9.02.2014

Swim Clinic with Joe Dykstra - U of U Swim Coach

On Saturday I went to a freestyle clinic with the University of Utah swim coach, Joe Dykstra. The clinic was hosted by South Davis Masters and was only $25 to register.

The clinic started with some dryland instruction with in-water demonstration by on of the assistant coaches. Joe did an excellent job explaining the new school of freestyle swimming.

I started swimming competitively in high school, which was about 20 years ago (YIKES!). We were taught the "S" curve, finger-tip drap, and flipping the water at the end of the stroke. All of these things are now outdated. I've gotten rid of some of these old habits and have been working a lot on my catch and pull. After attending this clinic, I still have a long way to go on my stroke.

Joe talked a lot about body position and reducing drag. Ideally, you want to keep your body as flat as possible. I need to work on keeping my head in the right position, with my eyes looking at the bottom of the pool.

He also talked about the catch and pull. I feel like I'm making progress here. I've been working a lot recently on keeping my fingertips pointed to the bottom of the pool, the shape of my arm, and pulling straight back. These were all things that were brought up.

The idea of "setting an anchor" with the hand that enters the water and then pivoting your body around that anchor was new to me, and is going to take a lot of work.

The recovery is where I need a lot of work. I have a classic high elbow, fingertip-drag recovery. I learned that I need to modify this to be more of a "swinger" recovery. This is not only better for your shoulders, but the swinging of the arm on the recovery helps rotate your body around and past the "anchor" that is set with your other hand and arm.

We were given a lot of drills to help practice these things. At the pool this morning, I spent 45 minutes working on just these drills. It is going to take some time to correct these things, but I think it will pay off in the end.

Here is the handout from the clinic:



8.28.2014

Early Morning Adventure at GSL

This morning I got up EARLY to meet Sarah and Chad at the Great Salt Lake.  Since we knew the gate to the marina would be locked until close to 7am, the plan was to meet at 5am at Saltair and then walk down to the beach and swim toward the marina.

It was really dark outside of Saltair as we sat in our cars. Luckily Sarah brought some glow sticks so we could keep track of each other in the water.  We didn't realize how far we were going to have to walk to get to the water.  Once we finally got to the edge of the water, we stripped down and greased up.  The water was very shallow and it took us a while to get to where it was deep enough that we could swim.

By the time we got going, we had limited time to swim.  Chad and Sarah both had to be out by 7.  We decided to just swim straight out into the lake for 15 minutes and then head back.  It was kind of disorienting to be swimming straight out into the lake, in the dark.  There was nothing to sight on, so I felt like I was all over the place.  The water felt great.  I didn't take a temperature, but gslmarina.com reports 74 degrees.  After about 15 minutes we stopped and floated in the water.  We talked for a while about recent and upcoming swims at Bear Lake.  There is a lot going on up there in the next few weeks.

Sarah likes to put her grease/sunscreen mix under her nose.  Chad and I had a hard time taking her seriously with her white mustache.

It was much lighter outside on the way back and we had lights and other landmarks to sight on.  After getting back to shore, we walked back up to our cars.


We were all over the place on the way out because there was nothing to sight on.  The way back in was much straighter.
Today's swim wasn't about distance or training, it was about having fun.  I had a blast floating in the dark talking and joking with my friends.

I would definitely try another swim this early from Saltair, but would plan extra time to get to the water and back.  Sue and I talked last year about doing a SLOW club swim from Saltair to Black Rock.  I'd love to do it.  Anyone interested?

8.22.2014

Sunrise, Salt, and Sunken Ship


It's been a few months since I last swam at the Great Salt Lake.  I was talking to Lisa about it and we decided to go out today to check on the conditions.  Also, it has been reported that a sunken boat was discovered near the marina and we wanted to check it out.  Goody called me yesterday and I invited him to come swim with us.

The Great Salt Lake is awesome! It get's a bad rap with the locals, but it really is a great place to swim and explore. I typically stay away during the summer months because that is when the flies and spiders are really heavy and the water temperature is too high. During the Spring and Fall, it is beautiful.

