View Full Version : Bay Bridge Prepapration Advice

May 13th, 2003, 09:36 PM
Looking for advice to a novice on how to prepare for the swim. Things like feeding and hydrating concern me as well as the water temp. Also I keep reading about ear plugs helping.

This will be my first attempt to swim the bay and time is short.

May 13th, 2003, 10:19 PM
What's the temp supposed to be?

May 14th, 2003, 07:37 AM
Cold-Currently the water temp is 58 -59.

Leonard Jansen
May 14th, 2003, 09:22 AM
Drink some of your favorite workout drink about 15-20 minutes before the race.

If wearing a wet suit, the water temp shouldn't be a big factor - ignore cold toes. If not wearing a wetsuit, be sure to have some vaseline under your arm pits. The cold will be a bigger factor as well.

Don't get vaseline on your goggles!!!!

One word: SUNCREEN. (Bullfrog brand is excellent.) Don't get that on your goggles either.

If you are prone to motion sickness (I am deathly prone to it, even in freshwater lakes with little wave action), consider taking about 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon of ginger about 40 minutes before the race starts. This has been a miracle cure for me. I think you can get ginger capsules at health food stores, but you can also use ground ginger from the spice rack (I do) if you can tolerate the taste. If this is of interest, definately try this before several workouts to see if you can stand it - that much ginger in a few ounces of water will burn going down.

Swim on the side that is closest to the direction of the tide. i.e. If it will be in-coming, swim near the south span; if out-going, swim near the north span.

If there is a significant tide, keep in mind that you will have to swim at an angle to the direction you are going in. Don't let that rattle/frustrate you.

I've never tried earplugs, but many people swear by them. Try them in a few workouts. In the race, you can always stop and put them under your cap if they bother you.

Make sure your cap is on tight. It's really annoying to have to retrieve it during a race if a wave knocks it off.

Feeding during the race: They have boats, but I've never had much luck in finding them. The two times I did it, I did it without taking aid and survived, but "your mileage may vary."
Start either to the side of the pack or wait a few seconds after the start to go. The slight extra time doesn't matter unless you are racing for a place.

Start slow and gradually find your pace. Don't let it bother you that the "pool ballerinas" <evil grin> often go zipping out like it was a 200 yard swim. You will be surprised at how many of them you will pass later in the race. (And some of them will also kick your butt.)

The last leg of the swim - along the seawall - seems to take DAYS, especially since you can see the finish and it only creeps closer. Ignore it and realize that you are home free if you are patient.

At the finish, don't leave the food/water area until you are sure that you are done eating/drinking - they usually don't let you back in once you leave.

Brings some Tums/Rolaids/etc with you. Some people (like me) get severe heartburn after long races in salt/brackish water.

Bring a few blankets/towels and, if the day is nice, have a nap while waiting for the last finishers/awards.

Warn your family/friends ahead of time that when you make it you will probably babble ad nauseum about every detail of the race, over and over again. This is a time-honored endurance event tradition.

Long after the race, when you are wearing your race t-shirt in places like the grocery store and people comment on it, practice false modesty by saying things like "Well, it's really not that far - 'The Channel' is almost 5 times farther, of course." Making them think that you have either done that or are thinking about it. Don't be surprised if they pull their kids away from you and leave quickly, since you are obviously insane.


You WILL make it!


May 14th, 2003, 08:20 PM
What/where is this Bay Bridge swim?

For water that temp for that long, I agree ear plugs and a good fitting cap would help considerably. I used ear plugs on the 5
miler based upon advice here and was glad I did. It makes
a lot of sense when you figure you'll be in the water for about 2 hours or more.

Leonard Jansen
May 15th, 2003, 09:50 AM
It goes from near Annapolis, MD across the Chesapeake to the eastern shore (actually, an island, I think). Full details at:


June 4th, 2003, 05:02 PM
Still cold. Gonna be a challenge.

June 4th, 2003, 10:25 PM
When applying your sunscreen, try and lube up a good 1/2 hour before getting in the water. Sunscreen; when applied close to activity will come off and you will burn....no joke!!!

Bullfrog is also my reccomendation. One application and it will last you all day long...no joke....but before you apply, put on a pair of doctors gloves (latex) and lotion up that way. Bullfrog is so penetrateable that you will have a heck of a time trying to wash it off (it only comes off with soap and water...after two or three washings) If it gets on your hands, your goggles are next...the gloves will help protect your hands so you maintain a good feel for the water...bullfrog on your hands will cause some slip through the water thus you will be pulling less water.

Disregard if wearing a wetsuit and have fun out there.



Leonard Jansen
June 9th, 2003, 09:40 AM
u352 -

How'd it go? Conditions? Did you have fun?


