View RSS Feed

Most Popular Blogs

  1. Strait of Juan de Fuca: an announcement

    by , May 16th, 2013 at 12:36 PM (Please tap on the glass)
    The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates Vancouver Island, BC from Washington and connects the Puget Sound and Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean. At its narrowest point, the Strait is 11.6 miles wide. Like the Strait of Gibraltar, it is oriented east-west and hosts challenging winds, currents, and sea life with mountain ranges rising from both coasts. My swim is set for late July and, if successful, will be the seventh swim crossing of this waterway[1]. Planning a transnational swim has been an amazing adventure; it’s a feat that’s made me realize merely jumping in to start the swim will be a huge victory.

    But this isn’t just a swim report. This is also a love story. However, the fair maiden is not played by ‘swimming’ as you’d expect. That’s old hat; you don’t need to hear that story again. No, this time the object of my affection is…Seattle.

    The idea for this swim popped into my head sometime in mid-December, just after I’d arrived in Seattle from New York with all my belongings packed into a half-filled station wagon. At that point, Juan de Fuca was just a twinkle in my eye. What gave the idea some body was a visit with a Seattle native turned New Yorker, marathon swimmer Caitlin R. Growing up in the Pacific North West, Caitlin had already given thought to the seemingly endless possibilities for open water swims the Puget Sound offers, and it was inspirational to find someone to share ideas with, especially someone so encouraging. A sense of adventure: something I love about Seattle.

    Seattle in the winter is dark and dreary, the omnipresent cloud blanket blocks out what little daylight there is at this latitude. Wet and cold, it’s downright British, yet somehow an outdoor attitude persists in a way I never found on the East Coast. On 5 January, I headed to a vacant swimming beach in Seward Park, Lake Washington for my first day of training. The beach was empty, but the paths were full of joggers, dog walkers, and parents putting Christmas present tricycles together. Despite the 40F temps, people wanted to be outside. Outdoorsy-ness: something I love about Seattle.

    There are two reasons I began outdoor training in January. First, when it comes to training, $3 per swim is the most I’ll happily pay (my entire training costs in NYC for MIMS last year didn’t break $210 dollars), and there is so much free open water here to be had in Seattle. Second, the water temperatures, while cold, are consistent. The Puget Sound was 46F in January and will be 55F in August. What better cold water environment could you ask for than one that has such a stable temperature range? Beautiful beaches, you say? Check. Consistency: something I love about Seattle.

    As planning the swim got into full swim in March, a new side of Seattle showed itself. I’d made a few friends at the beach and as swimmers they were naturally supportive of my plan. What I did not expect was how supportive non-swimmers would be. Surprisingly few Pacific North Westerners have ever asked me: “Are you crazy?” A typical post-swim conversation with passersby goes something like: [stop walking] “How long? … Nice job.” [keep walking]. Compared to reactions I get from people elsewhere, regardless of water temperature (“You mean you actually *want* to swim in that ocean/lake/river?”), well, Seattle just seems to get it. Encouragement: something I love about Seattle.

    Seattle, with its outdoorsy, encouraging ways has kept me believing this swim is possible. And planning this swim is what has kept me sane. What really kicked the planning into high gear was a grad school rejection letter[2]. For nine months, I’d been dreaming of Scripp’s physical oceanography program as a means of redirecting my career away from heavy civil engineering. Also as a means of moving to San Diego. On that Saturday morning, while plying the waters of Alki Beach, I realized the oceanography I want to do is swim planning, and a grad school rejection wasn’t a huge loss. Since then, most of my free time has been spent on a phone or computer or airplane tray table working on this swim. Ubiquitous, cozy cafés: something I love about Seattle.

    Seattle was meant to be a stepping stone; it isn’t where I planned on ending up. I’m still transient, I still live in hotels, and I still travel out of town for work every few days, but I’ve surrendered my New York license and I’m slowly accepting the feeling of home I get every time I return here. All of this swimmable water (Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Salish Sea) is so surprisingly underutilized by swimmers, but perhaps it’s this off the-map feel that makes swimming here so exciting. Seattle, I think I love you.

    The rest of the story is about the swim itself.


    [1] Please feel free to verify this. A summary of my research is available on openwaterpedia.com and will be covered in future posts.

    [2] Who sends rejection letters on a Saturday morning???
  2. Strait of Juan de Fuca: a brief history of swimming

    by , May 21st, 2013 at 11:46 AM (Please tap on the glass)
    Some of the greatest advice I’ve ever been given came with an Ikea bookshelf. You don’t have to follow the instructions, just make sure you’ve read them. After decades of diving straight into things, I’m proud to report: I’m learning. The first thought in planning this swim was, “I’ll just do what everyone else did,” working under the assumption that Of Course other people had completed this swim, after all it’s only a 12 mile crossing at minimum. As Christmas 2012 approached, my research had turned up only six successful crossings and over eighty-five failed attempts. What was more shocking is that only three of those attempts took place after the Strait-swimming heyday of the 1950’s. It was clear that I would not simply be hiring the same captain as the last guy.

    A quick disclaimer: There is no guarantee that what I list here is comprehensive, but everything that follows, unless stated otherwise, is as found in primary source newspapers from back in the day. Citations are proudly available upon request. If there is something you know that shakes up this timeline, I want to correct it. Let me know.

    The first recorded attempts on the Strait took place by three unnamed men in October 1933. And then no one followed. Not until August 1954, did Florence Chadwick show up to give it a go, and start the race to be first across. It would be almost a full year and sixteen other attempts before the first person was successful, Bert Thomas of Tacoma, WA on 8 July 1955 in eleven hours twenty-two minutes on his second attempt in two weeks.

