2013 USMS 1 Hour Postal Swim

Gordon took this photo of me during my 1 Hour postal swim this morning.
I met Gordon this morning at 6:00am at the Northwest Rec Center to do the USMS 1 Hour Postal Swim.  The swim has to be done by the end of the month to count, so we were cutting in pretty close.

First of all, the Northwest pool is really nice.  There were only a handful of other swimmers in the pool while we were there and lots of open lanes.  If there weren't other pools closer to my house, I would probably start swimming there.

I swam first while Gords kept track of my time and splits.  I did 200 yards of easy free and back before starting the swim.  I knew that I was going to start out fast.  You kind of can't help it when you are excited to get going.  After about 1,000 yards, I settled into a pretty consistent pace of around 0:43 per 50.

Here are some graphs of my 50 and 100 splits:


My goal was to just make it to 4,000 yards.  I haven't been training nearly as hard as I was last year when I finished the 1 hour swim with 4,425 yards.  I ended up beating my goal with 4,155 yards, which was an average of about 1:27 per 100.  Not bad considering I have been having a hard time even holding a 1:30 pace at my recent workouts.

Gords was next and was shooting for 4,500 yards.  He did a quick warm-up before starting his swim.  His splits were MUCH faster than mine.  It didn't look like he was even pushing it because his stroke was so smooth.  He ended up a little short of his goal with a distance of 4,425.  Nice!

I had a lot of fun this morning and am looking forward to the other USMS postal events.  We will have to do a better job of organizing our SLOW members to participate.


In Case You Were Wondering, 29 Degrees is REALLY Cold.

I met Gordon and Jim at noon today for a dip in the GSL (with the water temperature showing 26 degrees on the marina website, I don't think any of us thought about doing more than "just a dip").

When I got to the marina I was somewhat relieved when Jim's thermometer read 29 degrees.  At the same time, I was also a little disappointed because I missed getting in the slushy water last year and I wanted to see what it feels like.

My feet hurt the instant I put them into the water. I have been in cold water before, but this is the coldest I have experienced by a solid 2.5 degrees. Jim dove into the water like a madman and started swimming out to the end of the dock. Gordon and I immersed ourselves up to our necks and waited for one minute to slowly tick by before getting out.

Gordon made a good point that the GSL has to have some of the coldest water in the world.  Even at 26 degrees it will not freeze solid.

I guess Jim didn't get enough time in the water because he wanted to get a picture of the three of us sitting on a snow bank.

We missed Goody today.  He is one of the few guys dumb enough to do this with us.


Goals for 2013

We are at the start of a new year once again and it's time to start thinking about goals for the next 12 months.

I asked swimmers on the Utah Open Water and Salt Lake Open Water Facebook pages what their goals are for 2013.  There were a lot of really great answers ranging from just staying healthy to completing specific events and increasing total miles swam.

As for myself, I've been thinking a LOT (maybe too much) about what I want to do this year.  Last year ended up being kind of a weird year for me.  My big goal for 2012 was to swim across Bear Lake.  I started out doing really well and was putting in a lot of miles in the pool.  I was able to post some of my fastest times at a meet early in the year because of how much I was training.  Things were going really well, and then I had my freak-out in the Great Salt Lake.  That experience kind of messed me up mentally for the rest of the year.  I wanted to keep training for Bear Lake, but I started getting really anxious about cold water.  As a result, my training went downhill and I didn't accomplish my goal to swim across Bear Lake.  The year wasn't a total loss.  I was able to assist Goody, Gordon and James on their big swims, help run the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim for the second year, organize a swim camp, make a lot of new friends, swim from Antelope Island to Black Rock with Gordon, and help organize Salt Lake Open Water.

This year I am taking a different approach to swimming.  Instead of worrying about how many miles I swim (or don't swim) or having a big swim to work toward, my goal this year can be summed up in two words: HAVE FUN!  So much of 2012 was spent worrying that it stopped being fun.  I don't ever want swimming to become a chore.  I want to get back to what first got me interested in open water swimming: exploring new places and just enjoying being outside in the water.

That being said, there are quite a few events and swims that I want to do.  Here is a tentative list:

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to get back to exploring.  I have a long list of places I want to check out (or revisit).  Here is a small sample:

  • Northern end of the Great Salt Lake where the water is even saltier and pink in color
  • Green River
  • Snake River (Idaho)
  • Causey Reservoir
  • Starvation Reservoir
  • Yuba
  • Scofield
  • Lake Powell

With the formation of Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW), I am looking forward to spending 2013 developing our club and helping our swimmers in any way that I can.  Our swim camp last year was a blast and I look forward to expanding the camp and making it even better.  I also look forward to helping out with our local open water races (and possible starting new ones), swimming with old and new friends, and trying to introduce new people to the club and to open water swimming.