The gate is supposed to open at sunrise, which would have been about 6:45am this morning. We got there around 6:30, expecting the gate to be closed. To our surprise, it was open! When we got to the parking lot, there was a photographer there who already had his equipment set up to capture the sunrise. The gate must have been open around 6am or so. Had we known that, we would have started much earlier.

After getting greased up, we headed down to the ramp. The water inside the marina is still a bit sketchy. There are a lot of flies on the water. Once you get outside the marina, however, the water is perfect! In the future, we'll start from Silver Sands beach so that we don't have to swim through the bugs.

I've forgotten how different it is to swim in the GSL. You feel so FAST out there. It's a great feeling. As we got outside of the marina, we caught just the beginning of the sun rising over the mountains. It was incredible. Pink mixed with the white of the clouds and the blue sky, reflected off of the surface of the smooth as glass water.

We decided to do a Gridley Straight (marina to Black Rock, 1 mile distance) so that we wouldn't ruin the photo that the photographer was so patiently waiting for. The water was super calm, and I just cruised down to Black Rock. We floated and chatted for a bit. I really think you could take a nap just floating on the water. It's the ultimate water bed. We took some photos and headed back to the marina.

Lisa hanging out near Black Rock

Goody doing some butterfly near Black Rock.
I was feeling good and decided to try to push it a bit on the way back. I started my timer and took off. I touched the buoy at 21:47. Not bad.

With the workout over, it was time for some fun. I have been seeing reports of a sunken boat that was just discovered outside of the marina. The boat was reportedly built for Brigham Young to take cattle to Antelope Island. The wreck is marked with a buoy, so we swam over to check it out. It's unbelievable that no one has found this boat until now. When we got there, it was shallow enough that we could actually stank on the wreck. It is maybe 100 feet from the break wall. We played around for a while, diving down to try to get a better look. I tired getting some photos, but they didn't turn out.


Diving down to get a better look at the sunken boat.


Goody and Lisa hanging out near the shipwreck.


I swear there is a sunken boat in this picture somewhere.
It was an awesome swim this morning and I was happy to be back at the Great Salt Lake.

8.20.2014

Panic and Mental Training at Jordanelle

Lisa and I planned to meet this morning to swim at Jordanelle.  When I was woken up by thunder and lightning early this morning, I figured the swim would probably be off.  I got up and got ready anyway and left to pick up Lisa. I pulled up to her house, secretly hoping that she would tell me she wasn't swimming today. No such luck. She jumped right in the car and seemed excited to be going swimming.

We drove up the canyon in the dark and rain. As we got closer to Jordanelle, it looked exactly the same as it did last week when we did our night swim, minus the stars in the sky. We got ready and walked down the ramp in the rain. It was a bit chilly outside and the rain didn't help. I dropped my thermometer in the water and waded in. Lisa didn't mess around and dove right in. I was actually a little surprised that the water didn't feel cooler.

It was choppy, dark, and rainy when we started swimming. I think it must have been the combination of those things, as well as letting my mind imagine the worst-case-scenario, that made me start to panic. I had a hard time controlling my breathing and went from breathing every third stroke to breathing every stroke. I have been through this before and knew that if I didn't get it under control, that it might get worse. I made myself keep swimming and forced myself to control my breathing by blowing out all of my air when my face was in the water. I knew that I wasn't in any immediate danger. I have swam in far worse conditions and made it through. I wasn't cold, Lisa was right there with me, I had my SaferSwimmer, and we were not far from shore. Reminding myself of these things helped calm me down. It also helps me to find something that takes my mind off of whatever is causing me to panic. Usually this means singing a song in my mind. My song of choice is "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall". Some people roll their eyes when I tell them this, but it works for me. I think because it is repetitive and rhythmic and I can get into a groove syncing my stroke to the words. Because you have to count down, it also takes a bit of focus. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to go through the whole song from 99 to 0, which also helps me estimate how far I have gone. This is usually enough to take my mind off of whatever is making me panic.

It didn't take long for me to get back under control and ease back into my normal breathing pattern and stroke. At the end of the buoys, Lisa asked if I was ok. I told her that I had panicked, but that I was fine, and we continued swimming.

