After the Greensboro meet, during which I managed to beat everyone in attendance in the 200 freestyle who was also at least 59 years old, I decided that it was time for me to take the next step.
That next step is to become more like Leslie.
I think I can say with 100 percent accuracy that our little Leslie, AKA, Leslie "The Fortress" Livingston, is not only a World Class Masters Swimmer but also the Patron Saint of Masters Swimmers Everywhere as well as Mither Nonpareil to a Quartet of Unbelievably Talented Athletic Youngsters: Zach, Ali, Gillian, and her favorite of all, Jimmy, the man child.
One of the keys to Leslie's swimming success, I believe, was her decision to embrace and excel at something most of us post-40 Masters never learned during our swimming youths: the SDK.
I was trying to recall the exact circumstances that caused Leslie to pursue excellence in this new "second fastest of all strokes"--and to put it into the pitiless vanquishment of her 50 and over female (and, honestly, male) competitors. (I can't begin to tell you how many chauvinistic men of a certain age were muttering in the Greensboro locker room that the 50 fly and 50 back have been forever ruined for them by Leslie's untouchable World Records! Besides me, there must have been at least one more embittered old jerk doing this.)
Leslie has told me more than once the inspirational story of how she came to devote herself to SDKs and the core strengthening this requires.
Alas, my memory is not what it used to be, and what it used to be wasn't all that great.
For the life of me, I just couldn't remember what this story was. So this morning I Googled "why Leslie decided in middle age to become the best 5' 3" to 5' 4" female SDKer in the world" (or words to that effect) and the following image popped up on my screen, bringing the whole episode back with such detail it was as if it had all just happened yesterday!
For those of you who may not know, Leslie was a stand-out distance swimmer at Dartmouth University, where she specialized in the 400 IM and 200 Butterfly.
She attended Dartmouth on a full scholarship because her great great great great great grandfather on her mother's side was a cousin to Jim Thorpe's great great great great uncle by marriage. As most of you know, Dartmouth was originally founded for Native Americans, who to this day are given preferential treatment in admissions process.
Not that this in any way made up for the savage racial taunts Leslie experienced from her Pale Face classmates. Indeed, for much of her freshman year, Leslie's only friend was her roommate and fellow part-Ojibway, Elizabeth Warren.
How mercilessly were Les and Liz teased for their high Indian cheekbones and somewhat shrill war cries! In one particularly cruel episode, Harvard boy, Mitford Romney (known to the Sioux and Ojibways at Dartmouth as Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers) lead a gang of privileged white country clubbers to the girls' dorm. As the frat boys held the comely squaws down, Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers pulled out an authentic tomahawk purchased for the occasion at a New Hampshire Stuckey's, held it high above his head, and yelled, "Now I'm a'gonna cut your Sacagawea's off!"
The next thing Leslie remembers was waking up at age 46, with four kids (the oldest of which she hadn't yet met), a bit of mid-life dysthymia, and a desire to get back into swimming shape. She started swimming at a pool near her house in suburban Washington, DC, where she had been practicing law, wifing, and living a completely unmemorable life for decades.
The coach suggested she might want to learn SDKs, and Leslie thought it was a good suggestion.
So she practiced, did exercises to strengthen her core muscles, and over the next four or five years became incredibly good at SDKs!
It's an amazing story, and I am sure that many of you will find it as inspiring as I have.
All of which is leading up to a set I accidentally stumbled upon while swimming a solo practice at the Sewickley YMCA pool last Thursday:
Easy 1000 warm up
Continuous 50s kick for as long as it takes, performed with a kick board but without fins in the following order--
First 50, all flutter kick.
Second 50, 1 dolphin kick off each wall, followed by the rest of each length flutter kick.
Third 50, 2 dolphin kicks per wall, followed by flutter.
Fourth 50, 3 dolphin kicks per wall and so forth....adding a single dolphin kick per length..
Until you kick the whole length only doing dolphin kicks.
In my case, I finally made it with 30 dolphin kicks per length, which brought this kick set to 1500 yards.
I finished up with some actual submerged dolphin kicks, swimming 25 yards length underwater (took me 28 kicks to do this.)
Then the normal cool down procedures.
I was pretty sure my back would be killing me the next day, but it didn't. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, kicked in two days later, but not in my back but rather my abs, which became very sore indeed. When I mentioned this to Bill, he said that the pain indicated I was probably doing the SDKs correctly.
Clearly, I'm far from ready to Venus de Milo my own abdominal regions the way Google has opted to do for World Record holder, Leslie. Nor am I prepared to put on a war bonnet and declare, via blood curdling whoops, my intention to raid the 60-64 Age Group.
My own great great grandparents were not related to a famous red Indian like Jim Thorpe but rather, I am fairly certain, derived from anonymous pastey-faced European mongrels, themselves beget during one of those frequent collective-horde "love fests" that is a chief reason evolutionary biology has driven human sperm counts to such Zarathustrian numbers!
Still, I do plan to continue my SDK practicing whenever I find myself solo in a lap lane! Unlike Leslie, I have never had much of a Sacagewea to count on. But as her own experience has so nicely shown us, it's never too late to grow one.
45 minutes of RC exercises and stretching
Monday: Swim/LCM w/Susan @ Rockville
8 x 50 w/fins
-- 20 UW + 30 drill
16 x 50 w/fins @ mega rest interval
odds = backstroke @ 100 pace
evens = EZ free or DAB
16 x 50 no fins @ mega rest interval
odds = backstroke kick @ 100 pace, 16-17 SDKs off the wall
evens = EZ DAB
4 x 50 w/parachute
-- 2 breast, 2 free
Total: 2800 m
30 minutes of RC and scapular stretching
I felt like I got a real quality workout in with Susan at Rockville today. Because school is out in MD (not here yet), there were no backstroke flags at one end and there were fewer lanes. We managed fine, but opted not to do a 100 AFAP back. But I think the 50s were good training for that event. My quads were burning on the finless kick set. Hoping to do another 45 minutes of RC and stretching later today. Tomorrow is PRP after a swim.
I am really glad to be getting some LCM training in. Last year, my 2 week vaca in June + no LCM did not bode well.
My kids are very excited that their cousin (19) made the Olympic team in kayaking! There is only one slot and she won it in a tie breaker. Nice article in the Post.
Updated June 12th, 2012 at 04:25 PM by The Fortress
The incredibly kind Anna Lea Matysek sent me this yesterday in response to my Facebook status, which read:
After suffering a tear-inducing back spasm yesterday morning--four days before the Spire Institute swimming meet--and still suffering greatly from sciatica, pelvic girdle nerve pains, and agony in the lumbar regions--I have decided to try an experiment: I am not babying myself. I am Marquis de Sade-ing myself instead in the hopes this counterintuitive fix will allow me to swim this weekend. In the meantime, if any of my Facebook friends are secret heroin addicts with access to an abundant supply of the elixir AND a clean hypodermic needle, would you consider letting me know how much it would cost to get a little juice in the right spot?
