Trifecta Endurance Open Water Clinics

Trifecta Endurance, a new local coaching and nutrition company, is putting on several open water clinics this summer.  The clinics are $25 with a $5 discount when you sign up for three or more.  They last about 1.5 hours and are designed to accommodate all levels of swimmers.  Topics covered include: swimming technique, drafting, sighting, wet suit selection, water starts, and land starts.

Below is the upcoming schedule:


Group Swim - June 30 @ Bountiful Lake

This week's swim we be on Wednesday June 30 at 6:30am at Bountiful Lake.  We are looking to swim three laps (about 3 miles).  With the water temperature warming up to the mid 60's, it's a great way to start your morning.

Directions to Bountiful Lake:
Coming from north or south of Bountiful, take the 500 South exit from either I-15 or Legacy Parkway.  Head west on 500 South.  500 South will wrap around into a frontage road.  Head north on the frontage road for about 1.5 miles.  Turn left and you are there.

Not able to make it to this swim?  If you are planning on swimming another day or place and are looking for others to accompany you, feel free to post the date, time and location of your swim on the newly created forum.


Utah Open Water Forum

I have been thinking that maybe the best way to help swimmers connect with each other for open water training swims would be to start a forum.  That way instead of having to go through me to post training swims that you are planning, you can post it to the forum directly.  The forum is now up and running and can be accessed by clicking on the "Forum" button at the top of the page.  You can also post your questions about training and open water technique, your race reports and you can let us in on your favorite places to swim.  I am hoping that it will be a useful tool and a place to seek advice and share experience related to open water swimming and triathlon in Utah.  If you choose to use the forum, please let me know if you run into any problems.


Great Salt Lake Swim

Last night I was able to cross another open water adventure off my list by swimming in the Great Salt Lake.  After reading about the marathon swims that used to take place in the lake, I have been looking for an opportunity to join the ranks of adventurous swimmers by completing a swim there.  Between the extremely salty water, brine shrimp and shallow waters, it can rightly be called an adventure.

I met Gordon, his wife Cathi and his son Jacob at their home yesterday evening and, after packing up their boat and all of our snacks, drinks and gear, we headed to Antelope Island State Park.

We pulled up the the marina and Gordon backed the boat down the ramp and into the water.  There were swarms of small bugs all along shore and the boat ramp.  It actually looked pretty cool when you took a step and they all scattered.  There were plenty of mosquitoes in the air, but they didn't seem to be biting.  The water in the marina was murky and brownish in color.  As you got down close to the water you could see the hundreds of brine shrimp happily swimming around, oblivious to the condition of the water we were about to swim in.  I had to run back to the van to get my earplugs because the last thing I wanted was to have these little guys move the party into my ear canals.

This was my first time swimming in the Great Salt Lake, and I can tell you that the rumors of "floating like a cork" are true.  I felt extra buoyant in the water, similar to when I wear my wetsuit.  The water on the surface was warm and was probably in the lower 70's.

We started our swim by heading northwest out of the marina and into the lake.  Once outside of the marina we swam west towards a point on the shore that is not visible on the satellite map.  The water was extremely salty and despite my best efforts, I ended up with some in my mouth.  After a while it felt as though my tongue was going numb and my nose and throat started to "burn" from the salt.  We had to stop every once in a while so that Cathi and Jacob could toss us water and Gatorade to wash out our mouths.  After rinsing my mouth out I felt fine.

One of my worries about swimming the in the Great Salt Lake was the water depth.  According to Utah.com, the lake is only 33 feet deep at it deepest point with an average depth of only 20 feet.  I was worried that we would be "beached" and not be able to swim.  Fortunately, there were only a few spots during the swim where I put my feet down and touch the bottom.

After reaching the point on the shore that we were aiming for, we decided to keep going around the the campground area.  Maybe it was just a sodium induced hallucination, but the water actually seemed to get less salty as we swam towards the campground.  After swimming for a while longer, the water became too shallow and we started to scrape the bottom as we stroked.  We decided that it was a good place to turn around and headed back.

As we rounded the point on the northwest tip of Antelope Island, the water seemed to again get saltier.  The water also started to get a little choppy and I had to adapt and breathe only on my right side to avoid getting small waves in my face on my left.  Despite the salt and the smell, it was really quite beautiful being out in the water.  The sun was starting to set and the sky turned a pinkish color on the horizon.  I could see Antelope Island when I breathed on my right and Fremont Island when I breathed on my left.

I think my pace picked up as we entered the marina because, to be honest, I was ready to get out of the super salty water.  I had tucked my GPS between my two caps before we started and I was curious to see how far we had gone.  The GPS read 2.52 miles and we had been gone for an hour and twenty minutes.  After adjusting for the times we we stopped to rinse out our mouths and talk, we were actually swimming for about an hour and ten minutes.

We stepped out of the water and back into the swarms of bugs on the shore.  Other than the inside of my bottom lip being "pickled" from the salt water, I felt great.  We got the boat back onto the trailer and headed back over the causeway to the "mainland".

