Tuesday Afternoon Swim

Goody swimming back into the marina.
I met Gordon and Goody at the Great Salt Lake Marina this afternoon since there is supposed to be a big thunderstorm on Thursday (when we usually go).  I was excited to hear that Gords wanted to do a long swim and was looking forward to getting in some good distance.  Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way.

It was really warm today and I thought the water temperature would easily be in the mid 60's.  Goody's thermometer read 58 and then 60 degrees.  When I put mine in after swimming, it read 68 degrees.  Gords has a thermometer on his watch and it said 67 degrees when we were out on the lake.  The Great Salt Lake Marina website said 56 degrees.  Who knows what the real temperature was, but it felt great getting in.

We met Brian, who I have chatted with a little on Facebook, in the parking lot.  He is training for Ironman St. George and wanted to get in some open water swimming.  Gords, Goody and I swam out of the marina and then west to Black Rock.  At Black Rock we re-grouped and then headed back.  Swimming to Black Rock is a lot more fun than swimming back to the marina since there is a current pushing you to Black Rock that you have to fight a little on the way back.

On the way back I started having doubts about if I would be able to do another two or more miles.  I had plenty of energy, but was feeling a little weird.  I wasn't sure if I was just psyching myself out after my scare a few weeks ago but when I met Gords back at the red buoy outside of the marina, I started getting chilled and shivering a little while waiting for Goody.  Chilled in 80 degree weather and upper 60 degree water?  What the hell?  I was embarrassed to go in after only an hour when I wanted to do a lot more and Gords and Goody were still out there.  I had no problems at all at similar temperatures last year and should have been able to stay out there for hours today.  The only thing I can think of that has changed is that I found out in October that I have mild hypothyroidism.  One of the symptoms is sensitivity to cold.  I have got to talk to my doctor and get a blood test to make sure that my levels and dosage are right.  If this keeps up, there is no way I will be able to do the Bear Lake swim.  Hopefully it's just a matter of adjusting the dosage on my medication.

Here is the link to my Hydro Tracker.  About 2.25 miles total.


Busy Day at the Marina

It felt like summer today! My family and I met Chad out at the marina this afternoon for some swimming and kayaking. The marina was packed! I have never seen so many people out there in kayaks, on paddle boards, on the beach, on bikes and sailboats.

The water temperature had shot up to 64 degrees! My family and I kayaked out while Chad swam. At the second red buoy, we parted ways and we continued our adventure on the water. The boys had a blast pretending to be pirates. The whole time we were on the kayak I was thinking about getting in the water.  After getting back to the marina, I grabbed my swimming bag and got ready to go out and find Chad. I used a mix of Vaseline and lanolin for the first time today. That stuff is a mess, but works great. Just as I was getting into the water, Chad came back into the marina. We swam out to the first red buoy and chatted for a while before he had to head back to meet his wife. I did a one mile loop and then added on another quarter mile. It was so nice, I could have stayed out there all afternoon.


Seven Salty Swimmers

Goody coming into the marina.
We had a great turnout today!  There were five of us to begin with (Goody, Jim, Chad, Etsuko and myself), which is already pretty good, and then two more guys showed up as we were getting into the water.

I just did laps between the two buoys just outside the marina.  I wanted to keep an eye on Etsuko, who is new to open water and the Great Salt Lake.  She did a great job and seemed to be having a lot of fun and is planning on coming back next week.

The water temperature in the marina was 58 degrees, but there were pockets of both colder and warmer water outside of the marina.  I got out after about 30 minutes and took a "shower" at the water hose.

I dropped of a check to Dave Shearer for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.  One more little thing to take care of and then we are all set with Utah State Parks.


Ski Lakes as Swimming Venues?

I happened to come across this article on KSL.com this morning about a new development called Still Water Lakes that is planned in Syracuse.  The development includes two man-made "ski lakes" surrounded by home lots with private docks.  A year or so ago, I heard about a similar development planned in Eagle Mountain.  I also learned that there are two other similar "ski lakes" already in operation:  Last Chance Lakes near Tooele and Bear Hollow Lakes in Garland.

As you may have guessed, reading about these developments got me thinking about swimming in them.  The lakes are designed for water skiing and wake boarding and are probably pretty busy with boats during the warmer months.  But I wonder if they could be used for swimming events in the "off hours".

