rocky and difficult to walk on.  I thought of an idea that should make next year's race go better. Some really old carpet that we can put in the water leading the swimmers out.

We did the 7 mile course in 4:11.  And a new PR on most breaststroke I've done in a day.  Don't know how far of it was breaststroke exactly, but I estimate probably a mile.  Man that Capt. Webb dude must have had knees with strong tendons, cause the morning after I felt like Danny Leruso after getting a leg sweep.

Breaststroke is tough on the knees for distance apparently!

I had a great time and Chad got down on himself a little too much on the pace difference, but it made me realize that if I'm gonna invest in a plane ticket to London next year I need to step it up in supporting him in his training.  I plan to meet with him at least once a week at the pool and give him a workout with video analysis so he can see what he can work on for the most improvement.  Nothing would make me prouder to see him power through some serious waves and keep a strong pace.

Thanks to Chad's friend Ryan and his wife Chandra for the support.  They were great in timing those breaks and getting them out to us.  Another width crossing in the books!

Monday, July 7, 2014

First open water swim since MIMS

This morning I met Goody at Pineview at 0530 and we did a swim out to the dam buoys.  Then I continued around to the south end and along the shoreline to the no wake buoys.  Then did a small little extra loop right at the start in order to get my full 2.5 mile "Goody Lap".   I just realized that its two miles just doing a dam route and back, but the extra bit of going to the no wake buoys and around in a big loop is just under 2.5 miles.

What a beautiful morning out on Pineview!
Goody used my swimmer buddy board to try it out.  He's looking for something to allow for easy access to feeds which a safer swimmer buoy doesn't offer.  I used his buoy and was surprised how I couldn't feel any drag at all.  Practically the same as the board, except the board string sometimes gets tangled with your feet if you over rotate a little on your kick.

Had such a good morning.  Shoulders were just fine, and the water was as flat as glass.  Forgot to take a temp reading with my watch but it had to have been over 70 degrees.  It was nice.

Total: 2.5 miles in 1:20

Saturday, July 5, 2014

CSS test with Cathi

This morning I coached at SDM and there were only 6 swimmers given that last night was the 4th of July.  The die-hards showed up.   Three of the swimmers were not in attendance when I originally gave the CSS test, so those three did the test while the others who had already known the CSS number from earlier in the week, I had them swim the red-mist set.

When I got home it was only 8:30am, and I really wanted to get in my exercise for the day so I asked Cathi if she wanted to try the test with me.  She did and so we went over to RUSH:

1000 easy
CSS test: 400 strong timed, 200 easy recover, 200 fast, then 200 warmdown

Here's what Cathi got:

Dist in yards Cathi Gords
400 7:42 5:09
200 3:47 2:19
CSS 1:58 1:25

I was expecting to be fairly slow since I'm still just getting back into it.  Almost feels like I'm starting completely over.  Oh well, now I have a baseline.

Friday, July 4, 2014

3 miles at RUSH

400 warmup
300 - 4 x 75's back/free
200 easy
100 back

1000 - 5 x 200's free/back/free/back/free
1500 pull large paddles
1500 - 3 x 500's
300 warmdown

Total: 5,300 yards

Shoulders not feeling normal, hoping they just need some more time to heal completely.  Not planning on getting back to hardcore yardage.  I also heard one of Cathi's friends had an ulcer due to an overuse of ibuprofen, so she told me I really need to watch that, so I'm going to quit using it as a "vitamin".  Only when absolutely necessary.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

First "me" time since MIMS

I've done several 500 yard swims the past week, which is enough time to send the boys to the shower after a good swim lesson with them. But today Jacob came along which was nice cause I had him focus on helping give tips to Isaac and Jonas while I worked with Sam and Oliver.  They're coming along real nice and they're making some good progress.

Kim Chambers does another
epic swim.  She's got 6 out of 7
Ocean's Seven swims!  
Jacob took them all home and I was able to stay after with Cathi and swim 1800 yards.  Cathi swims during the lesson as well and she is up to over a mile per session as well.  Then she runs home.  I told her she might as well ride her bike there and she'd be training for a triathlon.

