Entries with no category
I did a couple of easy swims at the Y over the past few days, but the highlight of this week was definitely diving practice last night. Our beginner group is still taking baby steps—working on proper technique when jumping off the board and when entering the water. I did manage to learn two more ways of going headfirst off the 3m board, in addition to the “line-up” (bending over and falling in headfirst) that we did last week. We did an exercise where we sat tucked-up on the end of the board, then tipped over forward, straightening out into a dive position on the way down. And at the very end of practice we did forward “fall-offs.” That involved standing on the end of the board, with hands up overhead in an entry position, then falling forward. If you keep your body very straight on the way down, you magically end up in a perfect vertical position by the time you enter hit water. That went from super-scary to super-fun in a big hurry!
I woke up this morning wishing I could go back to the pool and dive some more. I had to content myself with a short swim at the Y instead. Worse, it will be a long time before I get to go off the boards again—the Queens pool where we practice is closed for 3 weeks for its annual cleaning. That means dryland practices only until late October. Bummer! Still, I’m thrilled I’m doing this at all, and very happy to have found a new activity that brings so much excitement and joy.
This morning I swam at the Y with Rondi. We shared the fast lane with Stan (a former teammate from my Red Tide days) for the warmup, then had it mostly to ourselves for the rest of the workout. My goal today was to do some swimming at a faster-than-comfortable pace. Unfortunately the pace clock was broken this morning, but I found a way around that. Here’s what I did:
800 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p)
2ish times thru
4 x 100 FR
4 x 75, odds IM evens FR
4 x 50 IM order
4 x 25 kick
[Rondi was doing her 5/4/3/2/1 set, so in the absence of a clockI decided to use her nice steady pace as my interval. On her 500, I did 4 x 100, starting each one when she reached the next 25 on her continuous swim (ie starting at 0, 125, 250, and 375 yards). Same idea for the 400 (75s starting at the beginning of each 100 of her 400), 300 (50s to her 75s), and 200 (25s for each 50). I got progressively more rest as the set went along, and so was able to increase the pace—the 25s kick were sprints. This turned out to be a good way for two people of different speeds to swim a workout together. It took me one time through to figure this out, so my first round was more like 700y of mostly FR.]
500 mathy IM set
450 pull with paddles
I didn’t want to get out of the pool this morning—that was a nice feeling that I haven’t had in a while.
This evening I headed back to the pool—this time to the one at City College, uptown at Convent Ave. and 138th Street. My team started having practices there about a month ago when we lost pool time at Columbai. I had heard that these practices were not so crowded—at most of our workouts there are 5-6 or even more per lane—and I knew that head coach Scott would be on deck, which is always a plus. So when Hannah told me that she was going to this one, I decided to make today a double-dip.
I was anticipating a workout with some sufficiently big intervals to swim fast, and that’s what we got. I had two excellent lanemates in Hannah and Jun, and here’s what we did:
750 warmup (200 FR, 400 IM d/k by 50, 150 other stuff)
Kick set—2x through
150 kick @ 3:00
100 kick @ 1:55
50 kick fast @ :55
100 ST fast @ 2:10 [FL- made it; BK 1:15; BR 1:29, IM 1:17]
200 FR pull easy @ 3:10
100 FR fast @ 2:00 [1:10, 1:09, 1:07]
200 IM @ 3:20 [I did a graceful mid-pool turnaround to make these into 170 IMs]
6 x 50 CH (25 fast, 25 easy) [did odds kick, evens BK]
12 x 25 CH (12.5 fast, 12.5 easy)
This was a hard but fun workout. I would like to get some speed back so that I can do some meets this fall and winter. Trying to do 100s FR fast felt awful at first—my body felt like about 6 different unconnected parts pulling different ways—but it got a little better as I went along.
I’m happy to have the option of going to an uncrowded workout where I can work on speed and get some technique feedback—I’ll try to make this a weekly or every-other-week thing. It works better with my schedule now that I’m trying to be more of a night owl for diving practice on Thursday nights.
This past weekend I swam the 10.2K Little Red Lighthouse Swim. It was a very pleasant early-fall day, and a great way to mark the end of the summer open-water season. A ton of CIBBOWS buddies and TNYA teammates were out swimming and/or volunteering, so it felt like an end-of-the-season social as much as a race. This year the swim start was within easy walking distance from my apartment, and the 10:30 start let me enjoy a leisurely wakeup before ambling over to the 79th Street Boat Basin to check-in. I then got to hang out in beautiful Riverside Park for an hour or so before they started lining us up for the start.
This year the race went from south to north up the Hudson (the direction of the river changes every 6 hours with tidal cycles, so you can swim either way in it as long as the timing is right). This event has tended in the past to swim very short—the winning times in last year’s 10K edition was 1h20. This year the race director warned us to expect a longer swim (the length is largely determined by when tidal cycle the swim is started, and how strong the tides are on race day). But he’s said that before when the swim has proved short, so I didn’t really know whether low long to expect to be in the water. I tucked a couple of gels into my cap just in case I needed them.
The first waves were scheduled to start just as the current was changing, with the current would picking up throughout the race. Before the start, I could see that the tide had not yet shifted in our favor—the boats in front of us were still being pushed to the south of their moorings. But as they marched the first of 9 waves down to the starting dock, I could see the boats slowly drifting towards their buoys, and knew that the tide would soon be heading north.
I was in the 8th of 9 waves—we were starting slowest to fastest—and I finished up a sports bar and downed a bottle of water while we were lining up and marching down to the docks. Waves were sent off about 5 minutes apart. Finally it was our turn. We jumped off the dock in numerical order---NYCSwim events are very organized--and lined up in the water to await the start signal. We would be making our way gradually out into the river, then swimming roughly parallel to shore, trying to stay fairly close to the buoys that marked the course—it didn’t matter what side of them we swam on, as long as we stayed close to the buoy line and didn’t wander over to New Jersey. I thought the early current might be fastest nearer shore, but even so I moved all the way to the left of my wave before the start, just because it seemed less crowded over there, and also because I find it easier not to run into other swimmers when they’re on my right (my favored breathing side). We started, and there were no problems with crowding as we maneuvered ourselves out into the river.
The water was comfortable (70 degrees), there was a slight to moderate trailing wind, and the swimming felt easy. I enjoyed being able to see Manhattan on my right, and swimming by landmarks that I often pass by when walking. It was sunny and clear, a beautiful day to be out in the river. Soon after the start I could see the eastern stanchion of the GW Bridge in the distance, and as suggested I sighted on it rather than on the buoys. (The latter were orange, as were some of the swimcaps, so that was occasionally confusing). Sometimes I found myself out a little far and being herded back in by the kayaks, but I never got close to the boats that patrolling the western edge of our allotted swim space. I could see lots of other swimmers in my wave around me, and we occasionally passed through some dense clumps of swimmers from earlier waves—it reminded me a bit of how groups of cars cluster together on the highway. Unlike highways, though it always felt very free and spacious, with plenty of room to pass.
Around the Columbia neighborhood the wind seemed to pick up, making some bigger waves. It grew harder to see other swimmers if they were more than a couple of yards away. I swam for about a mile without being able to see anything around me—no buoys, no other swimmers, no kayaks. (I had seen the kayaks that were herding the left side of the course cross over to herd in some swimmers who were following the shoreline inward at this point). I felt a glorious sense of freedom, and part of me wished that swimming in the Hudson could always be like this—just me and the river. I didn’t worry about getting too far off course, because the stanchion in the distance was very easy to sight. However, after a while I began to get uneasy about being so alone out there—the river felt very big, and I began to feel very small. I turned over and did a few strokes of backstroke while looking around, and was reassured to see some swimmers and a kayak trailing along behind me. So I turned back over and enjoyed the sweet solitude a bit longer.
