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 12:45 PM by andrewmalinak
Late on Saturday I rented a brush bandit 10" wood chipper. Yesterday I cleared a brush pile that has been accumulating over the last few years. The machine worked great and was a lot of fun. It's amazing how big a tree it can turn into mulch in less than 10 seconds. I obviously took all the safety precautions and I am pleased to say no injuries. That said I did find out that I am hyper allergic to cedar. I wore a tight fitting t-shirt with short sleeves and shorts. Wherever I have exposed skin I now have red scratches. Luckily I don't seem to have any poison ivy(yet), and the bumps went down over night, but this mornings practice was hard and I was really tired.
400 free with snorkel
6x50 catchup drill on 50
5x400, 1 & 2 transition swims holding under 1.20 pace, 3-5 descend using paddles and pull bouy on 4.50
10x100 kick with fins on 1.30, holding under 1.15
The 400s were tough and I felt sore from last week and yesterday's activities. I went 5.10s on the first two 400s. I was supposed to descend the next three 400s and despite increasing my effort held 4.44s on all three. The 100s kick I held 1.12-1.14 throughout. My kick has improved recently and this set felt pretty good.
Our meet is only a couple of weeks away and I don't think many of my team mates have signed up. I need to remember to bring some more entry forms to convince a few to participate on wednesday. They don't know how much fun participating is!
Updated June 17th, 2013 at 09:51 AM by StewartACarroll
Once again I did some right arm / left arm swimming and my right arm is significantly weaker than my left. But the one good thing is the gap is narrowing. Last time I did this set I was holding just at 1:20 for my times for the right arm on the 1:20 interval. This time I made 4 with time to spare and then was at the 1:20. Maybe next time I can hold 1:16 for all of them.
500 free kick w/zoomers
6x50@1:20 free right arm only breath on the nonworking side non working arm at side w/paddle went 1:16, 1:16, 1:16, 1:16, 1:20, 1:20
6x50@1:15 free left arm only breath on the nonworking side non working arm at side w/paddle went 1:09, 1:10, 1:09, 1:09, 1:09, 1:09
400 free kick w/zoomers
6x50@1:00 free paddle on right hand w/4 beat kick on paddle hand
6x50@1:00 free paddle on left hand w/4 beat kick on paddle hand
400 free EZ w/snorkle
Total 3000 meters
4 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :45
4 x 25 shoooters w/fins 2 ;45
4 x 50 burst + cruise @ 1:30
2 x (25 AFAP free w/fins + 75 EZ)
With track JOs this weekend, I did not have time to get to Mason. Just got in a short swim at Spring Hill Rec. Sadly, the water temp has gone from 83 to 85-86. Ugh. If I were doing my usual 90 minute workouts, I would complain. Felt sloggish in the water. I'm sure it's from stating to taper + very poor sleep in the last week. Hopefully, I can correct the sleep deficit in the coming days. Lil Fort finished with a 1st (3000 m run) and 2nd (1500 m run) at JOs; I was super proud of her. Tomorrow night kicks off our summer swim season and I will be on deck officiating. No rest for the weary!
Only 156 swimmers signed up for Zones thus far. Not too many. I guess no one likes long course.
Went to the pool after church today. Just to get a swim in and stretch out. Took about a 1000 yards to loosen up. Then my feet started cramping. The pain in my legs is getting worse and I'm have to go to the Dr. to check things out.
2x500 Free on 8:30
4x200 Back w/paddles on 3:30
4x25 Free on :30
4x25 Back on :30
Today I had lots of time to do everything I wanted! The girls spent the day with grandma so I:
1. Did 1/2 hour yoga; 12/ hour pilates with ring;
2. Got a 1 hour massage;
3. Went Swimming!
4. Did 1 hour swim bench, power tower, and mat work; plus resistance stretching.
I went swimming and tried to focus on what to do to better my 4 x 50's, 50 free, and/or 100/200 back. Since I was on my own today, I decided to focus on the 50 free.
SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
400 warm up
4 x 25 on :40 with whiffle balls;
4 x 25 on :40 with parachute.
16 x 25's on :45
variable sprints 4 each stroke
4x 50 free with a dive on 5:00
2 x easy free in between
last one extra 1 minute
Never saw 29, but lots of hang time to the 31 on #1 and #4.
I thought this day was very productive. Cut all the fat out and really focused on the 4 x 50's. I didn't go that fast, but it's a good start. I had to really mentally bear down, and not go easy because I knew i'd be doing 4 instead of just 1 50. I was not happy with breathing 2 or 3 times on the 2nd 25's. I was still out of breath and so that's something to work on.
I would like to get to where no 50 is over 30.
I had a nice swim at the beach today. I went out early, and spent some time lounging on the uncrowded sands before swimming out to the Wonder Wheel and back. I had originally planned on going to the pier, but it is still under construction after part of it was washed away during Hurricane Sandy. This morning there was a big barge out there with a crane, and they were driving pilings into the ocean bed at the far end of the pier. It was extremely loud underwater, and I figured it was probably best not to get too near whatever was being stirred up by the activity, so I turned around a bit early.
The water was very green today, and there was a west wind creating some fun swells that were breaking over my head on the way out. Coming back was super fast and easy, with the wind and current carrying me along almost effortlessly. The water was around 63, and I felt comfortable and calm the whole way. I had to leave earlier than I wanted—there were tons of CIBBOWS out, and I would have liked to stay longer and visit.
I’ve been all quiet on the blog front recently, mostly because this week has been light on the swimming, and the workouts I’ve done haven’t been that interesting. My big news is that I ran—yes ran!--a 5k race Wednesday evening. I’m not at all a runner—my training for this consisted of jogging a mile on Monday afternoon—and I wasn’t at all sure if I would be able to run the entire way. I did, almost—it was a hilly course, and my husband, who was volunteering at the race, suggested that I walk the uphills if I wasn’t feeling confident in my conditioning. So I did that for a couple of hills on the first half of the out-and-back course, but on the way back I was feeling really great so I just ran the whole way. And it was really fun! My very conservative goal was to finish in less than half the time it took me to swim a 5k a few weeks ago (did I mention I’m not a runner?), and I beat that handily. And the race itself was just a joy to be a part of—the sort of small informal affair (less than 100 runners) that can be hard to come by in the city. (For comparisons sake, the Chase Corporate Challenge on the same night drew over 15,000). I’ve now ordered some real running shoes and am looking forward to adding that activity to my training occasionally, since I enjoyed it so much during the race.
Next week we’ll be visiting my husband’s family in Columbus, and I’m looking forward to getting in a swim at Alum Creek State Park. Has anyone out there ever swum there?
I forgot to enter yesterday's workout and I can't remember all of it.
Here is my great workout after a morning coaching in the hot sun. The pool was hot too on the high side of 81. Yet I felt like my old distance self.
500 free kick w/ zoomers
4x200@3:30 free w/paddles & bouy went 3:09,3:05,3:06,3:02
200 free EZ
800 free w/paddles & bouy 12:09
200 free EZ
500 free kick w/zoomers
500 free w/snorkel
Total 4000 meters
Today was the "grand opening" of the Wenatchee City Pool for the summer session. At least for the public. We've been using it with the age group team for the past 3-4 weeks already, so my tan is already well in place.
It was a nice casual dip, just to relax the muscles a bit, and since I wouldn't be in an official team practice for a 5-6 day span from last Tuesday till Monday coming up.
Another nice feature...it looks like the team got a permanently mounted pace clock on the side of the team building at the pool, so I can actually do interval work.
500 Free - stopped to talk with Jen a couple times during the swim. She's another masters girl who's swimming with Velocity Swimming like me, though she only does the 2-practices-a-week program which is a bit cheaper.
10 x 50 SDK w/ long fins @ 1:00
It was nice to have a laneline and a wall on either side of me to follow today. Most days I'm in the 5 lane "void" so I don't have that luxary. We only put in 5 lanelines in the pool for lanes 6-10, and the "fast group" swims in lane 5 with only 1 laneline on one side.