Inspired by both Dr. Weinstein and my swimming coach/friend Bill White, who was swimming butterfly two weeks after a severe Grade 3 shoulder separation, I have decided to meet my fate somewhere near the shores of Lake Erie.
I shall keep you posted, perchance answering the question posed in this self-portrait by early next week.
The one thought that keeps me going is that if I somehow manage to paralyze myself while diving off the blocks, then at least the pain will go away.
--A fellow traveler for all the assorted USMS back pain sufferers, Jimmy.
Mental imagery.... I did much to prepare myself for this swim in Quebec by focusing... on details... yet unknown. Quiet time (too little in my life) meant: eyes closed; slow rhythmic breathing; details. One at a time.
Imagine: the water... color/clarity/temperature/taste/feel/movement the weather... wind/clouds the scenery... shoreline features/boats etc. When one arrives in a new place, there is always a comparison.... one by one real details displace the imagined.
It is a 10.5 hour drive without traffic/ without rest stops/ without customs and immigration checks, and we left High Falls at 4 PM Thursday afternoon... you do the math. The sun was setting by the time we hit Montreal. The roads soon narrowed to two lanes and there was very little evidence of civilization for hours and hours. No lights, no cars, nothing. The few signs of life looked like camp sites so... I imagined that we were driving through a vast wilderness of lakes and forests. There was very little change in elevation. At about 3 AM Friday morning, we arrived in Roberval. A couple of motels, a hardware store, some fast food joints, and there... our hotel on the left. It was obvious that the lake was across the road; no lights, no reflection, but one could sense the water. There was a little confusion at the desk... check in for the 20th starts at 4PM. OK, check us in for the 19th we need to hit the sack. It took a little juggling, but 10 minutes later we were asleep.
MEET AND GREET
The highway forks onto a "main street". La Traversee posters on the light posts mark the way. We pass the hospital, a few restaurants, banks, shops, offices... then a park, and just past that, an impressive complex that include a small cove with grandstand seating below an array of international flags. There is a triangular swim course set up... 500 meters per loop I am told; a blue floating dock with a touch pad bridge; another permanent dock with some workers attaching ramps. Behind that a couple of large white tents, and then... the Traversee offices. I enter the offices and am quickly met my Marie and Caroline and Roger. Roger takes us on a quick tour of the facility and gives us a little history of the event. Marie presents me with a copy of the local paper and tells me that a local news station will be coming by to chat in a little while... but until then the tour continues. On the dock, I meet The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Coach, Gilles Potvin. Monsieur Potvin has competed in La Traversee du Lac St Jean and a bunch of other professional marathon races that took place in the rivers that we drove past last night in the dark. We board his boat for a short tour of the finish and to take a few temperature readings. When we return to the dock, I have a brief interview. I find some of these questions difficult to answer... especially the whys. I think the "why do you want to do this?" question is more easily answered in the past tense.
I am anxious to get in the water, so I goggle up and jump in for a few loops around the triangle. It feels good. Cool 70ish degrees. The water is hard and translucent brown from the iron content (as per M. Potvin) but clear. I fall into a comfortable pace and suddenly there is a swimmer passing me. I match a few strokes and then quickly stop myself as another and another swimmer flies by. They were part of a group of swimmers attending a training camp in Roberval. Many would be participating in one of the races (1k, 2k, 5k) on saturday and are (or will be) national team members. Another of the swimmers that flew by was http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?..._van_der_Hulst ....crazy fast! Ian is swimming the pro 32k next week.
A couple of loops quickly turned into 3k... time to get out, dry off, eat, sleep, arrive back here at 4:50 AM to board the van to Peribonka for a 7 AM splash time.
I assembled a few bags of feed (5 scoops perpetuem/ 4 scoops endurolytes) and explained the system to Clare. Each baggie was to be mixed in a 1/2 gallon container (the motherlode). This mix consumed at a rate of 12oz/30min. Each 12oz mix would have an additional 2oz water added to it. I would get 2.5 hours out of each motherlode. Other feed items available by request.
I lay out my pre swim clothes, pack my post swim clothes, set the alarm and go to sleep.
We wake up, load the car, grab some coffee and head for the office parking lot. Everyone is there already and to my surprise, the van is filled up with women to see us off! Marie is our tour guide for the 90 minute drive and gives a bit of local history as we pass through a few rural villages, and over white water rivers. Its really beautiful and still.
We arrive at the marina in Peribonka a little early and the boats are being checked over and loaded up. My escort would be a small armada consisting of a 16 foot skiff with an 8.8 hp motor. Clare would be feeding me from this boat. There was a spare 16 footer with an extra motor on board. Also, a 25' cabin cruiser with an EMT and a 17' army zodiac complete with a rescue diver on board.
They gave me some instructions.... 3 buoys in Peribonka keep them on your right, right, and left. A countdown in french... I didn't know where we were until they got to trois... and splash time! The start is actually up river to a buoy, turn 90 degrees to another buoy, 90 degrees and.........
There is a small triangular island not too far from the start. I'm guessing its formation has something to do with where the rivers converge, and after that... there is nothing to see for a long time. The water was dead flat at the start which created quite a contrast with a minor chop that would accompany me for hours and hours. I tried to find a good stroke rate to accompany it, but sadly, it always felt just a bit awkward. The 16 footer Clare was in seemed to bob quite a bit. I could see her hanging on... not for dear life, but enough to try and stabilize. I started with a stroke rate of 68 for a couple of hours and then settled into 62. I did try to bring it up a bit several times, but it felt sloppy and since the water was a comfortable temperature, there wasn't the need to try and generate extra heat.
So it went for hours and hours, feeding every 30 minutes on delicious strawberry-vanilla Perpetuem and plugging away toward Roberval.
THE HOME STRETCH
I asked Clare to alert me when we were 3 miles to the finish. I really had no idea of how far we had come or how far there was still to go. Gilles Potvin pointed out a water treatment plant and warned me, "you will be looking at that for a long time, but as soon as you pass it, the finish comes quickly".
I tried to avoid looking at it and started to breathe on my left so to eliminate the temptation. I switched to feeding on chocolate GU for the last 2.5 hours. After 10 hours of milky bland Perpetuem, the sweetness of the chocolate was intense, but in a good way. I didn't want to dilute it with water, and since the sprinkler system was working well, I felt adequately hydrated enough to forego additional H2O.
An additional support boat had come out. I assumed this meant we were close. Still breathing on my left, I was suddenly startled when I noticed a bunch of boulders a foot or two beneath me... I stopped... looked right... I was nearly on top of the breakwater that protects the little cove... one last buoy, and head for the touch pad.