I couldn't find a description of how long any of the lakes are, but Bear Hollow Lakes looks to be about 700 yards between the turn islands.  The shorelines of the lakes are designed to minimize "rough" water and keep the lakes as smooth as glass.  This would be ideal for beginners and for racing.  Some of the developments even include clubhouses with showers, lockers and other amenities.  Spectators would have great views of the whole race.

It's probably just wishful thinking, but how cool would that be?!

Bear Hollow Lakes near Garland, UT


Friends of Utah State Parks

I met some nice people from Friends of Utah State Parks at REI in Salt Lake tonight.  I was so impressed with what they are all about and what they are trying to do, that I went home and signed up to become a member (only $15 for a one-year membership).

Friends of Utah State Parks is a citizens organization whose mission is to:
To preserve, protect, promote, advocate, and educate about the cultural heritage, history, natural resources and funding needs of Utah State Parks.
According to the website:
In the short term, FUSP will be working to reinstate our state parks funding to a sustainable level and on building a strong, enduring Friends organization. In the long term, FUSP will focus on how to secure new funding sources that can help keep our parks affordable to Utahns and at maintaining awareness in the political arena. FUSP remains a work in progress, with a strong vision for the future.
If you are interested in learning more about Friends of Utah State Parks or getting involved, check out their website or Facebook page.  There is also an upcoming volunteer event at Utah Lake on April 21 that will benefit Utah State Parks.  I will post more details soon.

*UPDATE* I just got an email back about the volunteer event at Utah Lake and they have reached their full capacity for volunteers.


A Taste of Things to Come

I met Chad and Gordon at the marina this afternoon for a quick swim.  It was a perfect day!  Air temperature was over 80 and the water temperature was 60 in the marina with some spots as high as 65 out in the lake.  We got a little taste of what things will be like in a month or so when the spring snow and rain storms calm down a little bit.

A lot of people were taking advantage of the nice weather today.  I saw a guy on a paddleboard and a few sailboats.  Sabrina saw some girls wading in the water at Silver Sands and a guy in a wetsuit who was training for an Alcatraz swim.

Today was my first day back to the lake since last week's fiasco.  I will freely admit that I was a little nervous getting back in the water.  I knew that my body would be fine today since it was so warm, but I wasn't sure how I was going to react mentally.

My only real goal was to get back in the water.  I chose a short route that was close to the marina and Gords and Chad were kind enough to swim the same route even though they probably would have rather swam out to Black Rock and back.  On the way out to the second buoy, I couldn't stop thinking about last week.  Once I forced myself to concentrate on something else, I was fine the rest of the swim.

Swimming around those four buoys is a fun little route.  It ends up being a little less than 1.25 miles.  After finishing one loop I decided to go back in even though I felt fine.  Today was all about getting back in the water after last week.  Gords and Chad did another loop before coming back in.

Here is the link to the Hydro Tracker map:  http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/share/workout/view/4f84e8cc13362

I'm hoping to get back out on Thursday, but with a busy week at work, I'm not sure I'll be able to.

Homemade Eye Swim

I stumbled onto the Eye Swim last week and thought it looked like a cool product.  Basically it is a type of underwater camera mount that you can set up on the pool deck that allows you to shoot underwater video of yourself.  The Eye Swim is priced at just under $80, which seems a bit steep to me.

I decided to make my own using PVC pipe and did it for just under $10.  It actually would have been a lot less, but I bought a package of Velcro straps to hold the camera on and keep the pieces together when disassembled.  A couple rubber bands would work just as well.

Here is a picture of the finished product:

And here is the video I shot with it this morning (it would look much better in a pool with better lighting...).  I already see some things that I need to correct.


Thankful for Good Friends

Sorry for the long post, but there is a story and lesson from today's swim that I think are important to share.

I met Gords, Goody and Chad for our usual Thursday swim at the marina.  It was a little cool outside, but the water temp was about as warm as it has been all year at 58 degrees.

I got to talk to some people from Bountiful who had brought out some visitors from Norway to see the lake.  We talked for quite a while and the people from Norway seemed to be pretty impressed with the lake.  That is one cool thing about hanging out at the marina, you get to meet a lot of cool people from all over the world.