    Throughout the 1950s, the route was declared as either Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA, or reverse, a distance of 18.3 miles. The route was not set by the swimmers themselves. The route was also not set by amateur oceanographers using the straight-line ruler on Google Earth, with tide forecasts, Excel spreadsheets, and CAD drawings spread out across a Starbucks table. No, these routes were set by the local papers who were giving out cash prizes to the first swimmer to reach the other side, or to the closest, or to the four closest, or to anyone at all who could draw readers and sell papers. Douglas Rivette told the Montreal Gazette before his 1955 attempt, “I thought I might as well turn the hobby to a cash basis if I’m lucky.” For her swim, Marilyn Bell was given $20k by the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce just for showing up, plus a $10k (1950s dollars!) bonus if she made it. Right? I, too, want to live in that world.

    Another interesting thing about Douglas Rivette: he was a “deaf-mute linotype operator” who started swimming as therapy for the polio he had at age two. Yeah. Every one of the swimmers I’ve read about in connection with this swim has a wild story. There are the recognizables of course: Florence Chadwick, Marilyn Bell, and Cliff Lumsdon. There were a few regulars: Ben Laughren (1 for 12), Amy Hiland (1 for 4), and “Bill Muir, the Saanich surveyor” (0 for 8, and that’s what the papers always call him). “Big Ben” Laughren weighed 274lb and ran a burger joint in Victoria where kids heard their first Dave Brubeck. Rev. John Donelon was a Roman Catholic priest from Toronto. Marilyn Bell is constantly referred to as a “Toronto schoolgirl” despite her impressive resume. Then there was a guy who jumped in and gave up after 40 minutes because of the cold. The spectrum of backstories is broad. Just a bunch of regular people doing crazy impressive things. Come to think of it, this is still the rule in marathon swimming.

    By the end of 1957, three men and two women had made it across. And in 1957, as abruptly as it began three summers ago, the attempts ceased. One more try in 1966, this time by Robert Cossette, was abandoned after two hours thirty four minutes. Then silence. Did the papers just give up in 1958? Did they spend the whole century’s swim budget in three summers? Did the swim really just fall off the radar like that?

    Seemingly out of nowhere, legendary marathon butterflier Vicki Keith, takes on the Strait in 1988 in her traditional style, and wins. Her 14 hour swim was epic, and not just because it was butterfly. Hoping to learn everything she knew about Juan de Fuca, we spoke by phone this past March. She told me she chose her route, the traditional Victoria to Port Angeles route, not because of the money (of which there was none by this time), but to follow the route Cliff Lumsdon took over thirty years earlier. A stranger to cold water by no means, the end of her swim is a glimpse into a marathon swimmer’s dedication. As she neared the US coast, she recalled what her crew later detailed: she’d take one stroke of butterfly and then stop, unconscious in the water. Moments later, her movement resumed and she’d take another stroke. Then stop again. She laughed on the phone, remembering how disorienting it was to have to ask, back on dry land afterwards, “did I make it?” She did, or course.

    Another eleven years go by, and in 1999 Peter Urrea makes the next and most recent recorded attempt at the Strait. Getting in touch with Peter is a great example of how warm the open water swimming community is, but that’s another story. We also spoke in March because, although he did not complete his swim, he did last 14 hours in those cold waters. From a planning point of view, our conversation was not as helpful as I’d hoped. He hired a logging tug (the boats that pull hundreds of meters of floating logs down the Fraser and across the Salish Sea), but he advised against repeating it. He was a bit unclear on his tides, swim plan, and route. But his story! His story was just as amazing as the rest. His swim did not end because of a physical or mental breakdown. It stopped because of whales. It turns out, when you get surrounded by a pod of killer whales and can’t swim anywhere, you start getting cold fast. And when those whales start bumping you, and your captain loses confidence that the entire pod is salmon-eating whales, but may have some mammal-eaters in it…well, you get pulled out of the water. Nobody wants to be an Orca chew toy.

    The directions to successfully cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca are just as clear as that Ikea bookshelf’s. I know it can be done because it has been done before. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the right tools (they were all in that little baggy). But I’ll be damned if any of it sets me in the right direction. But I’ve got a general idea of what the final product should look like and learned a few of the dos-and-don’ts. Plus, I’m an engineer. Just a few exhausting hours and it will be all put together. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t collapse.

    Here’s the record book to date:

    1. Bert Thomas - 8 July 1955 (11 hours 10 minutes)
    2. Cliff Lumsdon - 17 August 1956 (11 hours 35 minutes)
    3. Amy Hiland - 18 August 1956 (10 hours 51 minutes)
    4. Ben Laughren - 18 August 1956 (10 hours 17 minutes)
    5. Marilyn Bell - 23 August 1956 (10 hours 38 minutes)
    6. Vicki Keith - 10 August 1989 (14 hours, butterfly)
    7.

    [Correction: While the above post remains unedited, as of 17 July 2013 I understand Fin Donnelly MP (Coquitlam, BC) crossed the Strait in 10 hours 15 minutes on or about 17 August 1994.]

    Updated July 17th, 2013 at 07:32 PM by andrewmalinak (Correction)

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  3. To be an aquarium animal

    by , May 30th, 2013 at 04:34 PM (Please tap on the glass)
    Let me start by saying, coworkers if you’re reading this, I do not hate my job. It’s just, well, I feel I have a higher calling in life. It isn’t you personally, but the industry as a whole; construction companies really discourage swimming in the workplace. That’s why I mailed out the below letter a few months back.

    This letter, attached to my aquarium animal resume, was snail-mailed to seventeen aquaria in the US, Canada, and farther abroad hoping for a position as an aquarium animal. I didn’t expect much. I didn’t specify “Must Be Main Attraction”, or “Mammal Positions Only”. I was ready to start at the bottom of the food chain, literally, and work my way up.