There were a good number of people waiting for me on the dock, including press, medical personnel, officials, and a bunch of young swimmers who I imagine swam one of the races earlier in the day. Many thanks to Gilles Potvin for bringing his swimmers to greet me! I took a long minute before walking up the stairs to the dock... making sure that I had "good legs" for a dignified exit. I was tired of course but felt good otherwise. A blue terrycloth robe was places on my shoulders, and I was handed a bouquet of flowers, and (as Clare and I were told is tradition) a most delicious square of fudge. Kisses, handshakes, high fives, congratulations... and we were off to the event hospital for a quick check up. Blood pressure; temperature; blood sugar...good, good, good. Off to a quick shower and then a sit down with the press for a few q's and a's.
The hospital and showers are all contained in the same building that the Traversee offices are in, and all within 50 paces of the finish. The efficiency of this organization is inspiring... the Gold Standard that I as an event director can't possibly duplicate, but will do whatever I can to move toward. I'm not entirely surprised by this as I met Eric Juneau at the USMS sponsored Open Water Safety Conference and was quite impressed by his presentation.
I can't recommend this event enough. It is a rare opportunity that an amateur swimmer can experience the professional atmosphere that La Traversee has created. I think every race director could benefit from a pilgrimage to Roberval.
...gotta go now, off to Finland and Sweden! more thoughts later
I realize that Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston is a much beloved--no, make that a most beloved--swimmer in the pantheon of USMS greats.
By contrast, I am something of a minor non-entity/known irritant who uses his skills in the latter to win attention, be this mildly positive (yeah, right!) or somewhat negative ("The only thing worse than being talked about," suggested Oscar Wilde, "is not being talked about.")
To this end, one of the most successful strategies I have discovered over the years has been to Boswell myself to Leslie's Dr. Johnson by which I mean a relationship not entirely unlike the one enjoyed by a helminth in the digestive tract of his human host, only in a literary sense.
Might Necatur Americanus prove as similarly ameliorative to Leslie's gluten allergy as biographer James Thornton has proven to be in the documentation of her life? The answer in a future vlog (but here is a hint: Yes!)
As Wikipedia puts it about the exceptional Boswell-Johnson relationship:
Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791) is a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson written by James Boswell. It is regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography; many have claimed it as the greatest biography written in English. While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. The biography takes many critical liberties with Johnson's life, as Boswell makes various changes to Johnson's quotations and even censors many comments. Regardless of these actions, modern biographers have found Boswell's biography as an important source of information.
As even a casual review of my vlog entries will convince you, Thornton's Life of Livingston is, in so many ways, my life's great project and metaphorical case of intestinal parasitism.
It is, I suspect, no accident that both Mr.'s Boswell and Thornton share the name James.
But why, one might reasonably ask, would we need to read Thornton's Life of Livingston when Leslie, through her own daily scribblings, is providing a perfectly detailed Livingston's Life of Livingston in her own right?
And while it is true that you can count on Leslie's own incredibly well-read blog, The FAF AFAP Digest, for the minutiae of her life as a swimmer--the yards doing this, the meters doing that, the equipment used here, the other equipment used there, the dry lands, the wet lands, the pilatic yogic positions, the cornu copiae of physical, psychological, hormonal, geo-political-spiritual miseries racked up as a consequence, and so forth--I maintain that to see the Big Picture of the Life Leslie (or La Vie de Livingston, as Proust might have put it), you really need to start reading Thornton's Life of Livingston much more carefully, more often, and with many, many, many more comments left in the comments section.
At the risk of seeming impertinent, Leslie is much too close to her subject to see the forest for the trees. Not so I!
Furthermore, like James Boswell, James Thornton has no impediment with "taking liberties" with the "facts" in order to better capture of the truth of Leslie's life, a truth, I might add, is likely to elude the dear girl herself.
For who among us can truly claim to know ourselves better than I know you, even those I have barely met?
With all this as preamble, let me cut to the chase here before I lose too many more of you dear readers, for I do sense a certain restlessness in the ether, a shuffling of papers, a clearing of phlegm from the throat, as if in preparation for saying the likes of, "Okay, well..." or "Gotta nuther call..." or "Shut the **** up, I can't stand to hear any more of this lunatic prattle!"
Some of you may recall that one of my earliest "chapters" in Thornton's Life of Livingston was the classicly controversial vlog entry, Love Leslie, Hate Jim http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=8731.
This simply recapitulated the fan reaction to our ***-for-tat argument on the subject of the putative "benefits" of weight-lifting for swimmers that ran in Swimmer Magazine.
Leslie argued it is essential to do this in order to swim fast.
I argued that the literature said quite the opposite and that, moreover, it was dangerous.
I told you so: on the nature of an obnoxious, but not altogether unfactual, saying.
It appears that I have been correct, at least in the latter declaration, all the while, proving yet again that Thornton knows Livingston better than Livingston knows Livingston--yet another reason why Thornton's Life of Livingston should remain the number one literary destination for anybody with even a passing interest in Leslie, including most of all Leslie herself.
For this is what happened to the lass:
While once again attempting heavy weight lifting last week, Leslie heard something elastic snap in her elbow, triggering instant pain. In a text message, she wrote to me that perhaps she would stop heavy lifting forever, that she had, indeed, come around to my way of thinking: i.e., that it is a dangerous waste of time for swimmers!
Oh dear, further chase cutting, I now believe, has become a matter of survival. The audience for today's musings, I greatly fear, is dwindling faster than the Donner party!
Absolutely no more preamble then. For those intrepid few who have remained with us so far, there is a payoff--and a sizable one at that.
Thanks to Bill White's eagle eye, I am happy to propose a much safer couple of alternatives to classic heavy weight lifting that Leslie can take up instead.
Please check out these two regimens, one of which is great for the arms, and the other which will give even the flimsiest of us specimens the abs and core of Mr. Ryan Lochte himself (who will be appearing soon in an upcoming episode of the Vlog the Inhaler, AKA, Thornton's Life of Livingston and Lochte.)
(Note: many of you may be familiar with the first exercise regimen. The second one, however, which Bill brought to my attention yesterday, is likely to be completely novel to anyone who has not spent time incarcerated in North Korea. Don't miss it!)
Safe approach to arm strength training:
Safe approach to torso strength training:
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
1x5000 swim (~71 minutes)
1x200 cool down
Updated August 18th, 2012 at 02:24 PM by qbrain
Solo this morning - but it wasn't so bad. Remembered that I downloaded Dave Salo's Sprint Salo workouts (and laminated them) so I picked a few that I really liked and did one today. I believe it is #4 in the book. I'll be doing these on Tues & Thursday's from now on, whenever I have to swim solo in the mornings & adding some of his nasty sprint sets after the ATAC practices MWF to not only get in some distance, but get in some quality work. I believe it will (hopefully) become more fun to sprint (or as I call it, blast) and will improve my speed. It's nice to have a plan.