Last night I stayed up till midnight watching Kimberly Chambers spot tracker.  She swam the Tsugaru Channel!  Cool thing is she said the water was relatively calmer than what she was warned against and it was a wonderful swim.  That's encouraging.  I would absolutely LOVE to sell this swim to Cathi.  I'd love to do this one.  But it would be comparable to English Channel in terms of cost, and that is almost the hardest part (saving that amount of money when you've got 7 kids and they all have their own individual activities that can be very expensive).

However I just got a raise at work.  I've been there for 16 years and they're taking very good care of me.   Anyway, one step at a time. Next big swim for me is 2016 with a Gibraltar crossing.  Perhaps I could convince Cathi of taking a trip to Japan in 2017?  I'd have to see if I could also convince a fellow GSL swimmer I know, Etsuko, to come along as my interpreter and crew member.  That would be awesome.

Oh to dream...

Total swam since last logging: 3,350 yards 

I know, pretty pathetic,  and I feel pretty guilty about slacking, but it'll feel great once my kids are able to swim on a team and really excel.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review of the new Syracuse RUSH Funplex

I learned about this new pool earlier this year, and it was completed a couple months ago.  I love that we have a pool in Syracuse now, and with MIMS completed, the next goal is to get my four youngest boys: Jonas (12), Isaac (10), Sam (9), and Oliver (7) aka "The Fantastic Four" in a state where they can vigorously pursue their swimming dreams.  I haven't been in a position to be a regular coach to them and I'm looking forward to working with them in the pool.

I took them yesterday to the pool, which also happened to be Sam's birthday.  We bought a family annual membership.  It cost $700.  ($400 for the first adult, $200 more for the second adult, and then $100 more for all children in the family)  Ouch!  A family membership at Layton Surf n' Swim for the size of our family cost under $500.  However, I'm fine paying a higher price, and here's why:


  • Only 5 minutes from my house.
  • The water temp was 82.0° (currently the coldest pool in Davis County, and WAY colder than Clearfield Aquatics which has the record for the hottest pool in Davis County)  Update: 3/8/2015 - Not anymore.  they've warmed things up.  As of June 2015, the water temp is 83.0°F.  Not too bad...  Anything higher and it would be too warm.
  • Brand new pool - VERY clean and modern.
  • The membership base is very low, so there was only one lap swimmer when we went, among 6 lanes
  • Opens at 5am (rather than NWRC's 6am opening) Update:  8/1/2014 - not anymore - they open at 6am now.
  • The water pressure and temperature of the showers is superior.  Update: Don't know what happened, but the showers aren't all that great anymore.
  • This particular thing doesn't really matter to me, but to my kids.  The slides and splash pad.  Three slides, with a big river and spash pad.  All inside so you don't get sunburned.  
  • The "walls" can be opened to allow lots of air to flow.  It'll never get stuffy in there.

Not so impressed:
  • The locker room layout sucks - no lockers, no benches, just plastic picnic chairs.  There are tiny lockers out in the pool area.  They don't seem to be very "membership friendly" based on the locker room.
  • Also in regards to the locker room, is that there is no barrier between the door going into the pool and the shower area.  If you happen to walk nude in the locker room between the showers and the changing area, there is a huge likelihood that someone is gonna get a clear view of your full monty if anyone opens that door.  But I'm a big believer in being modest and covering yourself even in the locker room, but still kinda has potential to be embarrassing.
  • The evening hours end at 7pm for private parties, so if you plan to swim laps, it better be before then.  Update: You can swim laps now at 7pm once the Blue Fins swim team is done.  However there are only two lanes and the rest of the pool is open, so you may get an occasional clueless person crossing your path.
  • No barcode on your membership card.  You have to manually show it to an employee, and then get a cheesy wristband put on, so the lifeguards know you're legit.  They know who I am now, so I don't even have to show my card, or wear a wristband.
  • They don't provide a poolside clock.  I had to buy my own, which I've practically donated to the facility.  I leave it there and don't care if anyone uses it, as long as they put it back.  But it would have been nice had they bought a real big clock and attached it to the wall.
However the benefits in my opinion greatly outweigh the points that can be improved on.  Some of those negative things I would expect would get worked out eventually, but being such a new facility, I'll cut them some slack on those. I'm extremely happy about the pool temp. That makes me want to shout from the rooftops how awesome this place is.  