    So far, it has not worked out. It’s been dismissed as a joke, or a clever joke, or an annoying joke, or some other kind of joke. The few (four) responses I received were all to the tune of “check our website for openings.” Mr. C.W., General Manager at the Vancouver Aquarium, called the effort “entertaining and innovative,” while Mr. CJ.C., the Seattle Aquarium’s Director of Life Sciences, acknowledged it is “certainly one of the most unique letters [he’s] ever received.” What more does an aspiring sea pen (S. bollonsi, perhaps) need to do to get hired by you people other than write an entertaining, innovative, and unique letter!? I’ve personally stared at your actual sea pens for hours, Seattle Aquarium, and never once seen them produce a work of nearly the same quality. They’re lazier than I am at my real job!!!

    Am I getting too intense? Can you not handle my passion for swimming and for being sea life? That must be it, because it clearly isn’t my qualifications that disappoint you. Confession, Seattle: in my free time, I stalk at your aquatic employees; I know their backstories, their scientific names, where they eat lunch. For example Ada, your sea otter. You want “found hypothermic on an airport runway”? I can do that. I’m hypothermic on nearby Alki Beach three or four times a week, just waiting to be rescued by you. Rescued from this dry, meaningless life they call geotechnical engineering.

    So, aquarists worldwide, have some compassion. I just want an opportunity to be a sea star. Or any other echinoderm for that matter. Give me a chance. You will not regret it.

    Here’s the letter:

    You probably do not receive many requests like this, I understand that most or your new additions are the product of a rigorous scouting program. However, since I fall outside of the usual candidate pools, I feel my exemplary qualifications may be overlooked and would like to inquire as to any opportunities you may have at [Specific] Aquarium.

    My interest in becoming an aquarium animal first came to light as a youth. As many young humans do, watching the sea lions at the Bronx Zoo filled me with the usual why-not-mes and dad-can-Is. It was easy to let others’ disapproval of the idea take hold, as I didn’t even begin serious aquatic-mammal training until the age of nine. After nearly two decades of work, I now possess more aquatic experience than many of your typical employees: five times that of an elderly Giant Pacific Octopus, twice as much as a male Southern Sea Otter, and an amount equivalent to a middle-aged Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. With my anticipated life-span, I could foreseeably become one of your most enduring exhibits.

    Aside from my proven experience as an aquatic animal, I have many innate qualities that would make me an excellent addition to your organization. I am diurnal and euryhaline, and will swim without complaint in waters between forty-five and eighty degrees Fahrenheit. I travel well without special equipment or handlers, from a crowded public bus to first-class international flights, and do not require special customs clearances. I’m able to draw a crowd to watch my performances, whether circumnavigating Manhattan or demonstrating an Endless Pool at the Seattle Home Show. What’s more, I enjoy sardines and can even make my own Vitafish! Try to get a bat ray to do that.

    Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I believe in the mission of aquariums and would excel at furthering public interest in aquatic life. In most exhibits I’ve seen in my lifetime, those on display rarely look interested in communicating with those of us on the dry-side of the glass; and never have I seen any ambition from the wet-side to inform or educate. Even the friendly seals and dolphins, stars of the show, often fail to show initiative or produce results without express directions by whistle or hand signal. Perhaps my most valuable contribution to your aquarium as an aquatic animal would be to clearly communicate both the rigors and beauty of life in the water with minimal managerial input and maximum client results. As a bonus, I can vocalize in both English and French.

    Please let me know if you have any openings, especially in the phyla Chordata or Mollusca (I’m still uncertain of my abilities to be convincing as a Poriferan or Cnidarian). I welcome the opportunity to fill any niche—Eltonian or Grinnellian, or Hutchinsonian—as you see fit.

    On a final note, you will not have to worry about “the Ryan Lochte problem” with me. Hygiene is something I take very seriously—I frequently bathe with soap or sterilize in a high-chlorine solution.

    Regards,
    Andrew Malinak BE EnvEng, BS EnvSci
    Full resume available upon request.

    Updated May 30th, 2013 at 06:07 PM by andrewmalinak

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  4. Strait of Juan de Fuca: Tides & Currents

    by , June 17th, 2013 at 10:36 AM (Please tap on the glass)
    Heads up: there’s some math in this one.

    If you think knowing the tides and currents is all there is to planning a swim, you’re wrong. But if you think you can plan a swim without knowing the tides and currents, well, good luck. Even on training swims, currents play a big part (see Fig. 1). The methods presented herein are my own, developed over the past year and largely untried in the real world. This swim will either be a joyful validation of my methods, or a long, cold, learning experience.


    Figure 1: The effect of various currents on an out-and-back swim loop

    Adverse currents were cited as the reason for stopping in numerous historic articles about past swims. The reason why is clear when you look at a map. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, connecting the Puget Sound and Salish Sea to the Pacific Ocean, has currents ranging from 3kt flood to 3.5kt ebb swirling along the rocky shorelines, playing Plinko with the San Juan Islands. To get a good feel for the overall movement patterns, the Current Atlas (Atlas des Courants) published by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is extremely helpful (see Fig. 2). Unfortunately, its resolution, both spatial and temporal, is not sufficient for planning on the scale of a swim.


    Figure 2: Excerpt from the Current Atlas showing some tricky currents.

    There is one resource that probably every American swimmer who has the slightest interest in currents has referenced: the NOAA tidal current prediction tables. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes current predictions on hundreds of stations across the US, providing times and velocities for maximum flood and, and slack times in between. They’re published well in advance so do not take wind or weather into account, but provide a reliable starting point for any maritime excursion. The downside is, they only provide a bunch of data points, not a curve.

