Hot Feeds Part 1

It has been suggested that taking warm/hot feeds during a marathon swim has more of a placebo effect than actually helping to keep a warm core. This may be technically true, I mean,  to what degree can 12 oz of warm fluid really warm 180 pounds of “pure muscle”?

Well, I can tell you from experience that when things are getting chilly, nothing feels better than hot stuff landing my stomach, and if feed time is set at 20 minute intervals, hot feeds can extend a swim by many hours.

With a luxurious support boat, a crew may be able to leisurly microwave each feed as needed. For a swim with more primitive support craft, a more creative solution is needed.

A few years back, I purchased a few 64oz Stanley thermoses. My feed plan consisted of having  my “muthalode” mixed to a 2X concentrated level, and my crew would add 50% hot water to the feed bottle just before feed time. This system is not without flaws, and has failed on several occasions. The problems I had were 1. the thermos failed to keep the water hot for the duration of the swim, and 2. complete failure of thermos.

Stage 3 of SCAR hit us with chilly water and a bit of a breeze. Since each swimmer had a kayak as their primary support, no hot feeds were available.

For Stage 1 of 8 Bridges last year, we experienced a unseasonably cold spell on the days leading up to the start, and as a result, the water temperature was a full 10 degrees F lower than predicted. Some quick improvisation enabled the crews to warm up feeds for the swimmers, but I ‘ve been planning to come up with a better solution since then.

So… it seems that we are faced with a choice between two options;                                                                   Option 1 – Crew mixes as needed and can control feed temperatures or;                                                     Option 2 – Pre-mix and decant into single serve bottles that can be loaded into a kayak or other support craft. The go-to single serve vessel seems to be a flip-top, wide-mouth, Rubbermaid bottle. They work great, but will not keep things hot.

What is needed is a single serve (12oz) thermal bottle… and I found one, but it is not without some issues. My next post will describe how I intend to address these issues, and also provide the cooling rate results of this bottle up to 10 hours.


3 thoughts on “Hot Feeds Part 1”

  1. Thanks for sharing and I’m also a fan of hot feeds and I’ve tried the following so far:
    -Plastic bike bottles wrapped in towels or a neoprene sleeve I made, stowed in a soft cooler on a kayak when not in use. These worked well for a relatively calm ocean 10K (~3h swim time plus some time on delay before swim waiting for fog to lift) with a paddler who handed me the bottle (as opposed to dropping it in the ocean).
    -Stanley thermos to top off bike bottles.
    – Dragging an insulated steel bottle similar to The bottle wore duct tape, a water wing for flotation and a “sport cap” like on a bike bottle. It wasn’t as warm as I would like after an hour in ~59F water, but I think it will be okay on a kayak.
    -I use these daily on land but have not tried them on swims yet.

    I will probably be using some combination of the above at SCAR. I am not sure how long the steel bottles will keep feeds warm. Priming bottles in advance helps. Seems like one would want feeds to stay warm 10+h for SCAR to allow for time to get to the start/start the swim, windy conditions, etc.

    Looking forward to reading your follow-up.

    1. To follow up: Fun to see you at SCAR. I did use a couple of these there and they worked out well ( A zip tie will stay in the slight narrow “waist” just below the lid and you can thread a second zip tie through to add a loop. The tricky bit is of course guessing what temp to start with and projecting if it will be the right temp when you want to drink it. I primed them with hot water from a kettle and then put too-hot feeds in them. 5 hours later when we were close to starting Roosevelt they were still too hot to feed from so I added a bit of cool water .

      1. The Klean Kanteens are wide open and were easy to chug from, but didn’t keep things hot. I’ll continue to experiment with priming and using boiling water instead of hot-out-of-the-tap water.

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