First Annual Utah Open Water Swim Camp

This past weekend was the first annual Utah Open Water Swim Camp at East Canyon reservoir.  We had a pretty good turn out and had a lot of fun.  Thank you to everyone who participated and helped chip in for the camp site!

Campers at the first annual Utah Open Water Swim Camp at East Canyon Reservoir.

At the start of the 1/2 mile and 1 mile "race"
Friday afternoon was spent getting our camp set up as swimmers and their families trickled in.  Karen, Sam and Sue went over to the reservoir to get some swimming in before Karen and Sam had to leave.  Another group of us went over shortly after and did a little swimming near the buoys and jumped off the big rock.  While we were there playing around, Kate and Rachel showed up and got in the water to swim.

We headed back to the camp site to find Jim and Connie and Chad and his family waiting there.  By this time we were pretty hungry, and got dinner started.  Everyone had their own meals and also brought something to share.  Sabrina had made German chocolate cake for dessert and she also made homemade butter pecan ice cream.  It was delicious!

Night swim!
After dinner we set up an outdoor movie (thanks to Gordon for letting us borrow his projector).  After the movie, we got ready and loaded up for a night swim.  It was a little tricky getting down to the water in the dark, but eventually we all made it.  With glow stick on, five swimmers (Kate, Rachel, Sue, Chad and Jim) swam across a narrow part of the reservoir and goofed around in the dark.

On Saturday morning we were joined by Scott, who swims and works out with a triathlon group in Park City, Etsuko and her son, and Sue's husband and son.  After breakfast, we broke camp and headed back over to the reservoir for a 1/2 mile and 1 mile "race".  Jim brought on of his buoys and we set it 1/4 mile out from the wakeless buoys.  Etsuko and Scott swam half a mile and Jim, Chad, Sue and Todd raced one mile.  After a bit more swimming, Chad and I jumped off the big rock that is near where we were swimming.

We headed back to camp for a quick lunch and then packed up the rest of our stuff and headed home.

It was a great weekend and I had a lot of fun!  We will definitely be doing this again next year!  Here are some ideas I had for making it better for 2013:

  • Make the camp two full days.  3:00pm Friday to 2:00pm Saturday was just not enough time to get in the amount of swimming that I wanted.
  • If we stay at East Canyon, we should reserve all the individual camp sites down near the water.  We had to drive down the road and hike down a steep path to get to the water.  Camping in the individual sites would be much closer to the water.
  • Organize a long swim with kayak support.  East Canyon is about 3 miles long.  It would be fun to take a group on a 3 mile and/or 6 mile swim.
  • Make sure we pick a date when Goody and Gordon can come!
  • If we had more time, we could incorporate some clinic type stuff into the activities.  I also thought it would be cool for each person to bring their most memorable swim to share with the group.
  • I like East Canyon, but I am open to holding the camp at other locations too.
  • Prizes!  There ought to be some prizes or awards for things.  Chad would definitely win the "wildest swimsuit" award.

If you came to camp, or even if you didn't, what things would you like to see for next year.


Gordon Gridley in the Salt Lake Tribune

Check out this awesome article in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune about Gordon Gridley's upcoming English Channel Swim!

If these images are too hard to read, you can find the article online here.

For the record, I am pretty sure that I did not say: "It’s good having somebody in the water to point out the currents." It doesn't make sense.  I would not be able to see the currents any better than Gordon from the water. Everything to do with navigation, currents, tides, etc. will be left up to the boat captain. I did tell Ben that, as a pace swimmer, I might be able to help Gordon to get through the currents by pushing him to swim faster. Otherwise, this is a great article!

James Jonsson Ends His Bear Lake Swim

James Jonsson at the north end of Bear Lake.

James Jonsson started his ambitious Bear Lake x2 -20 (double length-wise crossing of Bear Lake in under 20 hours) at 7:42pm last night.  The weather was beautiful at the start of the swim and the water was warm (74 degrees) and almost completely flat.  Everyone anticipated a great swim through the night.

Based on weather forecasts, James decided to start at the northern end of the lake (Idaho), swim to the southern end (Utah), and then back to the starting point at the north end in Idaho.  We had a team of four on a kayak and ski boat to support him.

James took his feeds every 45 minutes and had a combination of GU, Powerade and his wife's homemade chicken noodle soup.  I have never really seen James swim up close because we have often swam the same masters and open water events.  His stroke is strong, smooth and fast.

The wind picked up briefly coming from south to north, but quickly died back down.  Occasionally, we saw some lighting way off in the distance to the south and didn't think much about it.

Right before his 5th feed, James stopped and told us that he had pulled a muscle.  The same thing has happened on other swims and he though he might be in trouble.  It was obvious that it was painful to him and he though that it was slowing him down.  From my perspective, he still looked like he was swimming strong and I could not tell a change in his pace, but it was very dark by this time.  He took a feed and started swimming again.