Oh, and I have a semi-secret writing project that I am hoping to finish by the end of the year as well...

So there's my plan for 2013.  I would love to hear what your swimming goals are for the coming year.


Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club New Year's Race Report

Our new mascot (the bear, not Harrison)

I have been putting off typing up my report of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club New Year's Race until my fingertips thawed out enough to type.

After loading up my kayak on our van this morning, I got some double takes from my neighbors.  Little did they know, that I would not only be paddling today, but would also be swimming.

Gordon, who organized the event, was already there with his family and already had the cocoa station set up.  I unloaded the kayak and helped get some of the other things set up.  Jake and my dad, Kelley, were also there and were getting set up to do the timing for the race.

Dave Shearer came by and gave us the official water temperature of 31.6 F!  I had been expecting 34 degrees, which had me pretty nervous over the last couple days (and especially this morning).  Hearing that the temperature was was below freezing (yes, this is possible due to the high salinity of the Great Salt Lake) had me even more anxious.  During Goody's safety briefing, it started to snow.  Great.

Goody giving us our pre-swim safety briefing.
 Reporters from Fox13 and the Deseret News were on hand to cover the event.  Goody, Gordon and I got interviewed by Pete from Fox13, who put together an excellent story on the event (It just barely aired).

The first two swimmers enter the water (Richard Edge and Jim Hubbard)
There were eight people registered to swim the 400 yard race.  Considering the extremely low water temperature, Gordon did an excellent job organizing the event so that it was as safe as possible.  There were four waves with two swimmers each.  Gordon, Jake and I were on the water in kayaks to keep an eye on each of the swimmers.  In addition, the USP Rescue boat was on the water and there was an ambulance and paramedics standing by in case anyone needed help.  A time limit of 15 minutes was established and everyone finished the swim well under that time.  After the first wave finished, the second wave had two minutes to get ready.  During that time the volunteers were doing a great job taking care of the first wave swimmers and helping them to warm up.

Nathan Nelson nearing the finish (and a hot "shower")
I paddled alongside Jim, Nathan and Kim for the first three waves and had a lot of fun watching them and trying to encourage them.  I made sure to ask them how they were doing every once in a while, but they all looked strong and I had no doubt that they would all finish.  I really enjoyed watching them finish and pour warm water over themselves and seeing the steam come off their bodies.  Seeing them all be successful helped put my mind at ease about my own swim.

Jim getting a much deserved hot "shower"
Superstar volunteer Chad Starks helping Sue Frehse warm up after her swim.

Gordon and I were in the last wave and we hurried and stripped out of our wetsuits, which we were wearing to keep warm on the kayaks, and get ready to swim.  The crowd counted down and we took off.  Gordon shot off like a bat out of hell.  His kick was ferocious and he was making quite a splash.  The water was definitely cold, but I hardly noticed at first because of the adrenaline and the excitement of everyone watching.  Pretty much everyone had swam head-up freestyle, but Gordon had his face in the water from the start.  After swimming head-up about a quarter of the distance, I put my face in the water and was surprised that it didn't hurt like it has before.  Weird.  I guess it must have went instantly numb and I swam the rest of the way with my face in the water.  Sabrina had jumped on our kayak and was my escort during the swim.  It was very encouraging to see her cheering for me when I took a breath.

I finished the 400 yards and Sabrina got a jug of warm water to pour over me.  The reporters from the Deseret New and Fox13 were asking me a bunch of questions, but I honestly can't remember what they were or what I said.  I got dressed and Todd brought me a cup of hot chocolate.  After sitting in the van for a few minutes I was pretty much back to normal.  I was actually surprised at how little I shivered and how quickly I recovered.
Me and Goody after the event.
I caught the tail end of Goody's quick dip after the swimmers were all done.  He was the inspiration for a lot of us today and many of us dedicated our swims to him.  He is an inspiring guy and I am honored to call him my friend.

Thank you to Gordon for putting on such an excellent event!  Thank you also to all the volunteers who helped make it happen and helped keep us safe and warm.  Special thanks to Chad, Jake, Kelley and Sabrina.

I know a lot of swimmers were at least as nervous as I was before the race.  It was awesome to see every swimmer conquer their fears and anxieties and finish the race.  What a great way to start the new year!  I can now look back during the hard times that are surely to come in 2013 and draw strength from today.  I hope that this will become an annual event!

Results are posted on www.wfpbc.com.

Link to Fox13 Story by Pete DeLuca: http://fox13now.com/2013/01/01/starting-out-the-new-year-with-a-dip-in-the-great-salt-lake/

Link to article in the Deseret News by Emiley Morgan:  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865569737/Eight-take-part-in-polar-bear-race-at-Great-Salt-Lake.html