Around Riverbank I saw a couple of swimmers up ahead of me. One of them had black swimsuit straps and a recovery than looked a lot like Hannah’s. We had started in the same wave, but I hadn’t seen her since the start. I speeded up a bit to see if it was her. It was! It took me a bit to pull even with her—I had to get around the other swimmer who was nearby—but eventually I did, and we stroked together for a bit, smiling at each other when we breathed. I was hoping we would swim the rest of the race together like that, but we got separated when passing a swimmer ahead of us. We eventually got back to a place where we could see each other while swimming, though, and it made me happy to be swimming with a friend out there.
It seemed to take a long time to get past Riverbank, but soon enough I had passed it and the GW Bridge was looming up ahead. I did backstroke under it, and enjoyed looking up at the massive span, and over at its little friend for whom the race is named.
It knew it was about a mile from the GWB to the finish at Dyckman Street, so after the bridge I picked up the pace. A few hundred meters from the finish I was chasing a couple of swimmers when I felt the ankle band holding my race chip coming loose. At first I ignored it, but I was worried that it would fall off, so I stopped to fix it. (Not sure how the velcro undid itself, but it started out tight and ended up loose enough to have almost slip over my foot at this point). That ended up being a good, thing, though because I got a good look at the finish while I was stopped and saw that I was a little too far out and needed to correct course. (This intuition was confirmed by a nearby boat screaming “Turn in NOW!” a few strokes after I started up again). The finish was just past some roped-off debris; once past it you needed to make a sharp right-hand turn to finish at the boat ramp. A couple of swimmers who had judged the finish better than I got past me at this point, but the two swimmers ahead of me, who seemed intent on racing each other, had gone even further than I had. One of them got back past me on the finishing stretch, but I narrowly beat the other to the ramp. (They were both from the wave after me in any case, so both ended up with significantly faster times, but it’s always nice to have some reason to sprint to the finish in races!)
At the finish I got to see all my pals and swap race stories. The Dyckman Street area was a good place to hang out—we sat on some boulders by the river and watched the rest of the finishers come in. My sense during the race was that the course was swimming relatively “long” this year, and that was confirmed at the end. The fastest swimmers finished in 1:48, still short for a 10k, but significantly longer than last year. My time of 2:06:46 put me 38th overall (out of 299 starters / 284 finishers), 8th woman, and first in my age group. During the awards it was fun to see how many youngsters had done the swim, and how many competitors had travelled from far away.
I ended up not needing the gels I had packed in my cap—I got hungry with about a half mile to go, but by then it didn’t seem worthwhile to stop. I was very glad to get some food and water when I finished though. I appreciated the longer swim this year, in part because it made things less stacked up at the finish, and I thought this year’s course was a good one. All in all, it was another great race put on by NYCSwim, and I enjoyed the day immensely!
Last night I attended my first diving practice. Not diving as in racing starts, but springboard diving!
The team I swim for—Team New York Aquatics—added a diving team in January of 2011. Last March the local meet we held included a diving competition. I stuck around and watched. I saw not only former collegiate divers doing spectacular things, but also some of my lanemates who were relative beginners doing credible dives. I was smitten, and decided that I had to try it out.
Over the spring and summer I stayed pretty busy swimming but kept the diving in mind. So last week when I got a team email about a diving boot camp for anyone interested in trying out the sport, I signed up right away. I spent last Sunday afternoon learning some basics, and then ventured out to Queens last night for my first session on the boards.
And I loved it! Our coach is really great, and really focused on doing the basics right and progressing slowly, so the beginners group (there are five of us) just worked on jumping off the board correctly and doing some forward line-ups (basically getting your body aligned, bending over at the waist, then falling off the board in a diving position. We did these skills off both the 1m and 3m boards. The latter was a little scary at first, but having keys to focus on for each skill was helpful.
And for the record, that jumping off the board thing—it’s a little harder than it looks! The technique is a little different than jumping on land—you want to use your legs to push the board down as powerfully as possible, then get yourself into a straight, stiff line by the time the board reaches its lowest point so that it can vault you up into the air as high as possible when it rebounds. That means straightening out the spine, which is designed with curves to absorb shocks—a good thing in real life, a bad thing if you want to fly as high as possible off a springboard (or glide as far and fast as possible after flipturns)., A lot of our dryland work last night focused on getting that straight spine.
I have absolutely no background in diving. I did take a trampoline class in college, and loved that, so the idea of eventually being able to do flips in the air again appeals to me. I plan to try this diving stuff over the next few weeks or months and decide if it’s a keeper as an activity. Some questions I have: Can I do this without too much risk of an injury that will affect my swim training (I’m especially worried about my wrists and elbows—they’ve already proven somewhat delicate)? Will I be too scared once we progress to more complex skills? Is taking up springboard diving in one’s mid-40s completely insane? And if it is, do I care?
Answers to all these will come soon enough. For now, I’m having fun learning some new skills in a new sport!
Yesterday I was part of a small group test-swimming a new course in the Hudson from Cold Spring, NY north to Bannerman’s Island and back. It’s probably the most scenic swim route I’ve ever done, and a glorious day to be out on the water. The day had a little bit of everything—beauty, difficulty, adventure, and most of all fun. The course itself featured a lot of the highlights of the beautiful Stage 4 of 8 Bridges, which I had loved swimming in 2011.
The route was first swum solo by Rondi a few weeks ago; her blog gives a map of the route and a description of her trip. For Saturday’s adventure we had 9 swimmers of various speeds; part of the point of this swim was to test tidal predictions and swim times for a range of swimmers. The start was very near the MetroNorth train station in Cold Spring, a plus for those of us traveling up from the city. We were divided into four pods of swimmers, each with its own kayak or paddleboard escort, while Dave patrolled the course on Agent Orange.
We started during the latter stages of the flood (northerly) tide, and the goal was for all swimmers to reach the northern tip of Bannerman’s Island around slack in order to ride the ebb (southerly) current back to our starting point—a “tide me up, tide me down” swim, at least in theory. But since we would be catching only the last, weakest part of the flood and the corresponding early portion of the ebb, the current assist wouldn’t be very great—Rondi estimated the 10.5K swim would take around 2:45 to 3 hours for my group.
The day was wonderfully sunny, with a hint of fall crispness in the air. Strong winds from the north were predicted, and we had seen white caps on portions of the river during the train ride up. The kayak launch where we started was in a protected cove, though, so during our preparations before splash time things looked very calm. That changed as soon as we started swimming. Once we headed out beyond the cove into the main portion of the river, it became clear that the wind would be pushing some nice choppy swells directly at us for the first half of the swim.
With me in the third pod were Hannah, Willie, and Eli, with Andy kayaking alongside. We swam well together, and I could usually see all three of them to my right as we travelled along together. Stroking into the swells turned out to be fun if challenging—there were some nice roll-y waves which we were swimming directly into. I played with the water’s undulations, occasionally switching to dolphin kick with freestyle arms when the waves pushed my legs up behind me. Air temps were in the 60s, but the water was warm, in the upper 70s. Still, with the wind, it was pleasant feeling the sun on my back as we swam along.
We passed the densely wooded rolling hills of the Hudson Highlands, punctuated by sheer rocky cliff faces. Sometimes I would roll over to do backstroke and admire the puffy clouds moving along rapidly overhead. When I did that, the waves breaking over my head would send sprays of water over my face that left enough space for me to breathe. I really liked that effect, and played around with it several times on the trip up.
Our pod swimming upstream: me, Hannah,Willie, Eli
(Photo credit A. Moore)
We could see Bannerman’s Island in the distance, and I would occasionally pick up my head to see it getting closer. We stopped once or twice for leisurely feeds—it takes a while to feed four swimmers from one kayak—but otherwise stroked steadily along. Our instructions had been to swim steadily at a comfortable pace up to the island, in order to get there before the tide changed—then on the way back we could “play tourist” all we wanted.
