Longest Open Water Swim

Today I finally made my goal of swimming 10 miles at Deer Creek!  It's something that I have been wanting to do for the last couple of years, and it just hasn't worked out.  After missing out on swimming last Saturday with everyone else, several people offered to paddle for me another day.  Sue was the first one to offer, so she was the first one I asked.  Luckily things worked out that she could paddle for me today.

We met a little before 8am and got the kayak loaded up.  We ran into Justin Stewart and a couple other guys as we were getting ready on the boat ramp and they wished us well.

The water felt great and the weather was nice.  Swimming down the bay in the glassy, morning water is one of my favorite things to do.  I planned to swim the Deer Creek 10 mile course and hug the shore to make sure I got in a full 10 miles.  Everyone I saw at the race cut a few corners and I was more interested in getting a solid 10 miles than I was getting a particular time.

Sue had never paddled for someone before and she was excited to give it a try.  She did an excellent job and stayed right at my 11 and 1 (depending on which side she was on) which is perfect for me.  

We talked a little beforehand about my feeds.  The plan was to go 1 hour with no feeds and then every 45 minutes after that.  I had three bottles of Perpetuem, some gels, squeezable apple sauce and ibuprofen.

Other than dodging a few fishing boats, the first half was pretty uneventful.  On the way back things took a turn for the worse.  Last Saturday the swimmers got a little help from wind pushing them back towards Wallsburg Bay.  Not today.  Between Rainbow Bay and Wallsburg Bay I felt like I wasn't going anywhere.  I knew I was past due for a feed, but I wanted to get the hell out of the wind and chop and into the bay.  It was exhausting.  Finally I had to stop outside of the bay to get a feed and some ibuprofen.

Once we got back into the bay, things settled down quite a bit.  Sue let me know that we would have to do a loop around the buoy line to make up for not going across the boat ramp near the island.  I guess she had talked to the ranger and told him what we were going to do and he told her that we couldn't cross the boat ramp.  By this time my arms were getting pretty tired, but I wanted to get a solid 10 miles so I did a loop of the buoys before heading to the end of the bay.

I took my last feed at the end of the bay and headed back towards the boat ramp.  Sue let me know that we were going to be short of 10 miles and needed to do two more buoy loops.  I just about said "forget it" but I knew I would regret it, so I did two laps of the buoys.  As I was coming in from my second loop, I saw Sabrina and my boys on the shore.  I waved weakly, and kept plugging along to the finish.

I was so happy to be done!  I haven't done a ton of swimming the last couple weeks and I definitely felt it.  Next year I will be more prepared.  My GPS had a freak-out before we finished and I'm not positive of my total distance.  My longest open water swim before today was 9.25 miles and I am 100% sure that I was over that today.  I finished in 5:16, which is quite a bit slower than I was shooting for.  Considering the crappy conditions in a couple spots, I'm just happy I finished.

Thank you to Sue for volunteering to give up her Saturday and paddle for me all morning.  She did an excellent job keeping me safe, getting my feeds ready (shaking up my drinks, opening gels and apple sauces, and getting my ibuprofen), taking tons of photos and videos, and encouraging me when things got tough.  She was in the perfect position the whole time and kept me away from the jerks on their fishing boats.

After today's swim, I am one swim away from the Utah Triple Crown, which consists of swimming 8 mile from Antelope Island to Black Rock at the Great Salt Lake, 7 miles across Bear Lake, and 10 miles at Deer Creek all in one year.  I have already swam Bear Lake and now Deer Creek.  If I can find a good day to swim Great Salt Lake, I will see if I can work it out.


Gordon's Catalina Swim

The last couple days have been a whirlwind of driving, almost puking, sleeping and swimming.

I drove down to Long Beach with Jim and Connie on Tuesday morning.  We left just before 6am and drove pretty much straight to the marina where we would board the Outrider, the boat that would be piloting Gordon across the channel.

After arriving, we met up with Sue and Goody for a quick dinner.  They noticed that I was acting strange and I blame the motion sickness patch I had put on in the car on the way down.  It made me feel a little drowsy and gave me a dry mouth.

After we ate, we all drove over to the marina and met up with Gordon and his family.  He had made each of us a cool shirt to commemorate the swim.  The two observers and paddler showed up not long after we got there and we all headed down to load up the boat.

We had to wait for a while for the crew to show up and we used that time to go over the official rules as well as Gordon's detailed plan for his swim and what he expected each of us to do.  Once the crew showed up, we were off.

I didn't feel nearly as sick as last year when we were there for Goody's swim.  The patch was definitely working.  I took the opportunity to go below deck and sleep on the way over.  When we were about 30 minutes away, Gordon started getting ready to swim.  He jumped off the boat with no hesitation and swam to shore.  After signaling his start, he was off.  I stayed up for the first couple of feeds and then went back to sleep.

I got up after a while and Sue and I took over feeds.  She prepared them and I tossed them in.  Gordon looked strong and smooth in the water.  His stroke rate averaged between about 66 and 69.

