Open Water Gift Ideas

It's almost December and Christmas is creeping up on us.  If you have an open water swimmer or triathlete on your shopping list, or you want to give Santa some ideas for what to leave in your stocking, check out these ideas below:

Brine Shrimp Ornament (photo from FOGSL store)

Friends of the Great Salt Lake Store
Friends of the Great Salt Lake (FOGSL) is a non-profit organization with the mission to
"preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the lake through education, research, and advocacy".  You can show your support for the lake by buying something from their store.  I especially like the brine shrimp ornament ($10), which I think I would use it as a key chain the rest of the year, and the Great Salt Lake map bandana ($8).  For the ladies, there are also brine shrimp earrings!

Got Salt? Suit from Splish.com

Got Salt? Tech Shirt or Swimsuit

What better way to support the Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) that by wearing a tech shirt or a suit from Splish.com?  The shirts are only $5 and all proceeds go to support the Salt Lake Open Water club and to promote open water swimming in Utah.

SaferSwimmer (photo from www.ishof.org)

Safer Swimmer
In my opinion, this is the best safety device on the market for open water swimmers and triathletes.  Not only can you hang onto it if you panic or get into trouble, you can also store your clothes, camera, feeds, etc inside without worrying about them getting wet.  Available from the International Swimming Hall of Fame in small and large sizes.

H2Open Magazine Subscription
This is the only magazine dedicated to open water swimming.  It is full of insightful articles about everything related to open water swimming.  Since it is published in England, it's a bit pricey to get the magazine sent here (£39.95), but I think it is well worth it.  You can also subscribe to the digital version (available to read on your PC, tablet, smart phone) for
£16.99.  http://www.h2openmagazine.com/

Finis Agility Strapless Paddles (photo from Aquagear.com)

Finis Agility Strapless Paddles
I LOVE these paddles!  I use them in every pool workout I do.  You can read my review here for all the details.  The paddles are now available in small, medium and large sizes and you can get them from AquaGear for $19.95

TYR Nest Pro Goggles (photo from Amazon.com)

TYR Nest Pro Goggles
As a self-proclaimed "goggle nerd", I am pretty picky about what goggles I wear.  I wore a pair of the TYR Nest Pro Goggles all last season and I LOVE them!  I know Chad is a big fan too.  They are very comfortable and I have had zero issues with leaking.  Available from Amazon.com for about $15 (depending on what color of frame and lens you choose).

Custom swim suits from Splish.com (photo from Splish.com)

Custom Swim Gear
Isn't technology awesome?!  You can now design a custom suit, cap or goggles online and have it sent to your house without having to order large quantities.  I have been wearing custom PBT suits from Splish.com almost exclusively over the past year or so.  They last forever, even in the pool.  Custom suits and caps are also available from FINIS.  Next on my list is to get a pair of custom designed goggles from TYR.  You can even have them laser etch something on the lenses!

Poler Napsack (photo from www.polerstuff.com)

What better way to warm up after a winter swim than by throwing on a Napsack?  The Napsack is basically a wearable sleeping bag, complete with arm holes, pockets and a hood.  Poler, the maker of the Napsack, was a sponsor of both the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim and the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim this year.  Thanks to Rachel (who has family ties with the company), I got one of these this summer and it is awesome!  It is extremely comfortable and warm.  I took it with me to England for Gordon's English Channel swim and slept in in almost every night.

Muscle Repair lotion from Ojavan (photo from www.ojavanproducts.com)

Ojavan Skin Care Products
Ojavan was a sponsor of the 2012 Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.  They make great skin care products from salt and mud extracted from the Great Salt Lake!  My favorite product is the RX Muscle Repair.  It soothes and cools sore muscles after a long swim.

Thermometer (photo from Amazon.com)
It's important to know how your body behaves at different water temperatures and I never swim outside without first taking the water temperature.  I have been through several thermometers (one is at the bottom of Bear Lake and another was mangled by the pilot boat in England).  You can find them for pretty cheap online.  I prefer the old school submersible thermometers to the digital ones.  The one I have now I got from Amazon.com for about $8.


I Still Can't Feel My Fingertips...

It was a small group out at the marina today.  Gordon and Goody weren't able to come, so Jim and I were the onky representatives of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.

I got there a little late because of work and Jim was already in the water.  Not wanting to waste any time (it was cold outside), I quickly got ready and waded into the water.

It seemed colder today than it did on Saturday.  Jim said the air temp was 43 and the water temp ended up at 46.9 degrees.

Jim had been in for a few minutes when I got in.  We swam out to the rocks and back and then to the last of the sailboats and back.  I clocked just over 26 minutes in the water and Jim had 31.

My fingertips are still numb as I type this.  I didn't have the same problem after Saturday's swim.  47 degrees must be the point where this starts to happen for me.  It is pretty painful for a while during recovery.  It feels exactly like when your foot or hand falls asleep and starts to come back.

