Warming Up at Jordanelle

What a great morning for a swim!

I met Jill and Tim at the PWC ramp at Jordanelle at 5:30am this morning.  Chad, Goody, and Gordon started their swim about an hour and a half earlier and were nowhere to be seen when I got there.

When I got in the water, it felt warmer than it did last week when I was there.  Sure enough, when I checked the thermometer on my watch, it was 73.5 degrees.  It was about 68 last week.

I headed west to the end of the buoy line and then turned around and went east to the end of the buoys.  I was expecting to see Gordon, Goody and Chad along the way, but I never did.  At the end of the buoys, I turned to swim towards the three buoys marking the end of the peninsula.  I saw Tim along the way and said "hi" before continuing on.

I headed back the way I came and when I was getting close to the ramp, I though I heard someone yelling my name.  I had earplugs in so I couldn't hear very well.  A minute or so later, Goody pulled up along beside me in his kayak.  Turns out they had done a big loop out to the dam, to Rock Cliff, and back and were just finishing up.  I swam each again, back to the last buoy so that I could swim back in with Chad and Gordon.

By the time I made the turn, Gordon and Chad were a little ways ahead of me and I decided to push it and see if I could catch them.  I caught up to Chad after a while and gave his Swimmer Buddy a tug.  I pushed it again to see if I could catch Gordon, who was a little ways ahead.  I caught up to him and settled back into an easy stroke to the red buoy.

I was shooting for 5K today, but didn't finish the second loop.  I'd rather swim with my friends than get a little more distance.  I finished up at 2.43 miles for the day.  Here's the link to the data.

It would be nice to swim with these guys for a longer swim once a week.  Maybe we could alternate who paddles and who swims each week.  I could get up that early once a week.

I think next time I go up, I'm going to start at 5am so I can get in some longer swims.


Last Swim at GSL for a Couple Months

Chad Starks starting his 1-mile swim at the GSL.
This morning I met Chad to the Great Salt Lake to time him swimming the 1 mile course so that he can complete the Mini Triple Crown this year.

It's that time of year when there are a LOT of flies near the shore.  There are also starting to be a lot of spiders.  They aren't very big yet, but soon the whole place will be crawling with big ones.

We started Chad's time and he took off.  It was nice to be the only person on the beach and watch Chad and the sunrise.  He was shooting for under 30 minutes and ended up at 28:07.58, which he was happy with.  The course is actually a little longer than a mile, so his true 1 mile time would have been a bit faster.

After Chad finished at the boat ramp, we walked back down to Silver Sands and got back in the water.  I was planning to just swim the line or red buoys, but at the east end, Chad said he was just going to go in.  I had been alternating swimming hard and easy every other buoy, but it was so warm (around 84 degrees!) that I decided to just cut it short and go in with Chad.

On the way back I saw something that looked like a quarter on the bottom of the lake.  As I've mentioned before, it's really uncommon to see anything other than sand and rocks on the bottom, so I dove down to see what it was.  To my surprise, it was a golf ball!  I picked it up and put it in my bag.  I needed another golf ball to put in the nesting boxes so our chickens learn where to lay their eggs.

I took the rest of the swim easy and just soaked it in, knowing that this would be my last swim here for a couple months.  Ended up at just under a mile.


I Wish Every Swim Felt Like Today

Chad texted me last night to see if I wanted to swim with him at GSL this morning.  I couldn't pass up a swim, so I told him I'd meet him at 5am.

I got there a bit early and the gate was still closed. It opened right at 5am and I drove in and got ready to go.  Chad told me he was going to be a bit late so I jumped in and swam around the buoys a couple times until he got there.  While I was swimming and waiting for Chad, I was thinking about how cool it was that I was likely the only person swimming in that huge lake at that time.  I had it all to myself.

The water is still extremely clear and it's fun to be able to look down and see the bottom most of the way.  The downside of swimming right now is that there are a lot of brine flies on the surface of the water.  I'm probably done swimming her until September when the flies thin out.

When Chad got there, we decided to swim the "big triangle" and then see how we were doing on time.  The water was warm (I didn't take a temperature) and glassy.  The only ripples I saw on the whole lake were from Chad and I swimming.  I was swimming easy, but felt like I was flying.  That's the difference between the Great Salt Lake and freshwater lakes.  Swimming at Jordanelle yesterday was hard and I felt like I was sinking.  I realized today it was because I've gotten used to swimming in the GSL where I am more buoyant.  Today was effortless.  Just gliding along watching the rocks and sand pass by underneath me, looking at the rising sun as I took a breath.  It was amazing.  I wish every swim felt like today.