4 x 100 pull no paddles
4 x 50 swim
6 x (75 IM order + 50 free) broken at 75 for 10 sec, on 2:00; one minute recovery after #3 -
75's build, 50's sprint
Pull- 4 x ( 2 x 25 @ :25, 50 @ :50, 100 @ 1:30, 50 @ :50, 2 x 25 @ :25) 30-45 sec rest after each round
Kick - 4 x (4 x 25 + 50) @ :30/1:00; 25's sprint, 50's - stretch & blast off walls
4 x 50 on :45 AFAP
Total: 4300 SCY
This was possibly the hardest kick set I've done in years. I was exhausted. Frankly, I was supposed to do the last 4 x 50 AFAP - and I just limped through them. The 6 x 75's were nice (at first), second three I actually broke the 75 into 50 + 25 with 10 sec rest & blasted that last 25. The 50 free was more of a build than a sprint, but I was huffing & puffing all the way through it. It was a bit depressing to see that my 100 time on the Pull was only about 1:15 - I would have thought I could go faster than that, but "oh well".
Had similar chaos today at the YMCA pool, with the swim team using three of the lanes, and then having two lanes open for lap swim, and the other 1 lane space for a swim lesson group. It all worked out well this time, since we knew what to expect. This will be going on for about two weeks like this until the hours get changed around again.
Swam with Jared
Warmup/Getting into it:
5 x 100 Free @ 1:30 (1:09s)
5 x 100 Free @ 1:25 (1:08s)
5 x 100 Free @ 1:20 (1:07-8s)
Our warmup was an undetermined amount when we started. Jared just said 100s, and I went. After 3 of them I asked him how many he wanted to do...he then said "let's do 5 @ 1:30, 5 @ 1:25, 5 @ 1:20." OK, no problem with me. Well...as we started the 1:20s, he was cursing himself for suggesting it. I was having fun with it.
100 IM semi-strong but with a relaxed tempo
10 x 50 Flutter Kick w/ board @ :55 (:45-:49s)
Free Pull w/ paddles Set: (1500 set)
2 x 50 (on each of the following) @ :55, @ :50, @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
Jared got out here...I kept going - staying on interval:
2 x 50 @ :50, @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
2 x 50 @ :45, @ :40, @ :35
2 x 50 @ :40, @ :35
2 x 50 @ :35
100 EZ and out
I had fun with the final pull set. Rock n roll taper mode for sure since I have the LCM meet on Saturday. Most yardage I've done in a while, but I was feeling great so I went with it.
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
It’s getting to be do-or-die time for visiting NYC’s public outdoor pools—there’s roughly one week left in the short season. I took advantage of a Pool Tourism Club outing this morning to visit Lasker Pool in Central Park. It’s located in the northeast corner of the park, and is an easy walk from the 110th Street stop on the 2 train. This oval-shaped pool, which turns into an ice rink during the winter, features curved metal walls that make flip turns challenging. It’s dimensions are listed at 240’ x 190’ x 3.75’; we swam in one of the 6 marked lanes that bisected the pool the short way, giving us lengths of approximately 58m. That seemed apt, since one among our group was celebrating his 58th birthday!
I swam an easy 1000m or so, happily interrupted at most walls by conversation. It was a beautiful morning, and joy to be moving around in the water, surrounded by friends amid the beautiful backdrop of Central Park’s landscaping. My body felt surprisingly good, and my two Hannah-inspired laps of butterfly felt wonderful, almost like mini-massages.
Although Lasker is an easy commute from my apartment, this was the first time I had swum there, so I was able to add a new pool to my list of NYC pools (below). A delicious brunch afterwards made for the perfect morning. Hurray pool tourism!
New York City pools I’ve swum at (asterisked = outdoor pool):
1. West Side Y (25 yd), W. 63rd between Bway and Central Park West
2. West Side Y warm-water pool (20 yd?)
3. Riverbank State Park indoor pool (50M), W. 138th Street on the Hudson
*4. Riverbank State Park outdoor pool (25yds)
5. Asphalt Green competition pool (50M), E. 91st and York
6. Asphalt Green warm-water therapy pool (15m?)
*7. Asphalt Green outdoor pool (25yd, now gone)
8. John Jay College Pool (25y) 59th and 10th
9. Baruch College Pool (25m) 24th and Lex
10. City College pool (25y) W 145th and Convent Ave.
11. Columbia University (25y) 116th and Bway
12. NYU Palladium pool (25y x 25m) 140 E. 14th St.
13. Vanderbilt YMCA (25y) 224 E. 47th
14. Chelsea Rec Center (25y) W 25th between 9th and 10th
15. New York Athletic Club (25y) Central Park South @ 7th Ave.
*16. John Jay Park Pool (48y) E. 77th and York
*17. Hamilton Fish park pool (50m) Pitt and Houston Streets
18. Reebok Club pool (25y) 67th and Columbus
19. Chelsea Piers (25y), W. 19th Street on the Hudson
20. JJC pool (25y), 76th and Amsterdam
21. Manhattan Plaza (25y), 43rd and 10th
22. McBurney Y (25y), 14th between 6th and 7th
*23. Jackie Robinson (25m), Bradhurst Ave. @ W 146 St.
*24. Lasker Pool (25m) Central Park, near Malcolm X Drive/110th St entrance
1. LIU—Brooklyn (25y) Flatbush and DeKalb
2. St. Francis College pool (25y) Brooklyn Heights
*3. Red Hook Pool (40m)
4. Shorefront YM-YWHA (25y) Brighton Beach
1. Lehman College pool (50m)
*2. Van Cortlandt Park pool (50m)
*3. Crotona Park Pool (100m)
1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park pool (50m)
1. Wagner College pool (25y?)
*2. Lyons pool (50m)
Jeez I'm a bad blogger
I swam, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sat
Did not swim Sun, Mon or Tue
no practice Sun, had other commitments on Mon & Tue my car wouldn't start so I dealt with car stuff, but I finally swam today and
lifted Wed, Sat & plan to lift today
Wed Sep 5th, 2012
Still at mabel davis, LCM
6:00 - 7:30 dove in just as my lane started the main set, drove for 5 min and realized my work shoes were in our other car so I drove back to get them
swam with Todd, Jim & Dick
beside Ned Marcio tyler & Joanna?
My left hip is still hurting
4 x 500 IMs
1) 200 fl (drill) 150 bk 100 br 050 fr
2) 050 fl (drill) 200 bk 150 br 100 fr
3) 100 fl (drill) 050 bk 200 br 150 fr
4) 150 fl (drill) 100 bk 050 br 200 fr
800 neg split
4 x 250 IM done
1) 100 fl 50 bk 50 br 50 fr
2) 050 fl 100 bk 50 br 50 fr
Chicago's annual Big Shoulders 5 and 2.5km swims were held last Saturday. Every year I promise myself two things for the next year:
1. never to swim it again because, well, why would I pay to swim in Lake Michigan; and
2. if I break promise 1, only enter the 2.5k, which would give me time to smugly watch other people finishing after myself (hopefully).
