All posts by ironmike

My Issyk Kul swim is now an MSF documented swim

Dear reader(s) know(s) that I swam across lake Issyk Kul back in 2016. It was the pinnacle of what turned out to be a wonderful two-year assignment to the Switzerland of Central Asia. I had a great crew & support from the embassy to make that swim a success.

I’d long thought about getting it documented, but honestly thought I didn’t have enough documentation. I made sure my crew chief, Chris C., used the MSF observer document for my entire swim. And of course I followed the MSF rules. But still, did I have enough background?

Then the wonderful founder of MSF, Evan, developed a new MSF product that I just fell in love with.

(c) Anthony McCarley, used with his permission

Anthony’s awesome swim down south and the photo he got from it…my goodness that’s sweet. I wanted one for Issyk Kul. I contacted Evan and told him I’d order one, but he advised me to submit my paperwork and get it documented, I’d get a photo like the above. Well, that did it for me.

Fast forward to yesterday, and the MSF documented my swim! What’s that mean? Well, in MSF’s words

Each MSF Documented Swim undergoes rigorous review, and we only publish swims that meet the highest standards of integrity, thoroughness, and adherence to standard marathon swimming rules and conduct.

So there you have it. My swim, first ever across that part of the lake and second ever person to cross the lake, is now forever memorialized.

And soon, I’ll have that sweet photo hanging on my wall!

Springtime in January

What do you do when it is 70F in January in Boston? Go to the beach, of course!

Revere Beach was beautiful and everyone was out with the unseasonable weather. I brought my thermometer and of course wore my suit just in case the water was also unseasonably warm.

It was not. It was 46F. Sure, for some out there, that’s swimmable. Not for me. Back in April I stood for a long time in 46F, dunked myself, then got out. But that was at the start of the season. Yesterday being 11 January, not sure standing for 15 in 46F is gonna do anything for acclimatization later this year.

Besides, I had a better opportunity. A hike with my beautiful wife!

We walked along the beach then back behind some rocky areas to the south. It was nice seeing some of the areas I swim from a different vantage point, and of course seeing all the people out enjoying the strange weather.

And today we took another walk at nearby Breakheart Reservation, about 3.5 miles in the hills. Well, I forgot my GPS watch, so maybe more, maybe less. About 9000 steps, so I’m guessing more.

As I write this, the night is already getting cooler than it has been the last few days. I guess we’ll be back in winter soon. Unfortunately.

2019 was…a year

I guess this could be a long post, but why?

Let’s just say 2019 was interesting. I swam everything, no DNFs. But there was one DNS: Boston Light. After Beavertail two weeks prior to Boston Light, I realized I was not as salt-water adapted as I needed to be for BLS, so I bailed. Became moot when fog was so bad that the entire swim got cancelled.

In other news though, I did do some good cold water adaptation. I did as much as 34 minutes in 51F. I started in April with standing in 46F and by the end, while mid-50s felt cold, it didn’t feel so cold I couldn’t swim in it. And 60s felt down-right warm!

I’ll start again in April, try to actually do some strokes in the 40’s instead of just standing for minutes and then dunking myself. I’m actually looking forward to getting more cold adapted.

And in 2020 I’ll try some new swims and try to get in to some old favorites. But first I gotta get back in the chlorinated box. Ugh…

Walter Poenisch: 2020 Honor Swimmer

Today it was announced that Walter Poenisch, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, will be inducted as a 2020 Honor Swimmer into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. I’ve written about Mr. Poenisch before here. Instead of reiterating what I’ve written before, how about we just read what IMSHOF wrote:

Walter Poenisch at the age of 65 was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida: 128.8 miles/ 207 km in 34 hours and 15 minutes. The swim ended on July 13, 1978, when he reached Little Duck Key, Florida. Walter swam under pre-announced rules, under independent witness and the observation report was in the public record. The observer/authenticator was J. Marvin Mims the President of the International Federation of Professional Ocean Swimmers and Divers. Their rules allowed: fins, snorkel, shark cage and getting out of the water four times for no longer than five minutes at a time to administer emergency medicine, receive critical nourishment, or for any reason that directly threatened the life of the swimmer. These facts were never in dispute and he broke his own record for the longest ocean swim.

