This afternoon I met Gordon, the rest of his support crew, family, friends, SLOW teammates and others at the Great Salt Lake Marina. Today was the day he would do his ice mile swim to raise money for the Utah Food Bank.
It was snowing lightly as the crowd started to gather. I dropped in my thermometer along with three or four others. Mine came out the highest by far at 37 degrees. All the others, including the official Utah State Parks temperature, ranged from about 33 to 35 degrees. This was much colder than I think Gordon was planning on. Just a few days earlier when we were there, it was 41 degrees on the dot. It's been really cold, but I didn't expect the water temp to drop so far, so fast.
After a briefing by Goody and a prayer by Cathi, Gordon got in his van and got changed and ready to go. He came out quickly and I'm afraid I missed the start of his swim because I didn't have my camera ready to go when he dove in. He took off extremely fast. His stroke rate was around 84 spm on the first lap.
I knew he would do two laps no problem, but wondered how he would hold up at such a cold temperature for the last two laps. His stoke rate dropped to the mid 70's on the second and third laps. At one point he had to stop to fix his goggles, which I'm sure was frustrating. The last thing you want to do is stop.
On the third lap he seemed to be slowing down a bit. He still looked strong on the last lap, but I could tell it was getting tough. His stroke rate dropped to around 70 (which is still higher than he normal rate).
The plan once he finished was to go immediately into the van and turn things over to Chad, an EMT, to take care of him and help him recover. He had some trouble getting out of the water (which is to be expected at such cold temperatures). Chad was awesome! He took control and knew exactly what he was doing and what Gordon needed. He was in incredibly good hand throughout his recovery.
People keep asking me if I'll ever do an ice mile. The answer is absolutely NO! The reason is I have seen two people, Goody and Gordon, go through the recovery and it honestly scares me. Both of them have said that the recovery is harder than the actual swim. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who gives it a try, but it's not for me.
It took about an hour for Gordon to recover. That included being bundled up in a heated van with hot water bottles and, later, a shower.
It was an incredible swim and I am glad to have had a small part in it. He had a great support crew and family support. Someone from Fox13 was there shooting video and I hope to see the story soon.
Click here for Gordon's own account.
I met Gordon at the GSL Marina this afternoon for a WFPBC swim. The water temp on my thermometer read 51 degrees before we got in. At the end of the swim, Gordon's thermometer said 49.
Gordon was going for 4 laps (1 mile) in anticipation of his ice mile coming up. I was just going fo time, with a goal of 30 minutes.
It took me a minute and a half to get over the cold shock and get my breathing under control. After about 6 minutes, I was feeling "comfortable". After about 10 minutes my hands and feet stopped hurting and felt warm.
I puttered around, keeping an eye on Gords until he finished his last lap. I was starting to shiver after about 20 minutes and decided to get out at 27 minutes instead of push it any further. It's only my second cold water swim of the season after all.
The shivering was pretty bad and took me about 20 minutes to stop. I really hate the recovery.
I'm hoping to meet Goody out there again tomorrow. I've got to get acclimated for the New Year's Swim.
I met Gords, Goody and Jim at the marina this afternoon for a Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim. This was my first open water swim since September, when the water was still in the 70's. I was hoping for water in the 60's or high 50's for my first time in, but Jim was getting readings of 56 (and later 54).
I haven't been acclimating myself as well as last year and the first step in the water made me question if what I was doing was really a good idea. It took me several minutes (much longer than last year) to get past the cold shock before I could calm down and get "comfortable".
Gordon took off swimming, while Goody, Jim and I did head-up breaststroke and floated on our backs.
When we got out near the marina entrance, there was a sailboat coming out, being pushed by a smaller boat. The water is so low, they got stuck for quite a while. Eventually they made it out. I don't know how they were going to get back in...
On the way back to the ramp, two guys were backing their boat down. Since we were in the water, they asked us to help push their boat over to the dock. I had just started shivering at this point, and Goody and I pushed their boat to the dock before getting out.
The recovery wasn't as bad as I thought. I spent about 30 minutes in the water. Not bad for my first day.
I got my copy of Driven: A Glimpse Inside the World of Marathon Swimming in the mail yesterday. I couldn't wait to get the kids to bed so that I could watch it in peace.
I have to say, it is really well done and gives some great insight into the marathon swimming world and why people do the swims they do. It was fun to see some people in the film that I have met in person.
If you get a chance, I highly recommend checking it out. You can watch the trailer below or order a DVD or digital download here. I'd also be willing to lend my copy to anyone in the SLC area.
Driven Trailer from Element 8 Productions on Vimeo.
I had been planning to swim from Antelope Island to Black Rock this morning. After a conversation with the Harbormaster about the anticipated high winds, I decided to listen to his advice and cancel it. The wind was forecasted to blow fairly hard from south to north, which is exactly opposite of what I needed. There were all kinds of high wind warnings on the marina website. I don't know what a "negative storm swell" is, but it sounds bad.
Sue had volunteered to paddle for me for on the long swim. Since cancelling, we decided to go out to the marina anyway for a quick swim.
The water was nice. September is a really nice time to be out in the lake. The bugs are gone and the water temperature is still warm.
We swam out along the buoy line to the last red buoy. The wind was pushing us a little on the way out and we fought it a but on the way back. As we were getting back to the marina, the wind picked up and started making the water spray. I stopped just short of the boat ramp and Sue bumped into me ("head butted my butt" as she put it). I thought it was pretty funny. There were a few tour busses pulling up as we got out. All said, I think we did about 1.5 miles.
