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2018 Russian Swims

October 21, 2017 | 2018 Season | Permalink

The 2018 calendar is starting to fill up in Russia for open water swims. Two of the organizations who run swims here, Champions Cup and Eurasia Swim Cup, have their schedules published. Unsure how many of these I’ll be doing as we leave in late summer and many of these are out of town. We’ll have to see how the move progresses. But without any further ado, here are the swims:

6 May  – Abkhazia, 1k, 1.5k, 3k, 6k, 10k, 1k in fins.
27 May – Sicily (yes, I know that’s Italy, but the Eurasia Swim Cup folks are having two swims in Italy in 2018 as part of their series), same events as 6 May Abkhazia above.
27 May – Moscow, 1k, nautical mile, 5k, 3 x 1000m relay
27 May – Rostov-on-Don, 1k, 1.5k
17 June – Pereslavl, 1.5k, 3k
24 June – Lytkarino, 1k, 1.9k, 3.8k, 6k, 1k in fins
30 June – lake Seliger near St. Petersburg, nautical mile, 5k, 10k
1 July – Yaroslavl, 1.5k, 3k
1 July – Lipetsk, 1k, nautical mile, 10k, 3 x 1000m relay
8 July – Lytkarino, 1k, 1.9k, 3.8k, 6k, 1k in fins
8 July – lake Turgoyak in the Urals, nautical mile, 4k
8 July – Rybinsk, 1k, nautical mile, 5k, 3 x 1000m relay
15 July – Lytkarino, 1k, 1.9k, 3.8k, 6k, 10k, 1k in fins
15 July – lake Baikal, nautical mile, 5k
22 July – Votkinsk, 1.5k, 3k
28 July – Volga swim, 1k, 3k, 5k
29 July – Bronnitsy, 1.9k, 3.8k
11 August – Zaraysk, 1.5k, 3k
12 August – St Petersburg, 2.3k
12 August – Kazan, 1.9k, 3.8k
19 August – Saint Petersburg, 1k, 1.5k, 3k, 6k
19 August – Arctic swim in the Arctic ocean, 1k, nautical mile
26 August – Pereslavl, 1.5k, 3k, 6k
2 September – Samara, 1k, 1.5k, 3k
2 September – lake Sevan in Armenia, nautical mile, 5k
9 September – Rostov-on-Don, 1.5k, 3k, 6k
14-16 September – Sochi Swim Festival, 1k, nautical mile, 5k, 3 x 1000m relay
14 October – Abkhazia, 1k, 1.9k, 3.8k, 6k, 10k, 1k in fins
4 November – Eurasia Swim Cup final in Sicily

Some notes on the above. The Eurasia Swim Cup folks are still working on organizing some swims in Strogino, where I swam with them this year. Those 5.8k swims were so well-organized and fun I’m really hoping they’ll have a bunch of them before I move.

Next, that Saint Petersburg swim on 12 August will be around the Peter and Paul Fortress in the heart of St. Pete. That is so damn close to my departure, but, like my first overseas swim in Copenhagen around the Danish seat of government, I may have to make time for this one.

Below is a map I made of all the locations for the 2018 Russian season.

2018 season locations

Off-season training

October 15, 2017 | 2017 Season | Permalink

Season is over now, and I’d promised some ladies at work that I’d join them in their boot camp class after the season was done, so, had to stick to my word.

Oy! I’ve only done two classes since Sochi and that’s because after the first my calves hurt so much I didn’t want to go back till they felt better. Then when I did, half-way through the workout my right calf started acting up and I had to switch to one-legged jump rope (among other adjustments).

What is boot camp? Kind of like a mixture of aerobics, CrossFit and calisthenics. The first workout we did consisted of three cycles of two stations of five minutes each. What does that mean? Well, for instance, the first cycle was kettlebell swings, squat jump over a bench, and a dip. For five minutes you did those three exercises in a row; the first time through one rep each, the second time two, and so on, till the five minutes were up. (I think I got up to 9 in that one.) Then we (3 of us in that group) switched with the other group (also 3) and we did their workout, which if I recall correctly was a jump squat, a double-under jump rope (meaning the rope goes under your feet twice), and a lunge. One rep each through, then two and so on. After we hit those two stations (~10 min total) then we ran around the basketball court three times. That’s the part I hated the most.