Both promises broken, I headed to the starting line at an obscene hour on race morning. The weather had been a bit dodgy leading up to the race, and the organisers had warned of potentially rough conditions. The water turned out to be not too bad, though, and I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, not pleasantly surprised because I like it rough! There was a smallish swell that was nice and regular and some surface chop, but nothing too slappy or random. The water was very murky, which I like, because because the only sandy bottom I want to see when swimming does not belong to the lake.
As usual, I ended up placing in the bottom half of my age group. I took a huge kick to the left boob when the guy in front of me decided to suddenly change to breaststroke going around the 2nd turn buoy. For identification purposes, I noted he had on a full wetsuit and (non adventure style) beard. Couldn't find him on the beach afterwards though. My right shoulder hurt like a b%^& the whole time, but I swam in lovely straight lines, mostly in the right direction.
The best thing about the swim, though, was my sardine suit. Here 'tis:
Here's a sardine:
Here's me and some other swimmers being lapped by the elite wave:
It looks like some of us got stuck in their teeth.
Here's a recipe for sardines on toast, which I may or may not try:
Yesterday I was part of a small group test-swimming a new course in the Hudson from Cold Spring, NY north to Bannerman’s Island and back. It’s probably the most scenic swim route I’ve ever done, and a glorious day to be out on the water. The day had a little bit of everything—beauty, difficulty, adventure, and most of all fun. The course itself featured a lot of the highlights of the beautiful Stage 4 of 8 Bridges, which I had loved swimming in 2011.
The route was first swum solo by Rondi a few weeks ago; her blog gives a map of the route and a description of her trip. For Saturday’s adventure we had 9 swimmers of various speeds; part of the point of this swim was to test tidal predictions and swim times for a range of swimmers. The start was very near the MetroNorth train station in Cold Spring, a plus for those of us traveling up from the city. We were divided into four pods of swimmers, each with its own kayak or paddleboard escort, while Dave patrolled the course on Agent Orange.
We started during the latter stages of the flood (northerly) tide, and the goal was for all swimmers to reach the northern tip of Bannerman’s Island around slack in order to ride the ebb (southerly) current back to our starting point—a “tide me up, tide me down” swim, at least in theory. But since we would be catching only the last, weakest part of the flood and the corresponding early portion of the ebb, the current assist wouldn’t be very great—Rondi estimated the 10.5K swim would take around 2:45 to 3 hours for my group.
The day was wonderfully sunny, with a hint of fall crispness in the air. Strong winds from the north were predicted, and we had seen white caps on portions of the river during the train ride up. The kayak launch where we started was in a protected cove, though, so during our preparations before splash time things looked very calm. That changed as soon as we started swimming. Once we headed out beyond the cove into the main portion of the river, it became clear that the wind would be pushing some nice choppy swells directly at us for the first half of the swim.
With me in the third pod were Hannah, Willie, and Eli, with Andy kayaking alongside. We swam well together, and I could usually see all three of them to my right as we travelled along together. Stroking into the swells turned out to be fun if challenging—there were some nice roll-y waves which we were swimming directly into. I played with the water’s undulations, occasionally switching to dolphin kick with freestyle arms when the waves pushed my legs up behind me. Air temps were in the 60s, but the water was warm, in the upper 70s. Still, with the wind, it was pleasant feeling the sun on my back as we swam along.
We passed the densely wooded rolling hills of the Hudson Highlands, punctuated by sheer rocky cliff faces. Sometimes I would roll over to do backstroke and admire the puffy clouds moving along rapidly overhead. When I did that, the waves breaking over my head would send sprays of water over my face that left enough space for me to breathe. I really liked that effect, and played around with it several times on the trip up.
Our pod swimming upstream: me, Hannah,Willie, Eli
(Photo credit A. Moore)
We could see Bannerman’s Island in the distance, and I would occasionally pick up my head to see it getting closer. We stopped once or twice for leisurely feeds—it takes a while to feed four swimmers from one kayak—but otherwise stroked steadily along. Our instructions had been to swim steadily at a comfortable pace up to the island, in order to get there before the tide changed—then on the way back we could “play tourist” all we wanted.
As we neared the island the water grew flatter and much easier to swim in. At the time I thought the wind had died down, but in retrospect it seems we were just being sheltered from the wind and waves by the island itself. Around this time the fourth pod caught up to us, and Rondi joined in with our group. As we neared Bannerman we all stopped for a final feed before heading clockwise around the island and its ruins.
Bannerman’s Island is a bit of a curiosity. It’s a small bit of land about 300m from the eastern shore of the Hudson, and contains what looks like the crumbling ruins of a medieval castle on its northern side. The ruins are actually those of an arsenal built around the turn of the twentieth century by a munitions baron. The island and ruins are clearly visible from the railroads that run along the Hudson’s eastern shore, and when passengers first see the structure they wonder what the heck it is, and what it’s doing out there in the middle of the river. The site is now owned by New York State, and tours of the island are given every weekend.
Hannah and Eli swim past Bannerman
(Photo credit A. Moore)
As we headed up the west side of the island, we could see that one of those tours was about to start—people were disembarking from an official-looking boat onto the island’s dock. The idea flickered through my mind that we could climb out and join in—I’ve always wanted to go on a Bannerman’s Island tour, but have never been up there at the right time. But mostly by this point I was preoccupied with the swimming. Conditions had grown tough fast. Once we were no longer sheltered by the island, the wind hit us again with full force, and it was apparent that the tide had turned early and was ebbing south as we were trying to make our way north. It took some hard swimming at this point to make it to the north tip of the island and round the point, but we all managed.
When we finally rounded the tip and reached the eastern side of the island we were able to float and chat for a bit, marveling at how fast the current was carrying us back southward. It was fun watching the scenery go by as we relaxed in the water for a bit. The trip back seemed like it would be much easier, with both the wind and current with us.
We swam together for a while, then split up as we were joined by a second kayak—Eli and Willie went on ahead with Rondi, while Hannah and I enjoyed a more leisurely pace. We took full advantage of the “playing tourist” provision, stopping and making sense of the different landmarks we passed. Hannah showed me the road she loved biking on Storm King Mountain, we stopped to admire the view of West Point in the distance, the Croton Aquaduct tunnel, and whatever else happened to catch our attention. Andy proved to be an excellent tour guide as well as kayaker. Hannah was kind enough to share some of her wonderful feeds with me—applesauce and chocolate pudding. (I had only brought juice and water for this trip, and was missing my figgy pops around the 3h mark). I really enjoyed the meandering journey back to where we started—races are all well and good, but I think I enjoy social open-water swimming even more.
Finally we arrived back at where we had started. The entire swim took us around 3h20m. It was a spectacularly beautiful trip, and a really wonderful way to spend a glorious early fall day in the Hudson Valley.
This was not the day for swimming, apparently. My husband turned off my alarm last night (by accident?) so I slept in and totally missed workout this morning. Went at lunch, and didn't even have time for a 3000.
