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swimsuit addict

About a year after beginning this blog, I got interested in open-water swimming, and it's been my passion ever since. Here's a list of some swims I've done.

  1. Lake Hopatcong 2-mile 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. The corrected results put me first in the age group after all.)

    Updated October 31st, 2014 at 07:27 PM by swimsuit addict

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  2. Short morning swim

    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!
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  3. Back with my team

    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)

    Mega-set
    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!]

    50 warmdown

    It was fun being back with a pool full of teammates!
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  4. Mostly-on-my-own workout

    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.]

    4x thru
    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
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  5. Morning Y workout

    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)

    Broken 1000:
    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)

    Back-to-school set:
    "Arithmetic is Fun!" 500 (all FR except multiples of 3 = BR, multiples of 4 = BK, multiples of 7 = FL)

    250 warmdown

    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.
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  6. Last summer beach day

    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.
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  7. Cape Cod Bay swim, part 3

    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
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  8. Riverbank swim

    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!
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  9. Cape Cod Bay swim, part 2

    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 08:38 PM by swimsuit addict

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  10. A new pool for the list

    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):

    Manhattan
    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

    Brooklyn
    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

    Bronx
    1. Lehman College pool (50m)
    *2. Van Cortlandt Park pool (50m)
    *3. Crotona Park Pool (100m)

    Queens
    1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park pool (50m)

    Staten Island
    1. Wagner College pool (25y?)
    *2. Lyons pool (50m)
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  11. Cape Cod Bay swim, part 1

    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 08:02 PM by swimsuit addict

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  12. The invention returns!

    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
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  13. Another Crotona morning

    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!
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  14. August doldrums

    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!
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  15. Tortoise and Hare

    Today was another pool tourism outing, this time to the 12-lane 50m outdoor beauty at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was a glorious morning for a dip in this pool, which is surrounded by woodlands and cross-country trails in this extensive park. I swam with Hannah, John, Michael, and Tony, and the five of us had an end lane all to ourselves--we had enough room to circle or to swim cosily side-by-side (the norm during lap swim here).

    In honor of the park's famous cross-country course, not to mention the sculpture that marks the finish to that course (see below), we did a couple of hare-and-tortoise themed sets. Here's how it went:

    400 lcm warmup

    2x thru
    200 "slow and steady"
    2 x 50 sprints, with ample "napping"/rest in between
    [We did the first of these together, then divided into two groups for the last two. "Tortoises" did 200s while "hares" outsprinted them on the first length,
    rested for 100+, then tried to sprint them down on the last lap. Dialogue was for the whole interspecies gridge was improvised..]

    Tortoise-and-hare II: 300m
    [We swam in a line, with the last swimmer sprinting past everyone to take over the first spot. Mixed results on this one.]

    Various 50s (dolphin dives, easy free, the required 2 lengths fly) and lots of socializing rounded out the session. I love pool tourism!

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  16. Strokes and drills day

    It was another Crotona morning--Andrew and I had the huge pool to ourselves. I saw a sign posted that pegged the pool's capacity at 1584 swimmers, so I guess we made it 0.12% full.

    It rained briefly during warmup, and I had to get out for about five minutes when the rain got heavy. But it slacked off quickly, the lifeguard decided he couldn't plausibly claim not to see the bottom of the 4' deep pool, and I was allowed to get back in. Here's what I did:

    800 slcm warmup (400 FR, 2 x 200 K/S by 100)

    IM pyramid
    100 IM
    200 IM
    400 IM
    200 IM
    100 IM
    :20 rest between each

    8 x 100 FR drill/experimentation in shallow (32"-42") water, playing with depth of catch, elbow bend, and width of arm entry

    400 IM kick/swim by 50

    300 FR build
    200 FR fast
    100 BK easy

    100 warmdown
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  17. Pyramids amongst the Pyramids

    I swam at the 100m Crotona pool this morning. On the way over Rondi and I were dismayed to discover that the Crotona Park squirrels are carnivorous. Maybe the South Bronx deserves its tough reputation!

    No extra bottom line this morning, but Rondi, Theresa, and I circled happily in one 100m lane for most of the session. I was inspired by the two large decorative pyramids that rise out of the middle of the pool to do the following:

    1000 slcm warmup (400 easy FR, 600 ST/FR by 100s, building each 100)

    IM Pyramid
    100 FR
    200 IM
    300 FR
    400 IM
    500 FR
    400 IM
    300 FR
    200 IM
    100 FR
    (I worked the IMs, and worked the walls on the FR--the fact that there are fewer of them makes it easier to motivate myself to do dolphin kicks off my turns. That and all that underwater footage from the Olympics!)