Gords and I bought a SPOT GPS Messenger and I brought it out to the marina today to test it out.  I had posted the link to the "live" map so people could follow our progress and let us know if the setup worked.  From the comments I read, everything seemed to work as planned.  Here is the map from the SPOT shared site:

I was doubled up on GPS devices today.  Here is the link to the data and map from my Hydro Tracker.  A total of 3,765 yards (2.14 miles).  It would have been about 2.2 miles if not for the story I am about to share.

The water was 58 degrees today, which I think was warmer than the air temperature.  It was noticeably warmer when I got in and started swimming.  There was a crowd of people gathered to watch us swim out of the marina, which is always kind of fun.

We swam down to Black Rock and I felt great.  At Black Rock, Gords and I waited for briefly for Chad and Goody to catch up.  Not moving for even that short time, I started getting cold and was anxious to get moving again so that I could warm back up.

At about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way back to the marina, I noticed that I wasn't thinking straight.  I kept swimming for a while, but an almost overwhelming feeling of panic came over me.  I felt like I was on the verge of losing control so I stopped and tried to calm down.  I thought about swimming into shore or swimming back to to Black Rock and trying to hitch a ride with the car that was parked there.  Goody swam over and asked if I was alright.  I think my response was "I don't know".  Goody waved Chad over to help.  Chad, I learned, is an EMT and asked if I was ok.  He did a good job of getting me to calm down and asked me some basic questions to see how I was doing.  He told me to focus on only good things so I tried to picture Sabrina in my mind.  With that I was able to calm down enough to start swimming with Chad and Goody on either side.  I prayed as I swam that I would be able to make it back to shore.

After a while the panic started coming back and I kept stopping.  By this time Gords must have figured something was wrong because he slowed down and was swimming next to me.  I started shivering and feeling light headed.  I have never passed out, but I think I may have been close.  It was such a strange feeling and I don't know how to describe it other than I knew I was not thinking straight.  We were getting close to the marina but I couldn't swim for more than about 25 yards at a time.

Chad, Goody and Gords gathered around and Chad asked me simple questions again to make sure that I was still ok.  He told Gords to swim ahead and get my towels ready and get his car warmed up.  I turned over on my back and held onto my Safe Swimmer.  With Chad and Goody on either side, they towed me the rest of the way to the shore while I kicked.  They kept talking to me and asking me questions which helped a lot to keep me calm and take my mind off of the situation.  All I could think about was getting OUT of the water.

After what seemed like a long time, we got to the rocks at the end of the marina and I was able to climb out on my own.  When I got to the top I saw Gords running towards me with my towel and clothes.  He helped me get dried off and dressed and we walked back to his car which he had already warmed up.

After a while of sitting in the car with the heater blazing I started feeling better.  Chad checked my pulse periodically and seemed to be happy with my progress.  I wasn't watching the clock, but after what seemed like a short time I was talking to Sabrina on the phone and texting on my phone with no problems.

I am still trying to figure out what went wrong.  I though maybe the panic had something to do with a thyroid problem that I take medication for, but that doesn't explain the confusion and feeling like I was going to pass out.  From what I have read about hypothermia, I think I was well into the first stage.  The only thing I can think that would have caused it is being in the water for too long.  The longest I have been in the water this year was about 50 minutes and by the time I climbed out today, I had been in for an hour and 20 minutes.  The water felt pretty good when I first got in, but I think I was just exposed for too long.

I am lucky to have such good friends who took control of the situation and helped me to stay calm and get me out of the water and warmed up.  I would not have tried that swim alone at that water temperature but I hate to think about what would have happened if they weren't there.  I am grateful to God, who I know heard my prayers and was watching over me.  I don't feel like I was being reckless at all.  I was swimming with other people and had my Safe Swimmer on.  I have also been swimming with these guys in cold water all year with no problems and should have had no problem at 58 degrees.

I'm not going to let this one bad experience keep me from doing what I love but, until the water and weather warms up a little more, I will be a little more conservative with how long I am in the water.  I will also stick to swimming near the marina and maybe just do laps between the buoys.

The lesson of this story is to be careful and plan ahead, especially in cold water.   Open water is pretty unpredictable, which is one of the things I love about it, and you have to be prepared.  Be sure that you are swimming with someone else and that you let someone know where you are and when you expect to be done.  I would also recommend choosing a route near the shore so that you can get out quickly if you run into problems.  I also highly recommend swimming with a Safe Swimmer or other similar safety device.  If you are as lucky as I am, you will swim with good friends who know how to help you when you get into trouble.