As we neared the island the water grew flatter and much easier to swim in. At the time I thought the wind had died down, but in retrospect it seems we were just being sheltered from the wind and waves by the island itself. Around this time the fourth pod caught up to us, and Rondi joined in with our group. As we neared Bannerman we all stopped for a final feed before heading clockwise around the island and its ruins.
Bannerman’s Island is a bit of a curiosity. It’s a small bit of land about 300m from the eastern shore of the Hudson, and contains what looks like the crumbling ruins of a medieval castle on its northern side. The ruins are actually those of an arsenal built around the turn of the twentieth century by a munitions baron. The island and ruins are clearly visible from the railroads that run along the Hudson’s eastern shore, and when passengers first see the structure they wonder what the heck it is, and what it’s doing out there in the middle of the river. The site is now owned by New York State, and tours of the island are given every weekend.
Hannah and Eli swim past Bannerman
(Photo credit A. Moore)
As we headed up the west side of the island, we could see that one of those tours was about to start—people were disembarking from an official-looking boat onto the island’s dock. The idea flickered through my mind that we could climb out and join in—I’ve always wanted to go on a Bannerman’s Island tour, but have never been up there at the right time. But mostly by this point I was preoccupied with the swimming. Conditions had grown tough fast. Once we were no longer sheltered by the island, the wind hit us again with full force, and it was apparent that the tide had turned early and was ebbing south as we were trying to make our way north. It took some hard swimming at this point to make it to the north tip of the island and round the point, but we all managed.
When we finally rounded the tip and reached the eastern side of the island we were able to float and chat for a bit, marveling at how fast the current was carrying us back southward. It was fun watching the scenery go by as we relaxed in the water for a bit. The trip back seemed like it would be much easier, with both the wind and current with us.
We swam together for a while, then split up as we were joined by a second kayak—Eli and Willie went on ahead with Rondi, while Hannah and I enjoyed a more leisurely pace. We took full advantage of the “playing tourist” provision, stopping and making sense of the different landmarks we passed. Hannah showed me the road she loved biking on Storm King Mountain, we stopped to admire the view of West Point in the distance, the Croton Aquaduct tunnel, and whatever else happened to catch our attention. Andy proved to be an excellent tour guide as well as kayaker. Hannah was kind enough to share some of her wonderful feeds with me—applesauce and chocolate pudding. (I had only brought juice and water for this trip, and was missing my figgy pops around the 3h mark). I really enjoyed the meandering journey back to where we started—races are all well and good, but I think I enjoy social open-water swimming even more.
Finally we arrived back at where we had started. The entire swim took us around 3h20m. It was a spectacularly beautiful trip, and a really wonderful way to spend a glorious early fall day in the Hudson Valley.
It’s been a good week so far. Monday was a solo easy day after Sunday’s 2-mile race:
1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)
8 x 100, odds IM @ 1:45, evens BK @ 1:30, everything long and stretchy
Tuesday I swam with Rondi at the Y and did the following:
1100 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s, 100 IM kick)
5 x 450 FR, with 2 x 50s BK inching their way through each one
Today I swam with TNYA at John Jay. We had five in our lane, which worked fine as we were all very similar speeds. Brad was on deck, and we did the following:
150 FR, 100 IM kick
150 FR, 100 IM drill
150 FR, 100 IM swim
[plus there was another 250 of warmup I didn’t get to—I tend to take stretching intermissions]
7 x 150, pull optional: 3 @ 2:20, 4 @ 2:05 [I did the first 3 pull w/paddles, working on bilat breathing,
then the last 4 swim.]
8 x 125 @ 2:10, odds = FL/BK/BR/FR/FL (aka fly-to-fly IM); evens = BK
9 x 100 FR: 1 ez @ 2:00 + 5 steady @ 1:25 + 3 descend @ 1:45 [1:10 on fastest]
Continuation of main set that coach didn’t initially post lest a too long set frighten us but which we had more or less guessed was coming anyway
10 x 75 @ 1:45, done as 2 FL kick, 2 BK kick, 1 ez swim, 2 BR kick, 2 FR kick, 1 ez swim
I had a really fun time at the Lake Hopatcong Open Water Festival yesterday. The 2-mile swim doubled as the USMS 2-mile OW championship, so I had been seeing the announcement for it on the left of my flog entry screen for the last few months. The lake is only an hour west of here, and many people had told me about how nice it was to swim there, so when it turned out that I had the weekend free I decided to sign up.
In contrast to Saturday’s storms, Sunday dawned gorgeous and sunny, with a hint of fall in the air. Kenn and I drove out from the city—gotta love Zipcars!—and arrived around 7am. The air temp was in the high-50s, making me glad I’d packed my swim parka. We were assured that the water was warm, though, and it was, around 75. After registering and getting marked I warmed up with almost a full loop of the one-mile course which we would circle twice. The water was flat and the buoys were easy to see. There were plentiful lake weeds that sometimes got stuck on my hands and arms for a stroke or two, but they seemed harmless. One thing I did notice was that the low sun was very glaring when coming back towards the start, so I switched to some mirrored goggles for the race. I’d been carrying a pair around in my bag all year, but this was the first time I felt like I needed them. Here’s to being prepared!
This race featured an in-water start and finish. We wore chips on our wrists, and at the finish were to swim to a low dock where a mat had been placed, and get our wrists close enough to it so that our chips would register. It was the first time I’d used this system, and it reminded me a bit of the open-water finish at the Olympics, where the swimmers got to smack an overhead board to register their finish. Cool!
We were instructed to line up by race number to receive our race briefing. This seemed like it was going to be a lot of time standing around in cold air in a wet suit, so I kept my parka and flipflops on, and was glad I did. Finally we headed down to the water. The 2-mile race was divided by speed into two waves of 50 swimmers each. I was in the first one, and was glad to finally get back into the water to await the start.
My goal in this race was to actually race others, not just be off in my own JanetWorld communing with the pretty water while the rest of the swim went on around me. I’d only done longer swims so far this year, and I was a little worried that my tactical skills weren’t up to snuff, and that my competitive instincts were a little rusty. But I was inspired by reading Patrick’s accounts of his races, in which he always seems to know who and where his competition is. I had looked at the start list before the swim, and noted that in my age group there were no superstars showing up for the event, just a bunch of us area swimmers who were of roughly similar ability. It seemed like a good opportunity to go for an age-group win, and also a chance to get back into competitive mode and really relish racing others.
The hardest part of that for me was the start—I’ve grown to dislike the contact and chaos of mass-open water starts. I really prefer to start far off to the side and build gently into my swims, when a better strategy would often call for going out hard in hopes of finding clearer water (unlikely, and probably unnecessary here where I was seeded around 20th out of just 50 in our wave), or at least some faster person to draft on. I did a pretty good job with my start on Saturday, nudging over towards the far left side of the imaginary starting line (which gave a slightly shorter route) to avoid too much crowdedness but taking it out at a decent clip. Instead of the dozen people that I generally pass back by after the first 100m of a race, I only passed a couple. And happily, one of them was Lynne, the woman I expected to be the toughest competition in my age group—we started near each other, and I had managed to keep an eye on her as we got underway. We ended up swimming side-by-side for a few hundred yards on the first leg, before I pulled ahead so we could go around the first buoy single file.
On the back half of the first loop, I managed to bridge up to the two swimmers ahead of me, and settled behind them for a bit to get some draft. Soon they started to separate, so I passed the woman I was immediately behind and got behind the guy in front of her, who had a notably robust kick. Unfortunately I wasn’t drafting as efficiently as I would have liked off him—I didn’t trust his sighting and set my own line, which put me behind him sometimes but off to the side at others. Still, he stayed ahead of me, and as we finished the first loop I rolled over on my back to confirm that Lynne and the other woman I had passed were still right behind me. They were.