I wore my calf-hugging specialty socks during this first boot camp. Bought those socks because my calves would just hurt so much by the end of the day as I was walking home. No matter if I stood at work all day or sat. The socks definitely make my calves feel good, but I’m really not sure if they help at all. This past Thursday I didn’t wear them to class and about half-way through (8 stations @ two minutes each then through them again at 1:30 each) my right calf suddenly screamed each time I would jump. I switched to one-footed jump rope (surprised myself I was still able to do 6-8 in a row before faltering). Jumping jacks didn’t work out so well; the instructor had me do some weird twisting thing that someone later told me was part of P90X (or whatever it is called).

Both times I offered to swim with anyone after the class for 15-20 minutes; no takers. In fact, each time the instructor (different one each time) looked at me and asked “Seriously? You’re gonna swim after this?” Well, yes. And each time it felt great. My boss lets me show to work a bit late on days I’m working out, so I swam till 9am or 1000 yards, whichever came first. That meant on the first day I got 500 yards swum and Thursday I did 1000.

I have an ulterior motive, though. The one and only certified, official, no-sh!t CrossFit class I ever went to was back in 2013. The base I was stationed on had a CF club and every Tuesday morning during the summer they did a swimming WOD (workout of the day). That was so blasted fun. As I recall it involved something like 3 lengths (the base pool is 40 yards per) and then hop out and do flutter-kicks, another 3 lengths and do a bunch of push-ups. Do that 10 times or so. Can’t remember exactly; too long ago. But damn was it fun.

Well, I want to run one of those swim WODs with this group. I come up with all kinds of ideas while I’m cooling down after the class. But first have to get myself more ensconced in the group and get some of them to join me in the pool after. I already know one of the instructors would support me in this: Jen, who went with me to Sochi! Just gotta get some of the other students and the main instructor to want to do it… Wish me luck!

Pictorial tour of the Sochi Swim Festival

October 9, 2017 | 2017 Season | Permalink

As discussed previously, I spent last weekend in Sochi, Russia, for the end-of-season swim festival put on by the wonderful folks at the Champions Cup. I went down to Sochi with my daughter, who acted as our collective crew, and two friends from work, Jen and Sabrina. I competed in the 5.5k while they competed in the nautical mile. All three of us took part in the 3 x 1000m relay. What follows are pictures from the festival.

We must of course start with a picture in front of the event sign. It was a beautiful weekend, air temp in the low 20’s Celsius. Sun out all day. It was wonderful.

During registration I saw this sign and couldn’t have been happier.

The sign reads “Water (temperature) 25.2 (degrees Celsius). NO wetsuits.” Despite this, Russians still wore shorties and those suits that supposedly are legal for triathlon. This despite the water getting up to 26C on open water day, which was Sunday the 1st of October.

The first day was for clinics and pool swimming. They held some events in the pool (30- and 60-min swims and 3 x 15-min team relays) that we weren’t interested in. So we went walking to find a place to dip our toes in to feel the water.

You know the water is warm if Russians are swimming in it. Then we had to walk to the Olympic village because: Sochi.

View from the hotel room. Next stop: the Olympic rings and flame.

This was the view of the Olympic flame. Jen had been here before and told us about a fountain show when it got darker. So we went on a quest to find the rings to get pictures in front of.

Near impossible to get an unobstructed view and photo in front of the rings, so this is all we got! Then the lights went on at the flame.

The moon cooperated and lined itself up perfectly for the picture. Then the show began. Wow. Wish I could embed a video here, it was just so spectacular, especially starting out with Queen’s The Show Must Go On.

After 4 or 5 songs, we decided it was time to return to the hotel to get some rest before the events of Sunday.

My event, the 5.5k, was first up. Jen and Sabrina both showed up nice and early to see me off.

As you can see, we’d be swimming inside a walled off section of the Black Sea. At the southern end (left side of the pic above) there was an opening to the sea for all those sailboats to travel through. For the 5.5k, we’d be doing 3 loops inside this area. My daughter caught the start; I’m in there somewhere near the back.

I found this woman a couple times during the loops. The organizers got a close-up of us swimming, me trying to draft off of her.

