Does anyone know if the mercury is concentrated in any particular part of the lake or is it everywhere? It must not be an issue around the beaches where swimming is allowed, but what about in the main body of the lake?
1 Thou Shalt Not Swim Alone
Safety is the first commandment in Flanagan's bible, and safety means never swimming in open water alone. Either swim with another person or get a friend to accompany you in a boat. If that's impossible. swim parallel (and close) to shore while someone walks the shoreline watching you. "Definitely have a buddy system," says Flanagan. "Swimming alone is a bad move."
2 Thou Shalt Not Be Intimidated
Yes, open-water swimming is different from a pool-eaves, currents, no walls-but that's the fun. Besides, with a little knowledge and a few tricks, these variables are easily managed.
3 Thou Shalt Start Small
If you're looking for a race or a good training spot, think small and tame. Flanagan's own open-water experience began in 1979 with a two-mile cable swim (swimmers swim loops around a quarter-mile length of cable) in a lake. You should do the same. Try something short (open-water races can be as little as a half mile), calm (lakes are a good place to start), and fun (guaranteed, says Flanagan).
4 Thou Shalt Learn To Sight Breathe
In the fullness of time, your ability to swim straight will improve dramatically, but until then you'll need to look where you're going about every five strokes. You do that by lifting your head up just high enough to clear the waves. If you lift it higher, you'll drop your legs and put unnecessary strain on your neck and back. If you can't get a good look, drop your head, take a few more strokes, and look again. If you keep your head up for several strokes, you'll wear yourself out. Flanagan's swimmers practice the head lift (and condition their necks and backs) in the pool with his 50-yard "Tarzan" drill: 25 yards one way with their heads out of the water, 25 yards back swimming easy freestyle.
5 Thou Shalt Alternate Breathe
Learn to breathe to both sides, every third stroke. This helps you see where you're going and, more important, it eases shoulder strain. Alternate breathing helps in short races and is crucial in longer swims. Flanagan, big on detail, does the math-in a 10-hour race you might take 40,000 strokes. "Breathe every stroke and, whew, man you could really destroy that one shoulder," he says.
6 Thou Shalt Not Kick So Hard
Open-water swimming is about efficiency, not power, says Flanagan. You're swimming longer, so you need to conserve. The best place to start? Your legs - those big, energy‑gobbling muscles. Bag that six beat kick for an easy two-beat one. "You become much more of an upper-body swimmer," says Flanagan. "The legs are almost along for the ride."
7 Thou Shalt Not Covet a Pool Stroke
Pool coaches forever harp about pushing hard through the last part of the freestyle arm stroke, where you generate the most power. Good advice if you're swimming a 100 free, but in open-water swimming, you want to save your energy. "Concentrate on the front and middle part of your stroke and ease off during the stressful follow-through because that's going to wear you out," Flanagan says. "In open water, you actually have to learn to be a little less efficient"
8 Thou Shalt Let the Mind Wander
Open-water swimming can be an out-of-body experience of sorts-the mind wanders off while the body goes about its metronomic business. "You get into an almost hypnotic state where you separate your mind from your body," says Flanagan. "Your body is doing the work and your mind is enjoying the scenery or the feel of the water. In a short pool swim, you need intense mental focus, a plan for every step of the race. But in open-water swimming, you can't focus on minutiae because it will wear you out and drive you nuts. You need to mentally relax." And definitely don't think about how far you have to go, laughs Flanagan.
9 Thou Shalt Start Smart
The starts of open-water swims can be crazy. Popular ones might have 600 people, and when the gun goes off they charge to the water like K-mart shoppers hunting a blue-light special. And that's the quiet part. In the shallows, you'll meet elbows, knees and feet everywhere. Some folks won't hesitate to swim right over you. If you've never been part of a mass start, or if you're a slower swimmer, Flanagan suggests you start at the back or to the side of the pack. And if the crowd is thick, stay wide of the buoys; it may require a few extra strokes but you'll avoid getting bludgeoned by everyone else cutting in close.
10 Thou Shall Have Fun
"Open-water swimming is an absolutely phenomenal sport." Flanagan gushes. "You won't believe the enjoyment and satisfaction you'll get from it."
I love to see all of the cool gadgets that come out of CES each year. This year in particular something caught my eye: the Liquid Image Freestyle Series goggle camera. It is basically a video camera and digital still camera built into a pair of swimming goggles. The goggles can go underwater to a depth of 15 feet. The design is pretty stylish and the goggles appear to be not much larger than triathlon goggles and masks. Video is VGA quality and the digital camera is 1.3 MP. The Freestyle Series goggles have 4GB of internal memory which the manufacturer says is good for 6,000 still images or 90 minutes of video. The camera runs on a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery that is good for about an hour and a half of video recording or an hour and five minutes with the LED flashlight on.
There is no price listed on Liquid Image's website, but the price on some of their diving masks ranges from $109 to $309. While it's an interesting idea, I don't think I would use it enough to justify spending that much money.
Since Utah Open Water was started in March 2009 through the end of the year, there were nearly 2,000 unique visitors to the site from 54 different countries.
We saw some exciting developments like John Quackenbush's Bear Lake crossing and the announcement of Ironman St. George.
Of the 51 posts in 2009, these were five most popular:
How to Use GPS to Measure Distance, Speed and "Straightness" of Open Water Swims
Wetsuit Rentals at Wasatch Running Center
Swimming in Cold Water
Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim
2009 Utah Open Water Calendar
I am always looking for ways to improve the content and features of the site and provide information that is useful and interesting to open water swimmers and triathletes in Utah. If you have a suggestion for how the site could be better, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am not a coach and am by no means an expert swimmer, but if you have a question about swimming I would be happy to research it and post my findings. Lastly, if you would like to contribute an article or have an open water event that we should know about, please send me an email.
Here's to a happy and productive 2010.