It started getting lighter after we turned around. After passing the ramp, headed towards the anchored boats, I started to feel raindrops. It was raining the whole time, but the drops must have gotten bigger because I didn't notice them until this point. Talking with Lisa later, she experience the same thing. We made the last turn and headed back toward the ramp.

We stopped for a minute between the red and green buoys and just floated. Now that it was a little lighter outside, it was a pretty beautiful view with the rain, fog and clouds. I thought about doing another lap, but decided to call it good with just one.

I'm glad I stuck it out and finished the swim. If Lisa hadn't been there, I'm sure that I wouldn't have even stepped into the water. As we were getting out, Lisa checked the thermometer. I swore it was about 70 degrees or a little higher, but it was a solid 68 degrees. It made both of us happy that we were comfortable at 68 degrees. It ended up being a great swim, and was great mental training. I know I will be able to look back on this on other swims and remember that I made it through.

Lisa was telling me about some plans that are in the works for some of the women on our SLOW team. Exciting stuff!

Here are my quick tips for if / when you find yourself starting to panic:

1) Control your breathing. Roll over on your back, switch to backstroke or breaststroke, or stop and tread water. Blowing out all of my air when my face was in the water helped me this time. I think this is the most important thing you can do to get control back.

2) Assess the situation. Are you in immediate danger? If so, get help or get the hell out. If not, remind yourself of all the safety precautions you have taken before the swim (swim with a buddy or paddler, stay near shore, wear a bright cap, use a safety device, etc.). If you are swimming in an organized event, remind yourself that there are people on the water that can help you. Just reminding yourself of these things can help calm you down. On the other hand, if you haven't done these things, it could make things worse.

3) Take your mind off of what is causing you to panic. Start singing a song in your mind, list off names of family and friends, recite a poem, do some mental math...anything that will get you thinking about something else. I know if I dwell on the negative thoughts, things can go downhill quick.

4) Keep going. If you aren't in immediate danger, keep swimming. Chances are you will get over the panic and be fine the rest of your swim. This will make you more mentally tough for swims to come.

Have you ever panicked during a swim? What did you do to get over it?

8.16.2014

Night Swim at Jordanelle


Lisa and I were talking on the way home from Jordanelle last week about night swims. She said she had never done one, so I knew we needed to get one together.  After posting on Facebook, we decided to go Friday night.

Before I get into how our swim went, let me just offer some tips and precautions about swimming at night.
1) NEVER do it alone. You really need to have someone in a kayak with you to make sure you don't get lost.  Your kayaker should wear glow sticks or other lights so they are easy to see.  You can also attach glow sticks to the kayak.
2) If you are swimming in a group, adjust your speed so that you can all stay together, or agree to re-group at regular, short intervals.
3) Wear some glow sticks or other lights so you know where the other swimmers are.
4) Leave you tinted goggles at home. Go for the clear lenses.
5) When the sun isn't out, the air and water feel colder. Be prepared for it.

Now that that's out of the way...on with the story!

We met at the PWC ramp at Jordanelle around 10pm.  It was already really dark when we got there.  After hauling the kayak down the ramp, we broke out the glow sticks.  Sarah joked that it looked like we were going to a rave.  My new glittery silver speedo looked like a disco ball in the flashing lights, and the others made sure to let me know how ridiculous I looked.  Jim, Tim and Kris floated out near the buoys and hung out there.  Steve (Sarah's husband who was paddling for us), Lisa, Sarah and I headed out along our normal buoy route.

It is a pretty cool thing to see the glowing bracelets of the other swimmers, flashing through the dark around you as you swim.  I was wearing a couple bracelets on each wrist and it was cool to see my hand, the water and the bubbles light up with each stroke.  Steve did an excellent job directing us.  He was wearing a headlamp and was easy to see.  He also pointed a light at each buoy as we got close so we knew where it was and didn't run into it.

At the end of the buoy line, we floated on our backs and looked at the stars.  There were no other lights around and the moon was not out.  It was an incredibly beautiful view.  We swam back the other way to the opposite end and then back to the ramp.