    100 easy (to return to starting end of pool)

    FR pyramid with pulling
    100 pull with paddles
    200 swim
    300 pull with paddles
    200 swim
    100 pull with paddles

    100 easy (see above)

    300 warmdown + play


    During my warmdown I made a happy discovery. There is a matching seam on the shallow side of the pool, on the far side of the pyramids. When I used it as a black line my arms were usually bent just enough that my hands didn't hit the bottom. The exception was when I breathed--on both on my left and right sides, the arm underneath me would scrape the bottom when my head was turned to the side (maybe because I rotate more when breathing, and that puts the shoulder and hence the arm lower?) I tried focusing on bending my elbow more so that my hand would not touch the bottom, and it seemed to make my stroke smoother. I've been working on having less bounce in my stroke when I breathe but haven't had a lot of success. I think I've found at least part of the answer, and an excellent way to work on it with immediate feedback! It's at least something to play around with over the next few sessions there.
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  18. Double the pool space!

    I had another nice workout at the Crotona Park 100m pool this morning. The day's high point was the portable bottom line that my lanemate Andrew fashioned over the weekend--he attached a long piece of neon yellow-green cord to two metal rods, which served as turn-Ts at each end of the pool. His invention worked like a charm, and essentially doubled our pool space, since all the lap swimmers (ie 3-4 people each morning) had been circle swimming around a single seam in the bottom of this un-blacklined pool. The lifeguards and other swimmer were impressed, as was I!

    Here's what I did:

    1000 SLCM warmup (400 FR, 600 BK/FR by 100)

    Magic 14
    1400, alternating moderate FR and fast FR in a 1/1/2/1/3/1/2/1/1/1 (lengths) pattern

    4 x 400 FR, odds pull with paddles, evens swim

    3 x 200 warmdown, featuring IM and backstroke


    That was it!

    One feature about Crotona that I haven't mentioned is the huge locker room. It's actually a basketball court, with a high vaulted ceiling. Small lockers line the walls, and a single bench is placed along the halfcourt line. With just one or two of us in there in the mornings it feels very cavernous and empty, and exposed. Showers are in an adjoining room, and I usually take my clothes in there for changing afterwards.

    My weekend was very open-water-swimming-ful. On Sunday I went out to Brighton, where I swam a loop in gorgeous easy-rolling swells, then helped my fellow CIBBOWSers eat birthday cake on the beach. On Saturday, I went up to Connecticut to crew for Andrew, who was slated to do the 25K Swim Across the Sound. Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to some nasty weather, but not before they had ferried all the swimmers/crews/support personnel over to the New York side of the Long Island Sound for the start. (If you're an OW swimmer I guess you have to be prepared to be stymied by weather sometimes). We ended up hitching a ride back across on a gorgeous 45-foot sailboat (traveling under power), which got tossed around in the waves pretty good--the seas were definitely rough and stormy. I felt for all the disappointed swimmers who didn't get to swim, but was glad to at least get a fun boat ride out of the day for myself. I was also very impressed with all the support and preparations that go into putting on that annual swim.

    Hoping to swim at Crotona the rest of this week, as long as the weather cooperates! If I log 30 miles there during lap swim hours before the season's end, I get invited to a special Parks Department dinner and party. I think my workout mates and I can all make the cut!
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  19. Mirror Lake

    I've been in Lake Placid since Tuesday afternoon, and have been enjoying some wonderful swims in Mirror Lake. Ironman Lake Placid was this past weekend, but the triathletes were mostly gone when we arrived, and the town is enjoying a moment of calm before its next big event (something to do with lacrosse). There's always something sports-related going on here in the summer--this little village has done a good job of taking advantage of its facilities and marketing itself to athletes of all sorts, with lots of kids camps and tournaments happening. But for the last couple of days we've enjoyed having the lawns and beaches and restaurants to ourselves before the next big invasion!

