Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 Bear Lake Monster Race Report

The day before the annual Bear Lake Monster race, a group of us: Josh, Chad, Sarah and myself planned to swim a double width crossing (with Josh and I splitting it so we each only swam one width while the other pilots for the team).

However fate was not on our side as Chad drove in with a busted bearing on his boat trailer.  We
spent several hours in the middle of the night trying to get it replaced but it was fused and required a torch to get it off, which we weren't able to acquire until the next day.  At that point it was too late for an attempt.  So we decided to make an attempt at the upcoming swim camp, also at Bear Lake.

We watched the weather forecasts very closely and found that it included possibility of "thunderstorms".  We got the word out on facebook that the event would likely be moved to a lap course along the shoreline to allow for quickly getting swimmers out of the water.  Many people were understandingly resistant to that idea.

On race day morning we set up the buoys for the 1/2 mile and 1 mile race and while it did rain and the weather was less than ideal, the entire time had yet to hear any thunder.  Rain is perfectly acceptable and part of open water swimming, but thunder/lightning is when the game is over.  Without this attribute included in the storm, we were still in good territory.  We consulted with the Utah State Parks ranger who shared with us the radar images from NOAA on the upcoming fronts and we decided to proceed with the 7 mile swim as planned across the lake.  The fronts didn't appear to be packed with red or yellow hitting our path.  The areas of green showing precipitation mostly were clipping the very north side of the lake.

I shared this information with the field of swimmers to their applause and also gave them the warning that if their paddlers were inexperienced and ran into trouble with wind that they would be required to call the Coast Guard volunteers patrolling the course and ask for help.

We started the race and I was paddling for Colorado swimmer, Heather Rodriguez.  I realized that the battery on my cell phone only had about 30 minutes of life left so I turned it off to save it for any emergency.

As the field of swimmers started to dissipate I caught up to her and stayed with her.  Her stroke looked very relaxed and smooth.  She was able to maintain a consistent stroke rate of 41 strokes per minute.  She took feeds every 30 minutes except at the end where she was 1/2 mile from the finish and refrained from offering her the scheduled feed in hopes for a speedy finish.

The last half of the race it was very choppy and at times encountered up to 3 foot waves.  And had position the kayak into the waves to avoid risking tipping over.  I got quite the ab workout.  Heather finished in just under 4 hours.

Here are the full results of the race.  My friends Joe and Jason from South Davis did awesome and Will completed his 4th crossing,  He and I both now have 4 crossings, while Joelle holds the record for 5 crossings.  I'm hoping that next week I'll be able to get that 5th crossing.

Jacob swam the mile race, and he was only about 25 yards behind Chad the whole race.  I was paddling for him at the finish and yelled out to him challenging him to finish strong.  I offered him $20 if he could pass up Chad.  Unfortunately, Chad missed the swimmers meeting and instead of heading right for the finish took a slightly longer route around the starting buoy and Jacob was able to swim straight to the finish arch and ran in the shallow water to finish ahead of Chad.  Now I gotta cough up $20 bucks to Jacob.  He swam hard and collapsed at the finish.  Proud of that guy.  I sure hope he enjoyed it and keeps an interest in open water swimming.

I didn't get to swim this weekend except for a very brief 15 minutes in the Logan River on Friday afternoon.  I was hoping to share that experience with Josh and Chad, but they watched on from the bridge as they said my skin slowly reddened like a crab in the 52 degree water.  I was shivering pretty good after only 15 minutes.  Looks like I've really lost my acclimatization which I would like to earn back.

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