I’m in New York State of Mind

I’m thinking about friends doing the Little Red Lighthouse swim in New York tomorrow and wishing I was there.

I hope everyone has a great time! Good luck to Chaos, Evmo and Rondi and everyone else swimming (I haven’t checked the roster lately). It looks like the course is going north under the George Washington Bridge, so you will get the opposite view to what we had in MIMS.

Here’s a little bit of video saved from MIMS 2010, not long before I swam under the GW. Someone had just jumped from the bridge, which was very sad and disturbing. I wasn’t able to find out any details about the incident afterwards, except that it’s very unlikely one would survive a jump from that high.

Here’s me and my crew.

Not a huge fan of Billy Joel, but this is a great song:

3 hours in

Although I lost the 15 minutes of video of me finishing MIMS this year, I saved some of my footage!

This is early in the race, about 3 hours in. I’m in the Harlem, and the water’s finally gotten warm, brown and nutty. Conditions couldn’t be better, but I’m feeling a little sorry for myself because of the screwdriver someone has inserted into my lower back and is twisting with every stroke.

The swimmer next to me is Rachel Golub. I think Mo Seigel is just ahead. There’s also a 2 person relay around. We were all fairly close together the whole swim.

I think we had just passed, or were nearing Yankee(sp?) Stadium…

Float On

The Northwest Passage and the Inside Passage have both been done to death.

These days, the navigation of only one Passage strikes fear in the hearts of able seamen the world over. The Back Passage.

The Back Passage of Manhattan.

Many have tried to swim up the nut-brown waters of the East and Harlem Rivers and return to their place of origin via the dysenteric Hudson, and many have succeeded. In fact, most have succeeded. I actually succeeded once myself, last year in July. But that was merely a dress rehearsal for this year’s odyssey.

MIMS 2010 was tough! I was 25 minutes slower than last year’s “quiet swim”, but it’s impossible to compare one year to another. This year the Hudson was quite rough for a long time, not fun as my lower back decided to hurt terribly for the whole swim. I was never really able to climb out of the funk from the back pain, so just tried to keep my head down and plod along. After a few rough hours in the Hudson I didn’t think I would make it and had to ask my paddler if I was going to get there or if I was just kidding myself. “Only 2 more miles” he said!! It was only then that I really cheered up!!!!

Climbing that aluminium ladder at the finish is something I’ll never forget. I confess I had a moist eye from the relief and joy.

The following is just a snippet of my adventure, including training and finishing. Many friends helped out in so many ways! Thankyou all. Thanks to Bill White for the emailed workouts!! I’m going to actually start doing the sprint and IM ones now . Thanks to Vivebene for many hours of company in the cold (and not so cold) lake at Promontory Point. Thankyou Chaos for all the help and the ride from the airport! Thanks to the Wolfpack for so much moral support 🙂

I also raised about $750 for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation:

Chicken’s List

12 days to MIMS!!!!!!!!

My packing list:

-2 suits;
-4 new pairs of goggles (two tinted, two clear);
-one old pair of goggles for Brighton swim;
-2 caps (one silicon, one latex, both lucky);
-my OW kit (personal lubricants and sunscreen);
-4 feed bottles with string;
-Perpetuem (enough for 9 1/2 hrs worth of feeds, + spare)
-Gu’s (about 8);
-sandwich baggy full of Advil®
-instructions re pre-race meeting etc, copy of flights and hotel reservation;
-Goody bag for my crew;
-cooler bag for crew’s food/drinks;
-fishing tackle;
-thankyou cards/$ for boat crew and kayaker;
-swim backpack for stuff at race start;

-Flip video camera;
-phone and charger;
-ipod and charger;
-camera and charger;
-reading glasses;

-7 pairs of underpants;
-6-7 outfits (dresses, skirts etc);
-1 pair of nice shoes and 1 pair of flipflops;
-light jacket;
-swim parka for race start;
-ball cap for after swim hair disasters;
-hair and makeup stuff;
-modest night attire so as not to scare my roommate;
-nice handbag containing wallet & sundry personal items;

To buy in NY

-water bottles and coke/ginger beer for boat;
-food for crew on boat;
-tshirts for kids that say “My mum went to New York and all I got was this crappy tshirt”

Did I forget anything?

Oh, and to donate to my cause (The American Macular Degeneration Foundation), please to go:


Eyes on the Prize!

5 weeks until MIMS!!!!

Am I ready for a 28 mile swim? NO!!!! I’m experiencing a very bad motivational slump and have been very slack indeed.

Here’s a picture of what I looked like after last year’s 8hr 36 minute swim. I thought it might be motivational but on second thoughts….


I plan on doing two long swims over the next two weeks before tapering for the big day. Most of my taper time will be spent acclimatizing myself to the cold. Lake Michigan is still in the 50’s, so I’m hoping that the expected 60’s temperatures around Manhattan will feel balmy. One can always hope…

This year I’m fundraising for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. My grandfather lost his eyesight to macular degeneration and my mother recently lost a large portion of her eyesight to this disease.