Little did I know that I’d get to “know” her even more at the end.

This is me coming in. Note who beat me in by less than a second. She and I were racing the last couple hundred meters to try and hit the finish first.

She immediately looked at me and asked or said something. I was too out of breath to understand. I told her my Russian is horrible. Then my right calf cramped up.

Turns out she was telling the RD that I skipped the last buoy.

I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about till I got out of the water, which took a bit because I had to forcibly move my foot till my calf was loose enough to climb up a ladder onto the pier. The RD said “Mike, the girl says you skipped the last buoy.” I protested vehemently. I told him that I took every buoy as instructed, on my left shoulder, including the last one. He told me not to worry about it.

I found the woman at the top of the ramp after I got my medal, water and banana. I told her the same thing, that I didn’t skip any buoys. (How the hell would she know anyway? I didn’t swim around any buoys with any other swimmers close, as far as I could tell.) She told me simply: “Well, I didn’t see you.” I was too dumbfounded to think quick on my feet, but what I should have answered was “Well, I didn’t see you either, but I presume you went around the buoys properly.” Frankly, I think she was just mad I was tapping her toes occasionally during the race. (If you don’t like contact, then don’t swim open water.)

Forget her! On to other things! I managed 1:52:33, 13th out of 23 men, 2nd out of 2 in the 50-54 age group. More importantly, that time was only a few seconds slower than my best (feeling) 5K ever in Raslina, Croatia, two years ago. I was aiming for two hours in this one, so very happy with my time.

Next up was Jen and Sabrina’s nautical mile swim.

This would be the first open water (non-triathlon) swim for Sabrina and the second for Jen. Both of them ended up doing really well in their races, Jen earning 3rd out of 12 and Sabrina 2nd out of 3 in their respective age groups. Next up, the relay!

I’d seen the term эстафета before and knew it had something to do with multiple swimmers, but because I’d never known anyone else interested in joining me, I didn’t bother looking it up. But once I found two partners in crime for this trip, I looked into it. The term means relay, but this being Russia, I wanted to make sure it was truly a relay and not just the three of us swimming together and times added up.

Sure enough, it would be a relay. We figured we’d either meet in water and trade timing chips or have to swim in to the pier, tap the sensor, exchange timing chips, and then the next person goes. We were close, but not right.

When I was done with my 5.5k, I went back into the registration tent and got the sensor for our relay. Hours later, right before the briefing for the 1k and relays, one of the young volunteers grabbed me and told me something about the timing chip for the relay. I followed him to the table where he and another volunteer had a heated discussion about timing chips, pointing to the list of the 12 teams who’d be doing the relay. I kept holding up my left arm showing them I’ve already got a chip. They kept mentioning another number. (Our team was 150, but they kept talking about 1050.)

Turns out, our second swimmer (Jen) would wear chip 1050, and after I came in (as first swimmer) I’d give my chip to Sabrina, our third swimmer. This way there was no fumbling with the velcro between legs.

The organizers marked our left arms with our team numbers. The theory being that when the first swimmer was approaching the pier, the RD would yell out “Team so-and-so, second member.” Then another volunteer would hold the second swimmer back until the RD yelled “Go!” I asked the RD if he could yell out in English for Sabrina and Jen and he agreed.

I managed my lap in 21:53, Jen hers in 22:28 and Sabrina hers in 26:25 for a total time of 1:10:59. We got 4th out of 5 mixed teams. A good time was had by all!

That relay was such a blast, I’ll definitely try and compete in them again next season.

That was it for the swimming. We had a pizza party an hour or so after the picture above. No comments on how much pizza I (we?) ate. But later that night we found a brewpub and partook in some tasty adult beverages. (Sadly, Sabrina and her husband had to depart early Sunday evening so couldn’t join us.)

Cider for my daughter

Marston’s Oyster Stout for me. And Mort Subite Wit for Jen

So that is it for Sochi, and that is it for my 2017 season. Not so bad, I’d say. Next summer will be my last in Russia and I’d like to do more (than four) swims here. We’ll see what the 2018 season brings!

Sochi Swim Festival

October 7, 2017 | 2017 Season | Permalink

I’ll do a post of pictures from my swims in Sochi, but wanted to do a quick post about how we did.

