10.29.2011

Trash Clean Up and 51 Degree Swim at Bountiful Lake

This morning I went out to Bountiful Lake to help out with a clean-up that Gords had organized.  I met Gords, two of his sons, Jim and Kate in the parking lot at 9:00am.  After getting our garbage sacks, we split up and started picking up trash.

For those who aren't familiar with Bountiful Lake, it is a small lake (more like a pond really) just west of Legacy Parkway.  It's a popular place to fish, picnic, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, camp  and swim.  Unfortunately, with all the people that use the lake, there is a lot of trash that gets left along the shore line.  There are plenty of garbage cans around the lake and in the parking lot, but a lot of trash ends up in the water and along the shore.

Between the six of us, we collected about six garbage bags of trash.  Most of what I picked up was plastic bottles and caps, Styrofoam (I think from coolers), food packaging and fishing related trash (fishing line, etc).  Kate was the real star of the day.  She had on waders and spent most of the time in the chilly water along the shore.

I am glad that Gords puts together these clean-up days and wish that more individuals and groups that use Bountiful Lake would take the time to clean it up as well.

After about two hours of cleaning up, Jim and I decided we might as well get in the water and swim.  He put on his wetsuit and I changed into my suit and we headed down to the water.  Depending on who you ask and who's thermometer you trust, the water was between 50 and 51 degrees!  A full six degrees colder from earlier this week!

I had hoped that we were going to ease into colder temperatures as we went through the fall and winter months, but it looks like we aren't going to have that luxury.  We were swimming in water colder than this earlier in the year, but I wasn't sure how I would react to such a sharp temperature drop.  We decided to start at the boat ramp (since we had just cleaned up all the trash around it) and swim out to the fishing dock and back.  Jim got in first and I went in second.  I was shocked at how cold the water felt.  It stung and I had a hard time getting my breathing under control.  Despite the cold, I was able to keep my face in the water.  About 3/4 of the way to the dock I had second thoughts and wondered if I should turn around.  Instead, I decided to keep going and made it to the dock.  I immediately turned around and headed back to the boat ramp.

Jim finishing up his swim. (Photo by Kate)

Trying to warm up. (Photo by Kate)
When I got out my skin was bright red, but I warmed up quickly and only had minimal shaking.  Jim also seemed to be fine, but mentioned that he was going to stop at Wasatch Running on his way home and get a neoprene cap.  Kate stuck around to see us swim and took some photos (thanks Kate!).

I am a little worried that it is going to get too cold, too fast for us to keep going for very long.  We will see how things go, but I am still planning on at least "plunging" once a week through the winter.

10.25.2011

Tuesday Night Swim at Bountiful Lake - 57 Degrees

Pretty, but chilly, evening at Bountiful Lake.
 After talking to Jake and Gords, this week's Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim was not going to work on the regularly scheduled Thursday evening.  Jake and I still needed our cold water fix, so we decided to go tonight.

It was a chilly day today with air temperatures in the 40's.  The water was also chilly, but was warmer than the air.  I picked up a new thermometer on my way out to Bountiful Lake and dropped it in the water after meeting Jake in the parking lot.  57 degrees!  This was almost 5 full degrees colder than last week!

Our entry point.  All in seems to work better for me than slowly wading in.
We were waiting around for Sabrina and my boys to show up and Jake and I started getting cold and also started psyching ourselves out a little.  We started jogging around to try to keep warm and thought that we need to start a pre-jump ritual (like jogging or jumping jacks or something) to have everyone do before jumping in.

Once Sabrina and the boys showed up, we had to wait for a couple who was getting their bridal pictures taken to move off of the dock so we could jump in.  We had hesitated and waited long enough, so I immediately jumped in after they left.  The water was cold, but was not as bad as I had imagined it would be.