8 x 75 warmup on 1:15 (50 free, 25 other)
10 x 50; 2 hard on :40, one easy on 1:00, last one Sprint
200 P @ 80%, on 2:40
50 easy on 1:00
2 x 75 IM no free on 1:15
200 IM hard, on 3:00
50 kick on 1:00
2 x 75 free on 1:00
100 (50 k, 50 s)
4 x 150; swim/kick/swim by 50's building to sprint on 2:30
100 easy cool down
Plus, on the down side, every time I do something really hard - like the Sprints - I'm thinking - why do I want to go to meets again? I kinda like just going at a nice, leisurly pace. Don't know what's gotten into me - guess I need to have someone to race to keep me positive & remembering the fun of the race - not something I got at lunch today.
I finally swam beyond the pier at Coney Island—far beyond the pier! Yesterday I swam 7 miles from Coney Island to Sandy Hook, NJ as part of a test swim of conducted by CIBBOWS. We met up at the Coney Island Aquarium between 4 and 4:30 am, and the swim got underway a little after 5. Air temps were around 50, so the few minutes of waiting around on the sand after I had relinquished my clothes and sent them out to the waiting boats were a mite chilly. But the water was still relatively warm at 67 degrees, and as soon as I got and things got underway I felt comfortable.
The first hour of the swim was in the dark, and I loved it. The night was clear, and the bright quarter moon was reflected off the water, making for a good bit of ambient light. My escort kayak had lights fore and aft, and I could see my kayakers Teddy and Danika (it was a double kayak) silhouetted against the western sky as I swam along. A few white phosphorescent glows met my fingertips as I stroked through the water, and any air bubbles I made on my entry were lit up too. Everything seemed so calm and magical, and I wasn’t at all afraid. An idle resolution passed through my head: Night swimming is so wonderful it’s the only kind I’m doing from here on out. If only that were halfway realistic,..
Out in the water with me were three other swimmers, John, Willie, and Dan. We each had our own escort kayak, as well as three motorized boats supporting the swim. On the boats were the four swimmers who would be making the return journey, along with a number of CIBBOWS volunteers who were supporting the swim and collecting data for future crossings. For a while I could see the other kayaks’ stern lights ahead of me, as well as some of the boats’ lights in the distance, but by the first feed I couldn’t see anything else around me except for my own kayak. That was actually nice—when I breathed to my left, on the non-kayak side, I could pretend I was all by myself out in the big ocean.
As I stroked along the sky to the east began to brighten noticeably, then broad strata of pinks and oranges began to appear. I was breathing to my left more and more to admire the pre-sunrise show. The water began to get choppier at this point, with the wind kicking up some waves from the west which made breathing left the easier option, as well. Occasionally the waves were big enough to splash over me, and when they did this I could see the reflection of the green blinking light attached to my goggle strap.
Things were seeming very calm until around sunrise, when the grey support boat appeared in front of us, and we appeared to be making a left turn. Then I started seeing the sunrise on my right—were we making a u-turn? I did a stroke of breaststroke and looked over at Teddy—why had we changed directions? “We have to wait—do you want to swim or stop?” he asked. Aha—we must be near the shipping channel. “Swim!” I said reflexively, then started stroking again. But then I decided I wanted see what was going on. I stopped and looked around, only be told “There’s traffic—we have to get out of the channel.” Before I could finish saying “I want to see the traffic!” I looked ahead and saw a very large barge in the distance, heading our way. Nearby was another of our support boats, this one with all the swimmers for the return trip on deck on board, and they were all pointing to the left. I got the message—swim that way. I did, and got well clear of the shipping channel, then swam eastward, while waiting for the tug and its barge to cross. Teddy pointed out that there was another tug/barge approaching from the other directions. They crossed paths almost directly in front of us, a more-than-safe distance away. It was a really cool sight, with the sun glinting off the barges’ loads. It was interesting to see how far the tug boats were from the barges, and see the chains attaching them stretched between the two. I dipped my head down into the water to hear the deep clanking sound they made as they passed by.
Sunrise over the Ambrose Channel (photo credit R. Davies)
(One reason this swim requires so much support is that it goes across the Ambrose Channel, a major shipping lane used by traffic entering and leaving New York harbor—a lot of very big boats, barges, container ships and the like pass through here. Near the beginning of the swim I could see a huge cruise ship making its way across in the darkness, its decks all aglow.)
Once the ships were past we got the green light to continue on. The water seemed to have gotten rougher, but the chop was mostly from the sides and behind rather than head-on, so it remained easy going. I could tell when I stopped for feeds that the wind was blowing from the west—while Danika did the bottle hand-offs, Teddy maneuvered the kayak to keep it from blowing into me during the stops. I could also see some heavy clouds moving in from the west, and hoped any bad weather they were bringing would hold off until I finished my swim.
After another feed or two Teddy told me he could see the beach ahead. I didn’t put much stock in this, since I had learned in the Cape Cod swim how long it can take to reach a beach you can see. But over the next half-hour it did seem to be betting rapidly nearer. When I looked forward to sight I could see strange tall dark figures standing at regular intervals along the sand—the phrase “Easter Island statues” popped into my head. I looked again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but they were still there. It took me a bit to make sense of what I was seeing—fishermen, in dark waders, casting into the surf.
As we got within a mile to half-mile of shore I could feel some large swells propelling me forward. I thought about stopping and asking my kayaker if there would be breakers to contend with when exiting the water—sometimes when there’s biggish surf at my Florida beach swimming into shore feels like this. But I decided that I would be able to judge that better for myself as I got nearer shore. Around this point there also seemed to be some odd currents—sometimes when I would place my hand in the water it would feel like it was being pulled downward or to the side by the water. I worried a little about the current changing before I reached the beach—it can get strong around Sandy Hook, making finishing after slack tide has passed difficult. I picked up my pace to make sure I would make it in. But every time I looked up I was very noticeably closer to shore, so it seemed like I was making good progress.
Approaching Sandy Hook (photo credit R. Davies)
As I neared the beach Agent Orange came around beside me—I could see Rondi and Dave on board and I waved to them mid-stroke. Right before I landed it seemed like my kayak was getting between me and the shore for some reason—I wondered if they were getting pushed towards me by the wind and surf, but then looked up and saw that they were leading me around some fishing lines to a safer place to land. The sandy/pebbly bottom came into view—the sand is much coarser here than at Coney Island., I swam until my fingers touched, then stood up and walked ashore. I was done, in just under 3 hours.
I hugged and congratulated Willie, who was already on shore, then hugged and thanked my Teddy and Danika, who had landed their kayak nearby. The fisherman—wrapped up in waders and layers of clothes—looked at Willie and me as if we had landed from outer space. “Where did you come from?” “Coney Island!” They just grunted and went back to their poles.
I waded back out into the water—it was warmer there--then saw the other two swimmers heading towards shore. I went over to cheer them in and give them hugs after they landed, then we all headed back out to the boats. As I was wading out a crab pinched my toe. I yelped just a little, but no harm was done. I did get my feet up off the bottom pronto, and out swam to Agent Orange. I climbed aboard, put on some warm clothes—my brief time on the beach had chilled me a bit—then settled in to enjoy the return trip. Four new swimmers got into the water for the return crossing, the kayakers stretched and readied themselves for another few hours of feeding and guiding swimmers, and off we were.