While I have no plans of making the Great Salt Lake my primary training ground, it was an adventure that I would not rule out doing again.  In fact, Gordon and I are making plans to swim the 5 or so miles between Fremont Island and Antelope Island.  Anyone want to join us?


Recap of June 16 Group Swim @ Bountiful Lake

Just Gordon and I made it to the swim at Bountiful Lake this morning.  Neither one of us were wearing wetsuits and as we were wading into the water we both noticed that it felt much colder than it did last week.  I purposefully left my thermometer in the car so I wouldn't psych myself out if the water temp was low. 

We swam one full lap and then one smaller loop around the first island before getting out.  There was more debris in the water this morning and I suspect it might have been due to the recent windy and rainy weather.  When we were getting out there were a couple young kids fishing near the boat ramp.  I have to admit that one of the things that I love about open water swimming is seeing people's faces when I finish a swim.  One of the kids asked "Is it cold?"  Yeah it was cold.  Gordon's thermometer said 60 degrees at the surface but mine about a foot under water and read 56 degrees.

I was a little chilled after last week's swim so I came prepared this morning with a jacket and a thermos of hot chocolate.  I felt fine when I got out of the water, but put on my jacket, drank the whole thermos of hot chocolate and cranked up the heater in my car just to be safe.

I had a lot of fun and a it was a real confidence booster to know that we were swimming, semi-comfortably, without wetsuits in water that cold.  I'm already looking forward to next week's swim at the Great Salt Lake.


Group Swim - Wednesday June 16 at 7:00am @ Bountiful Lake

We will be swimming this coming Wednesday (June 16) at 7:00am at Bountiful Lake.  Anyone is welcome to join us, no matter your skill level.  The water has been warming up and we were able to swim comfortably without wetsuits last week with water in the low 60's.

Directions to Bountiful Lake:
Coming from north or south of Bountiful, take the 500 South exit from either I-15 or Legacy Parkway.  Head west on 500 South.  500 South will wrap around into a frontage road.  Head north on the frontage road for about 1.5 miles.  Turn left and you are there.

For anyone who is feeling adventurous, we will be attempting an evening swim in the Great Salt Lake the following week (June 23).  We will be meeting at Gordon's home in Davis County between 5:00 and 5:30pm before carpooling to the lake.  We hope to be in the water by 6:00pm.  Water levels are low and this could end up being a short swim depending on if we can find a good place to swim.  There is a history of open water races in the Great Salt Lake and I'm excited to give it a try.  I will post more details here as they become available.  You can also email Gordon for directions to his home.


State to Start Testing Water for Bacteria

I heard on KSL this afternoon that the State of Utah is going to start testing many popular lakes and reservoirs for bacteria.  If the bacteria levels exceed a federal standard, officials will be posting warning signs.  

There is a great website (which I will add to the Resources page) that lists current swimming advisories and data collected at several lakes and reservoirs.  (Unfortunately Bountiful Lake is not one of the bodies of water that is tested for bacteria).

I have to wonder if this is due in part to the roundworm scare at Daybreak last year.  I also wonder if the rapid growth of triathlon is bringing more swimmers to Utah's lakes and reservoirs, leading authorities to begin testing the waters.  Whatever the reason, I am happy that bacteria levels are being monitored and plan on checking the swimming advisories before swimming at any of Utah's State parks.

Here is the brief report from KSL.com:

UTAH COUNTY -- The state has started testing popular swimming holes to find out just how much bacteria is out there. Officials will be posting warning signs if the levels are above a federal standard.

In Utah County, the water testing program started at Salem Pond and Utah Lake. Elevated levels of E. coli were found at the pond, so health warning signs are posted.

"I consider it more unsafe," said Executive Director of the Utah County Health Department Dr. Joseph Miner. "It's always a risk when you have this kind of water."

Miner says all lakes, ponds and streams are contaminated with bacteria at some level, but they aren't all tested so we don't know to what extent.

E. coli and other forms of bacteria in the water can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other unpleasant illnesses.

Miner says lakes and streams are not the only water culprits for causing these illnesses. He points to pressurized irrigation systems found in many cities that can also contain bacteria.

Miner says kids often swim or play in sprinklers using this type of water and that parents should prevent their kids from exposing their face, hands and mouth.


Adopt-A-Park Program

I just saw this article on the Utah State Park and Recreation Facebook Page.  It is about two companies, Four Seasons Fly Fishers of Heber City and Johnson Mill Bed and Breakfast, that have "adopted" Deer Creek State Park.  Adopting a park is similar to adopting a highway and includes a commitment to host three cleanup days at the park.  I am not a fisherman by any means (I've only ever been fishing twice), but I will be looking for an excuse to stay at Johnson Mill to show my support and appreciation for keeping one of my favorite parks clean.

How cool would it be if a group of swimmers, triathletes and race management companies, who use many of Utah's State Parks, banded together to help keep a park clean?  I would definitely be willing to chip in to help keep a park clean.