Me heading out to the second dock (on the upper left corner of the photo).
Since we were already cold, our plan was to swim out to the second dock and back.  If we felt good, we would swim a triangular path going from the second pier, to the island and then back to the start.  I swam out to the dock and then stopped to see where Jake was.  My skin was stinging from the cold, but other than that I felt pretty good.  It always takes me a couple hundred yards to get over the initial shock.  We decided to swim the triangular course and headed to the island.  My arms felt really tight on the way back to the dock.  I realized that I go out way too hard when I first jump in and kind of wear myself out.  I will need to practice relaxing when I first jump in.
Jake right after jumping in.
I have been reading Lynne Cox's new book, "South With the Sun" (which is awesome by the way), and in it she talks about swimming in 28.8 degree water!  She said that after one swim, she got dressed and then hiked back to her hotel and told how that helped her to warm back up.  I decided to go for a little jog after getting out of the water to try to warm up faster and it seemed to help.

Hanging out after the swim.
The Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club meets again on Friday at 5:30pm.  We'll be swimming at the Great Salt Lake and will meet at Saltair at 5:30pm.  Hopefully we can get some more people to start coming!

10.20.2011

Second Swim With the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club

The club hoodies that Gords designed and ordered were in and looked great!

Jake modeling his new club hoodie.
Tonight I met Gords and Jake at Bountiful Lake for the second Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim.  It was a beautiful evening and the lake was busy with people fishing and out on the water in a raft and canoe.

The three of us got ready and walked over to the eastern fishing pier.  There were a bunch of people fishing there and they were nice enough to give us some space to jump into the water.  Gords took the temperature at 61.7 degrees.  Even though this was only a couple degrees colder than last week's swim at the Great Salt Lake, it felt much colder.

Jumping in was a shock, but I was able to get control of my breathing pretty quickly and kept my face in the water the whole time.  Our original plan was to just swim to the southern fishing pier, but once we got there we decided to keep going and swim around the first island.  My muscles felt a little tight, but other than that it was a very enjoyable swim.

After getting out and drying off, I only had minor shivers.  I'm still riding the "cold water high" as I type this post.

Next week we will be at the Great Salt Lake again.  Meet at Saltair at 5:30pm if you want to join us!

10.13.2011

First "Polar Bear" Swim With the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club

Gords, me and Jake at the first Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim at the Great Salt Lake. (Photo by Gords)
I have been excited all week for the first swim with the newly formed Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.  Gords recently started the group to try to encourage more people to try cold water swimming.  He even had some cool hoodies made!  I met Jake and Gords at Saltair at 5:30pm.  Jake was excited for the swim too and had been texting me all day about it.  He even showed up with a crazy beard in honor of the first swim.  We waited around for a little while to see if anyone else was going to show up, but no one did.  We all hopped in my car and drove out to Black Rock.

I have been watching the temperature on the GSL Marina website and it has dipped as low at 58 degrees.  We were all a little disappointed when we got in the water and Gords' thermometer showed 63.5 degrees.  It was cold enough to sting my face when I first got in, but that was about it.  At nearly 64 degrees, I don't think this even counts as a "polar bear" swim.

We swam out to some rocks that stick out into the lake and then sat back in the water (this is the Great Salt Lake, you really can "sit" in the water) and just enjoyed it.  After a while, we headed back to Black Rock.

When we were almost to Black Rock, I decided to see if I could make myself sink.  I dove under the water and blew out all of my air.  In a pool, you would sink like a rock to the bottom.  Out here, I popped right back up to the surface.  I tried a few more times and had to really fight to stay under water and, even then, I could only stay under for a few seconds.

Back at the car, we dried off and headed back to Saltair.  I don't think any of us were even shivering.  Oh well, it was still fun to get some of the original members together and enjoy some time in the water.  Hopefully when we meet next week at Bountiful Lake at 5:30pm, the water will be colder.