As a young man his occupation was listed as a cookie baker, rodeo competitor and strongman. Walter was late to marathon swimming (50 years of age) – first entering (but not finishing) the 1963 Jim Moran Lake Michigan Swim. He was credited as the “World’s Strongest Endurance Swimmer” for such feats as towing 30-ton paddlewheel boats while swimming with his hands and feet shackled.

Walter set world records for the longest ocean swims before the Cuba swim: 90.75 miles/146 km in the Atlantic Ocean and four year later 122.5 miles/197.1 km from the Florida Keys to the tip of the Florida peninsula.

Motivated by the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Poenisch conceived of the idea of Swim for Peace, swimming from Cuba to the USA: “to further better relations between my country and Cuba.” It took him 15 years of letter writing and lobbying, to both governments, to obtain permission. Walter was the first swimmer to use publicity to deliver a positive political message (now called “Speedo Diplomacy”) – other IMSHOF Honorees including Lynne Cox and Lewis Pugh have since followed.

Cuban Leader Fidel Castro was on hand (proposing a toast honoring his efforts and his dream of peace between their two nations), on Walters’ 65th birthday. The next day he started and completed the swim.

Congratulations to Mr. Poenisch. The induction ceremony will be in May next year and I hope to see his lovely wife there to accept in his honor.

Vampire Swim 2019

Yet again, I did the vampire swim here in Boston.

Yes, same bat as last year.

And some of the same swimmers this year as last year.

My head is way too big for that leather aviators cap.

Last year the water was 51F and the sky was overcast. I did 5-6 strokes then stood up and got out, afraid I would die. This year, though, I intended on swimming for real. I’d spent the summer getting acclimated, preparing for this particular swim.

This year back in May I went to Winthrop. I was so proud of myself, swimming for 34 minutes in 50-51F. I figured I could handle the same for this Vampire Swim, despite not being in the (cold) water for the last three weeks.

Today, the water when I first went in to test it was 60F. That was not right. Felt way colder. After we got pictures and took our costumes off, we entered the water and started the slow (some of us) walk into the water. The pool thermometer settled on 56F where it stayed throughout my 30-odd minutes out there.

Didn’t mean I jumped right in. First had to get past the cockles. That was tough. Next big leap for me is always the hands/arms. I walked around for quite a while. Five? Ten minutes? I don’t know. I turned the Garmin on the minute I got in the water.

I got my hands in, up to the chest. Next step is the face. I had on two caps. Polly asked if I had ear plugs in. The ears do get very cold, and maybe it’s the ears that hurt in the cold water, and that’s why I hate putting my face in. The headaches. The pain. But I do it anyway. Heads up breast first, then dunk the head in a bit. Four strokes freestyle then breast again. Six strokes. Eight. Sooner or later I got to 20, then 50. Then normal. I swam around, having fun and enjoying the water in Pleasure Bay.

I forgot to turn it off when I exited the water. But I swam till the kilometer alarm went off. I at least wanted that much. And it was enough. So cold!

So pretty!

Swim the Suck 2019: the swim

[Part I here.]

While kayakers and volunteers were amassing at the Suck Creek boat launch, I was happily snoozing away in my AirBNB. No, I’m joking. As usual, I got up earlier than my alarm; I’m always nervous before a big swim.

Doesn’t mean I showed up early. Ha! Nope. Took my time. Got a bit of food and water in me. Knew the Uber would take a while, so ordered it early enough that I’d get to the boat launch at 8am.

Had a great ride with Zachary, who, besides being an Uber driver, works at a school for special folks. And he teaches ASL! We had a wonderful drive to the start, and as he pulled in, he asked me if I was doing some sort of kayak race.

Nope. Me and 120-odd others are swimming 10 miles down the river today and those kayaks are for our escorts.

Then came the usual disbelief, concern for the cold, along with a hearty good luck. Thanks Zachary! You got 5 stars and a big tip!

