Four Degrees in Two Days

Can you see why I chose to ditch the pool this morning?
I drove up to Jordanelle again this morning and was at the PWC boat ramp a little before 6:00am.  There were a couple boats docked at the end of the ramp, but no one else in sight.  The water was calm and glassy.  The sun was just starting to come up over the mountains and had turned the clouds pink, which reflected on the water.  It was beautiful.

I dropped my thermometer in near the dock and then got the rest of my gear ready to go.  I waded into the water before checking the temperature and it felt about the same as it did on Wednesday.  When I checked the thermometer it read 66 degrees!  That's up four degrees in just two days!  I think about 68-70 degrees is my ideal temperature, and it's getting close.

I swam east to the end of the buoy line and back to the ramp.  From there, I started swimming west to the opposite end of the buoys, but kind of freaked myself out a couple buoys shy of the end.  I was thinking about being out in the water by myself and I let it mess with my mind, even though I didn't feel cold, was close to shore, and had my Safer Swimmer.  I turned back to the ramp to check the temperature again.  My thermometer takes a while to get a good reading sometimes and I wanted to see if it had gone down at all.  Still 66 degrees.

By this time the sun was up over the mountains and I started out west towards the end of the buoys again.  Something about the sun being up was really comforting and I made it to the end of the buoy line without getting myself worked up.  Once the sun was up, it started to feel pretty nice.

When I got back to the green buoy, I noticed some splashing ahead of me.  As I got to the red buoy I saw that there were three other swimmers in the water.  I stopped and talked to one of the guys for a minute.  He couldn't believe that I was swimming without a wetsuit and said he had to wear his for warmth and buoyancy.  I am not hard-core anti-wetsuit like some other open water swimmers are, but it does bug me a little bit that a lot of swimmers and triathletes think that they just can't swim without one.  I think wetsuits are sometimes used as a crutch and keep people from learning better technique and body positioning.  On the other hand, I understand that wetsuits are legal in triathlon and, if I were still doing tri's, I would probably take advantage of the extra buoyancy and train in one too.  I just like to be able to feel the water on my skin and don't like the tightness and restriction of wetsuits.  Just my personal preference.

I finished up just shy of an hour and a little under two miles.  This is quickly becoming a favorite place to swim.  Door-to-shore, it takes me a little over 30 minutes.  The water is getting to a comfortable temperature and the big long ling of buoys makes for a nice, relatively safe, swim course.  I'll be up there again with a few other swimmers on Wednesday (July 3) at 6:00am.  It's early, I know, but come check it out!  You don't get these views from a pool.


Chilly Swim at Jordanelle

View of the lake from the top of the PWC boat ramp after our morning swim.

Every time I drive by Jordanelle Reservoir on Highway 40, I see a long line of buoys and think about going for a swim.  This morning I finally did something about it.

I met Sue, Stacey and Scott at the PWC boat ramp this morning at 6:00am.  It was a nice morning, and not as cool as I expected.  The water was glassy and there were no fishermen, boats, or anyone else in sight.  We had the whole lake to ourselves.

The State Parks website has been showing a water temp of 65 degrees for the past few days and I was expecting it to be at least that, if not higher.  To all of our surprise, the water temperature was actually closer to 62 degrees.  Once we got moving, it didn't feel to bad.

We swam out to the red buoy and then turned left (east) and followed the buoys (I think there are 8 white buoys).  As the sun started coming up, and my goggles started fogging up, it was hard to see the last few buoys.  At the last buoy I stopped for a second to see how Sue and Stacey were doing.  Scott had gone back to shore.  We swam back to the red buoy where we started and only then did I start feeling a little cold.  We went past the red and green buoys to the end of the buoy line (5 more white buoys).  At the end of the line we stopped for a minute and Sue said she was getting cold and was going to go back to the ramp.  Stacey and I were both ok with that, and we took off again.

I wasn't really shaking after we got out and I felt like I could have kept going.  Since this was my first "cold" water swim in a while, I didn't want to push it.  Next time I'll try to go a little further, maybe an hour or so.

Swimming along the buoys near the PWC boat ramp at Jordanelle Reservoir.