10 x 50 @ 1:05 (25 Fly Fast, 25 Free EZ)
felt good doing this
8 x 100 Free Pull @ 1:40 (held around 1:20+)
that's about the best I can do in long course...SCY I can cruise at 1:07s all day long with :20 rest, but not in LCM. I need those turns. I suppose this makes me a sprinter in a way??
100 EZ and gone
Skipped the Nat this morning and went to the outdoor pool at Dublin about 9am. Keith was there and I swam with him ding some of the same stuff and also different things. Basically just wanted to stretch out and push a little. No sprints, no long distance. Didn't have m white board s I only kept up with total yardage. Did 4 200's, a few 10's, a bunch of 50's and some 25's.2500 yards55 minutes
I'm in the process of training for the long END-WET swim that takes place in North Dakota on July 13th. Training has not been going well, due to time constraints, and when the Smelts suggested a 10k postal swim I jumped at the opportunity.
I made up my little bottle of feeds in the morning, double checked everything on my list, drove for 90 minutes to the UIC pool and then realized I'd forgotten my suit, cap and goggles. I DID find a nose clip in my handbag and a snorkel in the boot of my car, so I wasn't completely empty handed. For a change, I was wearing a bra and undies, so I could have relied on those. Thankfully my teammate Heidi had a spare suit and goggles, and another teammate Michael had a spare cap. No getting out of it.
People almost never ask me what goes on in my mind during my long swims, so here's a yard by yard description of all my thoughts:
4000-5000: hate swimming
5000-6000: hate swimming
6 x 50 @ 1:10
odds = scull
evens = caterpillar fly drill
6 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :45
6 x 50 burst + cruise @ 1:15-1:30
3 x (25 AFAP + 75 EZ) @ 4:00
Did not have time to make it to Mason today. May not before the meet next weekend. Teen Fort graduated yesterday afternoon. And I hit home runs on all grad presents! Whew. Got up at the crack of dawn today to take Lil Fort to Potomac Valley Track JOs in Maryland. She had a convincing win in the 3000 with a track PR, and moves on to the Region 3 national qualifier meet in mid-July. She didn't even seem that tired afterward. 1500 tomorrow.
I woke up feeling like an old man today. Generally tired and very sore. I was slow leaving the house but got to the pool on time. As the warmup went on i felt better and better. It was by no means a spectacular workout but it was ok. I ended up sticking around and doing a second hour with the junior racers then lifted and swam again, making today a long workout day.
400 free with snorkel
6x50 catchup on 50
8x100 with fins descend 1-4, 5-8 on 1.15
3x(2x50 on 40, 100 on 1.15)
10x50 kick on 1.05 swum 25 AFAP 25 strong
4x200 on 2.50 best average
1000 swim with snorkel
6x(100 IM on 1.50, 150 swim on 2mins)
3 rounds of(3min on vasa swim trainer, 10xbench press,10x hands inside seated row, 10xhands outside seated row,10xleg extension, 10xlower back extension, 10xleg curl, 10x military press, 10xhands inside lat pull down, 10xhands outside lat pull down)
1000 free warm down
Total 2hrs swimming 7000meters, 1hr dryland
I am really tired as i write this. My 200s with the masters were pretty weak today but managed to hold 2.17s. The goal was 2.13s but it was just not there today. The IM and 150 set was with the junior racers and it was really fun swimming with the 12 year olds. They are quick already. I was going 1.45s on the 150s .
Today's swim put me over 250 miles for the year, still ahead (barely) of my 550-mile/year pace. The last few days have been pretty crazy as far as schedule goes, so I've just been squeezing the swims in when I can. I missed Tuesday altogether, I could have gotten a very short swim in at 5AM, but opted for a few extra zzzzs to help me make the drive to Dallas, then a two-hour tour of campus, then over to Fort Worth to meet up with my aunt and uncle for a little while, then back to Austin.