At the northern-most green buoy I stopped to look for Chad and saw him already swimming back toward the marina.  I tried to catch up to him, only to have him change direction and swim back to the red buoy.  I guess he was having trouble seeing with his goggles and missed the buoy.

We stopped to float and chat for a while about bees, chickens, Bear Lake, training, and goggles.  On the way back to the marina opening, I happened to see a bottle on the bottom of the lake.  It's really unusual to see trash that far out in the lake, so I stopped to try do dive down and pick it up.  Unfortunately, it was cemented into the sand and I couldn't get it out.

At the buoys near the marina entrance, I stopped again to wait for Chad.  I was looking at the rope attached to the red buoy and decided to try to find out how it was anchored.  I dove down and followed the rope for probably 20 feet and found where it connected to a chain.  There must be some concrete or something down there that it's attached to.

It was getting late and I picked up the pace to swim back to shore.  As we were rising off, Becca Stone was just getting out of her car.  Becca helped us with support paddlers for our first couple Great Salt Lake Open Water Swims.  She has been out of the state for three years and just happened to be in town and was at the GSL to do some paddling.  I helped her take her SUP down to the boat ramp.  What are the odds that we would run into each other on the one day she was in town?

Here's the route we swam this morning.  The "big triangle" plus a few laps around the buoys near the marina.

I was hoping to get 3 miles in this morning and ended up at 3.23. Nice!  This may be my last swim out here for a while until the flies thin out in September.


First Swim of the Year at Jordanelle

Snapped this photo after my swim this morning. What an awesome state we live in!
Goody has been bugging me to go up to Jordanelle for a week or so.  This morning, I decided to go up and check it out and see what the water temp was.

I got there a little later than planned and saw that Goody and his neighbor were in the water.  I dropped my thermometer and headed out to the first buoy.  The water was "not as warm as I would have liked" (I'm trying to rid my swimming vocabulary of the word "cold") when I got in.  I swam out to the first buoy and waited for Goody and his friend to meet me.

After a brief introduction, we all headed east along the buoys.  At the end of the buoys, I turned around and headed back.  It took me a while to get comfortable in the water.  All of my open water swims this year have been in water warmer than it was this morning.  The temp on my watch was around 67.5 degrees.

The water level is much higher this year than it was last year and the buoys seem to have moved a little bit.  It took me a while, weaving through the boats at the west end, to find the last buoy.

After one lap, I swam in with Goody and his friend to take a picture and get a drink before heading out for another lap.

The one thing that sucks about swimming at Jordanelle in the morning is that you have to swim into the sun when it comes up over the mountain.  It makes it really hard to see the buoys, even with tinted goggles.

At the east end of the buoy line, I decided to head south to another set of buoys at the end of the little peninsula.  Looking at my watch on the way back, I knew I wasn't going to have time to make a full second lap, so I headed in.  Looking at my GPS when I got home, I swam exactly 5K, which is the distance I was shooting for.

Here is the route I swam.

All in all, it was a great morning and I'm looking forward to getting up there a couple times a week.  I need to start recruiting others to come up and swim.


Results From the Free SLOW Race @ Bountiful Lake

Most of the swimmers waiting for the start of the race.
Yesterday afternoon we organized a "race" (actually a timed group swim) at Bountiful Lake.  The course followed this route, for a total of 0.7 miles.

There was a pretty good turnout with 15 swimmers, mostly from South Davis Masters.

Getting ready to swim!
I had a goal to beat the men's record of 17:02 that was set by Gordon Gridley last year.  We actually had everyone guess their finish time to see who could come the closest.  I guessed I could do 16:50.

The water was really warm (82 degrees) which isn't in my favor for trying to swim fast.  The warm water feels like it sucks the energy out of me.  I didn't have a chance to get in and warm up first, which would have been nice.

I ended up on the far right edge of the group at the start and ran into the sandbar and had to fight my way back into deeper water.  Someone grabbed my ankle and I figured it must have been Chad messing around.  I usually grab onto his safety float and give it a tug when we swim together.  I later found out it was Jason Coyle.

My arms felt tight, probably due to swimming at the GSL that morning and not warming up, but I kept plugging away.  I think I swam a pretty straight course.  There were a couple spots around the second island where I started getting too close and it got shallow, but other than that, I think I did a good job of not swimming more than I had to.

At the second island I caught up to Jeremy Clark and passed him on the inside.  He was smart and drafted on my the rest of the way in.  I'm not super competitive, but I didn't want him to draft on me and pass me right at the end.  When we got closer to the ramp, I picked up the pace a bit and hoped that he wouldn't pass me.

I gave it a good effort, but didn't quite make my goal.  I finished in 17:19.  Joe and Jason were way ahead of me and both of them ended up beating the men's record.  I was a little disappointed at my time, but it's a huge improvement over the last time I swam the course for time in 2011 when I got a time of 18:49.

