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!


Kevin Vigor said...

Hey Josh,

thanks for the swim, and sorry to have given you concern. I never managed to spot that last buoy from the water and with no clear idea of where I was heading and knowing the chop was going to be in my face heading back, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and headed back in.

I doubt I got a mile in, but I spent 40+ minutes in the process and generally enjoyed it apart from the occasional mouthful of brine. I was very glad I've taken the time to learn to breathe to either side - that was crucial on the way back.

It's clearly going to take a bit of planning to accommodate the disparity in our paces without wrecking your workout. I reckon as long as the route mostly parallels the shoreline the chance of real harm is pretty small, so we don't need to stay in constant contact.

Hope to see you next Wednesday, and thanks again.

Josh said...


I think I made it out to be a bigger deal that it actually was on the blog. I figured you had just gone back. I actually had a hard time seeing that last buoy as well.

Hope to see you again next Wednesday.