We ended up at 1.37 miles.  It's not a bad little route.  The buoys are more-or-less in a straight line and are all pretty close to the shore.  The facilities are also pretty good: flushing toilets and outdoor showers.  I'm planning on making this a regular Wednesday morning swim if anyone wants to join me.


Swimming with Paul Newsome

Paul Newsome after his first swim at the Great Salt Lake.  Photo by Gordon Gridley.

Gordon and I were contacted recently by Simon Griffiths, founder of the fabulous H2Open Magazine.  He mentioned that Paul Newsome, founder of Swim Smooth and recent winner of MIMS, would be coming through Utah and suggested we try to meet up.

Paul and Adam Young were delayed for a couple days and I thought it wasn't going to work out to meet up with them.  Yesterday morning I got a text from Paul wanting to know if we were still up for a swim.

Adam Young, Goody, me and Paul Newsome.  Photo by Gordon Gridley

Goody, Gords and I met Paul and Adam at the GSL Marina at about 3pm.  After some quick introductions, we got changed and greased up to head down to the water.  It was pretty windy when we walked down to the boat ramp.  Both Paul and Adam were really surprised by how buoyant they were and, after getting a taste of the water, joked that it was like eating a whole bag of potato chips.

As we turned the corner out of the marina, the wind started to pick up and we swam through the chop to the first red buoy.  We decided to do a quick swim east to the third red buoy and back.  As we started swimming, the wind REALLY picked up.  Luckily it was pushing us toward the buoys and it was fun to ride the waves.  After a while I started feeling what I though were raindrops, but was actually just the spray from the wind.  Gords and Paul were a ways ahead of me and Adam and Goody were behind me, so I ended up swimming by myself.  After catching up to Gords and Paul, we decided to just go back to Silver Sands instead of fighting the wind all the way back the way we came.

Paul, Adam and Gords rinsing off the salt, grease and brine flies.

After we got out, we had some good laughs about the experience and washed off at the hose.  Both Paul and Adam said that it was a swim that they would never forget.  They are a couple of great guys and I'm glad that it worked out for us to meet them and swim with them.

I'm somewhat familiar with the Swim Smooth program and have had the Mr. Smooth program installed on my computer for a while, which I refer to when trying to work out kinks in my stroke.  After meeting Paul and Adam, I'm going to look into their program a little more.


First Deer Creek Swim of the Year

Sue posted that she was going to Deer Creek yesterday afternoon and, luckily, things worked out that my family and I could meet her.  Goody, Jim, Connie, and Rachel also showed up for the swim.  There were a couple guys from Utah County who tried to meet up with us, but I didn't have cell or internet service to get a hold of them.  Sorry Karl!

The water level was pretty low, but the lake still looked beautiful as we pulled up.  No one was quite sure what the water temperature was going to be.  The State Parks website has been showing a temp of 57 degrees for the past few days, but I had heard reports of 65 from swimmers.  It ended up being between 66 and 68 degrees, which was a little chilly getting in but felt great once you got in and got moving around.

Sue, Goody, Jim and Connie took off while I tried to get my family settled on our paddle board.  As I was swimming around with my family, I noticed Rachel coming down the steep cliff.  I swam back to meet her and then swam for a little bit with her before taking off to catch up with Jim.  When I caught up to Jim, he was using his Safer Swimmer as a pillow and just floating in the water, relaxing.  He and I chatted for a while and just took in the beautiful view.  After a few minutes we headed back to our starting point.

Map of my swim.  Just over a mile total.
This was my first swim at Deer Creek this year.  It's such a perfect place to swim, I hope to be spending a lot more time up there this summer before the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim.  I missed the race last year and am excited to swim the 10 mile this year.

After the swim, we all (minus Rachel) headed to one of my favorite restaurants, Tarahumara, for some post swim food.  It was a really enjoyable afternoon of swimming and time spent with friends and family.


Slugging it out at the GSL

This morning I opted for a swim at GSL instead of at the pool.  From the moment I stepped out the door, I knew it was going to be a rough swim.  There was a slight breeze when I left home and I knew it would be worse at the lake.

Sure enough, there were white caps when I got to the marina.  I though I might just bag it and head home, but decided to stay and swim near the marina instead of the 3-4 miles I was planning to do.