On the way in, Lisa suggested doing backstroke so that we could enjoy the stars again.  It worked great until I smacked Sarah in the head.  Jim, Tim and Kris were gone by the time we got back.  We cleaned up quick and hit the road.

We ended up with 1.5 miles in the dark.  It would be fun sometime to do a long swim at night and time it so that you finished the swim at sunrise.  There were several people who wanted to come, but couldn't make it.  I think we are planning to do this again, maybe on the next full moon.  Watch the Facebook page for details.

8.12.2014

Beautiful Morning Swim at Jordanelle

Lisa messaged me earlier this week asking if I wanted to swim at Jordanelle.  Today worked out to be the best day and she offered to pick me up and give me a ride.

We met Goody and George Halow (who came from out of state to swim the 10-mile Deer Creek swim) at the boat ramp and got going.

I didn't take a water temperature, but it was pretty warm.  Lisa, Goody and I set out to do two laps (3 miles) and George only had time to do one lap before leaving to catch his plane home.

We saw a couple triathletes part way through our first lap. There was a bit of little chop, but it soon settled down. I was swimming at a pretty good pace on the first lap and Lisa and George were right there with me.

The second lap felt slower.  It's always hard when the sun comes up over the mountains and you are swimming into it.  It makes it really hard to see the buoys.  We saw Goody heading west when we were heading east on the second lap.  I was going to try to catch him after we turned at the last buoy, but the bar I ate before leaving the house wasn't sitting well and I didn't want to encourage it to come up.  The water was glass on the way back and it was quite beautiful.  After finishing, Lisa and I hung out at the ramp for a bit and enjoyed the scenery before heading home. What a great way to start the day.

8.08.2014

USMS 5K Postal Swim

This morning I met Goody at the Salt Lake Sports Complex to swim the USMS 5K Postal.  He was my timer / lap counter and then Gords came to be Goody's timer / lap counter so that I could get to work on time.

For those not familiar with the 5K Postal event, it is a 5000 meter swim for time.  A timer / lap counter records your splits and final time and you submit the results online.  USMS has a series of five postal swims (1 hour, 5K, 10K, 3000 yard, and 6000 yard) throughout the year.  It has been a goal of mine to complete all five postal swims this year.

I was in the indoor pool at 5:30am and warmed up for about 45 minutes.  While I was warming up, Goody got set up outside so that we could start right at 6am.  I had been sipping on some Perpetuem all morning and ate a Buzz Bite right before starting the 5K.  I wasn't planning on taking any other feeds and just swimming straight through the 5K.

I felt pretty good the whole way.  I thought about stopping to take a drink and fix my leaking goggles between the 3000 and 3500 meters, but decided to just plow through.  Goody did a good job letting me know where I was by walking up and down the deck every 1000 meters.  At about 3500 meters, I though I should start trying to pick it up a little bit.  The last 500 meters I was swimming pretty hard with the last 100 meters as fast as I could.

I'm not really sure how to pace a 5K.  I have been working up to the 11-mile Dam 2 Dam swim last weekend and all my pacing work was based on an 11-mile pace.  In hindsight, I could have pushed a little harder on the 5K, especially between about 1200 and 2200 meters.

I was shooting for between 1:20 and 1:25 and finished at 1:21:24.19.  Not bad.  I think next year I will shoot for under 1:20.

One of the funnest parts of postal swims for me is looking at the data afterwards.  You have to record your splits anyway, so you may as well analyze them.

Here are my splits:


5K Postal Swim - 2014
Lap
Meters
100 Split
500 Split
1000 Split
Cumulative
2
100
01:30.47
0:01:30.47
4
200
01:37.34
0:03:07.81
6
300
01:37.28
0:04:45.09
8
400
01:36.65
0:06:21.74
10
500
01:37.42
07:59.16
0:07:59.16
12
600
01:36.43
08:05.12
0:09:35.59
14
700
01:38.19
08:05.97
0:11:13.78
16
800
01:38.10
08:06.79
0:12:51.88
18
900
01:38.37
08:08.51
0:14:30.25
20
1000
01:37.13
08:08.22
16:07.38
0:16:07.38
22
1100
01:35.25
08:07.04
16:12.16
0:17:42.63
24
1200
01:37.33
08:06.18
16:12.15
0:19:19.96
26
1300
01:38.08
08:06.16
16:12.95
0:20:58.04
28
1400
01:39.34
08:07.13
16:15.64
0:22:37.38
30
1500
01:39.17
08:09.17
16:17.39
0:24:16.55
32
1600
01:37.71
08:11.63
16:18.67
0:25:54.26
34
1700
01:38.62
08:12.92
16:19.10
0:27:32.88
36
1800
01:40.12
08:14.96
16:21.12
0:29:13.00
38
1900
01:39.55
08:15.17
16:22.30
0:30:52.55
40
2000
01:38.90
08:14.90
16:24.07
0:32:31.45
42
2100
01:42.03
08:19.22
16:30.85
0:34:13.48
44
2200
01:39.52
08:20.12
16:33.04
0:35:53.00
46
2300
01:39.22
08:19.22
16:34.18
0:37:32.22
48
2400
01:38.49
08:18.16
16:33.33
0:39:10.71
50
2500
01:39.01
08:18.27
16:33.17
0:40:49.72
52
2600
01:38.68
08:14.92
16:34.14
0:42:28.40
54
2700
01:38.29
08:13.69
16:33.81
0:44:06.69
56
2800
01:38.84
08:13.31
16:32.53
0:45:45.53
58
2900
01:37.91
08:12.73
16:30.89
0:47:23.44
60
3000
01:39.10
08:12.82
16:31.09
0:49:02.54
62
3100
01:38.80
08:12.94
16:27.86
0:50:41.34
64
3200
01:37.82
08:12.47
16:26.16
0:52:19.16
66
3300
01:37.69
08:11.32
16:24.63
0:53:56.85
68
3400
01:37.93
08:11.34
16:24.07
0:55:34.78
70
3500
01:38.16
08:10.40
16:23.22
0:57:12.94
72
3600
01:38.44
08:10.04
16:22.98
0:58:51.38
74
3700
01:37.69
08:09.91
16:22.38
1:00:29.07
76
3800
01:38.84
08:11.06
16:22.38
1:02:07.91
78
3900
01:38.79
08:11.92
16:23.26
1:03:46.70
80
4000
01:40.26
08:14.02
16:24.42
1:05:26.96
82
4100
01:37.48
08:13.06
16:23.10
1:07:04.44
84
4200
01:38.37
08:13.74
16:23.65
1:08:42.81
86
4300
01:36.26
08:11.16
16:22.22
1:10:19.07
88
4400
01:36.21
08:08.58
16:20.50
1:11:55.28
90
4500
01:37.29
08:05.61
16:19.63
1:13:32.57
92
4600
01:35.43
08:03.56
16:16.62
1:15:08.00
94
4700
01:35.59
08:00.78
16:14.52
1:16:43.59
96
4800
01:36.44
08:00.96
16:12.12
1:18:20.03
98
4900
01:35.24
07:59.99
16:08.57
1:19:55.27
100
5000
01:28.92
07:51.62
15:57.23
1:21:24.19
Average
01:37.68
08:10.13
16:22.18

Min
01:28.92
07:51.62
15:57.23

Max
01:42.03
08:20.12
16:34.18










I'm happy with my overall pace (I will push it harder next year though).  My slowest splits were right around the 1400 to 2500 meter marks.  Now that I know this, the next time I swim a 5K postal, I will make an effort to stay strong during that part of the swim.

I have mixed feelings about my fastest splits being at the end of the swim.  On one hand, I'm glad I could finish strong.  On the other had, it means I probably could have pushed harder earlier on in the swim.

This all makes me wonder what the ideal racing strategy is for this event.  Go out easy and negative split each 500 or 1000 meters?  Go our hard, level off and finish hard?  Go out hard and try to hang on to the end?  Try to swim right at your goal pace the entire time?

Anyway, I'm happy with the swim overall.  If nothing else, it gives me some things to think about and some insight into where I am weak in my pacing.

Next up is the 10K Postal.