Went down to Sochi last weekend with two work colleagues (Jen and Sabrina) to take part in the Sochi Swim Festival, organized by the Champions Cup folks. I signed up for the 5.5K and my friends signed up for the nautical mile. Together, we signed up for the 3 x 1000m relay.

Jen and Sabrina both did well in their mile swim, Jen getting 3rd out of 12 and Sabrina 2nd out of 3. I also got 2nd…out of two. Ha! More importantly, I set a new PR with a 1:52.33, which was my time two years ago in Raslina when I swam my best (feeling) 5K ever. So this 5.5K swim felt even better!

The relay was a freaking blast. It was the last event (around noon) so the water started to get rough/wavy. Each of us had to do a lap; I was first, then Jen, and Sabrina finished us up. The first lap folks started en masse with the swimmers doing the 1K solo. It was a nice crowded start. I managed 21:53. We all had our team’s number on our left arms and when the RD saw us getting close to finishing, he’d call out the team number and the next swimmer would stand on the end of the pier and dive in once told to start. Together we got 4th out of 5 mixed teams with a final time of 1:10:59.

This was such a great conclusion to a fun season. More later, to include pictures of beautiful Sochi, Russia.

USMS destroying open water swimming

September 17, 2017 | Coaching, Spirit of Marathon Swimming | Permalink

The U.S. Masters Swimming organization is now meeting in Dallas for their convention. One of the proposed amendments (link pdf…go to page 179) to the USMS rule book was contrary to the tradition of open water swimming:

303.3.2 Swimmers may receive the following assistance from any escort craft:
A. Food or drink may be passed from escort craft to swimmer as long as deliberate contact is not made between the two.

303.3.3 Swimmers shall not receive the following assistance from any escort craft:
A. Swimmers shall not receive flotation or propulsion forward progress from any escort craft nor make intentional contact with any craft.

Those strike-outs are significant. What that means now is that swimmers can rest by holding onto a support craft (boat, kayak, SUP) during USMS-sanctioned open water events. The rationale behind these two rules’ amendments is to align them to rule 303.9.5, which has been amended in Dallas to:

A disqualification can be made only by the referee, the starter or a judge within whose jurisdiction the
infraction has been committed. Swimmers shall be disqualified if they: …
303.9.5 Receive assistance Make forward progress by pulling, pushing, or resting, or maintaining contact on physical features and/or craft on or near the course, other than the bottom near the start and finish and at specified locations. Incidental contact shall not be a basis for disqualification.

The rationale of this proposal, according to documents and a couple people present at the convention, is that it “removes resting on a stationary object as a disqualifying offense, for swimmer safety.”

There it is. “…for swimmer safety…” Because we’re all children.

Apparently, swimmers who have never swum more than 3k in training sign up for 5k and 10k swims en masse, thus they need to be protected. (In my experience, no one signs up for half or marathon swims who have never swum even half of that in open water already. Those distances are just too far for most, without training.) Because sure, resting in the middle of an hour or more-long swim event isn’t an aid to the swimmer.

The spirit of open water swimming is that the swimmer completes the distance solely under his/her own power. In fact, it is kind of a bragging point for most of us. “Yes, I swam 10k from location X to location Y. No, I didn’t get in the boat to rest. No, I didn’t hang on the side of the kayak when I got tired. I swam the entire distance without touching the bottom or holding on to anything. Yeah, I’m bad-ass.” You know, kind of like when pool swimmers complete a 500m swim. They swim 5 or 10 laps solely under their own power. Not stopping to rest on the lane lines.

In fact, the first 5k event I swam was kind of a big deal…to me. I had swum that far in a pool, but after swimming that in open water, water with currents and salt, with other competitors running into you, salt rash under the arms, well, you kinda feel invincible. I remember returning to the airport the next day, seeing a sign on the highway announcing that the next town was 5 kilometers away, thinking to myself “My God, I swam this distance yesterday.” Sure, the taxi only took 5 minutes and I took significantly longer than that. But seeing the road pass by, the hills and ground, trees and signs pass by, it cemented in my brain that I did something significant. This rule demeans all of that.