After coaching the kids I swam 500 yards then took the kids and Cathi out for breakfast to celebrate Sam's birthday.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Observer's point of view

Huge thanks to Capri Djatiasmoro for sharing her youtube videos of her perspective of the swim:
Lots of stuff to review:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-DfPLpTvkE
  2. Macombs Dam Bridge - Yankee Stadium - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2Ymc6tNMSA
  3. Past Yankee stadium - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piAqgsOgpuE
  4. Ibuprofen and Ho Ho rolls - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V5mU_5rWvM
  5. Continuing North in the Harlem River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkL1w9HiN7I
  6. Ground water run-off in the Harlem River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdW5bEw_i9E
  7. Top of Manhattan - we had to hustle to the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xiky7aq-OP8
  8. Spuyten Duyvil into the Hudson River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LVMnvzsxfk
  9. At 5 hours 30 minutes … consistent, looking good and strong. Going South to the GWB: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCq56gh96cI
  10. Strong West wind and chop all the way down the Hudson River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoiGShIHCjU
  11. Getting close to the cruise ship terminals - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B89qUVZpI2s
  12. Fast current - West wind and chop - cruise ship pulls out Terry was flooding in the back you can see he was sinking we lost him after this and then I was up front on the boat pointing you down the river -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5bUP5GoKb4

My Manhattan Island Marathon Swim experience

Video Highlights:

Last night I was finally able to sleep a little after 11pm last night.  Not too bad considering the nerves.  Last night spend about 2 hours in the shower doing my traditional shaving routine.  Which I didn't do for EC or CC. On those the cool water I knew would be a factor. On this one though, it wouldn't.  In fact, speed was the factor.  So I shaved off my sideburns and I felt as slick as a whistle for today.  Got up at 4am and helped get Cathi and Lucy up and ready to go.  Then walked them to Pier 25 where the crew was meeting.

We stayed at the Sheraton Tribeca, which was only about a 12 minute walk from Pier 25.  I got this hotel as soon as I got accepted into the race thinking we needed something close, and that was the right move.  Low stress morning.  I met Phil Bowen, Suzanne's husband at the crew location.  Then I walked from there to South Cove.  It was a nice walk, about 3/4 mile or so.  

I was the first one there.  The volunteers were still setting up the tent.  I was about an hour early.  What else was I gonna do?  The hotel was the other direction and I figured I'd get to meet and talk with some other swimmers.  Met Javier Merida, a very successful swimmer from Spain who has swam the Strait of Gibralter and the English Channel.  

Other swimmers started to show up.  Mark Spratt, who swam the GSL 8 miler last year.  He sure is a nice guy.  Having him there made my nerves settle, cause he's so chatty and down to earth.  Some other swimmers you could tell were in the zone and didn't seem to want to be bothered, which is fine.  For me, this wasn't a huge competition.  I was gonna get smoked and knew it from the start.  My race was against the clock.
Cathi took this picture from the boat.  There was enough time
before the swim that the pilot took them
close to the Status of Liberty on a personal tour.

Some really cool people I got to know:  Ernie Hoftyzer from California, a local, Richard McKern from New Jersey, Ken Classen from Colorado who mentioned that he knew Will Reeves, Mark Smitherman and Chris Burke from Florida, and Charlotte Brynn who I met at Varne Ridge, two years ago.  It was actually quite calming and enjoyable talking with them all.  One thing that bothered me is that I didn't bring any kind of jacket.  I was just standing around in my shorts and shirt, and the breeze was a little cool for me.  I was even starting to shake to keep warm!  I was pretty self conscious about that.  Here I am among legendary swimmers and here, an ice miler, shivering in the NY breeze.  I was  nervous that I might get chilled in the water, but I had a realization in the back of my mind that the water wouldn't be as cold as the air temperature this morning (and it wasn't).

They started to check people in and I heard the main volunteer yelling out, "Have your arms exposed for body marking, and your ID ready!"  I was like oh crap.  I wasn't quite sure of the security of my belongings at the start, so I made sure to only bring my shoes, shirt and shorts.  Not even a towel, not to mention my ID.  So after Mark checked in, I tried to convince the volunteer that Mark would vouche for me which he kindly and vigorously attempted.  He brought up facebook on his phone and showed picture after picture of me.  She gave me crap saying "Oh that's a terrible picture, and that one too..."  Ha!