    Tuesday and yesterday were sunny and bright, and I enjoyed swimming laps of the IM course, which stays up all summer. It's about the easiest OW swimming you will find--there's an underwater cable that connects the buoys that mark the course which is easily visible underwater, so no sighting is required (except to navigate around the other swimmers stroking along the same course). The course is also used for the Betsy Owens cable swims, which are frequently national championships (and which predate the Ironman at this location). One of those was my very first open water swim, back in 94 or 95, so I would have a soft sport for this lake even if it were not such a great place for ow swimming! But besides having the line to follow, the lake allows no motor-powered craft. It's nice not to have to worry about boats or jetskis (the canoes and kayaks and paddle boats mostly stay out of your way). With village restaurants lining the the western shore and a walking/running path around the lake, there are eyes on the water all the time, and lots of beaches you could exit at if necessary--all in all, it seems like one of the safest places to swim that I know of. And with the mountains and pine trees rising up around it, one of the prettiest!

    The last three days have all seen different conditions. When we arrived on Tuesday, wind was creating some significant chop in the lake--it wasn't easy finding space to breathe on either side. Yesterday was gorgeous and sunny, and the water was probably flatter than in most pool team practices. I felt like I could swim all day (water temp was around 70), and ended up doing 3.5 loops. This morning was rainy and misty, and I've gotten in a single loop so far--I'll go back out for more in the afternoon if the thunderstorms hold off. (I ended up swimming parallel to the course this morning, closer to shore, just in case the rain showers turned to thunder showers).

    The only other thing I'd like to experience up here is some colder water temps--if I come again this time of year I might try to find a way to swim in Lake Placid, which has significantly colder water temps (it's huge, and deeper, and springfed, but access and boat traffic might be problems).

    When I return home on Friday a new swimming book will be waiting for me: "Swimming Studies" by Leanne Shapton. I'm looking forward to reading it (and seeing the author's drawings of her vintage swimsuits)! Has anyone else read this?

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Swimming-Studies-Leanne-Shapton/dp/0399158170/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343310011&sr=8-1&keywords=Swimming+studies"]Amazon.com: Swimming Studies (9780399158179): Leanne Shapton: Books[/ame]

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  20. S-LCM workout

    I enjoyed another wonderful day out at Brighton Beach yesterday--these lovely summer days with highs in the 70s are such an unexpected delight! In between and after my volunteer duties with the Grimaldo's Mile race, I swam a broken 5K loop, then hung out on the beach and played in the water with the CIBBOWS crowd. The race itself went well and was a lot of fun--I got to draw on swimmers before they went in, and wrap them up in towels after they crossed the finish line. (Yes, swimmers got full-sized towels, in addition to cool shirts and bags, plus beads galore and food and entertainment! Come swim a CIBBOWS race and experience it all for yourself!)

    This morning I went back up to Crotona, the 100-meter pool (super-long course meters?) in the Bronx that I visited on the pool tourism club outing last week. I was joined by my regular Riverbank lanemates Andrew and Rondi, who were also taken with the pool on that visit. Today we tried out swimming for serious there--no Marco Polo games this morning--and it worked out really well. Getting there was quicker than I thought--about 45 minutes door to door, compared to about 35 for RB. The three of us were joined by just one other lap swimmer, who readily joined us in circle swimming around a seam in the pool bottom. (It seemed a little funny that in a 40y-wide pool the four of us were circle swimming, but since there's no black line or lane lines, following the seam was the easiest way to go straight and avoid the pyramids.)


    (Photo credit R. Davies)
    100m long--Do I flog this as LCM or open water?

    It was very easy to get into a rhythm and swim long sets. With only 4 lengths, the 400s felt like 200s (sometimes it's nice to have a brain that is easily fooled). Here's what I did:

    1000 SLCM warmup (400 free, 600 bk/fr by 100)

    8 x 400 FR, odds pull w/paddles, evens swim, bilateral breathing on all, working on not bouncing when I breathe

    3 x 200 (100 BK + 50 BR + 50 FR) [I did these by the side wall so that I would have something to sight for the backstroke.]

    2.5 x 200 FR, experimenting with kick

    It was great swimming outdoors and watching the sky--it started out cloudy, but the sun broke through about 2/3 of the way through, and at one point even gleamed off the pyramids. During warmup a flock of seagulls circled overhead. And since the pool is surrounded by park on 3 sides, it was lovely to swim backstroke and see all the trees. This might well replace RB as my regular pool, at least through the summer season (it closes Labor Day weekend).

    Tomorrow I head up to Lake Placid for a few days, where I'll get to swim in Mirror Lake, one of my fave swimming spots and site of my very first OW swim race. I'm looking forward to it!
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