If anyone would like to contribute, please click on the following link, and follow the prompts starting with “donate now”.

This is still a preliminary beg, but I’ll no doubt get more creative and and quite possibly forceful with my extortion attempts.

If this doesn’t satisfy your urge to give, I’m willing to help out even more by accepting donations to help pay my hotel bill…

The Backstroke Snorkel

As part of my training for MIMS, I did a long swim today (10 x 1650’s). I did this workout a couple of weeks ago and a few people asked me how I could swim this long, as it would be far too boring for them. I have two answers to this question:

1. Nothing is too boring for me; and

2. How could I possibly be bored when my mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapour of invention.

Behold the results of today’s labours!! I submitted the following patent application to the Patent and Trademark Office and received the somewhat dubious serial number of 123,456,789. I’m sure this application will get through without any objections and I will receive a letters patent shortly.

Please private message me with any licensing offers.

US Patent Application Serial Number 123,456,789


Background of the Invention

In recent years, snorkels have become a very popular training apparatus for swimmers. When worn, a snorkel allows the swimmer to concentrate on his or her head position without having to move their head to breathe.

Traditional snorkels have proven ineffective when worn during backstroke, as the opening of the snorkel is submerged beneath the water, making breathing problematic.

Description of the Invention:


A traditional backstroke snorkel is shown in Figure 1. The tube (A) of the snorkel extends from the swimmer’s mouth (B), over the swimmer’s head (C) and then angles down, with the opening (D) resting underwater when the head is in the correct position for backstroke. This design has proven disastrous for some backstrokers, as it is nearly impossible to inhale anything other than water in this position.


A first embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 2. In this embodiment, the tube (A) of the snorkel extends from the swimmer’s mouth (B), around the side and underneath the swimmer’s head (C), and up above the surface of the water on the other side of the head (C). This embodiment has the advantage of having the snorkel opening (D) in the air instead of underwater.

This arrangement is advantageous in that the backstroker can keep their head in the optimal position during practice, while breathing enough air to remain alive.


A second embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 3. In this embodiment, the snorkel further includes a mirror (E). The mirror (E) is attached to the snorkel tube (A) and allows the backstroker to see where they are going.



A third embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 4. In this embodiment, a vase (F) is also attached to the tube (A). The vase (F) can contain a flower (G) or other foliage deemed attractive to the backstroker’s coach or spectators. With this embodiment, it is recommended the backstroker perform open-turns rather than flip-turns. Other variations on this third embodiment include but are not limited to fishing tackle, video entertainment equipment, coffee-cup holders and ashtrays.


What is claimed is:

  1. A backstroke training apparatus comprising an air tube connectable to a swimmer’s mouth,
  2. said air tube comprising an opening which protrudes above the surface of the water in which said swimmer is backstroking.
  3. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a mirror attached to said air tube
  4. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 2, wherein said mirror is attached to said air tube above the surface of the water while said swimmer is backstroking.
  5. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 1, 2 or 3, further comprising fishing tackle, a vase, video equipment, or an ashtray attached to said air tube.
  6. The backstroke training apparatus of claim 4, where in said vase, fishing tackle, video equipment or ashtray is above the surface of the water when said swimmer is backstroking.
  7. A backstroke training apparatus, substantially as described herein, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Chicken O’C rides again!!!!

I was lucky enough to land a spot in the 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (www.nycswim.org). 

This year I’ll be raising money for the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (www.macular.org), an organisation that raises awareness and supports research into the disease that took my grandfather’s eyesight and, only a few months ago, a great deal of my mother’s.

I won’t start begging for donations until about April, but in the meantime my training has begun in earnest. Poor Earnest.

Not one to suffer alone, I plan to document my entire training process in painfully boring detail on this blog, including sudoku breaks, cups of coffee consumed, and visits to the loo.

Youtube provided my inspiration tonight, and I’d like to share the motivational interlude I found. This is how three nautical chappies see New York in just one day.

I hope I can also see New York in just one day on June 12th!!

Better late than Never!

2nd time’s a charm!

My first attempt (in June) at the Manhattan Marathon swim was unsuccessful, but my second attempt at the Manhattan Island Marathon swim (my “quiet” swim) went perfectly 

Those of us who were pulled from the original race were offered a second chance by the NYC swim organisers. At 9am on Friday July 24th, Cara McAteer, Steve Autry and I set of from Manhattan’s Pier A to swim the entire 28.5 miles around the island of Manhattan. anticlockwise.

8 hours, 36 minutes later all three of us arrived back at the same place, within a minute of each other!

Here’s the view from the start:

statue of liberty

Conditions were great and the current was rip-roaring up the East River. The water temperature was about 70-75 during the swim and mostly very smooth. Sweet.

I think this is somewhere on the East River:


The last few miles down the Hudson were a little rough, but that’s a lot easier to take when the end is so close!!