    To connect the dots, I’ve written a formula that fits each predicted high and low with a piecewise sine curve (Fig 3) and put it into an Excel spreadsheet, allowing me to calculate a current velocity at any given time. Since this equation does not take into account the predicted slack-current times, there is there is almost certainly some error. This error appears worse for some stations, but relatively good for the two stations I’ve based my model on. This unquantified “goodness” is assessed by matching up the predicted slack times with the plotted equation and seeing how closely they match (Fig. 4). Some have been as close as 6 minutes.


    Figure 3: an equation to fit a sine curve calculating y at time t given a time range and y range (y = current velocity, tidal height, etc.)


    Figure 4: A calculated velocity profile showing NOAA-predicted slack current times as red triangles

    With a way to calculate currents and a feel for how the water sloshes, the course can be set. To make planning uncomplicated and conservative, I like to pick one heading for the duration of the swim and let the currents take me where they will. There is a bit of guess and check involved. In half-hour increments, I draw a line from the start along the fixed heading scaled to correspond with my anticipated speed, and then another matching the direction and velocity of the current just calculated. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the other shore is reached, or it becomes clear the other shore will not be reached (Fig. 5). By varying start times and headings, I’ve now got at least two routes planned for each day of my window.


    Figure 5: Sample of route creation method showing 30-min steps

    One of the responsibilities of my swim manager will be to compare these predictions to our actual progress. By keeping a constant heading throughout the route planning, it should be easy to anticipate where a deviated heading will take us. My goal is to hit one of the two coves in Washington and end on a sandy beach. Fortunately, the coastline here is relatively straight, so messing up the currents should only mean a little extra swimming and/or ending on a rocky cliff.

    The most important things in planning tides and currents are a reliable set of predictions and a good feel for how the currents operate. I admit I don’t really know the intricacies of the Strait the way I’d like to, but products like the Current Atlas help, but I think I’ve been conservative enough in my planning to account for a few reverse eddies near shore or a delay due to shipping traffic. I’m excited to find out if this works.

    Updated June 17th, 2013 at 11:45 AM by andrewmalinak (typo)

    Categories
    Uncategorized
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig2-CA-p22.png 
Views:	939 
Size:	73.1 KB 
ID:	7666   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig1-current-effects.png 
Views:	941 
Size:	20.3 KB 
ID:	7661   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig5-Route-1.JPG 
Views:	793 
Size:	32.8 KB 
ID:	7662   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig4-Route-2.JPG 
Views:	873 
Size:	49.7 KB 
ID:	7663   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig3-route-3.png 
Views:	754 
Size:	2.3 KB 
ID:	7664  

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Fig2-CA-p22.png 
Views:	96 
Size:	37.4 KB 
ID:	7665  
  5. Strait of Juan de Fuca: VTS, AIS, and not getting squashed

    by , June 27th, 2013 at 12:53 PM (Please tap on the glass)

    From the beginning I knew that if I was swimming across a shipping channel, at least one person, or one government agency, would care about it. Without the right permission, this and future attempts at this swim would be jeopardized, and that is the opposite of my goal. So I Googled “Coast Guard Seattle.”

    After several phone calls up and down the chain of command, many including the phrase, “yes, swimming,” I ended up with the number to Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Sector Puget Sound. VTS is a part of the US Coast Guard that controls America’s ports, waterways, and shipping channels; they are the air traffic controllers of our inland waters. The Strait of Juan de Fuca west of Victoria is controlled by VTS here in Seattle and not VTS in Victoria. Lucky! This is where I first spoke with LCDR MK, who did not ask me “swimming?

    A week later, MK and I met at her office in the Seattle Port along with VTS Director MA. The two of them explained their procedures, how VTS works, and what they would expect from me as far as safety goes. Since this is a one-swimmer deal, there would be no permit. As we talked about the route I had in mind, and they really made me believe this was possible. We were talking logistics and a way forward rather than Danger! or Cold! or Boats! or Common Sense!

    VTS would require an AIS Class A device on board during the swim[i]. An AIS, simply put, sends and receives GPS signals by VHF so boats can see each other, and so VTS can see the boats. A Class A is required by 33CFR164.46 on all boats of a certain size, bigger than…yawn…oh, sorry. Oil tankers and ferries have ‘em, your uncle’s boat doesn’t. So finding a small, swim-escort size boat with a Class A was a challenge.

    Spoiler alert: I still haven’t found one. I got two prices for such boats. The first was a commercial tender, 65 feet long, and expensive. I’d basically be hiring these guys to not deliver supplies to ocean going ships for a day. Option Two was a recommendation of the VTS director (did I tell you they were awesome?), an ex-VTS staffer who had put a Class A on his private sailboat. After letting him name his own price, he was at 80% of the commercial boat’s Really Expensive price. Having someone so knowledgeable on my crew felt right, so I bit the bullet and went for it. Then, the day after I told him he was my guy, he got sent to Mississippi to run their VTS for the summer. Bummer.

    Fortunately, this left me with only one option. Buy a Class A device and hire anyone that looks like they won’t sink halfway through the swim. Since Class A’s are federally mandated devices meant for really big boats, they don’t run cheap. The best I could do was $2,500, from a nearby Miltech Marine. I asked if there was a Groupon, they said, “huh?” But even for that price plus hiring a boat for a day, I’d still come out a few hundred dollars ahead than if I’d gone with the first two options, plus I’d own a Class A at the end. Sold!

    After I got to the yeah-we-remember-who-you-are level with the AIS dealer figuring out if making this thing portable was possible, it finally arrived. Long, long story short, after I figured out how to connect it to a 12v plug fused at 4 amps, soldered a connection onto a 3' VHF whip antenna, sorted out a VSWR error, put the whole thing in a waterproof case, and got to the yeah-we-remember-who-you-are level at West Marine: it works!