10.10.2011

Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club

Earlier this year a small group of us started swimming in 46 degree water (no wetsuits).  We had a lot of fun pushing ourselves to new limits.  Since my last open water race of the year is over, I'm starting to get excited to get back to cold water training.  To help get us more organized and recruit new people to "polar bear swimming", Gordon Gridley recently started the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.  The club was organized to get swimmers together for weekly cold water swims from now until next summer.  Gords has even designed a club hoodie that you can order right now!  You can learn more about the club and keep up to date by joining the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club Facebook group.

Warm up after a cold swim by ordering your Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club hoodie!  (Image from Gordon Gridley and the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club Facebook Group)

10.06.2011

Slam the Dam Race Report

On the 8K course at Slam the Dam.

I had a great time in Las Vegas this past weekend.  In addition to swimming in the second annual Slam the Dam open water swim, I got to meet and hang out with a bunch of great swimmers, paddlers and volunteers.

Sabrina and I drove into town in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel.  After checking in, we picked up friend and fellow Utah swimmer, Rachel, and headed to Settebello to meet up with some of the other Utah swimmers.  There were eight of us total including Sabrina, myself, Heidi and Steve Linton, Rachel Wagner, Karl Christen and his wife Charlene, and Gary Bethers.  We had a great time and a delicious meal.  Thanks to Heidi and Steve for getting dinner organized!  I wish I would have taken a picture of the dinner group...next time.

We stayed in a pretty cool hotel on Lake Las Vegas that was only 15 minutes away from the 8K starting point and it allowed us to sleep in a little longer on Saturday morning than we did last year.  We left the hotel at about 5:00am and drove to the 8K start to drop off our kayak and other gear and then drove to the finish at Boulder Beach to park our car and catch the shuttle back to the starting point.  It was pretty crowded at Boulder Beach and we had to wait for a few loads of swimmers and kayakers to take the shuttle before we got a turn.  During that time, the wind picked up and it started to rain a little bit.  We heard word from a paddler that the swim may be cancelled or delayed if there was lightning.  Things calmed down quite a bit by the time we got on the shuttle.  On our shuttle were fellow Utahns Scott and Rachelle Kunz, Brandon Slaugh and James Hochstrasser.

Me and Robert Baker before the 8K start.  (Photo by Robert Baker)
We were running a little late and had to rush to get checked in and get everything ready to go.  Kara Robertson, one of the race directors, made the announcement that the weather might get rough and that people were welcome to switch to the Super Slam event (2.4 mile + 1.2 mile) if they chose to.  As far as I could tell, everyone chose to take their chances and swim the 8K.  While getting ready, I ran into Robert Baker who I have got to know a little bit through Facebook and email.  It was good to finally meet him and get a picture with him.  He was one of the many great volunteers out on the water.  I also met up with Goody and was happy to see him and his dad there.

It's a bit of a walk / hike down to the race start and it took us a while to navigate the patch carrying our kayak.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the train of kayaks picking their way down the rocky and sandy trail.  Even though the race start was postponed 10 minutes because of the weather, I still had to scramble to get into the water in time.  I helped Sabrina get the kayak ready and then swam to the starting line.  Just a few seconds later, the countdown started and we were off.

The water was really warm (about 79 degrees) and pretty clear.  I was passed right away by a bunch of swimmers, but figured I would probably catch some of them further down the course.  My strategy at the start of a race is to not let the adrenaline take over and to force myself to stay calm and relax.
Best looking paddler on the lake!
I had asked Sabrina before the start to stay a little ahead and to the left of me and that I wanted to take my first feed at about 45 minutes to an hour.  We should have worked out some sign language because I couldn't hear her yelling at me when it was time to stop.  I kept looking for the first turn buoy, which was at the 2 mile mark, but I never saw it.  By the time I stopped to see where we were at, Sabrina told me we had been going for an hour and a half.  That news picked up my spirits quite a bit because I didn't think we were that far along.  I took a feed of gel / water mix and some watered down Gatorade before taking off again.

