Great Salt Lake Open Water Clinic - Recap

I had a great time at the Great Salt Lake Open Water clinic this afternoon.  I love putting these together with Gordon because I get to meet a lot of new people and see friends that I don't see very often (I even FINALLY got to meet Nathan Nelson).  Thanks to everyone who came out!

I got to the lake a little before the clinic started and Etsuko and I hopped in for a quick swim.  People were already starting to show up and get in the water as I was coming back into the marina.  I met Jason and Trevor, two swimmers from last year's race, on my way into the marina.  They didn't know we were having a clinic and just happened to come swim at the same time.

It was a big group this evening!  Other than the actual race last year, this was the biggest group of swimmers I have seen at the lake at one time.  I think we had around 25 total.

Gords and I gave some instruction on equipment, safety, techniques and the unique features of swimming in the Great Salt Lake.  After that, we got in the water and swam out to the green buoy where we met up for some pictures.  I didn't have much of a plan at this point, so I was glad that Gords took control and suggested that we do a simulated start and swim to the white buoy and back.

I took my time on the swim and then waited at the white buoy for most of the swimmers to make their turn and head back.  The group slowly split up and headed back into the marina.  I stayed out for a while talking to Chad and Matt while we waited for the last swimmers to make their way in.  I think we were floating there talking for at least a half hour.

There were some guys putting in a ski boat when we were getting out of the water.  We watched them cruise around for a while, but didn't see anyone skiing.  You don't see people bring their boats out to the lake very often (unless they are sail boats or duck hunting boats).

After we got back into the marina, I stuck around the parking lot and talked to some more of the swimmers before finally getting dressed and heading back home.  I hope that it was worthwhile for everyone who came out and that they had a good time.  There were a lot of first time GSL swimmers and I think for the most part, they liked it (at least it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be).

My Hydro Tracker looks to be out of commission.  I can't get the power to turn off and my computer won't recognize it.  On Chad's recommendation, I started a support ticket with FINIS when I got home.  It took four weeks for him to get a replacement.  I'm hoping that the battery will die tonight and that it will come back online tomorrow when I plug it in....we'll see.

Thanks again to everyone who came to the clinic!


FREE Open Water Clinic at the Great Salt Lake Marina

We are a little more than a week away from the second annual Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim and it's time for another FREE open water clinic.

The clinic will be held on Thursday May 31 at 6:00pm.  We will be meeting at the north end of the Great Salt Lake Marina parking lot.  There will be instruction by Gordon Gridley and I, followed by Q&A and practice in the water.

If you are participating in the race on June 9th, this will be a great opportunity to preview the course and get some race specific information.  If you are a triathlete or are new to open water, this will be a great chance to get some experience before your next race.

The weather should be nice and the water temperature has been around 68 degrees in the afternoon.

For those who have been wanting to pick up a Safer Swimmer, we will have them available for sale.  The small size is $35 and the large size is $40 (limited quantities of the large size).

Utah State Parks has been a HUGE help in making the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim happen.  PLEASE remember to pay your $2 entrance fee as you come into the marina.  There are envelopes near the stop sign as you come in.


Morning and Afternoon Swims at GSL

Today I will be swimming twice at GSL.  This morning I (kind of) swam with Gords and I will be meeting Rachel and Erin this afternoon.

------------------------------------------------Morning Swim--------------------------------------------------
As we were leaving his birthday party, Gordon asked if I wanted to come with him to swim at the marina this morning.  I told him I would but I was a little doubtful about how long I would be able to swim.  For anyone who hasn't been following the blog, I recently found out that my hypothyroidism has been making me more sensitive to the cold.  That combined with the mental hit I took after my experience with hypothermia have really taken their toll on me.  My doctor adjusted my medication and I have noticed a slight improvement.  I have also been working on mental training to try to get some of my confidence back.  It has been frustrating trying to train for the swims that I want to do and not be able to stay in the water as long as I want without panicking or getting cold.

I got to the marina this morning and met Gords in the parking lot.  I told him to go ahead and do his own thing because I didn't want him to have to tow me back to the marina if something happened.  I also knew that he would be doing at least 4 miles and I didn't think I would be able to stay in the water that long.  When I got in, the water was 61 degrees.  It didn't feel as cold as I expected, which was encouraging.  Once I got out of the marina it warmed up a little bit (Gords had readings between 64 and 65 degrees in the lake).

