What's In Bountiful Lake?

After the Roundworm scare at Oquirrh Lake, I have been thinking about what kind of nasty stuff could be in the water at Bountiful Lake. I have been swimming there over the past few months with Gordon Gridley and have generally had a good experience there. Sure, the "lake" isn't in the best location and it always smells a little funny out there, but it's the most convenient body of open water for swimming in the area. Gordon and I have joked about the water quality, but he must have been worried after the Oquirrh Lake incident too because he wrote an email to Davis County to ask them if any tests had been done at Bountiful Lake. Click here to visit Gordon's blog and see the response he got from the county.

Some of the more interesting / disturbing things from the Davis County response:

It does not meet public pool standards, and there may be parasites, toxic algae or other safety issues that are under the surface, but we don’t know/test for that. What we have tested for doesn’t show obvious public health hazards are present.

I would suggest the following if you still plan on swimming: Swim with a buddy. Do not swallow the water. Always go feet first especially if you don’t know what’s under the water. Probably best to keep your head up above the lake surface. Be cautious and stay away from snapping turtles. Shower after use.
Parasites?! Toxic Algae?! Snapping Turtles?! These sound like three good reasons not to swim at Bountiful Lake. However, I tend to agree with Gordon on this one. Since both of us have been swimming there for a while and haven't noticed any ill effects, I plan to keep swimming there until 1) tests done that show that there really are parasites, toxic algae, etc. 2) someone gets sick from swimming there or 3) someone builds a new pond/reservoir near my house with crystal clear water that is open to swimmers. I have always tried to be cautious about swimming at Bountiful Lake and make a point to keep water out of my mouth, etc. I always wear a cap, but may start wearing ear plugs too to keep water out of my ears.


Roundworm Found at Oquirrh Lake

Oquirrh Lake was closed towards the end of last week after the Salt Lake Valley Health Department confirmed three cases of roundworm. Roundworm, or Ascariasis, is an infection of the intestines that is common throughout the world in both temperate and tropical areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor. It is one of the most common human parasitic infections. It is estimated that 1.4 billion people worldwide have ascariasis. According to the World Health Organization, ascariasis causes approximately 60,000 deaths annually worldwide.

People become infected with roundworm by playing in the sand or swimming in the water and swallowing the worm's eggs.
The eggs then pass into the intestines where they hatch into larvae and begin moving through the body. Once through your intestinal wall, the eggs reach your lungs by means of the bloodstream or lymphatic system

Symptoms range from abdominal pain, to passing worms, to cramps and constipation.

Fortunately, roundworm is easily treated with various medicines.

From KSL:

Kennecott Land spokeswoman Jana Kettering says they shut down the lake to swimming as a precaution while tests are being done to see if it can be confirmed the roundworm came from Oquirrh Lake. She says they are proactively notifying residents about what's happening and they want to take all precautions.

"The health department did advise us that no body of water in the state of Utah is tested for this type of organism, and so you take the risk whether you come to Oquirrh Lake, Lake Powell or Jordanelle," Kettering said.

As for the availability of restrooms, Kettering says there are portable bathrooms placed around the lake and there are plans to build permanent structures next year.

The swim portion of US Trisports' Daybreak Triathlon that was scheduled a couple days after the announcement had to be reworked because of the closure.

Hopefully, if the tests are positive for roundworm at Oquirrh Lake, there will be measures taken to remedy the problem. Maybe something good will come out of all of this and tests will be done at other lakes and reservoirs where we swim.


Upcoming Swim Clinics With Dennis Tesch

This is a little late, but there is still time to get in on some of these clinics...

Dennis Tesch will be holding his annual Fall Swimming Clinic starting September 5th, at 7:00 am, at the Fairmont Aquatic Center. Each session has a specific focus on a different technical/training part of your freestyle stroke.

September 5 - Flutter kick and body position (bring fins)

September 12 - Body Roll and streamline

September 19 - Hand placement and catch

September 26 - Arm Position/Arm Pull through/Arm Recovery

October 3 - Putting it all together/Drills/Training

Each session is two (2) hours long. During those two hours you will watch video, do dry land exercises, in water drills, and in water feedback of your stroke. You will also receive at the end of each session written instruction of what was reviewed/taught that day.

Each session cost $20.00.

Email Dennis (knackofswimming@comcast.net) or call him (801-897-6787) to reserve a spot in each session. Space is limited, so first come, first served.


Tour de Lakes 2010

I had the idea late last night for a casual open water swim series that I am calling "Tour de Lakes". The idea is similar to the Tour de France and would have multiple stages of swimming at different venues. Times from each stage would be added together to come up with a final time for each swimmer. Part of the idea is to show off all of the great swimming holes in Utah and to let swimmers try out a bunch of venues that they may not otherwise swim in.

Here are some of the things I have been thinking about:

The venues could be small ponds or could be large reservoirs or lakes. Ideally they would be unique places where there isn't already a triathlon or other event. Since you can't really have hills or climbing stages in swimming, it would be cool to find venues with islands or other features to swim around to add diversity.

In addition to each stage being held at a different venue, each stage would also be a different distance. The distances would range from "time trials" to longer endurance distances. I am thinking there could even be teams. That way if someone wants to swim a 1 mile stage but doesn't feel up to a 5K or 10K stage, they could form a team and have someone more comfortable with the longer distance swim that stage.

There could be any number of stages depending on what people want to do. The tour could possibly even last all summer with one or two stages each month. It might even be fun to have a "cold water" stage in the early or late summer to add a little diversity and excitement. Stages could be out and back, point to point, laps, etc. depending on the venue. We could even get a yellow cap for the leader!

