View Full Version : Training for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge swim?

October 6th, 2005, 06:09 PM

Several of us in my Master's club are planning to compete in the 4.4 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge swim next June. We're seeking suggestions for a good training program that will take us from the 3,000 we swim three mornings a week to the distance and time we need to complete this event successfully. Any and all suggestions will be welcome!


October 7th, 2005, 01:37 PM
Hi! The GCBS is a great event! I did it this year for the second time, finished for the first time. I would suggest you increase your yardage gradually, maybe 500 yards a week/practice, and get to where you can do about 4500 to 5000 a practice. I also suggest you try to do some open water swimming before the actual event. Many people do the Reston Swim two weeks before the Bay Swim. This is helpful because it gives you a chance to: see how different open water is, test the water (can be really cold), and try out your wetsuit (if you plan to use one).

Good luck! See you there next year!

October 8th, 2005, 06:58 PM
The stories seem to be that every year the Bay Swim is different - sometimes the current is the factor, sometimes the temperature, sometimes the waves, etc. Last year the water was choppy and I drank a lot. In '91, 7 out of 8 swimmers were pulled from the water because of the current. Some years are reportedly smooth as a lake.

Though not being an expert, I found that practicing (short course) 100's on short intervals helped groove a feel - shoot for a relaxed stroke and pace that you can repeat "forever". Periodic long (1000, 2000+) swims are good for the mental aspect. In my case, I found 1:10's on the 1:20 or 1:15 worked and in the race I paced around 1:24 based on rough math from a final time. Also, if there's a way to practice without lane lines to get the effect of rough water, go for it. Or pick an outside lane on a busy night. Also resist the temptation to give in to adrenalin and go out to fast, carrying around lactic acid for a 4+ mile race is not pleasant. The Reston Swim has 1 and 2 mile events, some enter both (about an hour or half hour between) and the water is probably going to be similar to the bay in temperature but no where near as "natural". It's a good chance to try out your wetsuit, if chosen, and it's a nicely run race. Check to see when Sandy Point is open - there's a roped off swim area that seemed quite large - and it might give you a chance to do some laps in the real thing.

Good Luck,


October 12th, 2005, 02:11 PM

I swam the Chesapeake 1mi race (4.4 sold out) this past June. This was my first open water swim. I finished in about 52min. I plan to swim the 4.4mi race next June and I'm just looking to finish!

Regarding approaches, I agree that increased yardage and other open water events will produce a successful outcome. The other suggestion I have is that if you don't already, start to learn how to bi-lateral breathe. That was part of my problem because they told us to keep the buoy's on our right (I breathe to the left). Since then I have been focusing on bi-lateral breathing.

Finally, I practice by swimming 5,000yds/swim 4x/week. Hope this helps?


October 12th, 2005, 07:28 PM
The Bay Swim is probably one of the easiest to navigate because you swim between the spans - pretty hard to get lost. And with 100 rescue boats around, they'll let you know real fast. The only buoys of any repute are at the mile posts.

So the pressure's off on one item, relax and concentrate on finishing at an enjoyable (and hopefully rapid) pace so you can join the ranks of those that have been doing it for 10 years or more straight.


October 13th, 2005, 10:17 AM
Since we're on the subject and there seem to be alot of people who swam it, I need to ask a question.

I'm thinking about doing just the one mile Challenge next year. I've looked at their website (http://www.bayswim.com/) and there's something that looks funny. It says for the one mile challenge that there were 455 entrants but only 350 finishers. Is this true? Over 100 people started but didn't finish? I could understand it for the 4.4 mile swim, but only a mile? Is there some hidden challenge in the 1 miler?

Any info would be helpful. Thanks!

October 13th, 2005, 10:25 AM
I haven't done this swim, but I would guess that some entrants did not show up on race day for various reasons and did not start the race. So probably less than 100 actually started and did not finish.

Maybe someone knows for sure.

October 13th, 2005, 11:29 AM
I once entered then I couldn't do the swim. I didn't realize that it had so many nonfinishers. I've swam inthe water there not during a race. There is frequently some very weird currents that can take you off of the course. Or maybe this is the Bermuda Triangle of outdoor swimming.

Kevin in MD
October 13th, 2005, 12:12 PM
oceanswims.com has a book called swimming the rottnest channel with a 10 week workout program in it.

I liked it, 3 days per week and no gueswwork just do what was written and off you go.

October 13th, 2005, 02:33 PM
Hey Kevin - where did you find the book on the oceanswims site? I would like to order it, but didn't see it listed anywhere. I even tried borders - no luck.


October 13th, 2005, 02:54 PM
It sounded interesting to me, too, Diana. I had to really look around the site. Try this link:


They have to ship it from Australia. But if it's as good as Kevin says, it will be worth it.

October 13th, 2005, 03:51 PM
Thanks, Jim! Let me know what you think when you get it. I plan to order it next week as well.

October 13th, 2005, 06:25 PM
I did the 1 mile Challenge this year and last year. This year there were 360 starters and 350 finishers. I think the other registrants did not show up or maybe they waitlisted the 4.4 and were able to swim that one instead?
It was very rough going out in the beginning. I had to adjust my goggles twice after waves knocked them off. The last part of the race was not bad at all.
Good Luck. See you there next year!
Swimmy :)