I picked it up slightly going into the second lap and got a bit of separation from the folks behind me, but was still unable to get past the hard-kicking guy in front, and in any case there seem to be anyone close enough ahead of him to bridge up to. I had really gotten into whole racing thing by this point, and wanted to beat whomever I could. That meant staying ahead of the swimmers behind me, and saving up enough to outsprint them to the line if they tried to come around me, all while trying to find a way to pass they guy in front of me before the end of the race. I was feeling a little fatigued, but also very energized and excited—this was fun!
About midway through the last ½-mile leg of the swim the guy in front of me veered to the outside, I took a better line, and once he corrected course we ended up swimming alongside each other, and pushing each other to the finish. I was about at the limit of how fast I could swim without totally selling out, and we were still too far from the finish for that—my hope was to hang on beside him until we got within spitting distance of the dock, then put in a kamikaze sprint to the mat. Unfortunately for me he had other plans, ticking it up a notch with about 150y to go, and I just couldn’t keep pace. He went right by me, and I stayed on his feet the best I could, summoning up all the speed I had, and ended up finishing about a body length behind him. Right on my feet was Lynne—she had put in a good finishing kick too, trying to catch me. We all thanked each other for pushing us to swim our best, and lolled around in the shallow water for a while watching and cheering on others as they finished. That was nearly as fun as the racing!
Between the finish and the awards there was plenty of time to hang out, enjoy some hot chocolate, cheer on the participants in the other races (a 1-mile and ¼-mile were also offered), and watch the K-9 demonstration that had been arranged. (There was a charming doggy theme to the whole event—the t-shirts and medals featured a dog’s likeness, and chocolate paw-print lollipops were in the goody bags).
And when the awards came, it turned out that while Lynne and I had beaten all the other 45-49 women from our heat, we were both bested by Bridgette in wave 2. So I got second overall in the age groupl.* Despite not getting the win, I was very pleased with my swim. I felt I had done a good job racing, and was reassured that I haven’t lost my competitive spirit—or my ability to sight for myself--by doing so many long events. (I realized somewhere during the race that it was the first time all summer I hadn’t had a kayak or boat to guide my course).
*(But there’s a postscript: It turns out that there was a timing snafu with the second wave, and that some swimmers had too much time deducted. I think this was only discovered because Bridgette started her own watch and noted the discrepancy between her official time and what her own watch recorded. So now she, as race director, has the unenviable job of sorting through the results provided by the timing company and trying to fix them. Not sure if this will affect my placing—it sounds like it will take a while to sort it all out!)
Updated September 10th, 2012 at 06:34 PM by swimsuit addict
I swam at the Y this morning with Hannah. The pool was deliciously cool, and not at all crowded—we had a lane to ourselves the whole time. Here’s what I did:
400 scy warmup
8 x 100, odds FR desc. @ 1:30, evens IM kick steady @ 2:10
8 x 50, odds IM build @ :50, evens FR kick moderate @ 1:00
4 x 100 FR (25 sprint to feet + 75 easy) @ 1:45
4 x 125 IM, with the extra 25 traveling through the strokes, FR to FL
I cut the workout short after feeling some sharp pain on the outside of my left scapula on the last sprint. It subsided into just discomfort on the IMs, but I decided not to push things and got out after that. I think it might have just been a muscle spasm—the sprinting must come as a shock to my body at this point!
I have a busy weekend planned—tomorrow I’m helping out with the CIBBOWS Triple Dip, and with a mile race followed by a 5/10K it will end up being a long day out at the beach. Then on Sunday I’ll going out to Lake Hopatcong, about an hour west of here, for the USMS 2M championship. Looking forward to it all!
Swam with Team New York today. That meant I was back in the basement pool at John Jay college (aka the dungeon), but the chance to see my teammates again after being away most of the summer was worth it!
Brad coached, and here’s what I did:
700 scy warmup (300s, 200p, 100 IM k, 100 IM drill)
4 x 25 K @ :30
2 x 50 FR @ :50
1 x 100 IM @ 1:45
1 x 200 FR pull @ 3:0
4 x 25 K @ :30
2 x 50 FR @ :50
2 x 100 IM @ 1:45
2 x 200 FR pull @ 3:00
4 x 25 K @ :30
2 x 50 FR @ :50
3 x 100 IM @ 1:45
3 x 200 FR pull @ 3:00
4 x 25 K @ :30
2 x 50 FR @ :50
4 x 100 IM @ 1:45
4 x 200 FR pull @ 3:00
[I did the first 5 200s pull, then ditched the buoy and paddles for the rest of them. I was considering moving into the fast lane for the foursies, but both swimmers there got out after round 3. Empty lanes don’t stay that way long if I’m around--I moved over and had my very own princess lane for the rest of the workout, but kept swimming on my lane’s intervals. That meant Hannah and I got to do synchro IMs on the last round! It was hard to tell if our strokes were exactly synched for FL and BR, but on BK and FR we were spot on. Still waiting for that synchro IM to be added as an official event!]
It was fun being back with a pool full of teammates!
I swam at the Y this morning, overlapping workouts with Rondi. Yesterday’s crowds took the day off today—we were just 1 or 2 to the lane for most of the following, which I adapted from my recollection of one of Patrick’s HV workouts this week:
1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s by 25)
100 FR swim @ 1:30
100 IM kick @ 2:10
500 (200 FR / 100 BK / 200 FR), build from moderate to mod-fast
100 IM kick @ 2:10
[This started out as a set of 8 100s, but I patched in the last 500 of my lanemate’s workout in the middle.]
3 x 100 on forced-descend intervals
200 easy FR pull @ 3:30-3:45
· 1st round 100s = FR @ 1:30, 1:25, 1:20 (1:14 on fastest)
· 2nd round 100s = IM @ 1:45, 1:35, 1:25 (1:25)
· 3rd round 100s = FR/BK halfsies @ 1:30, 1:25, 1:20 (1:17)
· 4th round 100s = IM @ 1:50, 1:40, 1:30 (1:24)
[I was tempted to stop after 3 rounds. After a bit of bargaining with myself I decided that if I added 5 seconds to the IM intervals and gave myself a get-out time (<1:25) on the fastest one I could do a fourth round and still think of it as fun.]
Then because I had made my get-out time, I skipped the hazily remembered Sprinty Thing at the end and just did
200 easy warmdown + play
I enjoyed a fun workout with Rondi at the Y this morning. NYC’s public outdoor pools are now closed, and Riverbank is shut down for its annual cleaning, so I felt lucky to have access to the Y's 4-lane 25y pool—I’ll combine lap swim time there with team workouts for the next few weeks, until Riverbank reopens. Lanes were crowded when I arrived—seems like there's an annual back-to-school-and-fitness-routines frenzy that almost rivals the January resolution rush to the gym here. (I know school has started back for weeks in many locales, but nearly all NYC K-12 schools, public and private, hold off the start of their year until after Labor Day). Things cleared out after a bit, and we enjoyed our own lane for much of the workout. Here’s how it went:
900 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 100p, 200 IM d/s)
300 FR swim
250 alt. FR drill / BK swim by 50s
200 FR swim
150 alt FR drill / BK swim by 50s
100 FR swim
500 FR, done as 5 x (25 sprint + 75 very easy)
"Arithmetic is Fun!" 500 (all FR except multiples of 3 = BR, multiples of 4 = BK, multiples of 7 = FL)
I was lethargic until we did the sprints, then felt energized—if I have to swim in a short course pool, it's good to at least have the fun of sprinting 25s! Looking forward to getting reacquainted with some of the other indoor pools here later this week.
I enjoyed a fun, mellow day at the beach today. I’ve been lackadaisical about my training this week—after the big P2P swim, I was initially so happy to finish with my body intact that I signed up for a couple of late-season races and started making plans for improving my speed with more pool workouts. But after that first burst of enthusiasm I found myself waking up and not wanting to go to the pool--I think I discounted the need for a mental break from training, if not a physical one. So for the last week or so I’ve not swum much, and have been just following my instincts about what feels fun to do rather than thinking in terms of shoulds.