My goggles kept leaking and I had to keep stopping to fix them.  The water was beautiful!  I thought it was clear yesterday, but this morning was even better.  I could see the bottom of the lake for most of my swim.

I swam the one mile loop of buoys and felt pretty good.  I was slightly chilled at the end, but decided to go a little further and swam out the white buoy and back.  By that time I was starting to get cold and decided to head back in.  I ended up with 1.5 miles in 42 minutes (counting the many times I had to stop and fix my goggles).  I feel like a wuss when Gordon and Goody are swimming for hours at a time in sub 60 degree water and I can only make it 45 minutes before getting cold.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things get better.  I want to start doing more morning swims so that I can get some more exposure to lower temperatures.  Here is the link to my Hydro Tracker: http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/workouts/workout/view/4906

-----------------------------------------------Afternoon Swim------------------------------------------------

On my way out to the Great Salt Lake this afternoon, I got a call from Rachel.  Her tire had blown out on the freeway and she asked if I could help.  It's been a while since I changed a tire, but we managed to get the spare on and get her on her way home.

Chad near the end of our swim.
Chad and Etsuko were nice enough to wait for me at the marina.  Chad is really giving me a run for my money on wild suits, he had on a nice one today!  The three of us swam around the buoys outside of the marina.  Etsuko ending up swimming about a mile, which I think was her longest swim at GSL!  I though Chad and I swam 1.5 miles but, when I checked my Hydro Tracker, we ended up swimming a LOT further.  Check out the map:

Taking a break.  I've got to get one of those underwater MP3 players.

I was telling Chad that it would be cool to get a couple other open water races going.  He said he would put one together at Echo Reservoir if he had some help.  I offered him my help, and offer my help to anyone else who wants to organize an open water swim.

I'm looking forward to the FREE open water clinic we are putting on Thursday at 6:00pm at the marina.


Memorial Day Swim

Look at that water!
I was eager to get out to the marina for a swim today for a couple reasons.  First, I had the day off and wanted to do something other than sit around all day.  Second, I wanted to get in a morning swim to see what the conditions and water temperature might be like for Saturday (when I plan to swim from Antelope Island to Black Rock with Gords) and how my body would react to the colder water and air temperatures.

It was warmer than I though it would be this morning and the water looked beautiful at the lake.  I don't remember ever seeing the water as clear or as calm as it was this morning, it was perfect!  I took a temperature reading in the marina at 60 degrees flat.  I was a little nervous because it has been a while since I have been in water that cold, but I needed to see where my body was at.

The water felt pretty cold for the first few hundred yards, and then got a little better.  After I got out of the marina, the temperature jumped up by probably 5 degrees and I felt pretty comfortable.  I was swimming alone (with Sabrina and the boys watching on shore) so I stayed close to the marina and just swam two laps from the marina to the white buoy and back.

On my way back into the marina on the first lap I was surprised to be hit in the head and shoulder with something.  I popped out of the water to see what had happened and saw someone from the Great Salt Lake Rowing Club.  She felt pretty bad and kept apologizing.  She even saw my Safer Swimmer buoy and still ran into me.  I am sure that she wasn't expecting me to be there and I couldn't see her when I sighted because of where the sun was.  I got a couple scratches and a minor headache, but kept swimming.

This is the bigger scratch from getting hit.
I dreaded going back into the marina at the end of each lap because it was so much colder.  I would have liked to swim longer (in the lake, not the marina) but I had already told Sabrina what my plan was and didn't want to change it up without letting her know.  I had also promised Harrison that we could go down to Black Rock (he has been begging me to take him for months), so I decided to get out.  I finished up with 1.68 miles.  Here is the Hydro Tracker data: http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/workouts/workout/view/4893

I read about my Internet/Facebook friend (we have managed to never meet in person), Nathan Nelson's fear of buoys and couldn't resist taking this photo for him:

I wonder what's at the other end of that rope...


Two Swims and a Meeting With the Harbor Master

Two swims again today, although the second one was VERY short.

I found a workout by Janet Evans on Active.com last night that I modified and swam at the pool this morning.  Here's what it looked like:

1,000 warm up

Repeat the following twice:
1 x 500
2 x 400 (pull)
3 x 300 (second 300 was kick)
4 x 200 (alternate 200 IM, 200 free)
5 x 100

1,000 cool down

I liked this workout a lot and will add it to my list of "go to" workouts for when I can't think of anything else to do.

