Sunrise Swim at GSL Marina

Sunrise at the Great Salt Lake Marina.
I met Gords and Kevin at the GSL Marina this morning at 6:30am.  The lake was calm and beautiful and the sun was just coming up.

We got ready and headed down to the ramp.  The water was warm and as smooth as glass.  We swam out of the marina and then stopped to regroup.  The plan was to swim what is now being called the "Gridley Straight" which is the 2 mile stretch that goes from the marina to Black Rock and back.

I was feeling pretty good.  No pain at all while swimming and I felt like my stroke was pretty smooth and strong.  We finished the first mile in about 26:30.  On the way back we swam through some colder water, but it was only cold right on the surface...weird.  As I was swimming, I was thinking about what distance I will swim at Deer Creek.  After Monday's 4.79 mile swim, I shouldn't have any problem with the 10K.  The pain was there towards the end, but it was manageable.  I think I might just go for 10 miles.  I won't be breaking any speed records, I'll just take it easy the whole way.  I'll pack some ibuprofen on the kayak and I think I should be good.
We finished the second mile a little faster at about 26:15.  I wanted to keep going with Gords and do another lap of the "Gridley Straight" but my wife had a doctors appointment this morning and I needed to get home.

Good news!  There is a water hose working again!  The one closest to the marina is still out of commission, but they put a hose on the next one down so I was able to rinse off before heading home.

It was a very relaxing morning and I really enjoyed the swim.  This might be my last swim for the week unless I can squeeze one in on Saturday.  My neighbor and I kind of threw together a band and we are playing a show at Muse in Provo on Friday night before he leaves for law school.  We've got a practice scheduled for Thursday so I'm going to miss that swim.  If you are going to be in Provo this Friday night and don't have anything to do, come check us out!


Free Open Water Clinic at Deer Creek Reservoir

The 5th Annual Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim is less than three weeks away!  In preparation for the event we will be hosting a free open water clinic on Thursday August 4th at 6:30pm.

The clinic will take place on the grassy area just north of the parking lot (see map below).  We will give an overview of the race and the course as well as cover basic open water skills.  Following the instruction we will answer questions and then get in the water for practice.  If this will be your first time participating in the event, the clinic will be a good opportunity to see what the water is like and get familiar with the course before the race on the 13th.

The water temperature is currently about 70 degrees.

The clinic is free, however day use fees still apply.  Please be sure to pay the entrance fee as you enter the park.

Directions to Deer Creek from Salt Lake:
Go east on I-80 until you pass Park City.  Take Highway 40 south to Heber.  When you get to the south end of Heber the road splits.  Take a right onto Highway 189.  After about 4 miles you will see Deer Creek reservoir.  As you continue on Highway 189, you will pass Deer Creek Island Resort, Rainbow Bay and the Walsburg Group Area.  After you enter the park, head towards the boat ramp.  You can park in the parking lot east of the ramp (see map).  We will be meeting just north of the parking lot on the grassy picnic area (see map).


Birthday Swim at Deer Creek

Enjoying a relaxing birthday swim at Deer Creek Reservoir.
Today was my birthday and I celebrated by going for a swim at Deer Creek.  My wife was kind enough to keep the boys busy at the beach while I was out.

My plan was to start at Rainbow Bay, swim to the end of Walsburg Bay, and back.  According to Google Maps it looked like it would be about 5 miles.  I loaded up my Safe Swimmer and gave my wife a kiss before getting in the water.  It was a little chilly outside, but the water was very warm.  I didn't take an official temperature, but I'm sure it was at least 70 degrees.

I had all of this stuff in my Safe Swimmer and still had room to spare.
I took it out pretty easy and relaxed.  I am out of the anti-inflammatories that my doctor gave me and I wasn't sure how my tendonitis (or whatever it is) was going to be.  I had my Safe Swimmer packed with shoes, shirt, shorts, two water bottles and a camera (with room to spare).  I stopped about every 30 to 45 minutes to get a drink and take some pictures.

I was feeling great and was thinking about going further than planned by swimming past Rainbow Bay to the boat ramp at Deer Creek Island Resort.  With about a mile to go to Rainbow Bay, I started feeling the tendonitis pain and decided it would be better to call it a day rather than risk making it worse.  I ended up at 4.79 miles.