I got marked with an "18" on each arm, and put on my cap.  One thing I forgot to also bring, which was in Cathi's gear back was my grease.  But I wasn't too worried cause this was fresh water and the chaffing factor wasn't going to be a big issue.  Little did that logic hold up as I later found out.

They lined us up along the dock in numerical order.  They came through and accounted for everyone just before jumping in.  They stopped at Ernie who was wearing a Jammer and said he needed to wear a speedo.  I could see his panic and realized that he could use one of mine.  I wear two because my favorite speedo, the Salt Lake Open Water speedo (which I'm wearing to the left in the picture), is a little faded in the back.  To avoid any possible embarrassment I wear a black speedo underneath as insurance since it's not double lined in the back.  I went up and offered him my SLOW speedo.  He thought he'd just take scissors to his Jammer, but a couple of the other swimmers agreed with me that it probably would just be better to take the speedo even though it would be a little small for him.  He went for it and wore my SLOW speedo, and ended up taking 10th place after it was all said and done.

I was last to jump in for the start, being number 18.  They took some pictures and then counted us down.  I quickly found my Kayaker, Terry O'Malley who would be by my side the entire swim.  We started south along the Battery to where it turns up the East River.  My first impression of the water was about what I expected.  There was a small amount of debris (Water bottle, a empty doritos bag, small pieces of wood), but nothing terrible. It actually reminded me a lot of Bountiful Lake, so in that sense it was a good place to swim. 

And we're off!  - pic taken by David Barra
The start was a little congested, but after about 5 minutes and we got to the ferries, it spread out pretty good.  There were times along the east river that I passed people, and then got passed by those same people.  I had dark goggles on to protect my eyes from the sun.  It was partly cloudy all day and didn't have any rain to deal with.  I could tell I was going back and forth with Mark, but didn't recognize anyone else with their caps on, nor was I terribly concerned about my placement.  Just my time.

Took my first feed one hour into it.  Vitargo.  That stuff rocks!  Got pumped and was able to pick up the pace a bit.  Going up the east river was fast.  The shoreline was moving right along as if I was on one of those airport walkways and you feel like you are flying!  I'd take a breath to my left and see a building at my 9 o'clock, then I'd take three strokes, breathe to my left, three more strokes and breathe to my left and that building was already ]at my 8 o'clock.  It was awesome!

Near the top of the east river however, the current seemed to slow and that effect of moving fast along, was gone. It almost seemed as if I was swimming in still water.  That last 30 minutes at Hell's Gate seemed to take forever!  Once I got into the Harlem, things picked back up again which was a relief.  In fact the water was much flatter in the Harlem.  The taste of the water in the east river reminded me of diesel fuel.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to taste the water, but inevitably it will get in your mouth.  However in the Harlem, that strong taste subsided to a neutral taste.  

I kept wanting to yell out "Hey Hey Hey!"
like Fat Albert,  to lighten the mood for
the crew during one of the feeds, but that
show isn't based on NYC.  But it seemed to fit.
The Harlem river portion of the swim was my absolute favorite.  It was much calmer, I was able to stretch out my stroke and get a good feel for the water.  I knew that I was a little more than a quarter of the way through once I got into the Harlem.  My right shoulder was really getting chaffed up. I yelled out to Terry to get the grease for the next feed so I could dab some on.  On the next feed he handed me the bag and I opened it and dabbed some along my shoulder and jawbone.  Duh, I forgot to do the left side too!  So on the next feed I did the same thing to my left side.  I was getting ripped up with my whisker which already had started to make my shoulders go raw with the rubbing.  

At one point along the Hudson, Terry kept waving at me to move closer away from the left side of the river along the wall.  He occasionally would point to something and then yell, but with my ear plugs couldn't hear a thing.  I had to lift my head stop momentarily and yell back "What?"  He said, Come close, there's sewage coming in. I looked at the wall and up ahead a there was a pipe about the diameter of a basketball releasing "water" into the river.  When I'd swim by it I made sure to keep extra tight lipped.  Didn't notice anything except a quick drop in water temp.  That only happened twice I think.  Not a big deal.  