Wednesday found me at Barton Springs at 5:30 AM, after only 4 hours of sleep; still dark (unlike in Wisconsin this time of year at that hour), water still cold, but I warmed up pretty quickly. It was really quite beautiful and quiet (maybe only half a dozen other swimmers); I rolled over for a few strokes on my back after the first 1/4 mile and could see the sky beginning to lighten... shades of dark blue-green interrupted by pink clouds... nice. I even did about 300 in total fly. After about 1/2 mile, I started at the 1/8-mile marker and kept up my fly all the way to the dam... about 200 yards or so, no walls, no turns, so that was a bit of a confidence booster for me, taking the fly out into the open. I paused briefly twice to avoid other swimmers, but other than that I managed to fly consistently the whole length of the spring. After a recovery swim back to the start, I did another half length of fly. I only did a mile total, then had to rush back to pick up my son and head over to College Station. Nice tour and info sessions, starting at 10 AM and ending at 2:30, it was about 3:00 before we left. As we got back into town, I realized I might have time to sneak in a second swim at Deep Eddy. At 6PM I did another 1800 M (600 Warm-up; 5 x 120 IM; 600 cool-down), so I was over 2 miles for the day.
Anthony and I hit the cold spring water of Deep Eddy again on our way back in town from Texas State U's tour in San Marcos, before the evening's activities with family. Here's what I did:
WU: 600 EZ
MS: 10 x 120 fr :10-:20 RI
2 x 240 IM
1 x 120 IM
10 x 60 fr :10 RI
CD: 600 EZ
Today I needed to get in a little more IM work... I was thinking about going over to Longhorn Aquatics for their noon workout, but Anthony had a couple of afternoon appointments on campus, so I opted for a morning swim again at Deep Eddy, but not early enough (as I found out) to join their masters practice--which I'm going to try to make one of these days. There were few enough lap swimmers around 9:30-10:30 AM that I had the lane to myself for about 1200 meters... amazing! Here's what I did:
WU: 600 EZ
MS: 5 x 240 IM on :20-:30 RI
5 x 120 fr on :10-:15 RI
10 x 60 fr on :10 RI
CD: 600 EZ
Another 3600-M day.
Tomorrow I've got to sign up online for the WI state LCM championships (our only LCM meet). I think my line-up will be 400 IM, 200 BK, 50 BK, 100 BK, 1500. The 400 IM is event #1 and 200 BK is event #3, so I'm really just treating these as LCM time trials (I don't have any other LCM times to compare with, so really have no idea how it's going to turn out... just plan to swim hard and set a benchmark). Next week I won't be tapering so much as transitioning into open water training. I'm going to keep the IM work in my routine, though, as drill work and x-training for open water freestyle.
Swam w/ Dave C next to Dave, Dave and Sam.
600 Warm up
8 x 25 - :45, no breath, 1st 4 SDK w/ fins, 2nd 4 stroke
8 x 50 - 1:30, burst to 15m + cruise + easy, various strokes
8 x 50 - 1:30 Kick, burst to 15m + cruise + easy, 1st 4 no fins, 2nd 4 w/ fins
8 x 25 - 1:00, odds easy, evens hard stroke from dive
200 Free broken @ 50s - 2:02 (:30, :30, :31, :31)
In Feb, I did 2:01 w/o a drag suit and ended up at 2:02.5 for my meet time. My 2:02 today was with a drag suit and the third 50 was pretty awful. I think this is good but I'm not as positive about improvement as I am w/ the 200 IM.
200 Cool down
AM only LCM
300 pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel
100 I.M. drill
3x100 @ 1:30 w/ under H2O turns
4x50 @ 1:10 kick/drill
8x25 @ :30 build
5x100 @ 2:00 FR kick
400 @ 5:20 pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (5:11)
4x100 @ 2:00 FR kick
400 @ 5:20 pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (5:00)
3x100 @ 2:00 FR kick
400 @ 5:20 pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (4:49)
2x100 @ 2:00 FR kick
400 @ 5:20 pull w/ buoy + paddles + snorkel (4:50)
Had planned on cutting back before the Alabama Sports Festival next week, but now I'm doing a full taper with Peter. Know I need the speed work and rest, but is is hard resting so much and not putting in more yardage. We'll see how it works.