It is nice to swim breaststroke and chat because you don't get so cold with your face out of the water. Plus, talking to someone helps keep your mind off of the cold.  Jim and I both swam a little head-up and head-down free towards the end.  I really need to work on this before the New Year's swim.

I had a great time this afternoon and am looking forward to the next swim with Gordon, Sue and (hopefully) Goody and Jim on Saturday at 4pm.  A few people have told me they want to come out.  Please feel free to come this Saturday!  Silicone caps will be awarded to those who meet the requirements.


White Saturday Swim

This afternoon was the White Saturday Swim that Gordon organized.

I was the last one to get there and was surprised to see a whole bunch of people waiting down on the boat ramp.

Goody gave some great safety instructions and then we were off.  The water temp was reported to be 50 degrees (but read closer to 48 - 49 once we were out there).

My wife, Sabrina, surprised me before we left home by telling me she was going to take the plunge!  She was a little hesitant, but ran in, dunked, and ran back out.  She is awesome!

I was only planning on being in about 15 minutes, but was still feeling good on the way in. I jokingly told Gordon I was going to stay in as long as Jim, thinking it would be another 5 minutes.  Little did I know he was planning on staying in for 25.  We ended up making it to 31 before we got out.

All in all, there were 11 swimmers and plungers.  Six new swimmers earned an official Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club cap!

There was a bunch of hot chocolate and pie at the top of the ramp for after the swim.  It took me a while before I could drink the hot chocolate because my hands were shaking so bad.

It was a great time and a fun way to celebrate post-Thanksgiving!


50 Degrees and 15 minutes

I met Jim, Goody and Gordon at the GSL Marina for the weekly Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club swim.  My family also came along for support (my boys love exploring and playing at the marina).

The water temp was an even 50 degrees.  I always get anxious before stepping into the water (and even before I leave work to drive out) because I know it will be cold and that it will be very uncomfortable for a few minutes.  Once you get past the cold shock, it actually feels pretty nice.

Jim, Gordon and I swam breaststroke out to the end of the marina.  One the way back I put my goggles on and tried to swim and keep my face in the water.  I didn't last long before it started to hurt too bad.  I need to work on this.

Gordon and I were in the water for 15 minutes and Jim outdid us (as usual) and was in for over 20.

I am glad Goody came out even though he couldn't get in the water.

Next swim is on Saturday at 3pm.  We are expecting a good group!


New Year's Day Icebreaker Race

Gordon has been working hard on putting together a first-of-its-kind race in Utah that is planned for New Year's Day and I wanted to be sure to let everyone know about it.  It will be a great way to start the new year!

There are plenty of polar plunges around where all you have to do it jump in and get right back out.  The New Year's race will be different, in that it is an actual timed swimming race.  It will be a short, but intense, swim.  The distance is only about 400 yards, but the water temperature is expected to be between 35F and 38F.  Races like this are pretty popular in Europe and I'm glad that Gordon is bringing one here to Utah.

There are definitely risks associated with swimming in water this cold and Gordon has planned accordingly.  There will be a 10 minute time limit for all swimmers.  Emergency response will be on hand and there will be warm places set up to recover after the swim.  Kayaks will also be out on the water to keep a close eye on the swimmers.  Anyone interested in participating will be required to attend one clinic in December to demonstrate the ability to stay in the water for at least five minutes.

The grand prize for the fastest swimmer will be a Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak!

The entry fee for this race is $40 and you must be a USMS member to participate.

Here are the details from the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club website:

Where: Great Salt Lake Marina
Time: 12:00 Noon
Distance: .23 miles (400 yards)
Expected Water temp: 35°F – 38°F (1.6°C – 3.3°C)

Extreme Winter Swimming is not a new sport. It has been around for decades, and is especially popular in Europe and Russia. This race is a 400 yard swim at the Great Salt Lake Marina. All participants must qualify by participating in AT LEAST ONE of the clinics held in December, and demonstrate the ability to stay in the water a minimum of 5 minutes. All participants of the clinics MUST be USMS members. If you attend the clinic YOU MUST BRING YOUR 2013 USMS MEMBER CARD or will not be allowed to enter the water with our group. 

Any swimmer who is unable to finish the 400 yard swim on race day in under 10 minutes, will automatically be disqualified and pulled from the water. Once the qualifications have been met, swimmers may register for the race.
Cost for clinic: Free,  Cost for race: $40
First place prize:  Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak 
For more information, or to communicate intent to attend one of the clinics please send an email here.  Here is the proposed course.


Review of the Kiefer Team Backpack

The folks at Kiefer recently sent me their Kiefer Team Backpack to review.  I have been using it for about a week now and I love it!  It is leaps and bounds better than the mesh drawstring bag that I have been using up until now.

The bag has tons of cool features.  I especially love all of the pockets and storage space for keeping things organized.  There is plenty of room to store all your swimming gear, clothes, towel, etc.  One of the things I like the best is the waterproof pocket at the bottom of the backpack.  It is great for storing wet gear after a workout, keeping your other stuff dry.  It's got some other cool details like a detachable key chain and a pocket with headphone access for your phone or MP3 player.