I am thinking of keeping it casual and friendly and not so much of a competition or organized event. Each person who wants to participate would just pay the entry fee for each venue and maybe kick in a little to have cool t-shirts made. The idea of keeping it casual eliminates the need to buy permits and insurance for each venue and would keep the cost of participation to a minimum. It would be more like a group of swimmers getting together for a practice with a little friendly competition thrown in. Swimmers could possibly even time themselves and then just check in with their time at the end of the swim.

Having support kayaks would be recommended (especially for the longer stages), but would be left up to each individual swimmer. Since there would be no insurance, etc. each swimmer would be responsible for their own safety.

So...what do you think? Is this something that anyone other than myself thinks would be awesome? I am interested to hear your ideas and suggestions for venues.


Upcoming Group Swims - September 2009

There are a few upcoming open water group swims for anyone looking to get in the water before the weather starts to cool down.


Gordon Gridley is planning a 10 mile swim at Pineview Reservoir on Monday September 7 (Labor Day). Please visit his blog for more information or to let him know that you are interested. If you aren't up for the full 10 miles, he would probably like to have you along for whatever distance you choose to do.

East Canyon
I am planning on going up to East Canyon Reservoir on Saturday September 12 around 9:00am. I would like to swim around 4-6 miles, but if you want to come and swim more or less your are welcome. I am looking at swimming in the inlet on the south side of the reservoir and I think you can just park on the side of the road and walk down to the water. The water is supposed to be between 60 and 65 degrees.

Bountiful Lake
Wednesday mornings at 6:30 am. We generally swim 1 to 4 laps, which is about 1.1 to 4.4 miles.

If you have any questions or know of any other group swims, feel free to email me at joshuakgreen@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.


My Escape From Alcatraz

My brother, Jake, and I have been wanting to swim Alcatraz for quite a while. This year we decided to do it and to bring the whole family along to spend a few days in San Francisco. There are several Alcatraz events throughout the year, but we chose to do the Swim With the Centurions race which is organized by Water World Swim. Part of the allure of this event (besides being a really convenient time to take a few days off of work) was that there were several Centurians, people who have crossed over from Alcatraz 100 or more times. Pedro Ordenes, who was one of the event organizers, has done the Alcatraz crossing over 500 times.

Neither my brother or I really had any experience with ocean swimming other than body surfing near the shore and a little snorkeling. Tides, currents, salt water and large swimming animals were all foreign to us. Luckily, the event organizers put together a practice/clinic on Thursday night where they explained what the currents would be like, what to sight for and generally what to expect during the swim. We were also able to get in the water and swim about a mile around the Aquatic Park. Getting in the water and having some instruction from people who had swam the course over 100 times definitely helped to calm my nerves and make me feel more comfortable with an unfamiliar environment.

The water was fairly cold at about 64 degrees and it definitely made my face sting when I got in. I chose to wear a wetsuit for the practice swim as well as on race day. If I were doing the swim again I would choose to swim "naked" (without a wetsuit). I had issues with the neck of my suit the whole race and, despite BodyGlide, I finished the swim with a really sore and really chaffed neck. After the practice swim I pulled my wetsuit halfway down and got back in the water and felt fine.

We woke up early on Saturday morning and drove down to the Aquatic Park. We got there way too early and had to sit around for a couple hours waiting for the race to start. Talking to some Alcatraz pros, we learned that the conditions were going to be as good as they could possible get. We were told that if we did the swim 100 times, we wouldn't get conditions as good as they were that morning.

The event finally got underway and we got dressed and ready to get on the ferry that would take us out to the island. It was quite a site to see almost 400 swimmers, most in wetsuits, walking down the streets near Fisherman's Wharf. We saw more than one group of absolutely baffled tourists.

The ferry had three levels and was pretty crowded on the lower level (where we would later jump into the water). Jake and I went up to the top level so that we could enjoy the view. On the way out we saw a few seals swimming in the water (we talked to a swimmer on Thursday night who was actually bitten by a small seal).

The "naked" swimmers got to start first and we watched them jump in from our seats on the upper level of the boat. About two minutes later, the wetsuit swimmers started jumping into the water. We moved down to the lower level to where we would jump off of the ferry. Before we even made it to the lower level, we heard the fog horn sound which signaled the start of the race. It took us about five minutes from the sound of the horn until we were even able to get in the water.

I have heard horror stories about getting salt water in your goggles and having your eyes swell shut so I was sure to hold my goggles to my face when I jumped in. I had my GPS in my cap so that I could see my exact route after I finished. I also had a waterproof camera around my neck so that I could take some pictures from the water in the middle of the bay.

I swam for a while before stopping to take some pictures. One thing I don't like about wetsuits is that it really keeps your from feeling the water. I found myself falling into bad stroke habits because I couldn't feel the water.

It was interesting to swim in the tides. I could see Alcatraz on my right side and it seemed to stay in about the same position but got further away. What was happening was that the tide was pushing me east, away from the island and away from the entrance to the Aquatic Park. As I got closer to shore, I found myself kind of far away from the entrance to the park because of the tides. Pretty soon I felt myself catching another tide in the opposite direction, just as the organizers explained would happen. This current pushed me right to the entrance of the park where I wanted to be. The water was fairly choppy out in the open bay, but once I got back into the Aquatic Park, the water calmed down and I was able to really pick up my speed.

I finished the swim, and despite being once of the very last off the boat, was able to pass quite a few people before I got to shore. My official time was 46:31 and the distance was about 1.39 miles. My real time was actually closer to 41:29 because of the timer starting before I got in the water. Although I wasn't really competing in the race (I stopped several times to sight see and take pictures from the bay), I ended up finishing in the top quarter or so overall, in the men's division and in my age group.

Overall I had a great time and was able to cross one more thing off of my list of swimming to-do's.