June 15th, 2003, 10:44 PM
Everyones help was well appreciated especially you man!!

I did it in 2 hours 37 minutes. Water temp wasn't a factor at all but my navigation could have been better. I should have tried to stay north for a longer time so I wouldn't have had to crab as much during the swim. What a great experience!!! The turn at the end was fantastic. That image of all the people cheering us on will be with me forever!!! I almost drew a tear. All i can say is awesome!!! I may try the Chestertown swim for life next but i am not sure wether to go for the 5 miler or tone it down.

What an awesome experience. Sorry for the long lapse on the return post. We ended up spending the week at the ocean as R&R an now I am home and back to the pool but outside now which is fun.

Thanks again. I hope maybe we can meet someday. I am over the border in MD.

Leonard Jansen
June 16th, 2003, 08:26 AM
Way to go! Others have told me that the conditions were good for the first half and then got tougher, so you did well!

Barring anything untoward happening, I plan to be at the Chestertown race on the 28th, so perhaps we will meet. The Chestertown race is not as hairy from a currents and crowds standpoint, but the navigation is trickier. Buoys are 1/2 mile apart and sometimes not visible around bends in the river. But it is a good race for a great cause. Highly recommended.

Congrats again & hope to see you there!


June 16th, 2003, 01:55 PM
I swam yesterday for a mile and the last 10 or so laps seemed to take forever. Today back in the indoor pool was a disaster. Unmotivated. I am not sure if I should bag doing the Chestertown 5 miler or if I should go and do a shorter distance. How is the view of the shoreline for the swim. i tend to use my side view more than lifting when I swim open water stuff.

Leonard Jansen
June 16th, 2003, 03:27 PM
I am going to do the 5 miler, albeit with no great effort. I'm not in great shape this year due to many other commitments but, as long as I'm not too stupid (a toughy), I should be able to make it.

You will be able to easily see the shore the entire way. However, I think that this is an "up" year (race heads up river and then turns around and comes back) and, in my opinion, the navigation is tougher. Last year was an up year and 2001 was a down year. Of the two, the up course has more undulations along the shore and I'm not sure I'd be too dependent on the shoreline as a guide. Or maybe I hallucinated the undulations. Perhaps a visit to some site with aerial maps of that area is in order.

Also, in the 5 and 4 mile races, there aren't vast #'s of swimmers - fewer in the 4 than the 5, actually. Last year there were less than 20 swimmers in the 5 and only about 5 or 6 people in the 4. Many more people in the 3, 2 and 1 milers. They also start the distances a few minutes apart and not too many of the shorter race people catch you before they turn back. If you are inclined to get "lonely", pick a shorter race. Another negative of the long races is that you get back last and the other distances have had first crack at the post-race feed. It is the BEST post-race meal you'll ever get, even when others have had first shot at it. What the mile race people must get to eat boggles the imagination.

It sounds like you have a bit of a "hangover" from the bay race. You might want to back off and do very little for a few days. Stretch (assuming you stretch) and maybe gently work technique as opposed to trying to train hard. A massage or two is usually a great help as well. I married my massage therapist, but in retrospect it would have been cheaper to just pay upfront <evil grin>. Rest, sleep, vitamins, and hydrating well can all aid in recovery. Don't worry about "getting out of shape." As long as you do maintenance/technique work, you won't lose anything, but if you push too hard, you could end up sick, injured or overtrained. As I always preached to people that I coached in racewalking, it's better to be slightly undertrained and have to try a bit harder in the race than to be overtrained and not be able to try any harder.


June 23rd, 2003, 01:49 PM
I hope we can meet this weekend. How much current is there and what do you think the water temp is going ot be?

I plan on going really easy and plan to just finish.

Leonard Jansen
June 23rd, 2003, 02:59 PM
Given the monsoon weather we've had of late, things like current and water temperature are probably tough to predict. I'd guess that the temperature would be a few degrees warmer than the bay. Current water temp at Thomas Point is about 68-69 degrees, so low-70's sounds believable for the Chester River. Water flow and currents??? Every river around here is the color of chocolate milk and very high - not sure how that does/doen't translate to that part of the world. Also not sure if there will be any concerns about crap being washed into the river. (a la this year's NYC marathon swim race being cancelled.) They are also currently calling for scattered thunderstorms there on Saturday.

Hope to see you there. (I have a greying goatee and hair going the way of the Amazon rainforest. I also usually wear purple goggles with a purple strap and Tyr Durafast black "jammers" with a white stripe.)


June 23rd, 2003, 03:36 PM
I am nervous about doing the five miler but I am in good shape. I still am "hungover" good wording. The navigation part can be a drag sometimes.


email me and I will send you a pic of me.