Zachary got me there early by about 10 minutes. I was the only swimmer there for a bit. Once they got the marking table set up I got my arms marked (#110) and put the sweats back on. A bit cold and cloudy, reminiscent of last year’s race. Can’t believe I almost didn’t bring the sweatshirt.

Karah’s got the logistics for Swim the Suck down pat. Those who were driving had to show up at the finish before 8am to park their cars. If they were bringing kayaks, then they had to show up at the boat launch first to drop off their boats prior to driving to the finish. Then everyone at the finish had to jump onto one of the four (I think) school buses to be brought to the start at the boat launch. The buses began showing up and the start began to get crowded.

The worst part of this swim, and I mean the absolute worst, is walking from the point where you drop off your clothes bag to your place in the start line. The entire boat launch parking area is teeny-tiny little pebbles, designed to hit the most sensitive parts of the bottom of your feet. Well, I learned my lesson last year, so I brought some throw-away two dollar shower shoes. My plan was to wear them to the water, then put them on the side for one of the volunteers to throw out.

It took 10 years, but Swim the Suck now has carpet for the walk to the water! (See first picture above.) Despite that, I kept my shower shoes on; we lined up by last name thus yours truly was way at the back. But once I got to the carpet, off came the shoes.

Another change from previous years: we were able to keep our clothes bags with us till we got in line. In previous years we’d have to drop the bag about 20-30 yards (depending upon your last name) away, then walk on those hell-stones to our spots. Now, we can simply drop the bags to the side, and one of the volunteers would take it to the truck which in turn takes it to the finish. So nice!

The way this swim starts is all swimmers enter the water then await behind an imaginary line till Karah starts us. The important part is that we have to swim to a floating cow buoy, swimming to the left of the buoy, then head down river, staying “river left.”

But with 122 swimmers and each one with a kayak escort, how does one find his/her escort? Karah solved this by assigning each of us one of four buoys and giving us one of four colored swim caps. My cap this time was pink and my buoy was #4. What this meant for me was that I should just put my head down and swim (once I passed the cow) until I either a) find Guillermo (my kayaker) or 2) hit the fourth buoy. Do not swim past that buoy without an escort!

In the picture above, if you look across the river at where the water and green meet, on the left side of the picture, you see a white blur. That’s the cow. Keep your eyes moving along the water line to the right, and you’ll see two of the orange buoys. The buoy/wait zone stretched half a mile, so once I was in, I swam for quite a bit. But the current was strong. In fact, when we first got in, we had to swim up river to remain behind the start boat-line.

I got to buoy #4 and stopped. I raised my hand and yelled “Guillermo” as instructed the night prior. I saw one kayaker wave his hand at me and start paddling towards me. I put my head down and swam. As he got close, I realized it wasn’t Guillermo. He and I both realized we had the wrong person; he went looking for his swimmer. Almost immediately I found Guillermo. He saw me, thumbs up, and I put my head down and swam.

Let me ruin the ending for you: I have no pictures from on water. Except at the finish. But I’ll tell you what: this is the most beautiful swim! It was overcast for the first few hours, but at hour 3 the sun came out and wow, that really did a lot for my morale.

But to the swim. As usual, I don’t feed the first hour. I felt the current very strongly and the first feeding came quickly. Or seemingly. I’ve gotten much better at ingesting a lot of liquid in a little time. I used to only drink maybe 2-3 oz. But now I can down 4-6 oz at a go. That’s important for swims of this length (talking time vs. distance); if you’re not properly hydrated, your swimming will be affected.

Feeds went well. Every half hour after the first feed. I felt Patty’s swim early on! But I still wouldn’t have not attended her swim the day prior. This river is just so pretty and the people are just so great.

I think I had my first food at 2:30; it was a Justin’s peanut butter packet. To be more specific, it was honey almond butter I think? I don’t know, but it was good. I also asked for the ibuprofen at that feed, so I had it at the 3:00 feed. And even there I impressed myself. Normally I drink the ibuprofen-laced bottle over 2-3 feeds, but I drank the entire thing at that one feed, and that’s like 8 oz of liquid with the 20ml of children’s painkiller.