When it got light (it never really got sunny), Jacob hopped in the kayak to give Tom a break.  Sue seemed eager to get in the water and got her suit on.  She swam for 30 minutes with Gordon and loved it.  It looked like she was smiling while she was swimming.

After another feed cycle, I jumped in the water to swim for 30 minutes.  The water felt cool and I was tempted to just start swimming fast.  I had to be careful not to get ahead of Gords and get him in trouble with the observers.  The water was amazing.  It looks deceptively gray/black when looking down from the boat.  Once you get in the water it's dark blue in color and you can see forever.  It was fun to see Gordon and the boat at one side, the kayak on the other, and small sea creatures below me.  Once my time was up, I swam back to the boat and climbed in.

Gords seemed to be in good spirits until he got a leg cramp with about 2 nautical miles to go.  He asked us not to tell him how far he had gone except for one "treat" after he was more than halfway.  We though that letting him know how close he was would help him get through the cramp and pick it up to the end.  

At one point we saw a big pod of dolphins.  They got pretty close to us and it was fun to watch them gliding and jumping through the water.  We tried to get Gordon's attention so he could see them, but he was focused on swimming.

Tom, the paddler, came aboard as we got closer.  They though they had secured his kayak to the back of the boat, but we noticed it was drifting away behind us.  The captain would not leave Gordon and told him that he would have to swim back to the kayak before finishing.  I can't imagine what a crushing blow that must have been.  Luckily, Goody stepped up and offered to swim back and get it, leaving Gordon to keep heading to shore with the boat.  We were all watching Goody and he caught up to the kayak, which was drifting further and further away.  Once he climbed aboard, he paddled back and staying on the water with Gordon to the next feed.

We let Gordon know when he had about 30 minutes left and Goody, Sue, Jacob and I got changed so that we could swim in to shore with him.  With only a couple hundred yards to shore, we all jumped in and swam in behind him.  Gords pulled himself out on to shore and cleared the water.  He beat his goal time of 12 hours by 10 minutes!  Gordon's kids and parents were there on shore to see him finish.  Joelle was also there to see him.  After a quick celebration and some photos, we all got back into the water and swam to the boat.  Goody had arranged to have a plateful of chicken nuggets waiting for Gordon when he got back.

After getting back to shore, Gordon took us all out for lunch.  I had a great time being part of a pretty awesome support crew and seeing my friend make his goal.  It was really cool to see how many people were following him online and tracking his progress.  He has inspired many people and I am sure he will continue to inspire more.

You can read Gordon's own account here and see the official observers log here.


Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim - Report

This past Saturday was the 7th annual Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim.  I had entered the 10-mile race and was feeling good about my training up to the day of the race.  The weather and water conditions looked like they would be perfect.

After checking in, Sabrina and I drove down to the boat ramp to unload the kayak.  After getting all our stuff out of the van and into the kayak we waited around and talked to the other swimmers.  This is one of the few times a year I get to see a lot of these swimmers and I had fun talking to them before the race.

With about 15 minutes to the start of the race, Michelle Poole from Colorado came up to me and told me her paddlers was not there.  We looked around for her paddler and made some announcements over the PA, but still couldn't find her.  I knew how much Michelle had been looking forward to swimming the 10-mile race.  She had traveled so far and had already spent money on renting a car, accommodations, etc.  We tried to find her another paddler, but that's a big commitment (5 hours) for someone who didn't come ready to paddle.  In the end, I decided to postpone my 10 mile swim to paddle for her.  I quickly switched gears from swim prep to kayak prep and got in the water just seconds before the 10 mile start.  Special thanks to Karl for letting me borrow his hat!

Michelle took off pretty fast and went back and forth between 3rd and 4th place for the first five miles.  I had her feeds all ready to go, but she refused them until she got to the turnaround.  At the turnaround, she was passed by Sue and fell into fifth place.  On the way back, I could tell that she was losing steam.  I offered her feeds several times, but she refused most of them.  Finally, I got her to take a feed and she seemed to pick up her pace.  With about 1 mile to go, I got her to take one more feed and she really picked it up, finishing under 5 hours.

An interesting side note, I saw someone get baptized between Rainbow Bay and Deer Creek Island Resort.  Pretty cool!

I had a lot of fun paddling for Michelle and talking to the other paddlers out on the water.  The weather was perfect and the water was beautiful.  It was awesome to see my friends complete their goals and finish their races.  I heard nothing but good things about the race.  Jim and Connie did a great job as usual.  I really appreciate all the work they do to keep this race going.

After the race, several people stepped up and offered to paddle for me another day so I could still get my 10 mile swim.  As of right now, it looks like I'll be doing my swim this coming Saturday with Sue as my paddler.  Thanks Sue!  Before that though, I'm headed to Long Beach for Gordon's Catalina swim.  I can't wait to see him conquer another channel swim.