    So now VTS can watch me swim. And so can you! One side benefit of the AIS is I’ll show up on all those vessel tracking websites. You can search for my MMSI (367575160) or look for “Swimmer In The Water” in the area of my swim once we get going. Check out shipfinder.co, vesselfinder.com, or marinetraffic.com.

    I’m meeting with MK and MA at VTS in two weeks to talk more about how to not get run over by an oil tanker, and they’re guiding me through my Coast Guard safety stuff as well. They’ve been way more supportive than I ever would have expected. After this is over, they'll be getting a very good Yelp review.


    [i] If you want to know why a cheaper Class B wouldn’t work, I can explain after class.



  6. Saturday's Sandpoint, ID Longbridge Swim

    by , August 4th, 2013 at 12:08 PM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Another OW swim in the books. I've only done a handful of these, so adding another is a big thing for me.

    • August 2011 - CAST Classic 5K - DNF - I wasn't having a good time, out of shape, and pulled myself out of the race after 1 lap.
    • June 2012 - Steve Omi Swim 1 Mile - 1st in age group (19-34)
    • August 2012 - Longbridge Swim 1.76 Mile - 1st in age group (30-39), 21st of 900+ overall
    • September 2012 - Lake Chelan Swim 1.5 Mile - 3rd overall
    • August 2013 - Longbridge Swim 1.76 Mile - 1st in age group (30-39), 6th of 820 overall


    I got up around 5:00am in Spokane where I stayed overnight, and went outside to find a nice drizzle of rain falling. Oh great, hopefully this won't be accompanied by thunder and lightning. I drove another hour and a half to Sandpoint, Idaho to get checked in for the race and numbered. I was #6, alphabetically of course. I joked with a few of my friends that they had given my number based on placement overall.

    By the time the race was getting started, the rain had stopped, but it was still plenty overcast, and probably in the 60s for air temp. Not sure about the water, probably about 70 or so. Earlier in the week, people said it was warmer, but with a few days of rain and no sun, things can change a lot. I'm glad I had a good wetsuit for sure!! I got a good coupon code on the internet from Tom Patterson for an XTERRA wetsuit for almost 75% off, saving me tons of money. It was well worth it to have a real swimming wetsuit vs. the "play around in the water" wetsuit I used last year.

    I lined up at the starting line to the far right side, alongside the kayakers. A majority of the people were at the left or middle so they could go alongside the bridge. It doesn't really matter where you start because it's the same straight line across the lake.

    As the gun went off, I took off, probably "sprinting" for about 300-400 yards or so before even looking around. I was sighting of course a bit during this initial run, but I wasn't looking at any other competitors, just making sure I was straight with the bridge. After I felt I was at a strong breakaway, I went into cruise mode. Looking ahead I could see 1 or 2 splashing swimmers ahead of me, and then I rolled over for backstroke to look behind me. NO ONE!! We were a long distance ahead of the whole pack, so I just turned back over and swam on. As it turned out, I was in 4th position at this point, but didn't actually know that. In my head I was telling myself I was in 2nd or 3rd place, and just keep going.

    The bridge itself is 1.2 miles long, so I just kept going, trying to maintain a strong kick and relieve some of the muscle fatigue in my arms. It was a bit wavy out there at times, but much better than the year prior when we had a headwind the whole way. For the swim, it was very uneventful. I could see a kayaker staying alongside me off to the right side, and I'm glad it was there, since I had no one else around me for a while. I kept a pattern going of about 40 strokes Freestyle, with about 10 strokes Backstroke, maybe 1 or 2 Breaststokes, and back to Free again. In a 50 meter pool I can maintain about 38 strokes per length under calm conditions, so I figured each of these cycles I was doing was approximately 50 meters. I'd stop to clear goggles on occasion, and look behind me to see a few swimmers back there. Still far enough back to not worry too much.

    At the end of the bridge, my power was fading, and I was wishing the swim could be done now. I could see two swimmers pulling alongside me, though they were about 15-20 yards off to my right side. I knew them both: It was Don Morovec (53yr), and Larry Krauser (60yr). They were doing a draft train the whole way. I've been chasing Don's 30-34, and 35-39 LMSC age group records in the pool events, and able to get a few of them, but not all of them. Larry has all of the freestyle pool records from the 40-44 through the 60-64 age group, and they're pretty tough.

    I knew I had no chance to hang with them as they went by, and just let them go on. I was a solo swimmer from the beginning to the end of the whole race, and that was tough. It would've been nice to have a draft person at times, but it just didn't work out for me this year. The final 1/2 mile or so is alongside the shoreline to the finish point. There are 12 or so pilings along the route marking the shallow water as well as a underwater rock barrier wall. At times these rocks were very near the water surface. I used a few of the rocks to jump off and dive forward. My body was dying at this point, just wanting to finish. I was doing more and more switching from free to back, clearing goggles, looking behind me at the upcoming pack of swimmers. Had to keep going. From the last piling to the finish I didn't look back, didn't change strokes, just swam onward, kicking and pulling as best as I could, till I couldn't stroke anymore. Push up, stand up, get up the beach and cross the finish line. DONE...!!!!

    The congratulations from the crowd were sure nice to hear. I saw Larry standing there, he said I was the #6 finisher, and I had 3 more swimmers who must've made a break for me at the end, because #7, 8, and 9 were a few seconds behind me crossing the line.

    The results: https://www.athletepath.com/the-long...8-03/176-miles

    I really like how they did the results this year. You can see everyone, where they're from, and times. Not a whole lot of super fast age groupers this year. They had Zone Champs, prepping for Jr. and Sr. Nationals as well right now, so they were probably pushed away from this swim by their coaches.