Gordon and I had a meeting with Dave Shearer, the Harbor Master at the Great Salt Lake Marina, about the upcoming Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim on June 9.  I got to the marina early and had just enough time to get in a 20 minute swim.

The water was noticeably cooler than Tuesday, but I didn't take the temperature.  As I was getting in, a tourist came running down the ramp and asked if he could take my picture.  At least he asked, most of them just start snapping.  I only had 20 minutes before I had to get to the meeting so I just swam out of the marina, to the white buoy and then got out at Silver Sands Beach...as measly 920 yards.  Oh well, at least I got in!

I saw Goody as I was getting out and talked to him for a minute before he took off on his own swim.  At the restroom, I saw Chad (in his awesome new suit form Splish.com) and talked to him for a second before heading to Dave's office.

The meeting went well.  Dave had some great ideas and is really bending over backwards to help us out.  He has been super supportive of the event from the beginning.  There are just a few things left to button up and we should be ready to go.


Interview on "The Morning Swim Show"

I was contacted by Jeff Commings, the associate producer for "The Morning Swim Show", about a week ago and was asked to give an interview and talk about the Safer Swimmer and my recent scare at the Great Salt Lake.  Thanks goes to Bruce Wigo (creator of the Safer Swimmer and CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame) for giving them my name and telling them about my experience.

They interview was done by the host of the show, Peter Busch, through Skype yesterday morning and can be streamed online today.

I had a whole bunch of things that I wanted to say I forgot them all once the interview started.  Hopefully I did a decent job telling my story and encouraging people to check out the Safer Swimmer.  While the Safer Swimmer certainly played a role in my safe return to shore, the real heroes were Chad Starks, Goody Tyler IV and Gordon Gridley.

They kind of played up the "he could have died" thing, which I think is a bit of an exaggeration to make the story sound more exciting.  The only way I see that having been a possibility is if I had been swimming alone, without a Safer Swimmer, and passed out.

Here is the link to the show.  You can also watch it below:

If after watching the video you decide that you might want a Safer Swimmer of your own, check out our online store or pick one up at one of our group swims or clinics. All the money we make from selling Safer Swimmers goes back into the Utah Open Water community and promoting the sport.


Review of the Speedo Hydrospex 2 Goggles from Aquagear.com

Speedo Hydrospex 2 goggles from Aqua Gear (FINIS Hydro Tracker not included).
A rep from Aqua Gear contacted me last week and asked me to take a look at their site and choose a product to review.  Being a self-proclaimed "goggle geek", naturally I chose a pair of goggles.  The Speedo Hydrospex 2 goggles looked like they were right up my alley, so I had them send me a pair.

I was drawn to the Hydrospex because they look like some other goggles that I already have (blueseventy Vision and TYR Nest Pro) and like a lot for open water.

The Hydrospex are not really designed for pool swimming, but I tried them out in the pool anyway.  The high profile makes them prone to coming off or leaking when diving in and pushing off walls so I wouldn't recommend them for the pool (unless you really tighten down the straps to keep them on).

In the open water, the Hydrospex are great!  The large lenses make it easy to see what's going on around you and the flexible frames and gaskets make them comfortable to wear.  The split straps allow you to adjust them until they are just right.  Tightening, or loosening, the straps is easy to do with buttons on both sides that lock them in just how you like them.  I got the version with tinted lenses, but they are also available in clear.  At only $12.95 from Aqua Gear, they are pretty reasonable.

Aqua Gear carries a wide selection of swimming gear at reasonable prices and also offers free shipping on orders over $75.  If you haven't been on their site, check it out!

Two Swims, An Interview and New Goggles

I had one swim in the chlorine and one in the salt today.  This morning I did 8,000 yards at the pool.  Here is the workout:

2,000 warm up (alternate free and back)
500 kick w/fins
1,000 pull
1,000 swim
500 kick w/fins
1,000 pull
1,000 swim
500 kick w/fins
500 cool down

I was asked to be interviewed on "The Morning Swim Show" this morning and had fun talking about the Safer Swimmer and telling my story about how it, and my friends, helped get me safely to shore when I had hypothermia.  I even worked in a mention of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club!  The interview should be online tomorrow.

I met Kris, Etsuko and Jen at the GSL marina this afternoon.  It had been a beautiful, sunny day all day until I pulled into the marina.  Almost instantly the sky went dark and the wind started to blow.  It looked like it would rain, but never did.