The return trip was interesting and fun. The sky clouded over and it eventually rained, but the wind had died down and water conditions were nice and calm for the return swimmers. I used all the clothes I brought—long underwear, wool pants, rain pants, wool sweater, swim parka—but managed to stay pretty warm. Being out on the water is just nice, even when it’s rainy and cold.
And I got to see firsthand all the behind-the-scenes stuff it requires to get swimmers safely across shipping lanes. Dave and the other boaters were constantly on the radio with each other, with our Coast Guard escort, and with commercial traffic, discussing the swimmers’ positions and when they would enter and exit the channels (besides the Ambrose, we go through two lesser boating lanes, the Sandy Hook Channel and the Coney Island Channel). Occasionally we would intercept smaller boats that were zipping by and alert them to the swimmers’ presence. The kayakers also had radios, and used them to get instructions or give reports to the various boats. It made me appreciate all the coordination and care it takes to pull this sort of event off. I’ll never again look at Sandy Hook from Coney Island, and wonder if I couldn’t just swim over there on my own.
The tides gave us a slower trip on the way back, but by 1 pm we were all back at Coney Island. I hopped ashore and went gratefully up to the Aquarium to warm up, change out of my rain gear, and say goodbye to other swimmers and all the kayakers and volunteers who had made the day possible. It was a good day out on the water, and I hope everything goes equally well for the other swimmers who will be test-swimming this route over the next three weekends.
This was my last OW event of the season, and I was happy with how things went—it was pretty much an all-fun-all-the-time experience. I loved swimming at night, I thought it was really cool to see all the various other vessels out on the water, I felt well supported and safe, and greatly appreciated the chance to spend some quality time with the water on a glorious morning. It was a great way to end my 2012 season. And as a bonus, the 7-mile trip nudged me over 500 miles in GTD—so I got a free swimsuit out of the day as well. Thank you CIBBOWS!
This was the last event of my 2012 season:
May 4: Inaugural Arizona SCAR swim, Saguaro Lake (9 miles)May 5: Inaugural Arizona SCAR swim, Canyon Lake (9 miles)May 6: Lake Roosevelt, Arizona (10 miles)May 13: 2 Bridges test swim, Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, NY (5K)June 1: IGLA North Atlantic Midnight Open Water Swimming Challenge, Nauthólsvík beach, Reykjavík, Iceland (250m)June 26: 8 Bridges Stage 2, Hudson River, Kingston-Rhinebeck Bridge to Mid-Hudson (Poughkeepsie) Bridge (18.3 miles, 6:31:19, finished 4/4)July 7: Kingdom Swim, Lake Memphremagog, Vermont (10 miles, 5:00.28, finished 21/50 overall, 6/19w)August 21: P2P Plymouth to Provincetown swim, Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts (20 miles, 11:45)September 9: USMS 2-mile national championships, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey (2 miles, 52:36.49, 1st in AG)September 15: Bannerman’s Return test swim, Hudson River near Cold Spring, New York (10.5K, 3:20)September 22: Little Red Light House Swim, Hudson River, NYC (10.2K, 2:06:46, 38/284 finishers, 8th woman, 1st in AG)September 30: Bannerman’s Return test swim, Hudson River near Cold Spring, NY (10.5K, 3:25)October 7: CIBBOWS Coney Island to Sandy Hook test swim, (7.5? miles, 2:57:47)
Updated October 16th, 2012 at 01:12 PM by swimsuit addict
(season recap added)
I missed my workout yesterday... for a good cause (more on that below); so today I felt like I had to make up ground. I started off sluggish, but picked up a little steam. I finished the workout with 5000 total yards in just under 1:45.00, the longest workout I've done since this summer. Here's what I did:
300 (100 each fr/br/bk)
500 free on 9:00
10 x 50 on 1:00 (mostly :43-:44)
10 x 100 on 2:00 (middle 4-6 at 1:25-1:27)
300 (br/bk/fr) + 2 minutes rest
5 x 200 on 4:00 (all in 3:07-3:09)
5 x 100 on 2:00 (1:31-1:36)
500 easy free (counting strokes, stretching it out)
The two sets, 1500 each, add up to 3000 yards of really hard swimming for me. That's a confidence builder!
So, the reason I missed yesterday's workout was because of a super busy day ending with the happy occasion of Anthony's (he's my middle son) Cross Country team banquet and award ceremony. I'm happy to see the next generation of kids embrace the endurance sports, so this is always a neat event. And this year Anthony received the "Most Improved" award for the boys team.... He worked really hard for that and I am super proud of him!
What a great smile (thanks to the orthodontist for that one!)... oh, and don't tell Anthony I put his picture up; I don't want to embarrass him unduly.
ALL (FIRST EVER INDIVIDUAL) AMERICAN!!!!!?
Let's hope the above ejaculation does not prove premature, for the listings are still preliminary. My fingers have been crossed so long it looks like I have developed arthritis.
For those hoping to follow in my path to flukish glory in what the current edition of Swimmer calls "the premiere event in swimming, the 100 LCM freestyle", I say it is critical to have a good role model.
I will happily shoulder that burden for you, just as a little girl down 'Bama way has shouldered that burden for me!
Note: to see the movie, you need to click on this link. Clicking on the picture below the link won't do you any good.
I would also like to thank, in as public a way as possible, cinematographer and still photographer nonpareil, John Kuzmkowski.
How John has time to work on his artistry while simultaneously racking up the #2 position in Go The Distance is beyond me!
If I were a young girl, and I assure you I am not, I would find this combination of creativity and indefatigable endurance absolutely irresistible.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM3wa...ican - YouTube
Updated November 9th, 2012 at 01:45 PM by jim thornton
First of all, a very belated Happy Thanksgiving 2012 for all my viewers:
I ate, of course, the Traditional American Thanksgiving Feed on Thursday, followed by the Traditional American Thanksgiving Leftover Feed the moment I woke up for breakfast on Black Friday.
And the gluttony has not taken more than a few moments rest ever since.
I am becoming a bloated monstrosity.
Last night, for example, I went to the local Bottom Dollar store and found a good price on center cut pork chops. The smallest package I could find, unfortunately, contained four of these beauties. I do not like leftovers when it comes to the other white meat, so I grilled and ate four of these:
and washed them down with some fizzy water and a whole avacado. Then I went to see Skyfall with my teammate Ben Mayhew and Liam White, son of our other teammate, Bill White. Liam is a boy genius and computer wizard about whom I will soon be writing more TERRIBLY EXCITING SWIMMING TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS LIKELY TO REVOLUTIONIZE THE WAY YOU WASTE TIME ON YOUR SMART PHONE!!!