    I finished 1st in my age group, and 6th overall out of 820 swimmers. I was really happy with the result, though I'm still not gung-ho about doing OW swims that much more. I'm sure I'll still make an appearance at Longbridge year to year. We'll just have to see how things go each season.

    My award:
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.n...49618482_n.jpg
  7. Thursday, Aug 15

    by , August 15th, 2013 at 06:20 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    spin, 90 min
    drylands, 20 min

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Didn't feel like swimming in an outdoor 3-4 foot pool today so passed on swimming. But my legs got a workout! Heading back to NoVa for the weekend.
  8. Getting better but not 100% yet & wo-manatees have returned

    by , September 6th, 2013 at 07:42 AM (Mixing it up this year)
    I don't think I will ever be 100% because of my back but the head cold is subsiding some and the lower back is feeling better that it had.

    500 free
    500 free kick w/zoomers
    5x100@1:45 free w/snorkle, paddles & bouy holding 1:35's as a relaxed pace
    800 IM switch order to fly,bk,fr,br w/zoomers each 200 as 50 rt arm/50 lt arm/50 kick/50 swim on br do 100 pull/50 kick/50 swim
    400 free fast pace had to swim around 3 wo-manatees
    3x100 choice EZ lots of rest because I had to look for an opening in the lane where I wouldn't mow the 3 wo-manatees down. But since it was warm down that was fine.

    Total 3000 meter
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  9. Monday early morning, September 23, 2013 6:30-7:35am

    by , September 23rd, 2013 at 11:28 AM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Yeah, that's early in my book now. I have to get a few things done this morning, so wanted to get my chlorine fix beforehand. Plus with not having to work yesterday, it was a little easier to get going this morning.

    I got in the pool as the morning rush crowd was leaving, so I had a lane to myself, as did most of the other people. There tends to be a second wave of people that comes in during this period though, and my lane was the last one to try to be double occupied. Nice. Once I was in the middle of my IM/Kicking set, and an older fellow was going to join me. He asked, and I said "it doesn't bother me". It was at that point that I was pushing off to start a 200 IM. On my return length I noticed he moved over to another lane. What is it with butterfly that scares people off, or is it me? I also overheard some "Michael Phelps" comments from a few folks this morning.

    Warmup:
    400 Free
    200 Flutter Kick w/ board
    8 x 100 Free Pull @ 1:30
    (1400/1400)

    3 Rounds:
    • 200 Flutter Kick build w/ board @ 4:00
    • 2 x 200 IM @ 3:15 (2:40-2:45s) again, my back and breast are just horrible now

    (1800/3200)

    200 EZ and out

    ---------------------------
    3400 Yards
  10. Monday 10-21-13

    Loose intervals today. I was able to concentrate on my pacing or lack of pacing. Not bad at all , just a lot of freestyle.

    400 swim
    200 IM kick
    400 pull DPS
    8 x 25 @ coaches whistle
    --odds, SDK AFAP
    --evens, choice sprint

    500 cruise w/even pace @ 8:00
    2 x 250 strong @ 4:00
    4 x 25 sprint @ 45
    400 cruise @ 6:40
    2 x 200 strong @ 3:20
    4 x 25 sprint @ 45
    300 cruise @ 5:00??
    2 x 150 strong @ 2:30
    4 x 25 sprint @ 45

    100 EZ
    100 Off the blocks for time
    100 EZ

    4200

    I have been trying to do something off the blocks after each practice while I am tired. Nothing crazy, just a 50 or 100 to see how I am doing. Don't know if it will help much but we'll see.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  11. Finally got a good distance workout in

    by , November 4th, 2013 at 07:31 AM (Mixing it up this year)
    Today I attempted to do another 1650 swim this time with no issues. Felt good and was on pace the whole time.

    500 free
    500 free kick w/zoomers
    1650 Free for time w/strapless paddels & bouy in 23:08
    350 free easy w/snorkle
    200 free kick w/zoomers
    8x100@1:45 free easy

    Total 4000 yards
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  12. Vandalized, Sat. Nov. 30

    by , November 30th, 2013 at 04:44 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Had a rotten day yesterday. I went to coach a masters practice Friday am between 9:30-11:00. When I came back out, my car had been vandalized, brick thrown through window, other damage and my backpack stolen. Neither my purse or wallet was in the car; no idea why someone would vandalize a car in broad daylight for just a backpack. And I was parked right behind the pool, not in one of the really creepy city neighborhoods. Unfortunately, I'm out over $1000. In my backpack was: a spare Speedo LZR Elite tech suit (from my last meet), Tom Ford sunglasses, a new pair of Speedo LZR Elite goggles worth $75 that USMS had given me to product test, new arena cobra racing goggles, 3-4 pairs of speedo speed sockets, caps including my Aqua V racing cap, nose clips, my new fins and $100+ of toiletries. Probably several thousand dollars of damage to the car. Really really sucky. At least my training suit and shammy towel were on the drying rack at home. I guess I'm going to have to pay for parking from here on out, which will really add up on a daily basis ... Jerks!!!

    As a result of that fiasco, I didn't get to swim yesterday and had taken Thanksgiving off. I made it to Sewickley today. I had a single pair of goggles at home. Kind of a desultory swim. I was still grumpy and there was a huge kids party taking up most of the pool.