GPS map of my swim from Rainbow Bay to the end of Walsburg Bay and back.
Sabrina and the boys were on the beach waiting for me and cheered when they saw me.  I'm lucky to have such a supportive family!  As we drove back toward Heber, I was looking at the lake between Rainbow Bay and Deer Creek Island Resort and wished that I would have just gone for the extra 2 miles.

We continued the celebration by going to one of my favorite restaurants, Tarahumara, in Midway with my parents, Jake, my sister and nephew.  I had the lamb barbacoa burritos, a salad with passion fruit dressing and a coconut flan.  If you are ever in Midway you need to go to Tarahumara.

All in all, it was a really enjoyable day.  I think I am going to try to get in and see my doctor again and see if there is anything else we can do.  I've been trying to figure out what to do about Deer Creek this year.  I haven't been able to train for the 10 mile like I wanted to because of the tendonitis.  After today's swim, I think I will be entering the 10K again.

Hope everyone had a great Pioneer Day today!


Night Swim at Pineview Reservoir

Me, Kim, Alicia, Goody and Gords after our night swim at Pineview.
My friend Goody had an idea a while ago to do a night swim at Pineview Reservoir.  It sounded fun, and kind of dangerous, so of course I had to do it.  I have never been swimming at night before (unless you count skinny dipping when I was younger...) and it was a new experience for me.

I met Goody, Kim and Alicia at Goody's house at about 9:00pm and got our stuff loaded up and drove to the reservoir.  It was starting to get dark when we pulled in and everyone else who was there was packing up their stuff to leave.  It's been years since I swam at Pineview, so Goody showed me where the buoys were and explained the course that we would be swimming.  Gords and one of his sons pulled up soon after we got there.

We were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and had to take cover in the car.  I brought some small glow-stick bracelets that we put on our wrists in the car while waiting for it to get dark enough to swim.  At a little before 10:00pm, Goody told us it was time to go.  We walked down to the water and made our final preparations before getting in.  I was really excited to get in the water!  It was surprisingly warm, even at night.

Goody was not excited at all :)
Goody did a good job of planning and figuring out all of the safety procedures beforehand and he gave us some instructions.  He would be going ahead of us on his kayak and we would swim to a buoy, take a headcount, and then swim to the next.  I thought I might be creeped out by the darkness, but I was wasn't at all.  I think it was probably because I had a bunch of friends nearby.

We made it to the end of the buoy line with no problems and headed back.  The wind started picking up when we got near the last buoy.  It was blowing straight into us as we headed back to the shore.  On the shore, Goody and Alicia traded places and we headed out again.  The wind was still blowing pretty good and Alicia had some trouble controlling the kayak.  I lost sight of her for a while, but eventually found her by following Goody and Gords.  Gords decided to take Alicia's place on the kayak and we lost Alicia's goggles in the process.  Goody made the call to head back in to shore instead of swimming the buoy line again, which I was ok with.

We got everything packed up and ready to go and...the gate was locked!  Goody managed to get a hold of the police department and they sent someone up really fast who was able to open the gate!  Whew!

It was definitely an adventure and I had a lot of fun being out on the lake at night.  It is something that I would definitely do again.  Goody did a great job getting everything organized.  The only thing we would change for next time would be to put more lights on the kayak to make it more visible.


Big Group at Bountiful Lake

We had a big group tonight for our Thursday evening swim at Bountiful Lake.  There were twelve of us total including some newcomers.  There were actually two more who just stopped by to pick up some Safe Swimmers but didn't have time to get in and swim.

We talked for a while as everyone was pulling up and getting ready.  When we were all ready to go, we walked over to the east dock and jumped in.  It was warm outside and jumping into the warm water barely cooled me down.

I had to get back home for a BBQ so I only had time to get in one lap.  I wanted to make it count so I swam faster than usual.  There was a new guy there (didn't get his name...oops) who was pretty fast.  I think he would have totally left me in his wake if it wasn't his first time at the lake and he knew where he was going.

What a great group!  I had a lot of fun tonight and look forward to next Thursday.


3.54 Miles at GSL

Beautiful morning at Silver Sands Beach.
I met Gords, Chad and Kevin at the GSL Marina this morning.  We've been having a pretty good turnout the past few swims and it's been fun to swim with new people.  There were some big waves cresting and crashing into the rocks near the observation and swells further out.  This is the first time I can remember seeing conditions like this.  Some of the waves were big enough that I though about trying to body surf on them.  If they hadn't been so close to the rocks, I probably would have.