I think we are going to plan on doing this again in October when the water is cooler.

Here are the full results:


Swimming a Big Warm Triangle at GSL

This morning I met Chad and Goody at the Great Salt Lake Marina for a swim.  It's been a while since I've swam with Goody and it was good to see him.  Chad and I will be racing at Bountiful Lake tonight and, by swimming this morning, we will be able to check off the "swim in two bodies of water (not pools) in the same day" square on the SLOW Check-Off Challenge.

The water was really warm (80 degrees in some spots).  This may be my last swim out here for a while.  The water was very clear and we could see the bottom most of the swim.  We swam from Silver Sands to the end of the buoy line and then out into the lake to another set of red and green buoys.  The distance was almost exactly a mile, which is good to know.  From there we swam back towards the red buoys outside the breakwall.  We took a few minutes to look at the shipwreck, and then headed back to Silver Sands, making a big triangle.

I took this swim really easy, using it as a warm-up for the race tonight.  I'm hoping to be able to break the current men's record for the course, but I hear there may be some really fast guys coming.


Weird Swim and Exploring a Shipwreck at GSL

I met Chad at 5:30 this morning for a swim at the GSL.  It was a beautiful morning with glassy water.  I love being there in the morning and seeing the sun come up and turning the water pink.

Luckily, the thermometer I left at the boat ramp on Saturday was still there. The temp was 78 degrees!  The really odd thing was that the water was colder on the surface than it was further down.  Usually it's the opposite.  I don't know if there had been some rain out there or what, but it was a really strange feeling to stroke through cool water and have it turn very warm during the pull.  There were a couple spots near the marina entrance that were VERY warm and must have been over 80 degrees.

The other odd thing about this morning was that the water was extremely clear.  This was a big change from Saturday's race when it was still a little murky.  We could see the bottom of the lake for most of the swim.

The brine shrimp seem to be out in full force. I didn't notice that many of them the last couple times I swam there, but they are everywhere now.  I noticed them more in the shallow parts of the lake near what I think is called tufa rock.

Outside of the deep channel, marked by buoys, it was very shallow and we could stand on the tufa rock.  Here's Chad standing up in the middle of the lake.

We stopped to chat for a while and we both thought that the cool water on top, warm water below was really strange. Neither one of us had experienced that here before.

With the water as clear as it was, we decided to check out the shipwreck and try to get some pictures.  After turning around the last red buoy, we headed to the wreck, which is market by a small round buoy that you can see from the observation deck.

The thing about the GSL is that it is EXTREMELY difficult to dive under the water and stay there to look around.  We had to grab onto the rope and pull ourselves down to stay there.  As soon as we let go, we shot up like rockets.  You really need a dive belt to stay under water long enough to get a good look at the wreck.

Most of my pictures turned out blurry, but I did manage to snap a few decent ones.  Chad and I were both surprised at how big the ship is.

The buoy rope marking the wreck.

Chad diving down to take a look.

Part of the shipwreck.  The wood is really well preserved in the salt.
A little blurry, but this is a small piece of metal.

Another piece of the wreck.

I'd like to go out there again with a weighted belt and explore a little more and get some better pictures.  Here is an article about the wreck.

We ended up swimming about 2 miles.  Here's a picture of Chad in his meditation pose.

The water is getting a little too warm and the brine shrimp and flies a little too plentiful to swim out there much longer this summer.


2015 Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim

Another year, another Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim race in the books.

This year was a little more chaotic and stressful than last year because there was a big thunderstorm forecast to hit the lake right at the time when the 8 mile swimmers would still be in the water.  The water level this year was also extremely low.  Because of both of these things, we had to modify BOTH the 1 mile course and the 8 mile course.

I wanted to swim the 1 mile this year so that I can get the Mini Triple Crown award.  I wasn't able to swim it the day of the race, so I met Gordon and Chad at the marina on Friday afternoon to get my time.

I had a strategy that I was going to try to follow; basically split the 1 mile up into four sections and try to swim each one faster than the one before.  The first leg was actually the hardest because I had to swim against the wind to get to the turnaround.  I ended up getting a good amount of water in my mouth, but I brushed it off and kept going.  Even though I was sighting, I was getting off course on my way to the green turnaround buoy.

Once I made the turn, I increased my effort and had some assistance from the wind.  I was able to settle into a pace that felt pretty good.  At my next marker, I picked up my kick and stroke rate again.  When I got to the last buoy, I tried to kick it up another notch and was swimming pretty hard into the marina.

I finished with a time of 23:05, and I was pretty happy with it.  I was shooting for under 23 minutes and got pretty close. On a calm day, I think I could get under 23.