    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    Warm up:

    600 various
    4 x 50 scull
    4 x 50 caterpillar fly drill
    4 x 25 shooter + 25 EZ
    50 EZ

    Main Sets:

    8 x 25 burst + cruise
    100 EZ

    3 x (50 @ 100 pace + 100 EZ)

    3 x (25 AFAP + 75 EZ)

    4 x 50 DPS free
    100 EZ

    Total: 2600


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I'm signed up for the Sewickley Y meet tomorrow. I'm not really in the mood for racing. But I'll go to the meet just to get in the water since Pitt is still closed. I will probably scratch the 50 fly unless I can get into an earlier heat. I'm in lane 1 with three ladders sticking out in an all male final heat.

    Updated November 30th, 2013 at 05:10 PM by The Fortress

    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  13. Week 62 - Monday morning training camp workout #1

    by , December 2nd, 2013 at 09:12 AM (After a long rest)
    I had a very easy day yesterday. Initially i hung out in the garden raking leaves with my daughter, she is at a great age and still wants to hang out with Dad. Later in the day I helped my son with his homework. It still amazes me how he leaves everything to the last minute; a week off from school and we are starting homework at 5pm the night before he goes back to school. His homework was to apply for a scholarship; he is in middle school so it's definately starting early, but I think a great idea. My kids are both like me, my daughter is the swimmer and my son is the nerd. My son loves math and science and ended up finding a competition sponsored by Raytheon and had a few ideas for how math affects his life:

    http://www.raytheon.com/responsibili...rtn_158801.pdf
    He initially wanted to show how math is used in being a couch potato, he even drew pictures and formulas, but ended up outlining how math is used in video games.

    I had a good nights sleep but woke with a stiff neck again. Going back to my FLOG in April when I did my pre Nationals training camp I had the same problem and suspect its from Fridays kicking with the kick board. I have the heating pad on it as I write and will heat and ice until it feels better. We did more kick today but I tried focusing on not lifting my head too high. I tried using my snorkel but my feet and butt are too high and I don't get any power in my kick.

    Today's workout

    Warm up
    400 free with snorkel
    6x50 catchup on 45

    Main sets
    4x500 pull with paddles descend on 6.30
    200 easy
    10x100 kick swum on 2mins, swum 4 holding 1.30, 3 holding 1.25,2 holding 1.20,1 AFAP.
    100 easy
    10x50 free on 1 min, swum 4 holding 40, 3 holding 35, 2 holding 30, 1 holding 25

    Warm down
    200 easy breathing every 5

    Total 4700scy

    We don't normally swim the 500s with much rest so the descend is usually pretty minimal. My coach wanted a big descend and I went 5.30,5.20,5.10,5.00. I did not feel great at the beginning but got into a nice rhythm and by the end was feeling pretty strong. My pull continues to improve which is great sign. The kick was tough getting going and on the 1.30s I felt quite tired. I held 1.28s on these, then as I dropped I felt better, going 1.22s on the 1.25, 1.19s on the 1.20 and 1.20 on the last one. I was beat after #9 and the last 50 i felt like i was swimming in molasses. My kick has improved but it still sucks and if I can improve this one area I think I will have a great year in 2014. The 50s I comfortably held 30s and on the last three went 28,27,24.

    I am heading back to the pool for a second workout at 11.30 and will do weights and the vasa bench for an hour then do a meet warmup followed by a quality set and a warm down. I will then be back at the pool for my third workout at 4.30pm to train with the senior racer group for a two hour workout. I like the idea of the lower yardage morning workout and a quality set workout at lunch time. The curve ball will be the evening workout, because the kids do some hellacious workouts. I am always up for a challenge but need to listen to my body throughout the week so I don't overdo it and get an injury. I am excited about the week ahead!

    Updated December 2nd, 2013 at 09:26 AM by StewartACarroll

    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  14. Monday, Dec. 9

    by , December 9th, 2013 at 02:41 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Swim/SCY @ Sewickley

    600 various
    100 scull
    4 x 50 fly drills
    4 x 25 shooter + 25 EZ
    5 x 25 up tempo free + 25 EZ
    100 EZ

    Total: 1550


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Had a very fun whirlwind weekend in NYC. Walked around a ton, which was bad for the resting of the legs. Lil Fort loves NY; she can't wait to go back. 4 more days of rest. Not really sure what to expect out of the meet. It has been a somewhat trying fall of training. I'm really hoping to get in some weights again this winter.
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  15. Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:15-1:00pm

    by , December 14th, 2013 at 04:40 PM (Fast Food Makes for Fast Swimming!)
    Short and sweet, that was about all the time I had. I'll be lucky to swim at all in the next upcoming week, as I have to work all 7 days more than likely.

    500 Free warmup
    5 x 100 SDK w/ short fins @ 1:30 (held under 1:20s)
    10 x 100 Free @ 1:20
    10 x 100 Free Pull @ 1:20
    (3000/3000)

    It was good enough for maintenance swimming. It was tough, but that was about all I had time for.

    I signed up for our home meet on January 12th, swimming the 400 IM, 200 Free (as Fly), 200 Fly, 50 Fly, 500 Free. Should be fun times...especially if I'm not in the greatest of shape.
  16. FAST Fri Dec 27th, 2013 SCY

    by , December 27th, 2013 at 01:00 PM (Ande's Swimming Blog)
    FAST Fri Dec 27th, 2013 SCY

    Lifted this morning,
    my weight lifting has been pretty spotty lately
    I need to be consistent and get stronger

    Whitney Coached
    7:00 to 8:30
    swam with Tyler Jim & Jim
    Beside max david alley & Michael Yoch

    Warm up
    went around 1000


    Main Set

    400 Kick for time
    went 5:12, an improvement from 5:19

    300 easy

    200 IM fast for time
    went 2:07

    200 easy

    100 IM fast
    went 58

    100 easy

    50 BR
    went 29

    50 easy

    50 BK
    went 27

    50 easy

    50 Br
    went 30

    50 easy

    50 BR
    went 30


    Next Meets:
    not sure
    probably zones
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  17. Warm day at the y

    by , December 28th, 2013 at 02:43 PM (Mixing it up this year)
    Getting ready for the annual swim. Today was a test run and I not yet ready.