6x25 Free No Breathers (Sort of) on 1:00
6x25 Back on 1:00
6x25 Free/BAck Hard on 1:00
10x25 on 1:00
Broken 4x100 Sprint (1 minute rest between 100's)
1 - 15 sec rest at 75
2 - 15 sec rest at 50
3 - 15 sec rest at 50 and 75
4 - 10 sec rest every 25
8x50 Kick on 1:15
650 Warm up
8x25 on :45 Free/Back working breathing
8x50 Free/Back on 1:30 Burst 1st 20
8x50 Kick on 1:30 Burst 1st 20
8x25 Free/Back - down easy, back sprint from blocks
Broken 100 - 5 sec rest every 25
8x25 Free/Back working on kicking
Once again I woke up tired despite having a solid nights sleep and once again I had a good workout. It's weird how you feel has little to no correlation to how you can perform, if you just get after it. The pool was setup for short course yards this morning(I was hoping for long course and was a little disappointed it was short course).
400 free snorkel
6x50 catchup on 45
3x(4x50 free on 35, 2x50 fly on 45, 2x50 back on 45)
8x200 free on 2.50 descend 1-4, 5-8
4x50 with fins AFAP
2x(2x50 kick on 1min, 2x50 kick on 50)
Total 4400 yards
The 200 set was a really tough set but I did well. 2.10,2.07,2.05,2.03 and then 2.10,2.07,2.04,2.01. On the 50s AFAP I went 22s on the first 3 and then 21 on the last one. I felt good today.
June 13, 2013
200 free/100 IM/200 free/100 IM
3 x 200 10 sec rest #1 kick/drill by 25 #2 Kick/swim #3 drill/swim
9 x 150 on 2:30 fly/free/back/free/breast/free
10 minute pull (25-50-75-100-125-150-175) 5 sec rest between distances
This is the best I have felt swimming in the last month. I actually had a little energy and didn't get too tired as the practice went on. I can swim all the strokes again (backstroke is still a little awkward and I don't really feel comfortable breathing to the right on freestyle).
Today (June 14th) is my FLOGiversary. I wrote in my first post that I have diligently posted to my FLOG for the last 4 years. Well, diligently might not quite be the best word. I think maybe obsessively comes to mind. Anyway, my first post was my Chesapeake Bay Swim in 2009. I had been in a conference in DC and then gone to the swim (after not really swimming for a week). I stayed with my friends Bob and Gosia who drove me to the swim. I was 2nd in my age group. Bob likes making videos and made this one of the swim.
Cycle 3 is today and I am ready to go!
I arrived at the pool today after work a bit late, and found the coaches and kids all standing outside. Apparently there was a lightning sighting off in the distance over the hills, so the city closed the pool for our practice. I'm pretty sure the guards just wanted to go home.
I made use of my time though, and headed over to the East Wenatchee YMCA pool across town. Yeah, the water was warm, it was general lap swim, but it was short course yards and I LOVED it!!!
200 Free Pull
100 Kick on back
5 x 100 Free @ 1:25 (held 1:05-1:07s)
5 x 200 Free Pull @ 2:40 (held 2:15-2:18s)
10 x 50 Flutter Kick w/ board @ 1:00 (just a casual :55 per)
Speed Set of sorts:
16 x 25 @ :40
Odds Free EZ
Evens Fly Fast - 1st one was w/ 4 SDKs, 2nd w/ 5 SDKs, etc. up to the final one with 11 SDKs prior to swimming. I took only 4 strokes on the final one with the 11 kicks.
100 EZ and out
The team is gone to a meet this weekend, so no practice till Monday, unless I decide to do a lap swim...which probably won't happen. I did this tonight just so I wouldn't be 5-6 days out of the water.