I started with the Babybel cheeses at around 3:00 I think. Damn those are so good. I had the gouda version. So yum. I think I had two of those cheeses over the feeds. Like I said, the sun came out around 3:00. That’s such a morale boost I really just love it. The valley is quite beautiful. At the 4:00 feed I was ready for the swim to be done. Really tired. Back was hurting. Water was quite warm (maybe 78F?) Knew I could finish. Just wasn’t gonna push hard.

As my friends and kayakers know, I don’t want to know where I am in the swim at any time. Don’t tell me how many miles or minutes I’ve swum. I don’t want to know. The Tennessee river also has some buoys and other signs of your progress, and I always try to avoid them. I did, however, see something during this swim. A bit before the 2:30 feeding I saw a huge orange buoy. In fact, we swam right by it.

That got me thinking. What did I remember from the night before? Wasn’t there supposed to be a buoy at the 5th mile? Oh damn! Doesn’t that mean I’m halfway done at less than two and a half hours. Oh hells yeah! My goal for this swim was sub-5:00. That means I’m on track.

Then some things happened. At the 3:00 feed I looked backwards and saw an orange buoy. Oh damn, is that the same one? It’s taken me 30+ minutes to swim what looks like maybe 500 meters? Can’t be. No way. Shit. Maybe there’s more than just a 5-mile buoy. Oh crap, is there a 4-mile buoy? Dammit.

I don’t look forwards, or try not to, but I had to. Didn’t see another orange buoy, but with the current going crazy like it was, that buoy behind me couldn’t have been the same one I saw a bit before the 2:30 feeding. There must be more buoys out here.

After hour 4 I started breathing to the left a bit. Why? Well, I wanted to see the pump station. When Annie Loveless was giving the overview Friday night, she mentioned the pump station. But when is the pump station? Mile 8 or 9? All I remember is Annie suggesting not starting your kick/sprint at that point because you still have a ways to go. Annie might be able to sprint for two miles, so maybe the pump station is at mile 8? I can’t sprint for two miles. Where’s that damn pump station?

I finally saw the pump station, or what I figured was a pump station, and thought I’d be done soon. Still took forever. (Turns out the pump station is 1.5 miles from the finish; see map below.) Or at least felt forever. I got to a feeding at hour 5. Damn, not gonna hit the goal. Well, that’s ok. Still not looking forward. Kept swimming. But a few minutes after that feeding I had had enough. I stopped to look ahead. And there in beautifully bright orange was the finish buoy!

I asked Guillermo if that was the finish and he said he thought it was. I put my head down and sprinted…for only 100 strokes. Then I was done. Nope. No sprinting. Pooped. Still had to swim 400 or 500 strokes (can’t remember) after that first 100 sprint till I finally got to that damn finish buoy.

So glad to be done! I really wasn’t much help to Guillermo when it came down to dragging the kayak outta the water; sorry Guillermo! All I wanted was to change and eat some food. Karah gets a local restaurant to cater for us and wow is their food great. It was ground beef and chicken, Tex-Mex style, with all the fixins. Hit the spot, both plates!

And of course, the beer. Chattanooga Brewing hosts this part of the apres-swim party. Two styles and I had a pint of each one. Can’t remember what the beers were last year (must check your blog, Mike!) but this year I was smart enough to get pictures of the tap handles.

They were both so very good, but outta the two, I gotta say the Oktoberfest was the star.

And if there is beer and swimming, then you know marathon swimmer extraordinaire Elaine Howley will be there. This is very possibly the awesomest picture of the entire swim.

(c) Blaik Ogle and Derek Tingle

Once I was fueled, I made my rounds to the folks I wanted pictures with; unfortunately I didn’t get pictures with everyone (Karah, MJ). This is the community aspect of this great sport. This is why I love it, even though for many of these long (for me) swims I wonder why the hell I’m doing it.

