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Thread: what does it take to swim big distance?

  1. #21
    Active Member geog's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    i thought for sure that masochism would appear in this thread
    swimith

  2. #22
    Very Active Member mjtyson's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    I will never, ever again do a swim with a wetsuit. Did my UK 10K in September, and the scars are still there on my chest (it was sleeveless). Sucks.
    --Mike Tyson (yes, my real name)
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  3. #23
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    1. Long swims underfed. Something like 10k intentionally without any food or sugar before practice and then with only 100 calories pr so per hour during. This is to replicate the depletion, low blood sugar and low mental state you will inevitably feel on race day.

    2. Long swims practicing nutrition exactly. I am continually surprised by how many people don't do this. mix up exactly what you will use on race day and drink it in exactly the amounts you intend to drink on race day and at the same intervals. Start with 1.25 calories per pound per hour as a first guess on how much will work for you. I use maltodextrin mixed into gatorade, others have their own favorites.



    Underfed....thats interesting. Let me ask..have you ever had a situation in which your blood sugar plummets while underway? Yikes, that would kind of suck. I'm sure everone is different but what is the rule of thumb for recovery from a issue like blood suger or the likes?

  4. #24
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    I am a very experienced marathon swimmer and can recommend that you will need to train much more to swim 38 miles, regardless if it is current assisted.

    When I train for my own swims or when I coach/help/train with other swimmers, it is VERY necessary to swim at LEAST 60-75% of the length of the swim before you attempt it.
    In fact, most of the marathon swimmers I know (and I know most of them), do at least 3 or 4 swims of 4-8 hours each in building progression before taking on anything over 18-20 miles.

    I train about 35K-50K yards (a bit more for England) per week for at least 6 months prior to a marathon swim and will do at least 3 swims of over 6 hours during that time.

    My rule of thumb is to train for AT LEAST 6-8 months for a swim of over 15 miles (I coach at least 12 months to build up muscle memory and to ensure easy recovery), and that for a swim over 20 miles, which will usually take in the 7-10+ hour range, a swimmer should have done at least 2 swims of 6 hours or more in the prep up to the swim, but not closer than 3-4 weeks before the "big" swim. (The more experienced of us can turn around marathon swims of 8+ hours in as short as 2 weeks, but the shoulders can get fried if the conditions are rough in either swim)

    Remember, it's not really if can you make the distance, but that you make it with strength and preparation and don't destroy your body/mind in the process.

    Those of us who do multiple series of marathon swims are very, very, very aware of training in ALL KINDS of conditions. It's amazing how one's stroke will change in wind, chop, waves, swells, currents, etc.

    So in short, SWIM A LOT MORE, and then you'll be ready.

    The swim will be there next season, and you'll be so much happier if you are prepared. I see too many aspirants fail who think they are ready and it can be mentally tough for them in the end when they discover in the swim, that they are not.

    And then there is the training for feeding, for the mental aspect and sensory deprivation.

    Also figure out if you can pee and swim, etc...

    Don't take a long swim lightly, as your body and mind will both need preparation well in advance.

    Finally, find an experienced marathon/open water long distance swimmer who is experienced in the swim you are attempting (or something similar). You'll find that most of us in are willing to help anyone who wants to try one of these long swims.

    Best of luck and hope this helps.

    Best swimming
    Scott (English Channel, Catalina Channel, Manhattan Island, Tampa Bay 24 mile swim, Seal Beach, etc, etc, etc)

  5. #25
    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Quote Originally Posted by SenecaSwim View Post
    Let me ask..have you ever had a situation in which your blood sugar plummets while underway? Yikes, that would kind of suck. I'm sure everone is different but what is the rule of thumb for recovery from a issue like blood suger or the likes?
    I think most marathon swimmers have done at least one training session to push themselves beyond the bonk. I think the EC training groups call it something like "total body confusion".

    Its really only through trial and error that you will find the ideal cal/hr for yourself. Pre swim nutrition/hydration can also factor heavily into the odds of a successful swim.

  6. #26
    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    3 Tablesoons of Glucose powder and a light soloution of Tang in 6 onces of water every hour was what I used along with the odd salt tablet. Is this why I have diabetes?
    Keep it simple George Park
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  7. #27
    Very Active Member Kevin in MD's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Not medically low, but the low blood sugar due to depletion of glycogen reserves, yes I have had that happen many times in every sort of endurance activity I do. It varies in strength but yes, I have had it happen. It took me about 6 years to realize that the mental and speed related ups and downs in long events are related to blood sugar. That when you feel like doing nothing but stopping and then get that hit of gatorade or other food, you can't even remember why you felt that way ten minutes ago.

    But once I figured that our and started to deal with it in training and got realistic with nutrition, things got much better for me.

  8. #28
    Very Active Member Kevin in MD's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Not medically low, but the low blood sugar due to depletion of glycogen reserves, yes I have had that happen many times in every sort of endurance activity I do. It varies in strength but yes, I have had it happen. It took me about 6 years to realize that the mental and speed related ups and downs in long events are related to blood sugar. That when you feel like doing nothing but stopping and then get that hit of gatorade or other food, you can't even remember why you felt that way ten minutes ago.

    But once I figured that our and started to deal with it in training and got realistic with nutrition, things got much better for me.