The "C Rock" for Columbia University
The feeds went well and pretty quick.  I mostly ate either a banana which went down really fast!  I made about 8 half sliced peanut butter and Jam sandwiches the night before.  Those weren't as fast going down, but were so GOOD and hit the spot!  I loved those!  I had a buzz bite at halfway, had a few Little Debbies, and either Gatorade or my Vitargo/Creatine mix with water.  

George Washington Bridge in
the background with the NJ
shoreline along the right.bb
Once I got to Spuytin Duyvil the Hudson clearly was in charge. It went from pretty flat to crazy choppy.  At first I thought it would be temporary because of where we were on the river where the Harlem comes in to the Hudson, but that chop stayed with me the rest of the whole race!  I was in for a LONG half of the race.  I remember reading someone's blog
post on their MIMS where they said something about expecting the swim to George Washington Bridge to take a long time.  It did.  It's such a huge bridge that you don't think it's that far, but it is.  The water chop was really wearing me down.  My shoulder's were fried and I was tired.  Once we got past the bridge, I was hoping that it would calm down just a little cause the river widens just a little.  But it stayed as crazy as before.  This reminded me of the first two hours of my Catalina swim where I got seasick.  I just watched some video and man the chop there looks like nothing!  When you're in the water swimming in that crap it seems many times worse!

I never got sick to my stomach on this swim, but was sick (annoyed) of the chop!  That Hudson portion for me was a real downer.  I was slowing down, and spent.  Once we finally got close to the start of the piers (about 4-5 miles from the finish), I head Terry yell out something like "get pulled".  WHAT!  I knew I was slowing up, but to risk getting pulled because of my speed?  The time to get pulled is at a 9:30 pace.  I went into panic mode and swam like there was no tomorrow.  Even the crew on the boat were all out standing up and waving at me like there was a shark on my feet.  I was FREAKING OUT!

I put my face in and would try to exhale completely before breathing.  I have a tendency to stick to single sided breathing when I speed up and that doesn't really allow me to exhale properly and then I hyperventilate.  So while I tried to speed up, I tried bilateral breathing. It was very unnerving the last 4 miles realizing I was at risk of getting pulled.  I looked forward once and saw a humongous cruise ship pull out of one of the piers and pull forward.  It was far enough ahead that it was done pulling out and making it's turn to starboard and forward motion.  

Then I noticed Terry was WAY off to my left about 50 yards. I thought "CRAP!" and started to change course towards him.  Then Cathi and the motor crew intercepted me and yelled "NO!!!  Keep going and pointed south towards the statue of liberty which was still just a tiny little spire on the horizon.  Terry was gone and I had no idea why.  I used the motor boat crew for the rest of the swim which was about 4 miles.  My observer, Capri was right on the bow of the boat with her arm extended way out front for me to use as a pointer of where I needed to go.  

Occasionally they would wave me in more, and wave me to go faster.  That last 4 miles I was sprinting the whole DANG RACE!  I was not having fun.  I was not enjoying the sights, cause my mind was so focused on that triple crown.  I thought about how sad and disappointed I would be if I didn't make it.  Especially if I was so much slower than my goal (7:57 compared to the 9:30 cutoff).  This is the only big swim where there is a cutoff.  With English Channel and Catalina, you don't have to go fast. There is no cutoff.  You just swim at your own pace and it doesn't matter (unless you go so slow that you get hypothermia and get pulled for safety reasons).

Then I saw Cathi and Capri on my right side all pointing to me to look left.  There I saw we were at Pier 25 and a ton of people lined up along the end waving and cheering.  I couldn't make out any details, but I knew my parents were there proud as ever.  I saw one guy about 25 yards ahead and the crew were going nuts motioning for me to swim faster.  I went from 100% to 110% and I heard Scotty inside my head, "Capn!  The engines can't take it anymore!  They're gonna blow!"  But I only had another 400 yards or so.  I saw two big orange buoys along the wall and I was catching this guy!  