Patty Hermann and I
Denis Crean (3:53, #15 male) of WaveOne Swimming
Victoria Rian (3:27, #4 overall & #2 female) and Christopher Graefe (3:31, #6 overall & #3 male)
Liz Uribe (3:53, #11 female)
Tim Root (4:34, #32 male)
(L-R) Valerie Yankauskas and her sister Paula (4:53, #40 female)
Elaine Howley (4:56, #43 female)

Guillermo wore my GPS watch so I’ve got the map of my swim. But the time isn’t correct. I asked Guillermo to start the watch the minute he got past the cow buoy. I was more concerned about getting the distance I swam versus the time. I knew I’d get the time from the swim. So here’s my map.

But I really want to zoom in to a few areas to show you how great of a kayaker Guillermo is. Remember that we had to stay “river left” to avoid the speedboats and stay within the rules set out by the river authorities. So Guillermo had to balance my safety with finding me the fastest course. I think he most certainly did.

Great lines, Guillermo, thank you!

Oh! My time? 5:23.24. Despite not making my sub-5:00 goal I’m happy with the result. I was #45 out of 51 males.

Swim the Suck 2019: Before the swim

Saturday, 12 October, was my third time swimming Swim the Suck, a 10-ish-mile swim down the Tennessee River, the #1 beyond-10K-marathon-swim in the world. Not an exaggeration. I’m serious.

This was also the swim’s 10th annual running. And what a great anniversary it was. 122 swimmers and kayakers in the water, with dozens of volunteers and observers out there to make sure everyone was safe.

Friday night was the pasta dinner and race briefing. This is always a good time, almost like a reunion (or, homecoming…see a future post on this) for us marathon swimmers. But even before that, there is the annual Patty (Hermann) Invitational Swim on Friday morning.

I’ve never been able to make this swim. I usually only take Friday off from work and fly out in the morning. I’ve not had much luck flying out of Boston, at least flying out on time, and Chattanooga is not a direct flight from Boston. Therefore despite an early take-off (5:45am), I wasn’t going to get to Chattanooga until 10:20, and Patty’s swim starts at 10:30.

Imagine my surprise when we landed at 9:55! I immediately texted Patty telling her I might make it. I changed into my swim suit in the airport bathroom (gross), ordered my Uber, waited 10 minutes (damn, should have ordered it before changing), and headed to the swim, with an estimated time of arrival of 10:45. Texted to Patty and another swimmer friend Tim Root telling them I’m on my way.

I arrived at 10:43 and saw some swimmers still there. Those folks were debating whether or not to swim all the way to Patty’s cabin, so I went down by the water to see if anyone I knew was there; I needed to find someone who could hold onto my backpack. Thankfully, Tim’s wife Amanda was there with their three little boys, and she agreed to take my backpack to Patty’s (thanks again Amanda!). I took my clothes off, put my goggles on, handed Amanda my backpack, and tried to catch up to the pod 10 minutes ahead of me.

The Tennessee river valley is just so beautiful. Speedboat drivers were screaming up and down the river on the left, so I stayed to the right; Patty’s house and the boat launch where we started were both on the right. I did, however, try and cut some of the corners to catch up to the other swimmers, and creeped out too much into the middle of the river. Since I never expected to make this swim, I didn’t bring a swim cap or my buoy, so I wasn’t very visible out there, and Stephen Rouch, marathon swimmer extraordinaire, had to come out and advise me on getting back to river right so I didn’t get run over.

The Patty Invitational Swim was about 2.8 miles and with the river running well it took me only 70 minutes. Very nice, shake-out swim prior to the big event. Hopped out at Patty’s cabin and hung out with some of the other swimmers; I think about 20 of us did the swim. Patty’s got a great view of the river from her cabin’s deck. Wow.

 

Was lucky enough to get a ride from Patrick McDermot and his wife to my AirBNB; they both drove down from Salem, NH, with two kayaks on their roof. More on them later.