  9. #29
    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Kevin I was told that glycogen was replenished when taking vitamin E by Dr Shute years ago. I took 3000 units of E everyday when training and competing in marathon races. The Dr also said not to over do the cosumption of Iron.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin in MD View Post
    Not medically low, but the low blood sugar due to depletion of glycogen reserves, yes I have had that happen many times in every sort of endurance activity I do. It varies in strength but yes, I have had it happen. It took me about 6 years to realize that the mental and speed related ups and downs in long events are related to blood sugar. That when you feel like doing nothing but stopping and then get that hit of gatorade or other food, you can't even remember why you felt that way ten minutes ago.

    But once I figured that our and started to deal with it in training and got realistic with nutrition, things got much better for me.
    Last edited by geochuck; March 12th, 2012 at 11:58 AM.
    Keep it simple George Park
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  10. #30
    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Please do shorter events to build up to 38 miles!!!
    We don't want to read about you in the bad news open water section!!!

  11. #31
    Very Active Member swimthegoodfight's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    I think someone emphasized temperature training. You will need hours-long swims at a temperature reflecting anticipated water temperature.

    I saw at least one of chaos' pre-swims for the english channel. He seemed to follow his feeding protocol religiously in anticipation of his marathon swims. He ignored the temptation to skip feedings to better his time in individual races, and race fellow swimmers.

    He was, and is, intensely goal-directed. He began and finished Tampa Bay, Catalina and the English Channel in the same calendar year.

    I am not convinced you have to do 50K weekly or have to do a 75% swim, but there are so many parameters affecting any open water swim. You will have to be able do pool time and open water swimming for 4-, 6- and more hours. You will know yourself better than anyone on the board.

    Best of luck and good swimmin'

  12. #32
    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yesdoc View Post
    Scott (English Channel, Catalina Channel, Manhattan Island, Tampa Bay 24 mile swim, Seal Beach, etc, etc, etc)
    Welcome to the forum Doc.

    What does 2012 have in store for you?

    I've got a swim (or 7) that I think you would enjoy................

  13. #33
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Chaos
    I am considering Gibraltar Strait, Tsuguru Channel, Boston Light, Loch Ness and many others over the next 2 years....................................likely an attempt at Cook Sttait and North Cnannel are in the mindset for 2012-2014 to complete the Ocean's 7 andthen the Still Water 8

  14. #34
    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yesdoc View Post
    Chaos
    I am considering Gibraltar Strait, Tsuguru Channel, Boston Light, Loch Ness and many others over the next 2 years....................................likely an attempt at Cook Sttait and North Cnannel are in the mindset for 2012-2014 to complete the Ocean's 7 andthen the Still Water 8
    I like the idea of knocking off a bunch of big swims in rapid succession. I suspect it won't be long before we see someone go for the O-7 in a single calendar year. Logistics would be the biggest obstacle.

  15. #35
    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Are you guys swimming for pleasure?? I only swam distance races beause there was prize money.
    Keep it simple George Park
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  16. #36
    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Quote Originally Posted by geochuck View Post
    Are you guys swimming for pleasure?? I only swam distance races beause there was prize money.
    there is no prize money for old folks.

    I swim because I can.

  17. #37
    Very Active Member Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Quote Originally Posted by chaos View Post
    there is no prize money for old folks.

    I swim because I can.
    Chaos, I think of it as reverse prize money. I give the prize money for people brave enough to let me swim.
    It was quite capable in the water, perhaps a little on the slow side, but it wasn't impressed by my appearance.

  18. #38
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    The simple answer to this question is that all you need is the determination to make the commitment to train, the refusal to quit when it hurts, and to be honest with yourself.

    16000 a week is not going to be enough yardage to get the job done. When I'm gearing up for a big swim I'll routinely hit 60-70K per week in only 6 workouts. I'll save the very long swims for the weekends when time is not at a premium. In a marathon you can not stop, sit down, or coast your way through it. You need to put in the time in order to get used to the time.

    Train in the open water as much as possible. It is a different feel than what you get in the pool. Swim when the water is cold, rough, and/or in bad weather. What will you do on race day if the conditions aren't nice and calm? Go home? Of course not. (Make sure to have an escort for safety.) I'm not a huge fan of 5-6 hour OW swims because I feel that you are in an area of diminishing returns and open yourself to over-use injuries and other problems. I feel just as crappy after a hard 3 hour swim as I do after an 8 hour race. That's just my opinion. 3 hour pool swims with occasional feed brakes are killers that will tell you a lot about yourself.

    Relish adversity. If you have a big swim like the English Channel coming up, make sure that it isn't your first marathon. You'll want to know how your body and mind will react when things aren't going well. I suck in hot water and found out the hard way (1995 Pan Pac Trials in Lake Lanier). I wish I had more experience before one of the biggest swims in my life.

    Never quit. I've been pulled out of three races in my career. Two of them were against my will. If you quit once, the second time will be easier.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Chris

  19. #39
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Here's a link to my Channel swim on Youtube. There are about 15 minutes of it still to upload, but this is most of it. A lot of the techiques in training and racing that I've used in the past are shown here. Probably the most important one is how I feed during a swim. Talking with your crew only wastes time and prolongs your success.

    Here you go:

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qgXqCLR-JM"]2001: Chris Derks' Swim Odyssey - YouTube[/nomedia]

  20. #40
    Very Active Member geochuck's Avatar
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    Re: what does it take to swim big distance?

    Very good stuff. I enjoyed your storey.
    Keep it simple George Park
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