We watched from the support boats as storm clouds began to build up and the amount of lightning increased.  James stopped again before he scheduled feed and told us that the pulled muscle in his groin/leg was getting worse and that it was forcing him to change his stroke and not get a full body rotation.  By this time he was also aware of the lighting in the distance.  James' friend Jeff (also the boat captain) talked to him briefly and, in the end, James decided to end his swim by touching the boat.  By this point he was nearing the halfway point of the first crossing.

I think he was disappointing after training so hard for this swim and he even apologized to me for not finishing.  I felt bad that he wasn't able to finish, but given the circumstances, he made the right decision.   I was happy to be a part of the swim, no matter the outcome.

I was lucky to get to know James a little better and meet his family and also the Peterson family.  What a great bunch of people!  They were so generous and friendly, I really had a great time with them.

I hope James will try this swim again and I hope to be there to support him when he does.


Track James Jonsson's Double Bear Lake Swim

I am getting ready to head up to Bear Lake this afternoon to meet James Jonsson and his team for his unprecedented double Bear Lake swim.  I will be posting updates to the Utah Open Water Facebook page as cell service allows.  We also have set up a page for live tracking:

Anticipated start is approximately 7:30pm tonight.  Good luck James!


Morning Swim at Rainbow Bay (Deer Creek)

Rainbow Bay at Deer Creek Reservoir.

This morning I was up in Charleston for the Timpanogos Foot and Ankle 5K and 10K.  The timing company my dad, brother and I own (Elevated Racing | Event Timing) was timing there timing the event.  I could see Deer Creek from the finish line and knew I had to squeeze in a swim between the race and my brother Jake's birthday lunch at Tarahumara.  Happy Birthday Jake!

There were already quite a few boats on the water when I got there.  The water level is MUCH lower than it was last year.  I took the temperature near the shore in the shallow water and it came out 73 degrees.

I loaded up my Safer Swimmer and took off.  I didn't have a whole lot of time, so I was just going to stay in for an hour or so.  I didn't have a watch so I relied on "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" to give me an idea how far and how long I had been swimming.  From 99 down to 0 takes me about half an hour to go through when swimming, which also ends up being about a mile.  I used the line of buoys for part of the time, but also went out of the bay on both sides to get in the distance I wanted.

Trying to look cool after my swim.
I ended up with about 2.25 miles in 1:15 and made it to the restaurant just in time for a delicious lunch.  As I was leaving the reservoir, the boat traffic was absolutely CRAZY!  I probably wouldn't have swam at all if it had been that busy when I got there.  Even in the wakeless area, there were boats coming in and out quite a bit.

Here is the link to my Hydro Tracker data:


James Jonsson to Attempt Double Length Crossing at Bear Lake

South Jordan swimmer, James Jonsson, will be attempting an unprecedented swim later this week at Bear Lake.  James will be doing what he is referring to as Bear Lake x 2 -20.  This translates to swimming the length of Bear Lake (about 19 miles) twice in under 20 hours.  His total distance will be about 38 miles.  The swim is planned to start at about 7:30pm on July 26 and, if all goes according to plans, he should finish by 3:30pm on July 27.

James is an experienced open water swimmer with many accomplishments to his name.  He is very familiar with Bear Lake and currently holds the record for the fastest lengthwise crossing with an incredible time of 8:43:26.

For his Bear Lake x2 -20 swim, he will have a large support team with a pontoon boat and kayaks.  For feeds, he will be taking power bars, GU and hot chicken noodle soup every 45 minutes.

I will be along for the ride as part of his support team for the first crossing and will do my best to post updates and photos as long as I have cell phone service.

Good luck James!

Two New Records for Gordon Gridley

Gordon Gridley on his way to two new records at Bear Lake.  Photo from Gords Swim Log.
Gordon Gridley added two new records to his already impressive list of open water accomplishments this past weekend at Bear Lake.  On his last long training swim before he swims the English Channel next month, he set new records for the fastest width crossing (about 7 miles) and the first double width crossing at Bear Lake.  He finished the first crossing with a time of 3:43:24 and finished the double crossing with a time of 7:25:14.

For a list of other documented crossing and times, please visit the Bear Lake Swimming Association page.


Scouting Out East Canyon for Swim Camp

I took my family up to East Canyon Reservoir last night to do some scouting for our upcoming Mini Swim Camp.

The water was great!  I took the temperature right near shore and it came up at about 74 degrees.  We found a line of three buoys that will make a good spot for our night swim next Friday night.  It will also make a good start/finish line for the one mile race we are planning for Saturday morning.

Harrison and I after swimming out to the first buoy.

The buoy line.  This will make a great spot for our night swim.
There is a big rock right by the buoy line.  I didn't check how deep the water was on the other side, but we saw people jumping off of it.  I will definitely want to check the depth on the other side before jumping off, but this could be fun!
We saw people jumping off of this big rock near the buoys.
The boat and jet ski traffic was pretty heavy while we were there.  Boats were coming right up to the buoys and wake boarders were weaving in and out of them.  I think for our camp we will want to do the majority of our swimming inside the wakeless zone and also keep an eye out for boats and jet skis.