That meant I hadn’t gotten out to the beach yet this weekend. But I woke up this morning wanting to go, in part because I missed seeing my CIBBOWS friends. I arrived at Brighton around 10:30, and did a social 2-mile swim to the pier and back. I started out swimming by myself, but circled back to find some swim buddies after less than a half mile, just because I was feeling a little lonely. Luckily I found Patty and Capri to talk to, and we then spotted Mike swimming in our direction. (Patty prides herself in being able to identify swimmers by their strokes when they’re still quite far away, and she’s usually right). They sent me off with him, and we swam mostly together the rest of the way.
I stayed at the beach afterwards for a good couple of hours, which included an extended in-the-water synchro session. The ocean temp was 75 degrees, perfect for goofing around in the water and chatting. By the end of our “practice” there were ten of us out there rehearsing various synchro moves and performing a rudimentary routine. We got a standing ovation from the guards when we were done, and at least one beachgoer asked where we learned our skills! It’s bittersweet to think that this is the guards’ last weekend at Brighton, and that summer is truly ending.
Cape Cod Bay swim, part 1
Cape Cod Bay swim, part 2
Around midday the jellyfish that had been our companions from the start of the swim disappeared. Now all that was beneath us were the murky depths. I swam along from feed to feed, without much to look at besides the constant presence of the boats and my fellow swimmer. My attention turned to how the water felt. From sunrise on, a gentle trailing wind created rolling waves that carried us along with them; when I stretched out the glide at the beginning of each stroke I felt as I were surfing. Occasionally we would hit a patch where the water felt chaotic or unsettled, and I felt that interesting currents I didn’t fully understand were taking place around me. The water around us seemd to have something to say, and I tried to listen attentively as it buoyed me along to our destination.
That water is doing interesting stuff down below! (Photo credit R. Davies)
There did seem to be a current pulling us to the south—several times when the boat on that side was maneuvering and got ahead or behind us we would drift in that direction and have to correct course. When planning the swim, it was currents in the other direction—north—that most concerned us. Greg, who had studied the tides and previous attempts at the crossing, predicted that by 4pm strong outgoing currents would be whipping around Point Race, the spit of land near where we were headed. We had planned our nighttime start with an eye towards finishing before these currents made the swim too difficult. But we weren’t sure how the tidal cycle in the middle of the bay would or should affect navigation; part of the excitement of being part of this pioneering swim was charting an untested path.
In any case, after making good time at the beginning of the swim, we seemed to hit some slower water with around 8 miles to go. After halfway, Rondi would sometimes tell us during feeds how many miles remained. I wasn’t paying much attention to the numbers—I just knew there was water left to swim in, and I was still having fun, so whatever! But Dave was listening, and once when he and Rondi discussed our slowed progress I worried a little bit that we wouldn’t make it to P-town before the tides shifted. But at each feeding stop the monument visible on the distant shore grew bigger, and deep down I was confident that we would finish the day by wading out onto those sands.
At one point when we were swimming along I sensed something ahead of me, and pulled up short to see what it was. A seagull was floating on the water, right in our path, glaring at us with its beady eyes. Dave stopped to see what I was laughing at. The bird was scarcely a meter away. We both edged a little closer. The gull stood its ground. We detoured around it.
Soon we were close enough to see the Herring Cove beach quite clearly ahead of us, and I began to be able to discern the rocky bottom. It seemed like we were getting very close. The next time I stopped for a feed I told Rondi and John that I could see the bottom. John looked at his instruments and reported that we were in 150 feet of water. I thought it looked more like 20 feet down--I guess I’m not used to swimming in such clear water. Rondi told us we had 3 miles to go. I had put down my head and started swimming again before that number registered. The shore had looked so close. Maybe she said 0.3 and I misheard? I decided that must be the case, and I began to feel a little wistful that we were almost at the end of our swim—I actually wished it would last a little longer.
Almost there, no? (Photo credit R. Davies)
This was definitely a case of be careful what you wish for. It was indeed at least three miles to the beach—that sand looked so tantalizingly close for the last couple of hours. So close that at the next feed I requested Coke instead of my scheduled milk. Why Coke? The answer requires a little history. Although the Plymouth-to-Provincetown crossing had been tried numerous times from 1915 on, it had only been successfully completed once before, by Russell Chaffee back in 1968. Chaffee reportedly fed on Coca-Cola and sugar cookies during his swim . . . so I had planned a tribute feed of flat coke and a sugar cookie towards the end of my own swim in his honor. But I had scheduled it for the eleventh hour of my swim, and with the beach looming so seemingly close I was worried that we would be done before then. So I requested the Coke early to make sure I got it in, and discovered that flat Coke tastes really wonderful after ten hours in the water!
Now that we could see the bottom I looked for fish—sunfish, jellyfish, any kind of fish—but saw no sealife of any sort below. But as we finally, actually, neared the beach I did notice one large shape swimming beside me. I did a double take and saw that it was Rondi, swimming the final stretch into shore with us! The bottom lightened and became partly sandy. We swam until our fingers touched, then walked up onto the sand. Done! Eleven hours and forty-five minutes after walking into the ocean at Plymouth, we walked out of it at Provincetown. I looked back towards where we had started, and tried to take it all in.
We all hugged briefly at the finish, then swam around in the offshore water for a bit. Rondi suggested that I select a pebble from the beach to commemorate the swim, an open-water tradition. Then we headed back to the boats for a brief ride over to the harbor to unload. We saw Greg on his boat—he had started nearly an hour after us and completed the swim a bit further north—and found out that Eileen had also been successful. I was glad to hear of my friends’ success, and a little dazed by my own.
We met up at the dock, unloaded all our stuff from the boat, and was picked up by Mo, who kindly took us to his place for showers, a marvelous dinner, and a good night’s rest. I slept very well that night!
The next morning we had a fun boat ride back to Plymouth aboard Agent Orange. I kept my eyes peeled for sunfish, or seals, but saw neither—maybe my next big swim will have to be in a place where I have another opportunity. It was nice being out on the water again, and even though it was a fairly calm day there was considerably more chop than we had encountered. It seems we really lucked out with nearly perfect conditions for our swim—flat water, trailing wind, comfortable water and air temps, some cloud cover for most of the day.
We drove back to the city that afternoon. Upon my return to NYC I was greeted not with a ticker-tape parade, but with something even better—a pool party hosted by the Parks Department, and attended by many of my closest swim buddies. I was even presented with not one but two trophies! The occasion had nothing to do with the Massachusetts swim, however--it was the end-of-the-season party for lap swimmers in NYC’s public pools. Those who swam the most miles at each session at each pool were presented with customized awards. So, just one day after swimming 20 miles in Cape Cod Bay, I marched up and proudly accepted a trophy for swimming 8 miles—over 7 weeks--in the Crotona Park pool. (My morning mileage was somehow split among the morning and evening sessions, and I ended up getting awards for both).
The party also featured relays—I managed to sprint a semi-credible 50, and actually felt good doing it—along with music, various speakers (including 70s distance freestyle ace Bobby Hackett!), a synchro routine, and much much more. A very loud and enthusiastic woman tried to get us all to sing along to “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” with scant success, and my in-the-know pal revealed which of the night’s speakers had been kicked out of their pools for fisticuffs. I was in such a tired and giddy state by then that I was just happy to sit back and be entertained by it all. It seemed a fitting end to an adventure-filled three days.
I’m grateful to my four fellow swimmers who dreamed up this P2P swim made it happen—Greg O’Conner, David Barra, Eileen Burke, and Mo Siegel—and am very glad to hear that MOWSA (the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association) will be offering the crossing as a sanctioned solo swim sometime in the future. Greg is currently comparing data from our different routes so that future swimmers will have the best info available when they take up the challenge. I was also very lucky to have such wonderful companions for the swim—Dave in the water, Rondi crewing, and boat pilots John and Dan always nearby. They all helped keep me feeling happy and confident throughout the long day.
