I was interviewed by USMS Swimmer magazine on the topic of selecting crew members for a solo marathon swim. Here’s the article from the January-February issue.
Thanks to Elaine and editor Laura Hamel for the interest. If you are a current USMS member, you can now access the digital edition of SWIMMER from this page (login required).
So, here’s what I did for New Years’:
Not pictured is the Avila Pier, from which I had just leaped.
See Rob there, already in the water, closest to me, holding a GoPro on his wrist? He’s about to take this picture:
The water was nice, about 53F. Typically I would at least wear a cap at this temperature, but I forgot it. Oops. Ice cream headache.
Here’s Cathy, a somewhat more photogenic jumper:
As it turns out, Cathy and I are experienced hands at this sort of thing. Back in September in Maui, this happened:
Anyway, the swim back to shore was about 400m. We sat on the beach for the next couple hours, re-warming and eating empanadas with our fellow outlaws.
A fine start to 2013.
Some other reports from the day:
Strokemakers are the classic paddle for competitive swimmers. At various points in my swimming career I’ve used Green #1s, Yellow #2s, Red #3s, and Blue #4s. As a Masters swimmer, I use Reds. As an open-water and marathon swimmer, I feel that the strength I develop with these paddles (which some have derogatorily described as “dinner plates”) helps me power through waves and chop in rough-water conditions.
(Note: I have no financial relationship with the company that makes Strokemakers. Every one of their products I own, I’ve paid for. I just like their paddles.)
There’s a catch, though: It’s probably a bad idea to use these paddles as a beginning (or even intermediate-level) swimmer. You can hurt yourself! Certain stroke flaws (thumb-first entry, crossing over the mid-line, dropping your elbows on the catch), combined with paddles, can lead to rotator cuff injuries.
How do you know if your technique is good enough to start using “power paddles” such as Strokemakers?
I’d like to suggest a simple rule of thumb: If you can swim with the FINIS Agility paddles without struggling to keep them on your hands, your technique is probably good enough for power paddles.
Karen has a nice description of how the Agility paddles “test” your technique.
If at any point you develop shoulder pain while using paddles, stop using them immediately!
I received a complimentary pair of Agility paddles from FINIS at Jamie’s swim camp a few months ago. I have no trouble keeping them on, but I still use them occasionally because of how well I can feel the initial “catch” of my stroke. I think of the Agility paddles as feel for the water paddles, in contrast to the Strokemaker power paddles.
I was happy to hear recently that FINIS is now selling three sizes of Agility paddles - small and large, in addition to the original size (now called “medium”). I always felt the original Agility paddles were a bit too small for my hands, so if I were in the market for new ones, I’d get the Large.
One final note: as usual, I find Terry Laughlin’s perspective on this to be overly simplistic and dogmatic.
These are a few of my favorite OWS blogs. 14 of them, for 2013. Because I couldn’t choose just 13. They are listed in order of when I first added the RSS feed to my Google Reader (oldest to newest):
Rob D. is the godfather of open water swim-blogging, known for his comical prose stylings, his GoPro ninja skills, his seeming indifference to cold water, and his fearsome adventure beard.
Donal is my Irish cold-water swimming. We founded our blogs in the same month, literally (February 2010).
Quite simply: Penny is a legend. After her nearly-70 mile Cayman Islands swim, an almost-completed Cuba-to-Florida swim, and six of the seven channels in the Oceans’ Seven, one wonders what box she could possibly have left to tick?
She’s not the most active blogger, but I include her on this list because her entries remain fascinating even years after she’s written them. She is still the only successful solo swimmer off reports are required reading for anyone attempting to follow in her wake.
Amanda (a.k.a. “Chicken of the Sea”) is one of the funniest, quirkiest humans I know, and her missives are always good for a chortle or two. (Here is a classic.)
I miss a few things about living in the Midwest, but none more than swimming at Promontory Point in Chicago. These days, “Chicken’s Nuggets” are the closest I get to feeling the soft _freshwater _embrace of my beloved old swim spot.
Gords is an English Channel soloist and the founder and race director of the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim.
He is also famous for his super-human tolerance for Goody and Cathy) on the other side of Clear Lake, left to hitchhike back in a Rob Aquatics speedo.
Personally, I think it was Luigi’s fault.
Katie is an enthusiastic open-water swimmer and compelling writer hailing from Arizona - another up-and-coming open water area in the Mountain West region of the U.S.
She recently completed her first official marathon swim - Swim the Suck in Tennessee.
When I first came across “Iron” Mike’s blog, he was an American living in Moscow. An unlikely location for an open water swimmer, perhaps, but one that allowed for occasional trips to nearby events.
He recently moved to northern Virginia, so it will be fun to see him tackle the more plentiful OWS offerings in the States. Like Katie, Mike, recently completed Swim the Suck.
Swim Smooth is one of several “schools of swim improvement” in the marketplace and, to my mind, the most sophisticated and worthwhile (especially for open water swimmers).
I especially enjoy the posts that are written with, essentially, a three-part structure (e.g., this recent one):
Of course, Paul Newsome is a polite man (unlike me), so he never actually calls out TI by name. Always gives me a laugh, though.
Karen is a sociologist from the UK, and as such, she often writes about marathon swimming from an academic perspective. Her posts are invariably thought provoking.
She’s also a successful English Channel and Catalina Channel soloist, and will complete her Triple Crown this June at MIMS.
Ollie is an Aussie living in the UK, and a very fast swimmer. He and I had an semi-masochistic experiences.
A relative newcomer to the OWS blogging community, Owen is already making a name for himself, in his homeland of Ireland and beyond. In 2009, Owen swam the English Channel at 16 years old - the youngest Irish person to do so.
If young Owen is any indication, the future of marathon swimming is bright indeed.