In the UK during my first 10k, they had two “comfort stations,” one at 4k and the other at 8k. They touted tea and biscuits. I thought that would be great, as I knew the water would be cold. When I got to the 4k comfort station (really just a big raft), I noticed it was surrounded by swimmers hanging off the sides, like barnacles. I thought to myself, Why would I waste minutes I could be swimming waiting for a small cup of hot tea? I can just put my head down and get done with the remaining 6k and have all the tea I want, reveling in the feeling of being done with swimming 10 whole kilometers on my own power.

No sprinter in his right mind would sign up for a 1500m pool event if he wasn’t ready to swim the entire distance. No swimmer should sign up for a 5k swim, which takes us mere mortals at least an hour and a half (closer to two hours for me), if he isn’t ready to swim for a couple hours. He should know going in that he can’t stop and rest halfway through the swim.

One delegate, a marathon swimmer, voted yes on this proposal. Her reasoning? New swimmers who enter open water events may be nervous or anxious in open water. If that person gets kicked in the face, s/he can rest on the boat to recover. Therefore, for the swimmer who has never swum in open water, s/he can now rest while the other swimmers actually swim the entire event.

Why’s that matter? Well, if you’ve ever been in open water, swimming like the wind trying your hardest to pass the swimmer in front of you (regardless of whether or not s/he is in your age group), you know that swimming in open water takes training and practice. You work your heart out to swim fast and straight. You want to complete the distance solely under your power wearing a cap, goggles and suit.

But what if one or more of the swimmers in your age group swims his or her hardest and is 100s of meters ahead of you? Why, that person can simply rest for a bit hanging on to the side of a boat. Catch his breath. Take a few minutes breather. Then start fresh. Or at least, fresher than you, who have been swimming at your race pace since starting the event.

Why not just let him wear fins? Or use a pull buoy? This is similar to giving one basketball team more time to bring the ball past half-court than the other. You know, because one team is new to basketball, and might need 60 seconds (instead of 10) to bring the ball from their end of the court to their opponent’s.

I’m reminded of an incident several years ago (2013?) where a woman got sponsors to help her pay for her English Channel swim. She planned to swim the channel for charity and did actually start. However, a few miles in she got on the boat, put on a wetsuit and fins, and “finished” the swim. In publications she touted herself as an English Channel swimmer. Um, no. You’re not. You cheated.

To their credit, one delegate proposed that the rule include a rider that a race director can state in the race rules that touching a support craft is disqualifying. That passed, thank God. Still, that is up to race directors to include in their event’s rules. And in my experience, I think many USMS events in the future will allow holding on to a boat to rest. And this is too bad, as the USMS hosts several championships every year, in distances ranging from one mile to ten. My guess is those events now will allow people to rest on boats mid-swim. Those events won’t get my money.

Pictures from Issyk Kul Swim Challenge

September 16, 2017 | 2017 Season, Spirit of Marathon Swimming | Permalink

Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation doctor and observer, Olesya, sent me a batch of great photos* from the swim challenge held on 6 August 2017. Thought I’d do a post with them as many of them are perfect to show you how beautiful this lake and country are. Take a gander.

The inevitable wait for the boat

Beautiful morning on Issyk Kul

Here comes the boat!

Of course you have to warm up

Kayaker and crew meeting

Swimmers getting ready

It’s not an official federation crossing without the flag picture!

And of course the pre-swim prep

Can’t have a swim like this without a great crew!

Starting spot. Note the snow. (This is August, remember.) Didn’t I say this place is beautiful?!

The traditional arms up ready!

Look at that beautifully flat water.

Look at that view!

Miss that lake

Last guy coming in!



*All photos by the incomparable photographer Giovanni Casini.

Great weekend of swimming

September 4, 2017 | 2017 Season, Coaching, Spirit of Marathon Swimming | Permalink

Managed three days at the lake over this wonderful 3-day weekend, 9.12 kilometers. Even better was that I had company each day! Open water is definitely more fun with others.

On Saturday and Sunday I took my friend Jen back to the lake. She’s a glutton for punishment, having done three days of “boot camp” (basically CrossFit horror), which made her sore all over, and a day of pool swimming, then two days of lake swimming with me. Saturday was way colder than last week, with the water probably in the 16-17C range. But the sun was out which was nice. As usual, within a minute or so of swimming we didn’t feel the cold.