And those four goals I set? I met them all. I lasted through several hours of night swimming, handily beat my previous time-in-the-water PR by over 5 hours, did a fairly good job of identifying and fixing things that were causing discomfort during the swim, and did indeed exit the water with a list of 5 notable things about the swim:
5. The ever-changing movements of the water dancing around me
4. That moment of not seeing land in either direction in the middle of the swim
3. The looooong finishing stretch
2. The sun-road that we followed
1. The magical glowing jellies during the night swimming
What an amazing and glorious experience it all was!
Boston Globe article
Daily New of OW Swimming
I had a good workout at Riverbank this morning. Lots of pools in the area are closed now for annual cleaning, so I got to see friends from various teams around the city whom I haven’t seen in a while. In between the chatting, here’s what I did:
1000 lcm warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s by 25)
IM Pyramid: 100/200/300/400/300/200/100 IM, all long and relaxed
400 aimless FR
10 x 50, odds mod-fast FR [held 40s], evens easy BK
Switch to outdoor pool, 500 scy warmdown
My body feels fairly recovered from last week’s swim, apart from some lingering chafing and sunburn. I managed to swim a loop at Brighton on Saturday without exacerbating either. One funny thing—after seeing (spoiler alert!) nary a shark in Cape Cod Bay, I saw my first little one out at Brighton. It was only 3-4 inches long, and was burrowing down into the sand right near shore. Other swimmers said there were quite a few out there—all of them teensy and cute!
I’m eager to start working on getting back some speed after having focused all summer on swimming longer at a sustainable pace. I’ve signed up for two upcoming races—the Lake Hopatcong 2m swim on September 9 (a USMS championship this year), and the 10.2K Little Red Lighthouse Swim on September 22. I had been waiting to see how my body responded to last week’s swim before committing to any more events this fall, but now I feel good to go!
When I had imagined this swim beforehand, I was particularly excited about getting to swim straight into the sunrise. I had pictured a dark night followed by one of those glorious pink-and-orange extravaganzas unfolding ahead as I stroked eastward towards Provincetown, with maybe some overwrought movie orchestration swelling in the background for good effect. The reality was more subtle, not to mention quieter. With the cloud cover, the blackness surrounding us gradually gave way to a palette of blues and greys. All was calm and peaceful, and I felt a sense of wonder and satisfaction of having stroked along until daylight.
We continued to feed every 30 minutes. During my previous swims I had fed from accompanying kayaks, with my feeds stored either on the kayak itself or handed off to the kayaker by crew on a nearby boat. Either way, the kayaker simply handed the appropriate container to me. In this swim, however, there was no kayaker alongside us, so we received feeds directly from the boat. To accomplish this, I had brought along a length of rope with a carabiner knotted to the end; bottles could be clipped to the carabiner and thrown into the water near me, and retrieved after I was done with them. Solid foods, and anything else I needed from the boat, could be handed off via a telescoping fishing net that I had brought along.
Among the net handoffs were fruit purees or homemade gels every 2 hours, and an asthma inhaler plus an ibuprofen-stuffed marshmallow every 4 hours. The latter I put in a small ziplock bag, to the top of which I had attached loops of tape to make them easy to open with wet hands. Once I dropped my marshmallow in the water, but it still tasted ok.
Feed gear: (clockwise from upper left): rope; net; push-up pop mold for homemade gels; asthma inhaler and marshmallow in easy-to-open ziplock bag; fruit puree (aka baby food); thermos for hot feeds; bottle for cold feeds
After the sun had been up for an hour or so, it broke through the clouds to become an orange glow ahead of us. Since we were headed eastward, its orange reflection in the waves created a glowing path for us as we swam along. I recalled some Old English poem which describes a ship sailing along the sun-road (Old English, like present-day German, likes to squish nouns together to form compound words). I felt a new appreciation for that image, and delighted in our journey along this modern sunroad for a couple of hours, until the sun rose higher in the sky and the effect disappeared.
Swimming along the sunroad (photo credit R. Davies)
The non-stinging jellyfish that had glowed so brightly during the nighttime hours were still with us, pulsing under the surface at depths ranging from about 20 inches—just close enough to caress my fingertips now and again—to as far down as I could see. The water seemed very clear, and I could see their bodies quite well. Although I usually breathe every 2 or 3 strokes, sometimes I would string together several stroke cycles without a breath just to focus on their movements. I remembered the morning’s factoid about sunfish eating jellyfish, and tried my best to send a telepathic message to any sunfish in the area: Come swim by us! Plentiful buffet here, free for the taking! It didn’t work—if any sunfish were nearby, they didn’t show themselves.
Every now and again I thought about sharks, but never in a fearful they-must-be-nearby-and-looking-to-dine-on-me way. Instead, I thought about how cool it was that other big fish were out there, sharing the same water with us, and the idea made me feel peaceful and connected to something big and wondrous. I have no idea in retrospect how my usually skittish self managed to be that sanguine during the swim—all I can say is that on that day, I felt like the ocean was exactly where I should be, and that no harm could come to me there.
As we swam eastward the water seemed to gradually grow warmer—after the swim I found out the temperatures ranged from the initial 63 to a high of 72 somewhere near the end. (Rondi recorded water temps every 30 minutes, along with our stroke rates and feedings, for our swim logs). When I felt the temps getting warmer I took my earplugs out and tucked them in the sides of my suit, just in case I needed them again. I had also started out the swim double-capped, and took one off somewhere along the way and tossed it in the boat. At 7½ hours in I asked to switch from warm to cold liquids for my feeds. (I had prepared four hours’ worth of each to start, so that Rondi wouldn’t have to do any mixing when it was dark, then had concentrates that could be mixed with hot or cold water as needed for the rest of the swim).
During one of my feeds during the middle of the swim I looked behind me, then in front of me, and was struck that I could see land in neither direction. I looked again, enjoying the feeling of having swum beyond what I knew, and heading to a place beyond my perception. Although this swim was defined by its endpoints—a crossing from Province to P-town—I didn’t go into it assuming that I would make it to the end, or determined to do so at any cost. I wanted to swim longer than 6½ hours, my previous PR, but beyond that who knew? Rather than find out how far I could swim, I simply wanted to find out how long my desire to swim, and my ability to do so happily, could last. With a swim this long, I figured that I would either find a definite answer to that, for reasons that were fixable or not, or else I would find out that the answer was “pretty darn long!” Any of those scenarios would help me make a more informed decision about what sorts of swims might suit me best going forward.
So when I saw land in neither direction, I was reminded of one of the main attractions of this swim to me: the possibility of simply swimming and swimming to my heart’s content. And so far, I was feeling very content in the water, stroking along happily and wishing for nothing more than to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
(The following day I discovered that this inability to see land in either direction was probably due to either the cloudiness of the day, or being at swimmers-eye level. On a boat on a clear day, retracing our route, I could see land in both directions from the middle of the bay. Still, it was a inspiring moment during the swim!)
Soon enough, during one of our feeds Rondi pointed out P-town’s Pilgrim Monument in the distance—the only structure of any height on that otherwise flat spit of land. That was where we were headed. I took off my goggles and squinted towards where she was pointing, and could just make it out. I felt excited that our destination was visible. But between visible and there still lay many miles.