This is the George Washington Bridge, just after we were spat out of the Harlem River and into the Hudson:


Here’s me at the finish. Not sure why I’m not smiling because I was really really really happy!!! maybe I was contemplating the swim back to my boat….


My crew and official observer, Maria and Dahlia at North Cove.

Throughout the swim, Maria prepared a perpetuem/water mix in sippy bottles attached to strings. My kayakers, Jack and Kevin passed me the bottles at regular intervals. That took care of the nutrition! I also asked (and received) Maria’s supply of Coca cola during the race. Sweet stuff tasted good!


My boat Captains who apparently took a great deal of care of me!! They were very excited when I finished 🙂


Thanks to everyone at NYC Swim, my boat Captains, crews and kayakers from both attempts!!! I’ll definitely be back next year if I get a place 








Those of us who were unsuccessful in the original Manhattan Island Marathon swim in June have been offered a second chance!

The organisers have been generous enough to allow us another go at the swim on July 24th. it’s called a “quiet” swim, so shoosh please.

I’ve decided to take them up on their offer, as I know I’m capable of this swim.

Of course it means I’ll miss the Kingdom Swim in Vermont 

Kingdom swim looked like such a fun weekend with friends that it was VERY difficult to decide. But, well, I’ve done such a lot of training and am sure I can do it, one day…..

So, with 3 weeks to go until #2, I did my last long swim. I was in the water 6 hours, although this included toilet breaks. My white board was so brand spanking new I refrained from noting my toilet breaks out of respect, but here goes..


Ok, it’s not much yardage for a 6 hour swim but I wasn’t swimming continuously. I did a few of my favourite workouts and tried to keep my 100 times as consistent as possible. Consistently slow, that is.

To my friends Chaos, Gretchen and Kim doing the Kingdom Swim in Vermont..

“Harden the f%#k up!!” haha

good luck and I hope to swim with you guys soon!


Is that your Gu or are you just pleased to see me?

It’s done!! It’s done!!

The monkey’s off my back.

The 4 hour in 61 degrees or less qualifying swim for the Manhattan race is finally done!!

I arrived at Windy Point (Lake Travis, Austin) at 8am Sunday March 22nd. Air temp 64, water temp 60. Windy and choppy (it doesn’t look so in this photo). Terrified. The longest I’d been was 1 hour at 60 degrees.

After an extended period of procrastination, personal lubrication (vaseline), and psychosomatic illness, I took the plunge. By this time it was 8.18am.


I swam a couple of sad, self pitying laps of Windy point for about 40 minutes.

Feeling miserable and cold, I asked my friend and observer LeighAnn for some hot soup. Out came Stanley, my thermos and second-best friend.


Life suddenly got a whole lot better.

Buoyed by my newfound warmth, I headed round to Hippie Hollow to swim with some guys I’d only met via email, but who were nice enough to include me in their morning OW swim. LeighAnn drove the car and paid the hefty $10 parking fee. I swam there in about 25 minutes at an EZ pace to find my new friends already in the water.

Having checked out Hippie Hollow as a potential swimmin’ hole the day before, I knew what to expect.


Not a problem. I had a very liberal upbringing down-under.

We swam laps of Hippie Hollow for about an hour and a half, blessed with a constant stream of entertainment provided by nudists engaged in a myriad of activities on the rocky shore. Stanley came to my rescue about every half hour, and although I felt a little uncomfortable, I never got to the point of shivering.

My new swim buddies, Robert Alford and Tom Fornoff finished their swim, and I realised to my delight that by the time I swam back to Windy Point I’d be more than 3/4 of the way through my swim!! Yippee!!

By this time the wind had picked up to gusts of 30mph and there were white horses everywhere. Tough conditions, but I think they distracted me from the cold and boredom of swimming alone.

I took my time returning to Windy Point and there was only about 30-40 minutes remaining when I arrived. One more shot of Stanley and a couple more laps and I was there!!

My last 10 minutes were occupied by swimming a bit of breaststroke, stretching and watching a catamaran capsize.

12.18 precisely (not that I was watching the clock..) and I was outa there!!!

Very happy, very relieved, very grateful to all that helped, and feeling a lot better than expected, I went back to my friend’s house, showered, dressed, had some food and a Stella. Bliss.

During the swim I think I had 2 quart sized Stanleys of chicken broth, some gatorade (can’t remember how much), 6 Gu’s and an Ensure with a chaser of lake water.

My only complaints during the swim were a sore lower back (probably from sighting over the waves) and squashed ears because I wore 2 caps (legal!!). I also saw several Texan sized Bass and unfortunately, from below, a middle aged man hiking in nothing but a pair of shoes and a daypack. Quite a point of interest.


THANK YOU to all my friends in Austin, Texas, for helping me do something I didn’t think was possible. My friend LeighAnn Doherty and family, Lynne Smith, David Blanke and my new Hippie Hollows Robert and Tom.

Can’t wait to go back 🙂