That’s our Saturday. We hung by the coast there in the south, so much so that we ran (swam?) aground at one point. I knew we were in trouble when I looked to the right and saw a fisherman about 5 meters from us standing in the water…water up to his knees. Looking at us like we just ruined his fishing. So of course I said good morning and we went on our way. By the time we headed back, he was no longer at that spot. Done or moved? No idea.

There were tons of folks out that day as it was so pretty out. As you can see above, the air temp was 21C, which is warm enough even for Russians to be out in bathing suits and bikinis sun-bathing. Even saw two people (!) in normal skimpy suits swimming! Say it isn’t so! My daughter came with so she could get a long run in, and Jen and I remembered to get a pic by the water.

Sunday the weather was crap. At least in the morning. Cloudy, windy and kind of cold, about 12-13C air temp. We both were regretting our decision to go swimming. As usual we walked in our suits from parking to the lake, getting looks along the way. And it was quite breezy. We brought sweatshirts for after.

Toe-dip thermometer, however, reported an increase in water temp since Saturday. It actually felt like it was 19-20C. Very inviting. In fact, by the time we were done, we didn’t want to get out as it was way warmer in the water than out! Anyway, Jen wanted to do at least an 1:15, so we went a little farther than Saturday. As we were turning for home, we didn’t go straight in. There were some fishermen whose lines we wanted to avoid, plus we thought we’d have to swim past our entry point to get to the full time. Turned out we’re either slow enough or misjudged our speed because as we got close to the start, we had had enough time so took a sharp turn left and swam in, as you can see below.

Sunday we spent less time gabbing and stopping for boat-watch, so our “moving time” average was 2:00 per 100 meters, which I’m very happy with for an OW practice session. I’m also getting a bit better at sighting as the summer progresses, which might help at the end of the month when we swim in Sochi.

The weather got better later in the day. But during the swim, it was cloudy and overcast. Very few people at the lake and no one without a thick jacket (Russians get cold when the air temp falls to 60F). We did manage to get a pic of ourselves in front of the “Swimming forbidden” sign.

Labor day! Jen had other plans, but Sabrina, our teammate for the upcoming 3 x 1000 in Sochi, wanted to go to the lake, so I had another partner! She is a triathlete, so I honestly figured she’d swim with a wetsuit. I was happy to see she didn’t bring one! Actually, turns out she doesn’t even have one, so that’s a good sign.

We did the same route as Jen and I on Saturday, basically. The water was a bit colder than Sunday but not that bad, maybe 18C. And the sun kept peeking out from behind the clouds, which was nice. We even had some of those MChS (Russian coast guard) boats go by, but they didn’t even care about us. Most likely that’s because I listened to them a month or so ago when they said to not swim through the middle of the lake!

Sabrina’s shoulder was giving her pains, so once we got back to the sunken houseboat, we bee-lined it straight back to the shore. On our way coming in, I stopped to let her catch up and I saw a passel of grandmas and grandpas (babushki and dedushki) with their little charges up on the shore staring at the strange people in the water. I yelled to them “good morning” and waved, and they all waved back, the kids laughing. Very sweet and very Russian. My daughter went running again today and got a picture of us swimming in. (And that’s it on pics, as I forgot again to get one of us by the lake.)

So it was a great swim-weekend. Great swim week as a matter of fact, since I swam Tuesday and Thursday as well. Not a lot distance-wise (13.8-ish km) but good in-the-water time. And since the 26th of August, 24.2km. I’ll take that!

What a difference 3.3 inches makes

September 1, 2017 | 2017 Season, Science! | Permalink

I’ve made a concerted effort to make better use of my daughter’s school’s pool this year. It is right next to where we’re living, a whole 300 meters away maybe. How can I pass up a SCM pool that close? Especially when the alternative is the weirdly-shaped Russian one that requires three laps to do 100.66 yards?

Fact of the matter is the pool isn’t open for laps that often. One Saturday per month for four hours (and twice last year they close early for lack of lifeguards, yet my lifeguard-trained daughter sits here at home not offered a job?) and Tuesday and Thursday nights for two hours. Unfortunately the weekday nights are 19.00 to 21.00, and frankly by the time I get home (between 19.00 and 19.30) I just want to eat and sit.