Cape Cod Bay swim, part 3
Updated August 27th, 2012 at 09:38 PM by swimsuit addict
It’s getting to be do-or-die time for visiting NYC’s public outdoor pools—there’s roughly one week left in the short season. I took advantage of a Pool Tourism Club outing this morning to visit Lasker Pool in Central Park. It’s located in the northeast corner of the park, and is an easy walk from the 110th Street stop on the 2 train. This oval-shaped pool, which turns into an ice rink during the winter, features curved metal walls that make flip turns challenging. It’s dimensions are listed at 240’ x 190’ x 3.75’; we swam in one of the 6 marked lanes that bisected the pool the short way, giving us lengths of approximately 58m. That seemed apt, since one among our group was celebrating his 58th birthday!
I swam an easy 1000m or so, happily interrupted at most walls by conversation. It was a beautiful morning, and joy to be moving around in the water, surrounded by friends amid the beautiful backdrop of Central Park’s landscaping. My body felt surprisingly good, and my two Hannah-inspired laps of butterfly felt wonderful, almost like mini-massages.
Although Lasker is an easy commute from my apartment, this was the first time I had swum there, so I was able to add a new pool to my list of NYC pools (below). A delicious brunch afterwards made for the perfect morning. Hurray pool tourism!
New York City pools I’ve swum at (asterisked = outdoor pool):
1. West Side Y (25 yd), W. 63rd between Bway and Central Park West
2. West Side Y warm-water pool (20 yd?)
3. Riverbank State Park indoor pool (50M), W. 138th Street on the Hudson
*4. Riverbank State Park outdoor pool (25yds)
5. Asphalt Green competition pool (50M), E. 91st and York
6. Asphalt Green warm-water therapy pool (15m?)
*7. Asphalt Green outdoor pool (25yd, now gone)
8. John Jay College Pool (25y) 59th and 10th
9. Baruch College Pool (25m) 24th and Lex
10. City College pool (25y) W 145th and Convent Ave.
11. Columbia University (25y) 116th and Bway
12. NYU Palladium pool (25y x 25m) 140 E. 14th St.
13. Vanderbilt YMCA (25y) 224 E. 47th
14. Chelsea Rec Center (25y) W 25th between 9th and 10th
15. New York Athletic Club (25y) Central Park South @ 7th Ave.
*16. John Jay Park Pool (48y) E. 77th and York
*17. Hamilton Fish park pool (50m) Pitt and Houston Streets
18. Reebok Club pool (25y) 67th and Columbus
19. Chelsea Piers (25y), W. 19th Street on the Hudson
20. JJC pool (25y), 76th and Amsterdam
21. Manhattan Plaza (25y), 43rd and 10th
22. McBurney Y (25y), 14th between 6th and 7th
*23. Jackie Robinson (25m), Bradhurst Ave. @ W 146 St.
*24. Lasker Pool (25m) Central Park, near Malcolm X Drive/110th St entrance
1. LIU—Brooklyn (25y) Flatbush and DeKalb
2. St. Francis College pool (25y) Brooklyn Heights
*3. Red Hook Pool (40m)
4. Shorefront YM-YWHA (25y) Brighton Beach
1. Lehman College pool (50m)
*2. Van Cortlandt Park pool (50m)
*3. Crotona Park Pool (100m)
1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park pool (50m)
1. Wagner College pool (25y?)
*2. Lyons pool (50m)
I returned yesterday evening from an amazing adventure in Cape Cod centered around a 20-mile swim from Plymouth to Provincetown. On Monday morning I picked up a Zipcar, collected Rondi after her early swim at Riverbank, and drove up to Plymouth, MA. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and with a trip to an unfamiliar part of the country and the excitement of the next day’s swim the road before us seemed full of exciting possibility.
We arrived in Plymouth in time for a quick walk around the harbor and a lunch of lobster rolls before checking into our hotel. Then it was back down to the harbor to meet up with Dave and boat pilots Dan and John. The plan was for Dave and me to swim together, flanked by his boat (Agent Orange), which would be driven by Dan, and John’s Plymouth-based boat. Rondi would feed us both from John’s boat. I made arrangements with the harbor master to park my car overnight near the boat launch while I was away, and went over my feeding schedule and equipment with Rondi. We all discussed boat loading plans (2 am at the boat ramp dock), how the swim would go (route and feeding routines, swim protocol), and contingency plans (where the nearest hospitals were, what to do in case of shark sightings).
The last of these was a bit of a concern for me going into the swim. Cape Cod’s seal population has been growing rapidly in recent years, as has the number of great whites that feed on them. There had been some sightings in the area, and a well-publicized attack several weeks ago on the Atlantic side of the Cape, a few miles around the point from where we were headed. I tried not to think about all this overly much heading into the swim—the risk of encountering dangerous wildlife was there, but it seemed very minimal, and in any case I knew that open-water swimmers regularly travel through waters populated by all kinds of sharks in places like California without incident. A bigger worry to me was that I would get the shark heebie-jeebies during my swim, and spend considerable time feeling fearful or jittery out in the ocean instead of enjoying it.
On a happier note, John told us there had also been lots of sunfish sightings in the bay waters this season. I wasn’t sure what sunfish were exactly, but Rondi and Dave seemed to think that was cool, so I decided that they must be a good thing to hope to see during our crossing.
After the meeting it was back to the hotel. I had a snack, then lay down to try to get some rest before the swim. The last thing I remember before drifting off was wondering what sunfish looked like. I ended up getting a good few hours sleep—I was snoozing by 6:30, and woke up excited and ready to go around 11:30pm. That was a little earlier than I’d planned on getting up, but it gave me plenty of time to have some cereal, get ready, and prepare some hot feeds and hot water for the boat. When Rondi awoke I asked her what sunfish looked like. She found a picture on her phone and showed me (they’re funny looking creatures!), and we decided that its frilly back end looked like a tutu. While I made my final preparations she entertained me with some sunfish facts—they can grow up to 1000kg, they eat jellyfish, and swim really slow. I decided that if I started worrying about sharks during the swim I would think about sunfish instead.
We arrived at the boat ramp a little before 2, with plans to start the swim around 3am. While I was sleeping Dave and Rondi had festooned Agent Orange with glowsticks that hung down a little over the waterline, to make the boat easily visible to swimmers during the dark. I had brought some glowsticks and battery-powered light strings for John’s boat as well. (Although both boats had various lights higher up on them, it’s nice to have some at swimmer’s-eye level too). Fellow CIBBOWS swimmer Mo arrived—he was another one of the five swimmers attempting the swim—and we loaded up the boats, climbed onboard, and headed down to the start. The other two boats were loading elsewhere, and while we were all starting from the same beach we were not attempting to coordinate the start times. Basically, when your boat arrived and you were ready to go, you splashed. Each swimmer’s time would be kept by his or her boat. We saw fellow swimmer Eileen just leaving the beach as we arrived, and a little ways into our swim we saw Greg’s boat heading into shore for his start. It was nice thinking of all of us out there somewhere, stroking along in the bay, due to converge eventually by the end of the day.
It was quite dark—the four-day-old moon had set hours before, and clouds obscured most of the stars. The ride out was really amazing, with the three boats motoring along in the dark across the smooth water. Rondi and I sat in the bow of our boat, playing with some glowstick bracelets I’d brought along, giggling, and watching Agent Orange and Mo’s boat trail along behind us. I was feeling excited, a little nervous about the beach start in the dark, and eager for things to get under way. I mentally rehearsed what I needed to do once we got near the beach and slowed down: inhalers, lube (I’d already sunscreened back at the hotel), cap and goggles, attach lights. (I would wear one green blinking light on my goggle strap and attach a steady orange one to my suit so that I would be visible to our boats in the dark. In this, as in so many things, I followed the example of my more experienced swim partner Dave).