The water was so nice, Sue and I were talking about the possibility of organizing another GSL race in September, or at least a SLOW club swim. Sue suggested Saltair to Black Rock, which sounds like a lot of fun.
|A beautiful sight. Looking east from the Great Salt Lake Marina.|
Looking at my calendar last night, I realized that this coming Saturday is my last shot this year for completing the Utah Triple Crown. I did Bear Lake in July and Deer Creek in August, but I still need to do Antelope Island to Black Rock at the Great Salt Lake.
I've been avoiding the GSL during the hot summer months because the water it too warm and there are too many bugs. This morning I went out to the marina to see what the water was like. Walking down to the boat ramp I saw a cloud of bugs and thought "oh great". The water level was pretty low and there was some scummy stuff near the shore. I figured it would be better out in the open lake, so I dropped my thermometer in and headed out.
There were some bugs on the surface of the water in the marina, but nothing too bad. There were also some pretty cold spots inside the marina. Once I got out into the open lake, things got 100 times better. The water was perfectly flat and glassy and the reflection of the rising sun made the water look pink. There were no bugs and the water temperature was significantly warmer, I'm guessing at least 74 degrees. I was really encouraged and excited and started out for the first buoy.
I ended up following the red buoys, counting my strokes, for half a mile. I stopped part way through just to enjoy being in the water and watch the sun coming up. After half a mile, I turned around and headed back.
|This photo doesn't really capture how many tourists were there this morning. Eight tour buses!|
The water temp dropped again when I got back into the marina. When I lifted my head to sight, I saw a MASSIVE crowd of people milling around the boat ramp. As I got closer, I could see several tour buses. I collected my thermometer (which showed 70 degrees) and headed to the hose to rinse off. The hose was being used by a couple tour bus drivers to wash their buses so I had to hang around in my speedo in a crowd of tourists until it was free. A few people came up and asked about swimming in the lake. After rinsing off I hopped in my car to leave. I counted eight tour buses on the way out! I've never seen that many buses or tourists there before. The visitors center and gift shop are now open and I wanted to go in and check it out, but I'll wait until I have more time.
This morning I am going to try to get a hold of Dave Shearer, Harbormaster at the GSL Marina, to see if he can take me and a paddler to Antelope Island on Saturday morning so that I can finish the Utah Triple Crown. I'm also looking for a paddler if anyone is interested. It should take me about four hours to finish and I'll buy you lunch afterwards.
Today I finally made my goal of swimming 10 miles at Deer Creek! It's something that I have been wanting to do for the last couple of years, and it just hasn't worked out. After missing out on swimming last Saturday with everyone else, several people offered to paddle for me another day. Sue was the first one to offer, so she was the first one I asked. Luckily things worked out that she could paddle for me today.
We met a little before 8am and got the kayak loaded up. We ran into Justin Stewart and a couple other guys as we were getting ready on the boat ramp and they wished us well.
The water felt great and the weather was nice. Swimming down the bay in the glassy, morning water is one of my favorite things to do. I planned to swim the Deer Creek 10 mile course and hug the shore to make sure I got in a full 10 miles. Everyone I saw at the race cut a few corners and I was more interested in getting a solid 10 miles than I was getting a particular time.
Sue had never paddled for someone before and she was excited to give it a try. She did an excellent job and stayed right at my 11 and 1 (depending on which side she was on) which is perfect for me.
We talked a little beforehand about my feeds. The plan was to go 1 hour with no feeds and then every 45 minutes after that. I had three bottles of Perpetuem, some gels, squeezable apple sauce and ibuprofen.
Other than dodging a few fishing boats, the first half was pretty uneventful. On the way back things took a turn for the worse. Last Saturday the swimmers got a little help from wind pushing them back towards Wallsburg Bay. Not today. Between Rainbow Bay and Wallsburg Bay I felt like I wasn't going anywhere. I knew I was past due for a feed, but I wanted to get the hell out of the wind and chop and into the bay. It was exhausting. Finally I had to stop outside of the bay to get a feed and some ibuprofen.
Once we got back into the bay, things settled down quite a bit. Sue let me know that we would have to do a loop around the buoy line to make up for not going across the boat ramp near the island. I guess she had talked to the ranger and told him what we were going to do and he told her that we couldn't cross the boat ramp. By this time my arms were getting pretty tired, but I wanted to get a solid 10 miles so I did a loop of the buoys before heading to the end of the bay.
I took my last feed at the end of the bay and headed back towards the boat ramp. Sue let me know that we were going to be short of 10 miles and needed to do two more buoy loops. I just about said "forget it" but I knew I would regret it, so I did two laps of the buoys. As I was coming in from my second loop, I saw Sabrina and my boys on the shore. I waved weakly, and kept plugging along to the finish.
I was so happy to be done! I haven't done a ton of swimming the last couple weeks and I definitely felt it. Next year I will be more prepared. My GPS had a freak-out before we finished and I'm not positive of my total distance. My longest open water swim before today was 9.25 miles and I am 100% sure that I was over that today. I finished in 5:16, which is quite a bit slower than I was shooting for. Considering the crappy conditions in a couple spots, I'm just happy I finished.
Thank you to Sue for volunteering to give up her Saturday and paddle for me all morning. She did an excellent job keeping me safe, getting my feeds ready (shaking up my drinks, opening gels and apple sauces, and getting my ibuprofen), taking tons of photos and videos, and encouraging me when things got tough. She was in the perfect position the whole time and kept me away from the jerks on their fishing boats.
After today's swim, I am one swim away from the Utah Triple Crown, which consists of swimming 8 mile from Antelope Island to Black Rock at the Great Salt Lake, 7 miles across Bear Lake, and 10 miles at Deer Creek all in one year. I have already swam Bear Lake and now Deer Creek. If I can find a good day to swim Great Salt Lake, I will see if I can work it out.