But that’s lazy. And I’ve got a supportive wife and daughters, so I should just go swim. So this week I swam both weekdays till 20.00 (and did an 8k workout last Saturday). That meant 45 minutes one day and 50 the other, but still. I got in the pool and worked on my stroke, in a SCM pool! Fewer laps and fewer flip turns!

Last night I did a CSS test. Figured I should since I plan on swimming in that pool more often. My last CSS in the small Russian pool resulted in a CSS of 1:32 for that pool. I’m happy with that time, yet know that it is fast compared to what I’d get had I tested in a normal SCY pool. After all, I’m getting 6 flip-turns for every 100 instead of 4.

Well, yesterday I discovered what that translates to when I test in an actual SCM pool. My CSS in the school pool is 1:50! That extra 3.33 inches per meter sure adds up when you’re swimming 400 meters (6:56) and 200 meters (3:17). Next week I’ll do some CSS workouts to see how I feel in that pool. (I have to set the tempo trainer to 27:38 now for each length.) I look forward to improving my times over the fall and winter!

Introduced a friend to Russian open water

August 27, 2017 | 2017 Season, Swimming Anthropology | Permalink

Today was a beautiful sunny day in Moscow. Partly cloudy by the time I got to the lake, but the sun made several appearances, which was welcome. Brought my friend Jen to the lake at Strogino today. We forgot the water-side selfie, but we managed to take one by the tank that fronts the entrance to the park area.

Unseen is we’re still in our suits, getting respectful looks and comments from Russians walking in the park bundled up against the 15C air temperature.

The water was wonderful. With all the rain on Saturday, I figured the water would be cold, but it really wasn’t. I’m guessing in the 20-22C range. Jen brought her shorty-wetsuit, but I told her the water would probably be ok. She toe-tested the water and decided not to go running back to her car and to just swim in her normal, English Channel-legal suit. She was glad she did. Within only a few strokes we were both plenty warm, with or without the sun out.

The lake was also practically empty. We saw two boats, and they were going very slowly and the drivers apparently saw us in our bright yellow swim caps with my bright orange tow-float. Having learned from the MChS boat a month ago, I had us stay near the shore. None of those ministry boats were out patrolling, but at one point we both realized the bottom was getting closer and closer (like a meter or so from the surface) and we stopped, and noticed a fisherman standing in the water looking at us like we’d just ruined his catch. I apologized for us and we took off, going a bit farther from shore.

Jen is just getting back into swimming, so when we were a bit away from our proposed turn around point, we stopped, right around the entrance to the Moscow river. I’ve seen boats come screaming out of the river into the lake, so I wanted to warn her about keeping our eyes open. She was really interested in keeping today’s swim to around a nautical mile. We had already passed a kilometer (I set my Garmin to warn me every k), so we decided to turn around right there and repeat our route.

I forgot to start the Garmin at first, so we’re about 50 meters shy for the total. No biggie. About a mile and a half in total, not bad for all the stopping we did. Everything goes well, we’ll probably swim there again next weekend. We’re two members of the three-person team going to Sochi at the end of September to swim at an open water festival in the Black Sea. Jen, Sabrina and I will each do a kilometer loop in a 3 x 1000 relay race (эстафета, in Russian). Jen and Sabrina will also swim the nautical mile event and I’m swimming the 5.5k. We will of course report from Sochi.

Great swim today

August 26, 2017 | Uncategorized | Permalink

The school SCM pool finally opened back up today. So happy. Decided to do some “distance tolerance” today. What that meant for me was 8000 meters, long and slow.


See? Very simple. Two hours 50 minutes. Nice and slowly. But damn my arms felt dead when I was done. Heavy, like lead. I’m going to feel this tomorrow.

In other news, read the latest post from my friend Katie, about her latest SwimRun competition. Katie’s a sponsored professional triathlete, and she’s just taken up this swimrun thing. So of course I had to read up on it today.

Where do I sign up?! Swimming and running from island to island? Reminds me of rogaining, or my dreams of a swim rogaine! I wonder if one can do a swimrun and just walk the “runs”? I’ve been reading about them in Outdoor Swimmer recently, and now my friend is excelling in them. Perhaps I will have to try one soon, eh?