    500 free
    500 free kick w/zoomers
    20x100@1:45 free 1-10 w/paddles & bouy 11-20 swim
    500 free kick w/zoomers
    300 free drill w/snorkle
    4x50 odds back evens free

    Total 4000 yards
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  18. Week 66 - Monday

    by , December 30th, 2013 at 11:42 AM (After a long rest)
    I went to bed really early last night and as a result woke up really early this morning. Instead of just laying there I had a nice leisurely read of the uk newspapers prior to practice. Sometimes(usually Saturdays) I will make a coffee before practice but decided against this and instead had a power bar while I read. I still got to the pool earlier than usual so used the extra time to stretch on the mats before everyone arrived and it felt good.

    Warm up
    400 with snorkel
    6x50 catchup on 45

    Main set
    10x100 kick on 1.45
    10x300 pull on 4mins
    12x50 on power rack with 60lbs on 1min

    Warm down
    100 easy

    Total 5400scy

    The additional rest on the 10x300 compared to normal meant I had an awesome set today. Amazing what difference additional rest makes to a set like this. My instructions were to use the first two to get going then to hold 3.10s and then fly on the last two. I went 3.05,3.05,3.01,3.02,3.02,3.02,3.04,3.03,2.57,2.55. Needless to say I was unable to follow instructions today but I was very pleased with this set. I started to feel tight on #6 and after picking it up on #9 and #10 felt much better. Strange how that happens sometimes. The power rack was much lighter than last week and I felt strong. I will swim everyday this week but should have good amounts of recovery and less yardage over the week as my taper progresses. I can't wait to swim fast!
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  19. Monday 12/30/13

    Monday 12/30

    "Sometimes I feel like I just live at the pool"
    - For instance, today, I had 8-10 practice, coached my high school team from 10-11:15, left the pool at 11:30 or a little after, then returned at 1:30 for a 2-4 practice followed by coaching the college team from 4-6! The 2 hour turnaround time was a bit rough.

    AM and PM LCM

    AM swim:

    600 swim
    4x150 @ 2:30 k/dr/sw w/ fins
    4x200 @ 2:40 AE pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (2:32, 2:33, 2:31, 2:29)

    3x
    4x75 @ 1:30 FL/BK/BR by 25
    4x150 @ 2:20
    RD1: FL/BK/BR by 50
    RD2: FR
    RD3: alternating FL/BK/BR and FR

    2x
    4x100 @ 1:20 smooth D1-4 (both RDs: 1:15, 1:13, 1:10, 1:07)
    100 @ 1:00 rest FAST FR kick w/ board (didn't get times on these)

    300 EZ

    Total: 6000

    PM swim:

    2x
    400 swim w/ paddles + fins + snorkel
    8x50 @ 1:00 dr/sw by 25
    4x75 @ 1:45 side-kick FR Desc by 25

    6x300 @ 4:00 pull D1-3, 4-6 w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (3:47, 3:38, 3:27, 3:45, 3:37, 3:22)

    100 @ 1:30 rest FAST FR kick w/ board (1:36)
    6x50 @ 1:30 FAST swim w/ fins (FL/BK/BR by 50)
    200 @ 1:30 rest FAST FR kick w/ board (3:26)
    4x75 @ 2:00 FAST swim w/ fins
    #1 - 50 FL/25 BK
    #2 - 25 BK/50 BR
    #3 - 50 BR/25 FR
    #4 - 25 FL/50 BK
    300 @ 1:30 rest FAST FR kick w/ board (5:22)
    2x100 @ 2:30 FAST swim w/ fins
    #1 - FL/BK (1:05)
    #2 - BR/FR (1:07)

    200 EZ

    Total: 5600
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  20. Started P90X3!!!

    by , January 2nd, 2014 at 03:11 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Long time no blog post!

    I got the flu right after the Christmas relay meet, started feeling bad on Saturday December 14th. I still don't feel 100%, but I can do modified workouts and manage my rest so I don't overdo it on my comeback.

    I started P90X3 and it's awesome! I must say, 30 minutes is really just right. There's no need to do more or longer which I think is just diminishing return at around the 45 minute mark. The hard part is doing any of these programs AND swimming at the same time.

    I've been workout out on my own because of the flu and then doing P90X3. I'd rather keep up the speed over yardage or reps, so here's a few of my main sets:

    New Years Eve:
    4 x 100's on 5 minutes, with TYR Burners, SCM
    1st straight 1:12
    2nd 50/10/50 1:08
    3rd 50/10/25/5/25 1:04
    4th 4 x 25, 5 secs 1:02

    Day after New Years (Today):
    4 x 50's from a dive, no interval, but around 3-4 mins.
    broken 25/5/25
    fly 32
    back 35
    breast 40
    free 28

    I was quite spent after those sets, but glad I did not waste my time with 200's and 100's of no real speed. That would have been garbage yardage for me. I just want to try to keep up my speed since I have no energy to spare, and i'm pretty tired with 2000 to 2500 total SCM.

    If I don't feel much better, i'll probably strictly adhere to 4 x 50's, the 100 IM, and 100/200 backstroke. Anything else just feels so terribly difficult. I've already swum a 100 fly this season, so I don't feel the pressure to have to swim it again if I don't feel up to it.

    I am also so woefully heavy - a whopping 143 lbs now - so I need to really watch the junk food for awhile, or at least moderate it to get back under 140. With P90X3, swimming consistently, and a bit of self-control, surely that is good for an "easy" first 5 lbs?
    Categories
    Uncategorized