Whitecaps at Silver Sands

The water was warm and clear and the sun was just coming up as I started to swim to the first red buoy off of Silver Sands Beach.  It was rough going as the wind blew from the northwest.  I swam west to the next red buoy and then to the marina entrance, breathing only on the left side to avoid getting a mouthful of water.  From there I turned and headed back to where I started, and then out to the next buoy, this time breathing only on the right.  I did the same thing again and called it a day.

I felt like I was slugging it out in both senses of the word: punching through the waves and going at a really slow pace.  The whole time I was thinking that for those who have a hard time learning to bilateral breathe, they ought to come out to the GSL on a windy day.  That will teach you REALLY quick to breathe on both sides.

Map of my swim route.  I was all over the place because I wasn't sighting very often (I couldn't see over the swells when I did) and was getting pushed around quite a bit.

All in all, it ended up being a nice swim and ended up being more of  a mental training day than a distance training day.  I did about 2.19 miles according to my GPS.

Now that other lakes are starting to warm up, I am thinking about doing a weekly Wednesday morning swim at Jordanelle and maybe moving my Thursday afternoon swim there as well.  It's about the same distance from my house and it will be nice to swim in some cooler, less salty, water.


Bear Lake Monster Swim - July 20, 2013

With the 2013 Great Salt Lake Open Water Marathon Swim in the books, it's time to start looking forward to the next event: the Bear Lake Monster Swim.

Ben Lariviere organized the Bear Lake Swim last year, which was held in August.  Because Ben is not able to continue the swim this year (leaving the state for school), Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) is taking over the event.

We have re-named the event the Bear Lake Monster Swim for the legendary Bear Lake Monster that is rumored to live in the lake.  The course will be the same as last year, starting at Cisco Beach and ending just north of the Bear Lake State Park marina.  The swim will be on Saturday July 20, 2013.

The race is open to solo swimmers as well as two to six-person relay teams.  We are really excited about the relay option and hope that it will grow into a competitive race, while at the same time allowing swimmers who couldn't do 7 miles on their own to complete a long, adventure swim with their friends.  Since the event is not sanctioned by USMS, it is open to swimmers under 18.  We are hoping that this will attract some high school teams who want to take on the "old guys".  Even though this is not a USMS event, it would be cool to have our local USMS clubs race each other.

Solo swimmers will have to provide their own support kayak and paddler.  Relay teams will have to provide their own support boat(s).  Motorboats are recommended for larger teams.  Entry fees are $70 for a solo swimmer and $175 for a relay team.

Do you (and your friends) dare to swim with the Bear Lake Monster?


What People Are Saying About GSLOW 2013

We have tried really hard to get media coverage for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Marathon Swim over the past couple years with little success.  I wasn't expecting much this year either, but we were very lucky to have NPR and KUTV 2 take interest in our event and swimmers.  Below are some links to news stories and race reports.

KUTV 2 - Talkin' Sports with Adam Mikulich
Adam Mikulich Takes on the Great Salt Lake - Part 1
Adam Mikulich Takes on the Great Salt Lake - Part 2

NPR - Howard Berkes
Salt, Flies, Pickled Tongues: A Perfect Great Salt Lake Swim
The Iceman Swimmeth, Chanting 'F Cancer'

Daily News of Open Water Swimming
Reeves Wills Himself to Victory in Great Salt Lake

Rachel Wagner - 1 Mile SLOW Swimmer
Chad Starks - 8 Mile SLOW Swimmer

"perhaps it is the fastest water you can swim in. The high salinity increases water density which means swimmers float high in the water. Add that to the increased efficiency gained in pulling and kicking and you have fast water. Does it have negative consequences? Yes, but with experience these can be minimized. With the exception of swimming downstream, the GSL water is the fastest water I've experienced." - Will Reeves, 8-mile winner and record holder.
"This race is definitely one of the most memorable of all my races."  - Mark Spratt, 8 mile swimmer
"This event really has a great friendly feel to it, like a group of friends out on an adventure. We laughed the whole way on the drive through Antelope Island." - Mark Spratt, 8 mile swimmer

Race Directors
Gordon Gridley
Josh Green

Race Results
Elevated Racing

GSLOW 2013

Annie Stanish and Will Reeves.  First place female and male 8 mile swimmers.
The 2013 edition of GSLOW is in the bag, and I am exhausted.  I think we had a successful event overall, but I've already started planning ahead for how we can do things better next year.