Kris and Jen were new to the GSL, so we took it easy and just swam out to the white buoy and back.  I spent a lot of time talking to Kris and just enjoyed being out in the water.  Kris was having a blast and I think she is hooked!

Since I already swam this morning, I didn't feel bad about swimming just under a mile today.  I could have taken off and done my own thing but it was a lot of fun to swim with some GSL "newbies".  Here is the link to my Hydro Tracker workout:   http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/share/workout/view/4fbc4a0c7a59e

The folks at Aqua Gear sent me some Speedo Hydrospex 2 goggles to review.  I tried them out at the pool this morning (they are not really designed for pool swimming) and I took them for a spin at the marina.  They are kind of similar to the TYR Nest Pro goggles that I have been wearing lately and, so far, I really like the Hydrospex.  Check out my full review here.


Swim With Friends and "Gridley Monsters"

I heard that my friends Kate and Rachel were going to be heading to GSL to swim this afternoon, so I invited myself to go along with them.  They brought along two friends, Renee and Esther, who had never been in the Great Salt Lake.  They came on a great day, because the water was just over 70 degrees.

Chad pulled into the marina after I had been there for about 15 minutes and brought the wind with him.  For about half an hour it got REALLY windy.  We took cover in our cars while we waited for the rest of the swimmers to get there.  Luckily it didn't last long and was pretty calm by the time Kate, Rachel, Renee and Esther got there.

It was a pretty laid back swim and I wasn't worried about trying to get in any kind of distance.  We swam out of the marina and re-grouped at the red buoy.  From there, Chad and I swam out to the white buoy and back and the ladies swam to the green buoy and back.  Kate talked Chad and I into trying to swim fly.  It's awesome in the GSL!  You ride so high on the water that it makes it a little more effortless.

On the way back we spotted a few half submerged tumbleweeds in the water.  Chad informed me that these are now called "Gridley Monsters" because they can scare the crap out of you if you unexpectedly put your hand into one while swimming.

It was a fun swim and it was nice to just relax and have a fun time instead of stressing out about trying to get a long distance swim in.  I ended up with just over 1500 yards for the day.  Here is my Hydro Tracker data:



Choppy Swim With Chad, Jim and Greg

Had another double swim day today.  I did 6,000 yards this morning at the pool.  This was less than I usually do, but I had to get to work earlier than on normal days.  I had a weird pain down the side of my left arm on the last 1,000 or so yards.  Hopefully it goes away...

I didn't think I was going to make it to the marina today until everyone was gone.  Luckily, I finished up early and made it out to the lake at the usual time.  Jim had just pulled up when I got there and Greg and Chad were right behind me.  It was good to see Greg.  Although we talk occasionally through Facebook, I haven't seen or swam with him since last year.  Goody and Gords decided to swim at the Antelope Island Marina today since it is usually a few degrees cooler than the GSL Marina.  According to Jim's thermometer, the water temp in the marina was about 68 degrees today.

There was a breeze as we were getting in but it didn't seem too bad until we got outside of the marina.  The wind was kicking up some good sized waves and it was choppy the whole time we were in the water.  Chad and I swam out to Black Rock and back and called it good.

When we got back to the parking lot, Jim and Greg were already gone.  We hung out for a while and watched some people load their sailboat onto their trailer and take down the mast.

Here is the link to my Hydro Tracker data:  http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/share/workout/view/4fac75095f9c7

In other news, we ordered the event shirts for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim yesterday.  I think they are going to be cool!


Great Day of Swimming!

I got in two swims today: one pool and one open water.  Counting showers, I figure that I spent about four hours in the water today.

This morning I did a workout that I really like.  The main set was all 500's, alternating between kick (with fins), pull and "fast".  I finished up with 8,500 yards at the pool.  I've been thinking a lot about my recent change in hypothyroidism symptoms and how it is going to affect my "open water season" this year.  This morning while swimming, I started to feel a little more optimistic.

I met the GSL crew (Goody, Gordon and Chad) at the marina this afternoon.  They were going to be swimming four laps of the Gridley Straight, for a total of over 4 miles.  I was still unsure how I was going to feel with my recent change in dosage of my medication so I decided to hang around the buoys and get in at least a mile.

