View Full Version : 5 mile cold water swim

June 15th, 2002, 05:14 PM
June 23 I'll be trying my longest open water swim in
Saratoga Lake NY--5 miles. Water temp is expected to be
60-65 degrees. I have a torso type wet suit and will wear
head cap and ear plugs. I hope to finish in 2:15 to 2:30.
Any advice as to what to expect/eat/drink/pace/etc?
I'll have my own escort canoe as required by the rules.
I feel physically prepared, but am new to this.

Leonard Jansen
June 17th, 2002, 08:56 AM
Hopefully, you've tried eating/drinking in practice and know what agrees with you. I highly recommend Accelerade, but I don't think that I'd try it first at the race. Have at least 1 good-sized thermos of warm water - you can drink it as water or mix whatever powder you like in it. Solid food is a personal thing, but for a race of 2-2.5 hours, I'd forget it except as a treat (Handler: "C'mon, if you accelerate the next 400 yards, I'll give you a small slice of a Snickers bar.") Bananas work well, too, but again, any of this is dependent on you having tried it in practice. Forget things like Power Bars that tend to get really stiff and take too long to chew. Feed every 30 minutes, although some people prefer 20. Have the feeding bottle attached to a pole so you can't drop it and lose it. It also keeps the litter factor down.

Breathe to both sides if you can and don't look up every/every other stroke. You will also need to consider which side and how far ahead you want your boat - everyone is different. I hate to have a boat at a 45 degree angle to me - it throws off my perspective. I'd rather have them along side or a bit ahead of me.

Don't go out like a 500 yd pool race - get your stroke down, get relaxed and then start to push. Draft when you can if it's allowed, but be courteous and don't touch the feet of the person you are drafting off of.

One word: Sunscreen. Bullfrog brand is expensive but it stays on in water like nothing else.

Bring a small gift(s) for the person(s) in the boat.

Enjoy the race - I really wanted to do it, but am part of a relay team for the Manhattan race, so can't make it.

P.S. Lose the wetsuit - they are for wusses. ;-} (Ducking and running for cover)

Tom Ellison
June 17th, 2002, 12:45 PM
Leonard hit the nail on the head with his “lose the wet suit suggestion.” If possible, swim this as a purest. Speedo, goggles, cap and ear plugs only.
Stop using warm water in showers ASAP. You should have been taking cold showers the past month or two. This will help acclimate you to cold water.
Leonard is right about chewing the original Power Bars. However, they now make a gel Power bar that works GREAT! Eat few of these in the next few days before workout and if it sits ok in your system, go for it.
Make sure your earplugs do not come out. Cold water and ears do not play well in the sandbox together.
Have a great race.

Rob Copeland
June 17th, 2002, 01:42 PM
A word of caution.

Cold showers and a warm meal are not going to get many people through 2+ hours in 60-65 degree water. It takes a significant amount of cold water training to be able to handle these conditions without a wetsuit. It also takes a certain percentage of body fat.

And, while I would also encourage everyone who is prepared, to ditch the wetsuit. I would suggest that anyone who plans on competing in a cold water swim prepare with cold water practice and also talk to the experts. James, Marcia Cleveland is in the NY area and is one of the top Masters cold water swimming experts. She was extremely helpful in preparing me for some cold water swims.

As for the swim itself, pre-race keep warm, hydrated, and take lots of calories. I prefer hot Endurox before and during cold swims, but if you have another pre-race meal and racing drink, don’t change this late in the game. I’ve seen a number of people who could not complete a swim because they took something new that disagreed with them.

Ditto on the sunscreen – Bullfrog is an excellent choice. The other suggestion is to apply grease (either Vaseline or Vaseline/Lanolin) to chaffing points – neck, armpits, and thighs. This is not as critical in fresh water, but would be a must for salt water.

Giving advice on pace is tough. Is your goal to win, place high, or finish? If you are going for the win, get in a good warm-up before the race (make sure to get dry and warm after the warm-up) and then go out fast. If your goal is to finish, you may want to skip the warm-up and use the first 10 minutes or so of the swim to get loose before picking up the pace.