I passed him about 10 yards before getting to the buoy reached out and tagged it.  Then I heard everyone above me along the railing yell out "No! Keep going!!!! The finish is around the corner!"  So I quickly started back up to round the bend, but the guy I passed was already up there.  Oh well!  I had to smile about that.  Again, I didn't really care about my placement, but it sure was fun to give the crowd something really close to see."  When you have such a long race with such few swimmers, it often doesn't make for a nail biter finish with people close together.  Sometimes there are really close ones, but it's not common.

They had staff to help us out of the water, and found that the guy I was close with was Mark Smitherman, from Florida.  Shook his hand there as we sat next to each other at the finish.

After I got out, David Berra was there and took my picture.  Found out my time was 8:10:56.  What the
13th place finisher of MIMS 2014 - yours truly
crap!  I thought I was gonna get pulled for being too close to the 9:30 mark!  I found out later in the day that the reference to "getting pulled" was due to the cruise ship.  Some of the swimmers were right in it's path and ended up having to get on the boat, where they took a GPS coordinate.  Then after the cruise ship pulled out, went back to that point where they would resume the swim.  All being completely legal and not a disqualifying event.  I had no idea they were referring to the cruise ship.  And all that excitement from the crew was simply in reference to other swimmers.  They wanted me to catch up to other swimmers.  

Pretty sweet finishing trophy!
I was like "Oh my gosh!  I busted my butt for that!!!?"  I didn't care about passing anybody really.  And the reason Terry had to leave.  His kayak was filling up with water and he wasn't able to bale any of it and had to get to shore to get the inside of his boat emptied out.  When I got out and was walking up to the nutrition tent, he yelled out to me "Great job Gordon!" and I saw him give me a thumbs up as he just arrived as I finished.  

So in actuality that last 4 miles was done under a dead sprint not because I was at risk of hitting the deadline, but because they wanted me to go faster to pass other swimmers, and I misunderstood (thanks to my stupid earplugs).  And that cruise ship situation never really affected me.  So I guess the swim for me was most enjoyable in the Harlem, but that Hudson portion, I was "Swimming Scared".  Not a fun moment. 

Me and Terry, my awesome
Now that it's all over I look back and have fond memories, but man that was tough!  For me tougher than the other two, English Channel and Catalina.  That Hudson River was a killer!  The chop was insane and it covers about 45% of the course!  As far as the water quality.  It was fine.  The only taste I got out of it was diesel fuel, both in the East River and Hudson.  With all the chop I did end up accidentally swallowing I estimate about a quart of water.  I haven't got sick at all, and I feel wonderful.
I'm so thankful for my kayaker, Terry, and my crew, Cathi and Lucy.  My observer Capri, joked that she had never seen anyone swim and eat that much food.  I guess I ate quite a bit more than she had ever seen.  When your body is a machine you need to fuel it!  I smiled thinking that I was considered to having a picnic out in the river.  Also grateful for my my pilot Phil, whom I never did get to meet or shake hands with!  Cathi was able to represent me in thanking him, but I'm extremely grateful for his service.  We had to rush out early from the awards dinner because of our shuttle leaving at 8pm at 39th and 9th.  So I unfortunately didn't get a chance to get to go around and congratulate and talk with many of the other swimmers.  All in all it was a great time, and I finally am able to mark that Triple Crown goal off my list.  Officially the 84th person in history to complete it.  

Finally, my apologies to any New Yorkers that may have been offended at the pre-race media report that went out prior to the race where they emphasized the dirty water around Manhattan.  Myth and legend unfortunately often trumps the reality and truth, which is definitely the case here.  Other than the diesel taste, the water itself was about 3 feet in visibility and only about 8 times did I actually see any garbage in the water.  Considering the vast distance covered, that's exceptional!  If I were a New Yorker, I would definitely be buddies with all you here swimming along side you in your beloved water!

Big thanks to Morty and his huge team of volunteers, this whole organization really had their act together and I would highly recommend any race NYCSWIM puts together for any swimmer.  It was a wonderful experience and quite the change from last year according to the reports I had read of last year's race.  Well done you guys!

Here is a copy of my observer's report (Capri Djatiasmoro):

Terry took a lot of video with his camera.  Here is the first 30 minutes of the swim.  Note that the earplugs I wear are extremely good at keeping water out of my ears, as well as sound.  So I didn't hear him at all.