I felt great energy-wise and got into a good rhythm.  After a while the muscle pain in my right clavicle, that I thought I was done with, came back and my confidence took a bit of a dip.  It wasn't hurting nearly as bad as last year, it was just annoying.  After about 45 more minutes, Sabrina waved the paddle and I stopped for my last feed and also took some ibuprofen.  I could see a few swimmers just ahead of me and I picked it up a little to try to catch up.  The ibuprofen seemed to help and the pain died down to where it wasn't bothering me anymore.

Me and Mark Belnap after the 8K.
After what seemed like forever, I saw the buoys marking the final stretch and my spirits lifted again.  I was gaining on a couple people ahead of me and I just put my head down and swam.  As we entered the finish chute, I caught one swimmer and tapped his feet (accidentally).  I was surprised to see that it was Mark Belnap, another Utah swimmer.  He and I have been finishing pretty close to each other the past couple years at Deer Creek and last year at Slam the Dam.  We swam side by side for a while and then I took an erroneous turn to the right and he went past me.  I saw the ground below me and I stood up and started running, only to find that I was not inside the finish chute.  I laughed at my mistake and ran back into the chute and to the finish.  Mark and I had a good laugh about finishing so close together again.  My 8K time was 2:37:06.  This was a little slower than I had hoped, but still under 30 minute miles.

Brandon Slaugh, James Hochstrasser and I before the 1.2 mile swim.

I took another hit of gel / water, Gatorade and ibuprofen and then went to watch Goody finish.  I also found Rachel and talked to her for a bit before the 1.2 mile race started.  I got quite a few compliments on my flower suit from spectators, paddlers and swimmers.  I talked to Brandon Slaugh and JamesHochstrasser briefly as we were getting ready for the 1.2 mile start and then met up with Goody again.

Rachel Wagner and I before the start of the 1.2 mile swim.
One of these things is not like the others...
It was a crowded start and Goody and I were about in the middle of the pack.  We let the faster swimmers go ahead before diving in.  My arms and shoulders had tightened up quite a bit and they felt like rocks in the water.  It took me about 1/4 mile for them to loosen back up.  If we had just swam a straight 10K I'm sure I wouldn't have had that problem.

There were four large, round buoys marking the course.  When I got to what I thought was the third, someone started yelling at me.  I stopped to see what was going on and, to my surprise, saw Robert Baker in a kayak telling me that this was the turn around!  I had another good laugh at myself and then turned around and headed back.  I had plenty of energy, but my arms were tired.  I tried to push it on the final stretch, and finished fairly with a time of 35:25 for a total time of 3:12:32.
Post race with Goody.
I talked to a few people after the race and got some post-race food with Goody.  Mallory Mead was there and I wanted to get my picture taken with her and talk to her about her swims, but was too shy to ask.  I would have liked to talk to Kara for a minute also before leaving, but she looked pretty busy.  We got our kayak and gear loaded up and headed home.

The second annual Slam the Dam swim was better than the first.  There were 265 swimmers from 17 states and 4 countries!  I thought it was well organized and that the volunteers were very friendly and helpful.  There was a bit of a snag at the start of the 8K with the weather, but I thought Kara handled it very well.  I've become kind of a race t-shirt connoisseur, and this year's shirt was much cooler than last years.  This race has become a tradition for me.  It is so much fun to meet up with the other Utah swimmers for dinner the night before and then swim together the next day.  I'm looking forward to next year!

Best support paddler, coach and cheerleader on the lake!
 Thanks to my wife Sabrina for doing such a great job paddling for me.  I couldn't have done it without you!

10.04.2011

Utah Swimmer Profiles

I have met so many cool people this year through group swims, clinics, races and Facebook that I think you should get to know them as well.  I want to put together a "swimmer profile" on some of these great Utah swimmers that would include photos, how they got into open water swimming, accomplishments, most memorable swims and races, favorite places to swim, favorite gear, etc.  I already have a pretty good sized list of people that I want to profile and I hope to be sending out emails soon to see if they want to participate.  I am also looking for suggestions on people you would like to see profiled and what questions you would like to ask them.  If I can get enough people to participate, I want to add a permanent tab at the top of the page with links to each profile.