I love this bag and don't know why I put up with the mesh bag I was using for so long.  The pack is currently on sale at Kiefer for $29.95, which is a pretty good price for this great swim bag.

Here are some photos of the Team Backpack and it's many features:

Kiefer Team Backpack

Tons of pockets and storage space.

Ample room and pouches to store all of your swimming gear.

Key chain with quick release button so that you never loose your keys.

I love this waterproof pocket at the bottom of the backpack for storing wet suits and towels after a workout.
Large side pocket.

Mesh zip-pocket.

Comfortable straps and padding on the back.
Pocket with headphone access for your phone or MP3 player.


Second Swim With WFPBC

WFPBC - Jim Hubbard, Goody Tyler IV, Gordon Gridley, Josh Green
(Photo courtesy of Jim Hubbard)

I met Goody, Gordon and Jim at the GSL Marina yesterday afternoon for the second swim of the year with WFPBC.  We also had a good group of spectators: Sabrina and my three boys, Chad and Cathi.

The water was 57 degrees, which was about the same as last week.  It was cold at first, but not bad after I got used to it.

My new (old) swim suit and goggles.
(Photo courtesy of Jim Hubbard)

I bought a vintage one-piece wool bathing suit last week and decided to take it for a spin.  I didn't notice as much drag as I expected but that was probably because the vintage goggles I was wearing kept filling up with water, stinging my eyes, about every 10 strokes.  After a while I just switched to breaststroke and took the goggles off.  I noticed some hot spots with the suit that I am going to have to grease up for longer swims.

After swimming out to the rocks, we turned around and headed back.  As we were coming back there were three row boats coming out of the marina.  We found out they are from the Waterford School in Sandy.  Goody is a great cold water missionary and invited each kid to come and swim with us next week.

It was a good time as usual.  I spent just under 20 minutes in the water.

We found out Chad is going in for shoulder surgery today and I wish him the best and hope that it doesn't keep him out of the water too long.

Jim brought a bag of goodies that we will be giving away at the SDRC meet this weekend along with some GSL swag and a brand new tandem kayak that Gordon scored.

The next WFPBC swim will be next Tuesday at 4:30pm.  Come and swim with us and start working towards earning your cap.


South Davis Masters Meet is Next Week!

Next weekend is the South Davis Masters Swim Meet in Bountiful.  It is one of the bigger (if not the biggest) meets of the year for Utah MastersGordon is the meet director and he does an awesome job!

This year I am registered for the 1,650 free, 50 free, 100 free and 200 free and hope some fellow SLOW swimmers will join me for some relays.

I will also be running the Salt Lake Open Water table and raffle again this year.  For those who missed it last year, we set up a kid pool and filled it with salt water and had people bob for numbered balls.  We'll have the same setup again this year and there will be some great prizes.  Gordon has managed to get a brand new tandem kayak for one of the prizes!

If you haven't registered yet, do it soon!  The last day to register is November 7.  Here is the link to the online registration page: http://www.active.com/swim-meet/bountiful-ut/sdrc-masters-swim-meet-2012


First Swim of the Year With WFPBC

I met Goody and Gordon at the GSL Marina this afternoon for a cold water swim.  Goody and Jim have been out a couple times already, but it was the first time Gordon and I have been out with WFPBC this year.

Goody was the first one in the 56 degree water. He swam out a ways and then did breaststroke back so that Gords could get some photos.  It has been a while since I have been in the water and I wasn't really prepared fir the cold. Mostly it hurt my face.  After a while it was actually pretty nice and the three of us just floated around and chatted.

After a while we noticed someone in the parking lot who waved and then get changed and came down.  It was Miles, who has emailed me and came to one of our clinics.  It was his first time with WFPBC and he got right in and floated around with us.  It's always nice to have new people show up!

The new caps that Goody designed and ordered are in and they look awesome!  We will be giving these silicone caps away for free to those who meet the club requirements.

We were in the water for a good 20 to 25 minutes.  I didn't shiver in the water, but I sure started shaking when I got out.  It was good to be back in the water!

Register for Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) Today!

Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) is now officially recognized as a USMS club and today is the first day to register/renew your USMS membership for 2013.  If you are interested in open water swimming or triathlon, I highly recommend choosing SLOW as your club of choice.  We have a great community already and a lot of fun things in the works for the coming year.  Annual membership is only $49.  The bulk of registration goes to the USMS national office and pays for your subscription to SWIMMER magazine, insurance, etc.  $15 stays here locally with Utah Masters and $1 goes to SLOW for club use.  You can register or renew now by clicking here.

For more information about Salt Lake Open Water, please visit the website and Facebook page.

We will be celebrating the first day of the club by taking a short swim at the Great Salt Lake Marina at 4:30pm this afternoon with the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club.  Water temp is about 54 degrees today!