My thermometer read 69 degrees in the marina!  I couldn't believe it.  It was noticeable warmer than last Thursday.  It felt great!  The thermometer on Gordon's watch ready 71 degrees at one point!

Once we got out to the first red buoy, we parted ways and the guys headed out to Black Rock and I headed out to the second red buoy.  Last night I finished reading Swim: Why We Love the Water by Lynn Sherr (great book by the way).  I learned that my hero Lynn Cox sings "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" over and over while she swims.  I decided to give it a try today.  By the time I finished the buoy loop, I was at 30 bottles of beer.  I was feeling great and decided to go for another lap.  After finishing the second lap, I waited for a minute to see if I could see the guys coming back from Black Rock.  I didn't see them, so I swam out to the white buoy and back.  When I got back to the red buoy I saw Gords, Chad and Goody coming in.  I swam out to meet them and then chatted with them for a minute before the took off again.

I had planned on meeting a guy named Steve to get him a couple Safer Swimmers so I headed back in to the marina.  I would have liked to keep going and get a couple more miles.  I felt like I was back to "normal" today and really had a lot of fun being out in the water.

Here is the data from my Hydro Tracker: http://www.finisinc.com/streamline/share/workout/view/4fa9cece5f27e


Another Double Dip (Pool + Open Water)

Today was another double dip, with a morning swim at the pool and an afternoon swim at GSL.

At the pool, I did a mix of long easy pulling sets, negative split 500's, and 100's on my base time for a total of 8,000 yards.

This afternoon there were seven swimmers at the marina!  I didn't see Gords at all because he and Goody got in early and he left before I finished my swim.  Today's swimmers were Gords, Goody, Chad, Jim, Levi (who I didn't get a chance to meet), Etsuko and myself.

Still not sure about how this new dosage for my hypothyroidism is working, I decided to stay near the marina and use the buoys.  Chad came out with me and we swam out to the third red buoy.  There were some pretty good swells that were kind of fun to swim against.  It was cool to feel yourself lift up and then sink back down.  When we were almost to the last buoy, I started freaking myself out.  I didn't even really feel cold and I'm not sure what the problem was.  I decided to just swim the rest of the way out to the red buoy and then go straight back in.  I feel like I am back to being an open water newbie and am frustrated than I haven't been able to swim longer with my friends...hopefully I can get this worked out soon.

The swim back to the marina was a lot of fun, because we were swimming with the swells pushing us back to the marina.  It felt like it only took about half the time that it did getting out there.  I ran into Goody on the way back and talked to him for a minute before finishing up.  By the time I got back into the marina, I had calmed down and was feeling great.  I should have turned around and gone back out for a little bit longer.

I know a lot of people have been having trouble with their Hydro Trackers, and a lot of them are sending them back.  I have had some minor glitches with mine, but have been pretty happy with it so far.  I will post a more detailed review soon and will point out some of the problems that other people are having with it.


Double Dip (Pool + Open Water)

Yesterday was a great day for swimming!  I was able to swim twice, once at the pool and once at GSL for a total of just under 6 miles.

Here is the morning's workout:
1,000 warm up (alternate 250 free, 250 back)
10 x 100 on 1:30
5 x 200 on 3:00
2 x 500 on 7:30
5 x 200 on 3:00
10 x 100 on 1:30
1,000 pull
1,000 cool down

I slowed down a little on the second half, but other than that it was a great workout.

In the afternoon I met Gordon, Goody, Chad and Michelle at the GSL marina.  It was a nice, sunny day with a breeze that was making small waves on the water.

Recently I have noticed that I am much more sensitive to "cold" water, which is not normal.  Sensitivity to cold is one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism (which I found out I have last October).  I decided to get my blood checked to see if there had been a change in my levels.  Sure enough, they were lower than they should have been and my doctor increased the dosage of the medicine I am taking.  From talking to others with thyroid issues, it can take a few days to a week to notice a change on a new dosage.  Because of that, I decided to keep my swim short to see how I felt.

Goody, Chad and Gordon headed out towards Black Rock and Michelle and I stayed near the marina and did the one mile lap of buoys.  I noticed a slight improvement with the water and I hope by Thursday I will feel even better.  If I waited too long for Michelle to catch up, I started feeling a little cold so I decided to swim back to meet her instead of wait at the buoys.  It was a little rough with the wind, but not too bad.  I finished up with 1.36 miles.  After getting out, my thermometer read 64 degrees.