I really wanted to play in these waves, but was afraid I would get cut up on the sharp rocks under the water.
We swam the usual route to Black Rock.  It was fun going up and down with the swells.  I hit something near the surface with my hand at one point, but didn't stop to see what it was.  The water was murkier than usual this morning.  Usually as you get closer to Black Rock you can start to see the sand on the bottom, but I didn't see it at all this morning.  I hadn't properly sealed my Safe Swimmer and it had taken on some water.  Luckily my phone was inside a plastic bag and didn't get wet.

After a quick drink we headed back towards the marina.  I was surprised that I was able to stay fairly close to Gords.  I don't know if he was taking it easy or if the banana I ate this morning gave me some kind of energy boost or something, because I am usually way behind.  I felt great and my shoulder didn't bother me at all.

At the mouth of the marina we stopped again.  I decided to keep going and finish the 5K route with Gords.  After we passed the marina, we ran into some colder water that felt very refreshing.  It stayed cool all the way out the the last buoy.

7 miles in 1:16?! In my dreams!
I tried out the Endomondo app again this morning and was disappointed by the results.  It showed us going 7 miles in 1:16.  In reality, we went 3.54 miles in 1:44.  I am pretty bummed because I really like how the app integrates into Facebook.  Theoretically, if I was out swimming somewhere, my family could track where I was and watch my progress from home.  The app works perfectly on runs or bike rides, but I've had trouble with it in the water.  I think the problem may be that I had my phone inside my Safe Swimmer, which was bouncing around quite a bit.

New kayak loaded up.  Thanks Gords!

Gords got me a SWEET deal on a sit-on-top kayak that will hold two or three people.  We got it loaded on my car and I headed home.  When I got home we unwrapped it and got it all set up.  The boys really had fun on it.  The weight capacity is 450 lbs, so all four of us should easily be able to ride it at the same time.  You can even get a sail for it!  I can't wait to take it out on the water!

Can't wait to take the new kayak out on the water with the fam.
 Our next group swim will be Thursday July 21 at Bountiful Lake.  We will be meeting at 6:00pm in the parking lot and will walk down to the eastern pier to start the swim.  Hope to see you there!


2 Miles at the Great Salt Lake

What a great swim this morning!  For some reason, I woke up really early this morning so I headed down to the marina at about 5:45.  When I got there, the gate was closed and I had to wait a while for it to open.  I wasn't sure if anyone would be there this morning and had kind of planned to swim alone.  As I was getting ready, Gords pulled up and then another car I didn't recognize pulled up.  It was Stacey from Colorado who I have been trading emails with.  She was looking to get in some swims while visiting Utah in preparation for the Trans Tahoe Relay.  The three of us headed down to the boat ramp and, just as we were getting in, Kristen came down the ramp to join us.  Four swimmers at 6:30 on Monday morning is pretty good!

We talked for a bit about Stacey's English Channel relay before heading out.  The water was warm and calm.  Once we got out of the marina, I started my watch and headed towards Black Rock behind Gords and Stacey.  From what I could tell, Gords and Stacey stayed pretty close the whole swim.

At Black Rock we regrouped and chatted a little more before heading back to the marina.  We swam through a really warm spot as well as a cooler spot (which felt really nice).  We regrouped again at the green buoy outside of the marina and talked for a while longer about the English Channel, Diana Nyad and James Jonsson's upcoming Lake Tahoe swim.  Gords decided to put in another mile and Stacey, Kristen and I headed back to shore.  It was Stacey and Kristen's first swim in the Great Salt Lake and it was Kristen's longest swim in a while.  Good job guys!

We tried to find a place to rinse off, but the water pump by the ramp was still broken and the women's shower was locked.  Hopefully they will get that pump fixed soon...it's been torn up for a couple weeks now.

I had a lot of fun with this group this morning and it was a really nice way to start off the week.  We will be swimming again at the Great Salt Lake on Wednesday morning at 6:30am and then Bountiful Lake on Thursday evening at 6:00pm.  Hope to see you there!


Safe Swimmers Are Now Available For Sale From Utah Open Water

Our shipment of ISHOF Safe Swimmers arrived today and they are now available for purchase.  The Safe Swimmer is an inflatable dry sack with an attached belt.  You can use it to hold you shoes, clothes, a small towel, cell phone, etc. instead of leaving them on the beach.  The device can also increase your level of open water safety.  Not only does it make you more visible to boats, fishermen, etc. but it can also be used as a float if you find yourself in trouble.