I'm pretty excited about it!  What do you think?

Awesome Utah Swimming and Triathlon Blogs

More and more Utah swimmers and triathletes are starting blogs to document their training, goals, race reports and open water adventures.  Here is a list of blogs that I subscribe to that you might like as well:

Gordon is my good friend and training partner.  He and I work together to organize and direct the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.  Gordon holds two International Marathon Swimming World Records for swims he did in the Great Salt Lake.  He has completed two 20+ mile swims (Great Salt Lake and Bear Lake) and is currently training for the English Channel in 2012.  Plus, he's a really nice guy.

Goody is a good friend and one of my favorite people to swim with.  He is a fun guy to be around and I always laugh when I read his posts.  He finished the 8.12 mile Antelope Island to Black Rock swim, the 10 mile swim at Deer Creek and the Grand Slam (10K) at Slam the Dam.  He also did the around the rock Alcatraz swim.

My brother Jake has overcome a lot of challenges that would have kept most people from working towards their goals.  He is a great writer and is an inspiration to me.

I met Matt for the first time this year.  He is relatively new to open water swimming and is also a sports writer for the Standard Examiner.  He wrote two excellent articles related to open water swimming for the newspaper this year.  He swam the 1 mile at GSL and the 5K at Deer Creek this year.

I met Karl for the first time at Slam the Dam this year.  He is pretty new to open water swimming, but I can tell he is hooked!  He has a goal to swim in each of the 50 states!

Nate is a Utah Lake swimmer and is working on getting an open water group together in Utah County.

I have run into Wes at several open water clinics.  He is a sponsored triathlete, coach and wicked fast swimmer.

Scott and Rachele met at the Deer Creek Open Water Swim a few years ago.  They have participated in, and supported each other in, several open water and endurance events.

Rory is a dedicated triathlete.  I love reading his race reports and watching his race videos.  He completed Ironman St. George this year and had a great series of video logs about his training.

What other blogs by Utah athletes do you read?  Do you have your own blog?  Post a link in the comments below.

10.03.2011

"Swim Your Name" Contest Results

I hate to admit it, but my idea for the "Swim Your Name" contest was a total flop.  My friend Gordon Gridley was the only person to submit an entry and, by default, is the winner of the Splish.com gift certificate.  I'm pretty sure that even if I had received more entries, his would have received the most votes.

Here is his entry, swum in Bountiful Lake:


Congrats Gords!

From Lake Mead to the Great Salt Lake

I made the trip to Las Vegas this past weekend, along with several other Utah swimmers, for the second annual Slam the Dam.  I had a blast and will be posting my race review after the official results are posted.

I didn't want to take too much time off after Saturday's race so I decided to go out to the Great Salt Lake this morning for a quick swim.  It was still dark when I got to the marina at 6:45am.  I thought about waiting around a little until it got lighter, but decided to just get in.  I walked down the rocky path to Silver Sands beach and waded into the water.  I had checked the water temp last night and it was about 70 degrees according to the website.

I started out heading northeast towards the red buoy.  I really need to get some clear goggles for morning swims.  I could barely see the buoy, even with the flashing red light, and had to sight on the mountains instead.  I stopped briefly at the buoy and then headed back towards the marina.

When I got to the marina entrance, I stopped for a minute and then followed the green buoys back to the east side of the marina.  As I was getting out there were a couple buses of tourists milling around the parking lot.  A few of them asked me if the water was cold and how often I come out.

It was a pretty laid back swim and it felt good to stretch out my sore muscles.  I like swimming in the mornings, but it is so dark that I would have to start at 7:00am and then I would get to work late.  I may have to switch to swimming in the afternoons.