I took the day off on Friday and was able to get a lot of prep work done.  I met Goody and Gordon at the marina, where they were heading out to set the buoys for the 1 mile swim.  I cleared out as much of the rocks and other stuff as I could from Black Rock before heading home to pack up for Saturday.

Several of the 8 mile swimmers and their paddlers met for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Friday night.  This is a great tradition and something that I look forward to every year.

Even though my van was pre-loaded the night before, I still had to get up around 5am to drive to the marina and get things set up before everyone showed up.

We got the 8-mile swimmers checked in and had a brief meeting.  I think I could have done a better job with the pre-race meeting.  After getting everyone loaded up, we hit the road for Antelope Island.  We were very lucky to get some volunteer drivers at the last minute to help get all of our swimmers and paddlers to the island.  Special thanks to Greg, Scott, Chandra, and Russell.

We got to the gate near Garr Ranch, and it was locked!  Luckily there was someone on their way up the road to unlock it for us.  On the way out to the starting point we saw a herd of buffalo, two snakes, and a coyote chasing two antelope.

The water level was lower this year than it has been in the past.  Unfortunately, that meant that we had to haul out kayaks over probably .25 mile to the water.  Once we got to the water, we had to go another .25 mile or so to get to where the water was deep enough to start the swim.

The swim got started later than anticipated (about 10:30am) and next year I think we really need to get started at least one hour earlier.  I made the mistake of not taking some photos with everyone together before the swim.  I also had a bunch of marine radios in my dry sack that I forgot to hand out to paddlers. Doh!

Mark Spratt swimming strong.
I was paddling for Mark Spratt, who I met at LV10K.  Mark is a strong swimmer and kicked my butt at the LV10K.  I suggested paddling on his right side to try to block some of the wind, but it became evident very quickly that this was a mistake.  Mark does not breathe to the right, so he couldn't see me and the wind kept blowing me too close to him.  At the first feed, I switched sides and that seemed to work much better.  Mark had a tough time with the salt, as did many of the other swimmers.  We eventually figured out that we needed to stop every 15 minutes for him to rinse his mouth with mouthwash.  He swam strong and smooth the whole way and was able to push past a mental challenge to finish the swim.  I was lucky to have been able to paddle for him.

We had one swimmer who dropped out of the race after about 4 miles because of the salt, but all of the other swimmers were able to finish.

I asked Will Reeves the night before if he as going to take a stab at beating the record, and he modestly side-stepped the question.  He ended up beating it by quite a bit, setting a new record of 3:10:10.  Way to go Will!  Annie Stanish was the first female finisher, and second overall, with the fasted recorded female time of 3:36:44.  Nice swim Annie!

Handmade awards by Heidi Linton.
Heidi Linton made some really awesome knitted swimmer awards for the first place finishers.  I thought they were the coolest, most unique, awards and I hope that those who won them like them too.  Thanks Heidi!

I am proud of all the swimmers who finished the 8 mile swim, but especially my fellow SLOW swimmers Annie, Sue, Stacey, Chad, and Tamarah.

Final results from both the 1-mile and 8-mile swims can be found here.

We have been lucky to attract some good media coverage this year from NPR and KUTV 2.  Thank you to Howard Berkes and Adam Mikulich.

I am very grateful for all of our volunteers.  Without them, this event could never happen.  Special thanks to my family (Kelley, Kathy, Jake, Jodi, Bernd and my Gram) who handled the timing, finish line set-up, food prep and photography.  Superstar volunteer Chad Starks, ought to be promoted to race director because of the amount of time and effort he puts into helping us out.

We had some really great sponsors this year who provided awesome prizes and swag.  Thank you to all our sponsors who made this a great event.

Finally, thanks to Gordon, who is a passionate GSL swimmer, great friend and business partner.  This event would not happen without his passion, commitment and organization.