Here is a link to more information on the Safe Swimmer.

Here is a funny video that demonstrates the Safe Swimmer in action:

The device comes in two sizes, small and large, and sells for $35 and $40 respectively.  The Safe Swimmers will be available for purchase at any of our group swims and clinics.  If there are enough people who want to buy them online, we will get that set up too.


Big Group at Bountiful Lake Tonight

What a great group tonight!
We had a great group swim tonight at Bountiful Lake.  We set a new record with 11 swimmers!  For about half, it was the first time swimming with our group and their first swim at Bountiful Lake.

It was a little breezy when we pulled up, but it calmed down before we got into the water.  About half of the group wore wetsuits and the other half swam "naked".  We decided to do the usual one mile lap around the lake and set off.  I think next time we will start from the eastern pier and avoid some of the junk near the canal.

At the second pier, Goody called me over.  There was a family visiting from France there who saw us in the water and wanted to get directions to the Great Salt Lake to go swimming!  Sweet!  Don't ask me how tourists from France ended up at Bountiful Lake....

Here is the data from Endomondo...an average speed of 11.3 miles per hour is not bad.
I've been playing with the Endomondo app on my phone (if you are using it too, add me as a friend) and decided to give it a try on a swim.  I put my phone in a ziploc bag and then put it in my Safe Swimmer.  I was surprised so see that we had swam 7.56 miles in only 40 minutes!  Obviously there are some things that need to be worked out.  I'm not sure if it was where I put my phone in the Safe Swimmer that distorted the signal or what.  I'll give it another shot, because I really like the idea.

After getting a drink and saying goodbye to the group, Goody and I decided to swim another lap.  This time we went counter-clockwise.  My shoulder was feeling great and I picked up my pace a little.  About halfway through we switched to breaststroke and chatted for a while.  When we got to the east pier, I told Goody I was going to sprint the rest of the way in.  It felt good to pick up the pace and my shoulder didn't bother me at all.

As we were getting all packed up, a group of scouts pulled up with homemade kayaks that they were going to be using on a camping trip.  They looked awesome!  I should have asked where they got the plans or kits to make them because that would be a fun little project to do.  *UPDATE*  I found the plans online, check out this link.  The kayak can actually fold flat!  I really want to build one...

I had a lot of fun tonight and it was good to meet some new people and get to know some of the repeat swimmers a little better.

I've had a lot of interest in the Safe Swimmer (aka Swim Safety Device) that I have been using.  Hopefully by next week we will have quite a few in stock that will be available for purchase at any of our group swims or clinics.  The large size sells for $40 and the smaller size sells for $35.


Windy Morning Swim at the Great Salt Lake Marina

Sunrise at the Great Salt Lake Marina.
You never know what you are going to get at 6:30am at the Great Salt Lake Marina.  On Monday the water was glass with barely even a breeze.  This morning was windy and the water was pretty choppy.  That's one of the things that I love about open water swimming, the unpredictable and always changing conditions.  It definitely adds to the challenge and adds variety.

This morning I met a new swimmer, Kevin, and we talked a little about some of the races he has done and is planning on doing this year.  He's currently training for the Mountain Tropic half distance triathlon at Bear Lake coming up on August 13.

After a couple weeks with no problems, my shoulder started bugging me again yesterday.  Instead of doing the usual 2 mile loop to Black Rock and back, I decided I was going to take it easy and just swim to the end of the buoy line and back.

Doesn't look so bad from the picture.
The water was calm and warm as we walked down the boat ramp.  As soon as we got out of the marina and into the lake, things changed.  The wind was blowing to the east, which is fine for the first half of the swim because it pushes you along.  Coming back to the marina, you are swimming directly into the wind which can be challenging.  In these conditions you will undoubtedly get some water in your mouth when you breath.  One of the benefits of learning to bilateral breathe (breathe on both sides) is that you can switch sides if you are getting hit with mini walls of water on the other side.  Each time I swim in rough water I have to remind myself relax and focus on my stroke.