This is a wakeless area of the reservoir where we will be doing most, if not all, of our swimming next weekend.
We walked around the group camp site that we will be using and it looks like it will work out great!  There is plenty of room for tents and parking.  There are two covered pavilions, three large BBQs, a fire pit, and restrooms (vaults, not flushing).  There is no direct access to the water, so we will have to drive down the road a little for our swims.

East Canyon Resort is located nearby.  They have a small store and restaurant if anyone is interested in going over there.  They also have pools, mini golf, playground, etc. but I think those things are meant for people staying at the resort.

The larger of the two pavilions at our group camp site.

There are three large BBQs.

Fire pit.

Entrance to camp site.
I am really looking forward to next weekend's camp!  Here is the tentative schedule:

Friday July 27
3:00pm check-in and set up camp

Dinner (bring your own main dish and something to share with the group)

Movie (if I can find a projector)
Night swim

Saturday July 28
Breakfast (on your own)
1 mile race
Lunch (bring your own main dish and something to share with the group)
2:00pm check-out

You can do as much, or as little, swimming as you want in between these activities.  If there are people that want a mini clinic and practice with open water skills, we can arrange that as well.

If you are interested in coming, please RSVP on the Facebook event page.  If every family/group could pitch in $15 for the camp site, that would be great!


Utah Open Water Mini Swim Camp

I wanted to let everyone know about a fun event we have coming up.  It's kind of a last minute thing, but we are putting together a mini swim camp at East Canyon reservoir on July 27 and 28.

We have already reserved a large group camp site that includes room for 10-15 tents, 25 cars, a large pavilion with picnic tables, BBQs, toilets (vault not flush) and parking for about 25 cars.  The camp site is located close to the water and will be our base camp for the weekend.

The plans are still coming together but you can count on lots of swimming including a night swim on Friday night and some racing for fun on Saturday.  If I can track down a projector and screen, I would it would be cool to show a swimming related movie on Friday night (maybe "On a Clear Day").

I don't really consider myself a coach, but if anyone wants help with any open water related skills over the weekend, I am more than happy to help.

Either Friday night or Saturday afternoon (or possibly both) we will have a BBQ together.  Bring your own meat or other main dish and something to share with the group.  There is no water at the campground, so bring plenty of drinks and we will also have some water coolers.  Other than the group BBQ(s), you will be responsible for your own food.

This is intended to be a fun event and will be pretty laid back (i.e. no set schedule of events).  Swim as much or as little as you want, bring your bikes, boats, kayaks, running shoes, etc. if you want to do more than just swim.  We are also encouraging families to attend (I will be bringing mine).  As I said, the plans are pretty loose at this point and I am open to your ideas and suggestions for the weekend.

If you are interested in coming, please let me know (especially if you want to camp out on Friday night).  For Facebook users, you can RSVP on the event page and also get all the latest updates.  The cost will be pretty minimal (probably around $15-$20) and will just go to covering the cost of the campsite rental.  Spread the word, it should be a good time!

Review of the FINIS Strapless Agility Paddles from AquaGear.com

I have had my eye on the FINIS Strapless Agility Paddles since they first came out and have been anxious to give them a try.  I recently got a pair from the good folks at AquaGear.com and have been using them over the past few weeks.

First of all, if you haven't seen them in person, these are COOL looking paddles!  They are molded from transparent yellow plastic and look very "futuristic".

The paddles I have always used have all had some type of rubber or silicone strap.  After a while in the chlorine filled pool, the straps tend to break down and come apart.  The Agility paddles have taken care of that problem by eliminating the straps all together.  Instead of straps that go over your fingers or wrist, there is a single thumb hole in each paddle.  You may wonder, how do they stay on?  The paddles are designed to teach correct "palm positive" position for every stroke and will only stay on when you apply pressure by pulling your hands through the water.  If you glide too long or if your hands are not in the right position, the paddles will twist or come off.  They take some getting used to (especially on the recovery), but after a while they felt very natural to me.

The paddles can be used for all four strokes (Back, Breast, Fly and Free).  Although I am almost exclusively a freestyler, I do work other strokes into my workouts.  Typially I do not use paddles for any of the other strokes, but I found that I like the Agility paddles a lot for backstroke.  I also liked the paddles one-arm butterfly (regular butterfly with paddles is too tough on my shoulders).

Another advantage of these paddles over the strap variety is that they can be taken off very quickly if you are switching between pull and swim sets on a tight interval.

My only minor complaint is that the thumb holes were a little rough on the edges.  This should be easily fixed by using a file to get rid of the ridges.

Overall, I like these paddles quite a bit and would recommend them to other swimmers without hesitation.  You can pick up a pair at AquaGear.com for $19.95.

Video Highlights of Goody's Catalina Swim

Gordon made this awesome video of Goody's impressive 15 hour swim in the Catalina Channel.  Check it out!