We arrived near Whitehorse Beach, our designated starting point. I was glad to see that our boats could get us very close in to the shore—I had been worried about having to swim into a dark beach, but we were close enough that the sand was lit up from the boats’ lights. I took off my parka—the air was in the low-60s, and I had needed it during the zippy boat ride over--and got ready to swim. I asked John what the water temp was—he got a reading of 63—and debated whether to wear earplugs. I usually don’t if the water is above 60, but I wasn’t sure if the temp would drop as we went into deeper water. When I saw Dave was wearing his, I decided to go with them, figuring that taking them out if I didn’t need them would be easier than having them passed to me from the boat later on. When Dave and I were both ready we jumped into the water and swam, then waded, the few yards to shore. I didn’t want to put my feet down on the dark bottom, but eventually I had to.
When we were completely out of the water and on the sand, we exchanged a few words, raised our hands to signal to the boats we were starting, then headed out into the water. We were soon swimming alongside each other with the dark water stretching out beneath us.
Going into this swim I had decided upon four goals:
· To last more than 10 minutes swimming in the dark (an easily achievable goal to give me a taste of success early on, and something to shoot for in case just I got panicky with the night swimming)
· To beat my previous time-in-the-water PR of 6h31m (a somewhat more difficult achievement-focused goal)
· To come out of the water with a list of five things about the swim that were unique, or new to me (a process-focused goal, more specific and measurable that “enjoy the swim and appreciate the experience”)
· To be proactive and resourceful about fixing any problems or discomforts as they arose (an improving-my-skills goal—I hadn’t been so good at this during swims earlier in the season—as well as what I needed to do to help ensure that I would stay happy during the crossing).
That first goal was indeed easily achieved. I wasn’t scared at all of the darkness once I was swimming in it. In fact, it was one of the most magical parts of the swim, mostly because there were tons of green glowing jellyfish beneath us. They ranged from grape size to softball size, and it was simply unreal watching them bounce along below us as we swam above. I could feel their squishiness on my fingers as I stroked along. Otherwise, it was pitch black below. It was like swimming in a lava lamp, for hours. Any air bubbles from my hand entry also seemed to glow in the water. When I turned to breathe, I could see the blue light strings on John’s boat and the glowsticks on Agent Orange, and sometimes I could see Rondi’s glowstick bracelets as she moved about on deck. Dave’s goggle and suit lights were also very visible, but surrounding the illumination of our little flotilla was nothing but darkness.
I felt like we had only been swimming for about 10 minutes when Rondi signaled for our first half-hour feed, and those thereafter also seemed to come jarringly quickly. I was so mesmerized by the light show below that I was reluctant to stop for feeds, although it was nice to see Rondi and have her serve up some warm drinks. Since I had been unsure what the water temp would be going into the swim, I had prepared both warm and cold liquids (a rotation of tea, gatorade, juice, and milk), with some solid or pureed food every 2 hours. We had arranged for me to start off with warm feeds, thinking they might be a comforting thing to have in the dark, and agreed that I would tell her when I wanted to switch to cold. I ended up having warm feeds for about the first 2/3 of the swim.
For a while my goggles and I weren’t getting along so well. At first feed I told Rondi that I might want to switch to my backup pair at the next feed, but by then they were working fine. Soon though I decided that I would be happier in my more favored type of goggle (I had started off with another model because it had clear lenses, which I thought would be better for the initial low-light conditions). I made the switch and was happier. Score one for goal number 4! I probably could have swum with the first ones for the entire swim, but why put up with something you can fix?
After a few feedings I gradually began to notice that the sky to my left seemed to be lightening a little bit. Slowly things became brighter, and I could discern the outline of the boats against the sea and sky. The jellies became white-outlined translucent creatures rather than glowing green blobs. Dawn was approaching. The night was behind us, and we would soon be swimming into sunrise!
(Photo credit R. Davies)
Cape Cod Bay swim, part 2
Updated August 25th, 2012 at 09:02 PM by swimsuit addict
I had another fun swim at the 100m Crotona Park Pool this morning. The section of the pool with the seam in the bottom that we used to circle around is still blocked off, but this morning the lifeguards brought out Andrew’s portable bottom line for us—it had been at the pool all along! Rondi, Hannah, John, Teresa, and I all circled happily around it, while the 6th lap swimmer swam back and forth a few yards away. Here’s what I did:
1000 super-lcm warmup: 400 relaxed FR + 3 x 200 ST/FR
600, done as 3 lengths build, 2 lengths fast, 1 length easy
2 x 400 FR, odds pull with paddles, evens swim, focusing on bilateral breathing and steady body position
4 x 100 with tempo trainer, varying stroke count
200 warmdown + play
That was it!
I did manage to get a few pictures of Andrew’s invention—it’s basically two pieces of metal, each about 15 inches long, with holes through which a looooong piece of neon yellow-green cord is strung. The metal beams sit on the bottom of the pool, where the T would normally be, and are heavy enough to keep the cord from moving around. While the cord is easily visible when you’re swimming near it, it’s hard to see in the above-the-water shot below.
All wound up after workout
(Photo credit J. Hughes)
Viewed from the pool deck
Yesterday and today I had a couple of nice relaxing swims in the acre o'pool at Crotona Park. But there's been a hint of trouble in paradise: For some reason, with 3 weeks left in the swim season, the powers that be have determined that the shallowest two-thirds of the pool should be blocked off during lap swim That would be fine--we can still swim the 100m length of the pool, and with only 3 or 4 of us each morning it still feels roomy--but unfortunately the blocked off section includes the one lengthwise seam in the bottom around which we all swam. (There's no black lines painted on the bottome). So far it's worked out--I've been swimming next to the wall, and sighting on it, while Rondi swims next to the rope that designates forbidden territory. We need Andrew to come back, and bring his amazing portable bottom line invention!
I did a shortened session this morning:
1000 slcm warmup (400fr, 3 x 200 ST/FR)
4 x 400 FR, odds pull w/paddles, evens swim
4 x 200 IM:
1st = drill
2nd = 100 kick / 100 swim
3rd= 100 swim / 100 kick
4th = swim
600 warmdown + play
I'm getting ready for my next big swim. In a week's time I'll be swimming across Cape Cod Bay, a distance of about 20 miles. This one brings a lot of new challenges--it will be significantly longer than I've ever done before; it might be cold enough to warrent some hot feeds; it will start during the dark; I'll be feeding from and sighting on a boat rather than a kayak. I've been busy the last few days thinking through what I might need, amassing supplies, and trying to avoid the temptation to play with my glowsticks. I'm definitely looking forward to finishing up the prep and embarking on the adventure!
I had two good swims out in the ocean this weekend. Saturday started out very overcast, and the forecast was for possible thunderstorms, but after guessing wrong about Friday's weather and missing an outdoor swim then, I decided to brave the weather and head out to see what would happen. I was glad I did, as the clouds turned into blue sky, and I enjoyed a nice mellow day at the beach. I swam an easy 5k loop, with flat water and minimal current. The water has turned a little overly warm--we are into mid August now--and there was a fair lot of debris (bags, branches) in the water from recent rains. But it was still very peaceful and happy-making stroking along the familiar course. I even found a few cooler patches here and there that felt soothing and restorative.
Today the weather was sunny but not too hot, and the beach was a little more crowded. There was a nice CIBBOWS contingent out, and I ended up swimming to the pier and back, then playing and synchro swimming for about half an hour near the shore. (Watching the synchro on tv has given me ideas!) Unfortunately the sea lice were out in force today--I stopped a half dozen times during my swim to clear them out of my suit. Luckily, I don't suffer from the itchy welty aftereffects of sea lice the way some of my fellow swimmers do (at least not so far!). Apart from the those little critters it was an easy day of swimming, with the water flat and cooperative--it felt like I was getting helped along by gentle swells in both directions. There were lots of boats and jetskis out, but happily today they stayed well clear of swimmers.
During this part of the summer I often lack motivation for going out to the beach--the warmer water temperatures and the crowds don't appeal to me as much as spring or fall beach days do. I was glad to have two good experiences out there this weekend, and to remind myself of the pleasures of swimming at the beach during this warm season. Still, I'm looking forward to swimming in some cooler temps soon!