"8 Mile" Swim

After my 1 mile swim, we met with Dave Shearer, the GSL Harbormaster.  He was concerned about the weather and we wanted to talk to him before we met with all the 8 mile swimmers for dinner.  He showed us the radar and actually called another weather expert while we were there.  Everyone was in agreement that it was not a good idea to swim from Antelope to Black Rock this year.  The swimmers and paddlers would likely face strong winds, rain, and lightning and none of us wanted to put anyone at risk.  Dave told us that if there was lightning, that they wouldn't be able to send out rescue boats.

Gordon presented an alternate course, which would basically be swimming laps of the 1 mile course near the marina, and Dave was in agreement.  This way we could still hold the swim and not have to cancel it.

There ended up being quite a few positives about changing the course:
1) We were able to start the swim MUCH earlier than normal.
2) Race directors and spectators could watch the entire swim from the observation deck.
3) Swimmers were able to finish much earlier in the day, and did not have to face afternoon winds.
4) In case of an emergency, it would be much faster to get to the swimmers and paddlers
5) For competitive swimmers, it is much easier to keep an eye on your competition.
6) There was not long car ride over the the island, not hauling kayaks to the water, and no transporting swimmers back to the marina from Black Rock.
7) The tour buses got to see the swim in action.

There were also some negatives with changing the course.
1) Swimming laps near the marina, instead of point to point from Antelope Island to Black Rock, takes a lot of the adventure out of the long swim.
2) The distance ended up only being 10K.  We could fix this by adding another lap.
3) It was dark when they started (although there are flashing lights on the buoys marking the course)
4) A lot of swimmers finished the swim shivering.  There are typically some cooler spots out towards the east end of the loop.  Combined with starting and finishing earlier in the day when the air temp is not as warm.

I'm sure some of the swimmers were disappointed that we had to make the course change and that the distance ended up being shorter than they planned for.  In the end, we did the best we could under the circumstances.

I think this is a good alternative plan, with a few modifications, if we run into bad weather again.  I think we will be making this the default backup plan.

1 Mile Swim

The 1 mile swim went off without a hitch.  I really liked the course this year and had a lot of past swimmers tell me that they did too.

This race was so much fun to watch this year because we could see the whole thing from the marina.  I love seeing people's reactions at the finish.  It's always either "Yuck, the salt is terrible!" or "That was awesome!".

It seems to be a race for people trying new things and I really love their adventurousness.

My coach and my lane-mate from Fairmont both came down to swim and it was fun to watch them.

All in all, I think it turned out well.  Now to start getting ready for the Bear Lake Monster Swim!

Thanks as always to all of our swimmers, paddlers, volunteers and sponsors!  A special thanks to Dave Shearer and Utah State Parks for helping us work out the course changes this year.


2015 GSLOW Results
Race Photos


Often Overlooked. Secretly Amazing. - Sunrise Swim at the Great Salt Lake

I went out to the Great Salt Lake this morning to swim and get a morning temperature.  I went out there last week in the afternoon and the water temp was 76 degrees. I wanted to get a morning temperature to get a better idea of what it would be like on the morning of Saturday's Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.

I decided to swim two laps of the 1-mile race course.  The course is new for this year because of the very low water level.  This year the swim will start just east of the observation deck and will be a beach start.  The swilm will follow the deep channel buoys and end up at the boat ramp at the marina.

I got there as the sun was coming up over the mountains and snapped this photo before getting in the water.  It sure is pretty out there in the morning.

The water was pretty calm for the most part, although there were some small breakers rolling into the shore.  The beach start for this year's race should be pretty fun.

I had a bunch of little cuts on my arms and legs from working with chicken wire last night. I felt every one of them when I got in the water!

There were a few cooler spots out towards the end of the buoys, but it was pretty comfortable.  I stopped my GPS at the marina, looked at the water temp (72 degrees), took a drink, and headed back the way I came.

When I got to my computer this morning to check my GPS, it showed almost 1.4 miles instead of 1 mile.  Oops, it turns out I swam past the buoys where I was supposed to turn to the next set.  Good thing I got this worked out before I swim for time on Friday.  I think we'll put one of our big, bright green buoys at the turnaround so there is no confusion.

I bought a shirt from the gift shop last week that ended up being a woman's size. I took it in and exchanged it for a men's size this morning.  The tag on the shirt (made by Great Salt Lake Clothing Co.) says "Often Overlooked. Secretly Amazing."  What a perfect description of the lake!  The lake is such and landmark and has such amazing history (our capital city is named after it!), yet I still feel like swimming out there is my little secret.  I love that saying so much, I just ordered this shirt from Great Salt Lake Clothing Co.