Here is the full article:

Heber City – Two local companies have adopted Deer Creek State Park as their own and Utah State Parks and Recreation hopes other businesses and organizations will adopt parks in their community.

“Utah’s 43 state parks are destinations, which bring visitors and tourism dollars to area businesses,” said Utah State Parks Director Mary Tullius. “The Adopt-A-Park Program is an opportunity to bring parks and businesses together for the betterment of their communities.”

Four Seasons Fly Fishers of Heber City and Johnson Mill Bed and Breakfast in Midway have adopted Deer Creek State Park. They’ve agreed to a one-year adoption, which includes a commitment to host three cleanup days at Deer Creek State Park.

“Businesses or organizations can use this new program as incentives for their employees as opportunities to get outside and help their communities,” said Utah State Parks Volunteer Coordinator Robin Watson. “Individuals and families are welcome to adopt a park as well.”

Adopt a park today and help us keep Utah’s state parks beautiful. For information, please call (801) 537-3445 or email robinwatson@utah.gov.

Recap of June 9 Group Swim @ Bountiful Lake

Last night's group swim at Bountiful Lake was a lot of fun.  The water was much warmer than it was a couple weeks ago and we all swam without wetsuits.  After the swim, my thermometer measured 64 degrees near the boat ramp.

Although the water was generally warmer than it was two weeks ago, there were still a few cold spots where the temperature dropped by about 5 degrees.  I found myself swimming faster through those spots and then settling back into my rhythm when I got into a warmer spot.

When we got to the south side of the lake it started raining, adding to the fun and adventure of the swim.  The skies stayed sunny as the large rain drops hit our backs and heads as we swam.  By the time we got to the first fishing dock, the rain had stopped.

There were a LOT of people fishing, especially near the boat ramp.  I have never seen that many fishermen at Bountiful Lake.  There were even people hidden in the tall plants on the west side of the lake.  As Jim and I were wading towards the boat ramp to get out, someone yelled "There are two lines right in front of you!".  There were so many fishing lines in the water, it was a miracle that they didn't all get tangled together and that we didn't get caught up in one.  One line went right in front of the boat ramp and we actually had to go under it to get out.

A young boy who was there fishing asked me "Why are you guys swimming here?".  From the look on his face, it was clear that he was utterly confused as to why anyone would be in the water swimming.  I told him that we were swimming there because it was fun.  His reply was "Well, it could be dangerous."  He was right.  Open water swimming can be dangerous, but it can also be exciting. With constantly changing conditions, cold water, wildlife, etc. each swim presents new challenges and forces you to learn to adapt.  Having a group of people swimming together not only makes for a more enjoyable swim, but it also helps to keep us safe.

Gordon's wife and one of his son's were at the boat ramp with their kayak when Jim and I got out.  Gordon swam a couple more laps before the weather took a turn for the worse and they decided to get out.

As usual, I had a lot of fun and the swim helped take my mind off some of the stress that I have been facing this week at work.  I am already looking forward to getting back in the water next week.  Check back for updates on the next group swim.


Group Swim - June 9 @ Bountiful Lake

We will be meeting at Bountiful Lake this coming Wednesday evening at 5:30pm for a group swim.  Anyone who is interested in joining us is welcome to attend.  According to my friend Gordon, the water is now in the mid-60's and is warm enough to swim comfortably sans-wetsuit.

As usual we will meet in the parking lot near the boat ramp.

Directions to Bountiful Lake:
Coming from north or south of Bountiful, take the 500 South exit from either I-15 or Legacy Parkway.  Head west on 500 South.  500 South will wrap around into a frontage road.  Head north on the frontage road for about 1.5 miles.  Turn left and you are there.


Homemade Ear Drops for Swimmers

A couple weeks ago I attended an open water clinic at Blackridge Reservoir sponsored by US Trisports.  After swimming I met a guy (I wish I could remember his name) who was telling a couple of us about some homemade ear drops he made to use after swimming in the reservoir.  The drops are supposed to help drain water out of your ear canal and also kill any bacteria that may be in the water.
I remembered him saying that it was a mixture of vinegar and rubbing alcohol, but I could not remember the vinegar to alcohol ratio.  After a quick search online I found several recipes for the drops, all of which suggest a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and alcohol.  (Here is a link to a recipe on Instructables.com and another on Recipezaar.com)

I generally do not have problems with water in my ears, but the water quality at some of the places I have been swimming is questionable.  I am going to make a batch and test it out on my next swim and will post the results.  Has anyone else tried this?  Did it work for you?

Wetsuit Demo Day with Salt Lake Running Company

This is short notice, but Salt Lake Running Company is sponsoring a wetsuit demo day tonight (June 1) at 6:00pm at the Salt Lake Swimming and Tennis Club.  They will be bringing their TYR Cat 3 wetsuits for you to take for a spin in the pool.  BJ Christensen and Tom Thorum (both Ironman athletes) will be there to make sure you get the right fit.

Swimming with a wetsuit is a lot different than swimming without one.  If you are new to triathlon or open water swimming and have never swam with a wetsuit, this would be a good opportunity to see what it feels like.