I lost track of Kevin for a while and kind of got worried.  I figured that he had probably gone back to the marina, but I wasn't sure.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I neared the marina and I saw him on shore waving to me.  Afterwards he said he wasn't sure what the proper etiquette is for one swimmer to turn back before the other.  I guess I've never really thought about it before, but it's worth discussing and I'm interested in your ideas and thoughts.  Whenever I swim with Gords, he is always way ahead of me and I appreciate him stopping every now and then to let me catch up.  When I swim with swimmers who are slower than me, I usually just take it easy and stop every once in a while to let them catch up.  I always try to make sure I know where the other people I am swimming with are at all times.  That's why I got a little freaked out when I lost sight of Kevin this morning.  In hindsight, I probably should have stayed closer to him and stopped more often to talk to him and see how he was doing.  I knew the water was going to be rough and we probably should have made a quick "worst case scenario" plan for what we would do in case it got too bad.

The sweet looking State Parks boat.

Not sure what these pictures mean, but the one on the top right is a swimmer...
The water pump is still broken so we couldn't rinse off.  Hopefully by next week it will be up and running again.

I was thinking while I was swimming that there is probably no better way for a Utah swimmer to prepare for ocean swims than by swimming in the Great Salt Lake.  Not only is it salty, but the conditions can be rough when the wind picks up.  I've been reading Steven Munatones' new open water book and he talks about the importance of training every now and then in rough water.

It wasn't the relaxing swim I was hoping for, but it was still beautiful outside and it beat the heck out of doing laps at the pool.  Our next swim is tomorrow at 6:00pm at Bountiful Lake.  Hope to see you there!


Beautiful, Calm Swim at GSL

Perfect morning for a swim at the Great Salt Lake.
I set my alarm for 5:30 this morning and woke up when it went off.  I must have gone back to sleep because when I woke up again it was 6:10.  Nuts!  I had to rush out the door to get to the marina by 6:30.  When I got there, Amy was just pulling in.  This was her first swim in the Great Salt Lake (and also ended up being her longest open water swim!).

We waded into the water and talked for a minute while we made our way into the marina.  Amy is training for an Ironman at the end of the month and wanted to go for the 2 mile round-trip from the marina to Black Rock and back.

The water was very warm and I am really starting to miss the 60's.  I kept hoping that we would swim through some cold spots, but there were none.  On the way out to Black Rock the water was totally flat and I stretched out my stroke and just enjoyed myself.  At Black Rock, we stopped to talk for a minute and rinse out our mouths with some Gatorade before heading back.  There was a slight breeze on the way back, but it was still relatively calm.  I took it easy on the way out (still a little cautious with my shoulder) but pushed it a little harder on the way back and also sprinted the last 200 meters or so.  I didn't get my time on the way out, but was pretty happy with my time on the way back at just over 24 minutes.

Caps off to Amy for not only swimming for the first time in the Great Salt Lake, but for completing her longest open water swim at 2.25 miles!

Ha! Now the tables are turned!  There were WAY more tourists when we got out, but they had made their way back to their buses by the time I got my camera out.
As we were getting out, there were two huge tourist buses in the parking lot.  I have never seen that many tourists at the lake at one time before.  They saw us in the water and came down to the dock with their cameras to take our picture.

The hose that we usually use to rinse off was being repaired so we both just dried off and headed home.

I love swimming at GSL in the morning!  It's generally much calmer than in the afternoon and there is no one out on the water that early in the morning.  We will be swimming at GSL again on Wednesday morning at 6:30am and invite anyone to join us.


Nice, Warm Swim at Bountiful Lake

I met Jake, Scott, Amy and Kristen this evening at Bountiful Lake.  Despite the menacing looking clouds, there was no rain, lighting or wind and the water was perfectly still.  We chatted for a few minutes about upcoming races before getting in the water.

The plan was just to swim the 1 mile loop around the lake.  The water was surprisingly warm.  I had my thermometer tied onto the back of my Safe Swimmer and it was reading 72 degrees.  I kind of have a hard time believing it was that high.  The thermometer was floating right at the very top of the water instead of below it and I think that's why it was so high.  Don't get me wrong, the water was warm.  Even on the north side where the water comes in.

I had to keep stopping to de-fog my goggles.  I have never liked to use anti-fog because it had left a residue on the lenses.  I have a few samples of Foggle left over from the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim, maybe I'll try on of those next time.

I got caught in some guys fishing line!  I'm actually surprised that it has taken this long to happen.  I was hugging the shore a little too close and didn't notice a fisher on the shore because my goggles were fogged up.  It took me a minute to get the line untangled from my Safe Swimmer, but luckily I avoided the hook.

It was a really nice night and it was good to meet some new swimmers.  Hopefully we will see them again!  Next group swim is 6:30am at the Great Salt Lake Marina.