Anyhow, at the movie theater, I purchased a box of Dots:
in the only size available. I gave Liam most, though I concede, not all of the green ones, and ate the rest of the Dots myself.
Thanks to the way they calculate grams of sugar on the size of the box, it seemed at first that perhaps I had not done myself too much diabetes-inducing damage. But then I realized that they were talking about grams of sugar per serving, of which there were actually five servings in the box.
Bottom line: as a chaser to my four grilled porkers and avocado, and as a prelude to my later beers and Klondike bar, I had inadvertently consumed 105 grams of sugar, somewhat more than the 25 grams per day recommended for men.
I will leave unspecified my breakfast and lunch preceding the Pork-Avacado-Dots main meal of the day, but suffice it to say, I didn't starve myself.
All of which circles me back to why this has relevance to my swimming and, for that matter, the Archimedes Principle.
To wit, I am becoming so bloated with fat and plumptitude that I greatly fear my recent swimming accomplishment (i.e., that first ever individual All American rating: still not absolutely guaranteed, but looking ever more cautiously optimistic as Dec. 1 hustles towards us!) might be my last one.
Partly because I must move so much additional fat-weight through the water.
And partly because the sheer bulk of me is displacing so much water from the pool itself that there might not be enough left to actually swim in.
All of which further circles me back to my Happy Thanksgiving card, photoshopped by my friend, Bill Robertson, who years and years ago similarly photoshopped a picture of me grilling a monkey in the jungle for use as my annual Christmas card. (Do not worry! I shall post this when the time is right!)
Anyhow, the creature I appear to be eating in my Happy Thanksgiving card is a muskrat, trapped and skinned by Dan E., a carpenter who does a lot of work for my wife and me at out Bed & Breakfast in Western, PA:
It occurred to me that maybe I could shed a few pounds if I went on the Modern Paleo Pittburger Diet™, eating only things like muskrats and pine cones that I can harvest on my own from the Western PA hinterlands.
Muskrat in water
Muskrat in truck
Muskrat in me belly
So far, unfortunately, I haven't managed to make the switch.
But looking at these last two pictures on a regular basis has helped put me at least slightly off my Traditional American Feed Diet.
And I hope, perchance, they will do the same for you!
If you get a chance, please check out my new actual blog, where I am hoping to slowly archive many of my published magazine stories over the years. There are already a couple entries up that have swimming articles available for free .pdf downloads:
I would be thrilled if any of you out there would consider "subscribing" via RSS to my new blog, known simply as ByJimThornton:
I'm hoping it might one day prove to be a poor man's pitiable pension plan, cranking out revenue via page view advertising in the neighborhood of $3.25 per month.
I am definitely going to need the money when the Modern Paleo Pittburger Diet™ inevitably fails and I end up--as we all know I shall--in The Nursing Home For Dot Addicted Fatties™.
Great news, everyone! And just in time for the free gift-giving season!
My USMS swimming vlog, the No. 1 Internet source of news about Jim Thornton's somewhat-related-to-swimming stream-of-consciousness ramblings, is now going to serve a second and arguably even more important raison d'etre:
Driving traffic to my neonatal blog, http://byjimthornton.com/
The Vlog will, in other words, now serve as a "news aggregator" for the blog, and vice versa. I would explain what this means if I understood it myself, but I don't have a clue. In fact, I am just throwing around words like "news aggregator" in the hopes that they might apply to what I am doing. In any event, whatever it is I am attempting here, I am pretty sure it will work in some capacity or other, without causing the global Internet to crash under the sheet massiveness of my daily drivel.
Emphasis on the pretty.
In any event, my new blog, http://byjimthornton.com/, not to be confused with this current vlog, http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26, will feature some unbelievably enchanting unique content including:
* Actual .pdf's of some of my magazine articles written over the years. These, unlike most of my vlogs 'n blogs, have actually useful information in them! You can learn, for instance, how to shorten the pain of heartbreak, determine your zygosity if you are a twin, and subscribe via RSS feed technology to http://byjimthornton.com/. And so many more useful things, too!
Visitors to http://byjimthornton.com/ will be able to effortless click to view and/or save for your permanent electronic library charming and frequently award-winning articles such as the above (which won the 1992 Gold Medal Award for Best Article of the Year, The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)!
* Actual cartoon novellas drawn and written by me both now in my senescence and during my juvenilia days--watch a mind develop and decay all at a single one-stop site!
A snippet from the entirely viewable online and/or downloadable for permanent library inclusion of the ongoing cartoon autobiography: Jim! Up Through Screamer.
* The Thornton Twins Podcast, not yet up, but which should be up very soon--perfect for downloading to your smartphone and playing either late at night when you need a cure for insomnia, or behind the wheel when you need to stave off grogginess and evade vehicular misadventure!
Women of a certain vintage who have long fantasized about a dalliance with twins are free to stoke said fantasies while listening to the Thornton twins discuss the leading issues of the day in their deeply resonant male voices that only occasionally squeak!
Go ahead! We do not mind being fodder for your fantasies, though if you have ever been diagnosed with erotomania (ero·to·ma·nia/ (-ma´ne-ah) 1. a type of delusional disorder in which the subject harbors a delusion that a particular person is deeply in love with them; lack of response is rationalized, and pursuit and harassment may occur), please know that John and I are not what we appear to be in this handsome picture from our younger days, but rather are constipated old cranks riddled with disgusting personal habits and you would be much better off fixating on these twins instead:
Okay. I know what you're thinking. "Jim, you had me at 'Great news!' What do I need to do to make it incredibly simple to follow your new blog, http://byjimthornton.com/, on the Internet? To be honest, I am not that technologically savvy."
First of all, don't be ashamed! I, too, am not that technologically savvy. And figuring out how to make things as easy and enjoyable as humanly possible for anybody on earth to find and follow me remains an ongoing challenge.
But here is what I recommend for now, at least:
1. Check out this blog entry first, http://byjimthornton.com/2012/11/29/...ckerberg-weep/, which will explain how to use RSS feed technology to automatically funnel any new entries into your "reader"--and I even provide links to some good, free readers for those of you who, like me, don't know what "readers" are. Note: there remain some bugs in the system, so please be patient with the RSS feeding/reader thing! Eventually, it will all go swimmingly.
2. Click on this link next for an easy-to-scroll compendium of the blogs so far posted http://byjimthornton.com/all-posts/ so that you can read each one at your leisure, clicking away with abandon at all the little buttons at the bottom of each entry (share with Facebook, Twitter, G+, email, and the like.)
Thanks ever so much, my friends! In the month or so I have been working on http://byjimthornton.com/, I have already managed to "earn" $6.50 in eye ball views, assuming some of these aren't later deemed fraudulent! Once the new blog accumulates $100 worth of non-fraudulent eyeball view-based revenue, which I estimate will occur sometime in the third quarter of 2017, I shall cut a check to my Chief Technology Officer, Liam White, for 10 percent of the amount, and use the remainder to buy premium catfood for a much deserved family celebration!
And you will all be invited!