Back to the pre-race briefing. I sat with my kayaker, Guillermo Uribe and his wife, Angelica, and daughter, Liz. Liz is a SCAR veteran, Catalina swimmer, and an all-around great person. Her mom and dad are veteran kayakers and I was lucky to have been assigned Guillermo as my kayaker for Swim the Suck 2019.

Karah Nazor, race director of Swim the Suck, briefed all of us on her fantastic swim. What I like about Karah’s briefing is she doesn’t do it all herself. In fact, she enlists the help of the biggest Sucker of them all, Annie Loveless, to brief the actual course. Annie has swum every single Swim the Suck since it began in 2010. She knows the river and gave a good overview, beneficial for beginners and veterans alike.

Karah also made a point of how great this community is. I’m talking the community of marathon swimmers and volunteers. Just one example is the case of the aforementioned McDermots.

A couple weeks prior to the race, Karah sent out a request for people to bring kayaks to Chattanooga; seems that every year Swim the Suck rents out all kayaks in the city. But she still needed more. The McDermots brought two kayaks with them from New Hampshire. One for themselves, another to offer up to the race.

Meanwhile, Guillermo and his wife flew from Arizona to come kayak for swimmers. Angelica kayaked for her daughter, with a rented kayak. Guillermo kayaked for me with a McDermot kayak. Imagine that on a map, arrows from NH to TN and from AZ to TN, and me, an arrow from MA to TN. Well, you don’t have to imagine it ’cause here’s my crappy picture of Karah’s slide:

Even more wow was one kayaker who came from Denver to kayak for a swimmer. Did she know a swimmer in the race? Nope. She contacted Karah and said she wanted to come to Chattanooga to volunteer to kayak for any swimmer who needed one. How incredibly great is that?!

(Even more telling about how big and great this swim is: On the morning of the swim, I got to talking to the chief safety officer. He told me that 40-odd of the kayaks being used that morning were all from a company who was closing up shop and had sold all their kayaks…two weeks prior. They sold their stock of kayaks but told the new owners that they couldn’t come get their kayaks until after Swim the Suck!)

Karah still wins for race briefings for one simple reason: this one slide with the best and most succinct marathon swimming advice anywhere.

Karah always has special guest speakers at these briefings too. In 2012 it was Martin Strel who talked about his Amazon swim. Last year I had to leave before the speech due to needing to prepare feeds. This year we had two guest speakers.

Stephen Rouch gave a great short speech about the importance of crew, and how right he was. He highlighted his crew from his speedy 50-mile swim in Vermont.

Elaine Howley, crazy-incredible marathon swimmer, gave a talk on her support to Sarah Thomas’s monumental four-way English Channel crossing. She was honest in what turned out to be the unexpected (but welcome, Elaine?) media interest in Sarah’s story. Really great talk, Elaine.

Then back to my AirBNB with the giant Charles in his tiny Chevy Aveo, or whatever that tiny car was. I know all about Charles’ car problems, I promise you. Anyway, back to the house, finish my prep, and get some sleep. Next up, show-time at the Suck Creek boat launch at oh-eight-hundred, Saturday morning.

Tbilisi Swim Fest (guest post)

Today we have a guest post from my friend Jen, telling us about her win at the Tbilisi Swim Fest last month!

I’ve become a distance-ish swimmer over the past five years or so.  I was a competitive diver for many years as a kid, but continued swimming as an adult – for fitness and because I love the water.  While I was in Moscow with Mike, he encouraged me to train and increase my distances – we did training swims in the Moscow River and a great race in Sochi in Oct. 2017.

Last summer I trained for the first Eurasia Swim Cup to be held here in the Tbilisi Sea (actually a large reservoir) in September, just outside of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, where I currently live.  I trained regularly with a friend of mine, Barry, and was pretty disappointed when it was cancelled due to lack of interest.

Fast forward to this summer – I started out pretty strong in the pool 2-3 mornings per week, but when Barry moved away in July, I got lazy.  I would swim a mile on the weekend (to remind myself I could), but it’s amazing how much more motivating a training partner can be.  I did get a nice swim in Lake Bled in Slovenia in early July – I’d love to do a race there someday.

I signed up for the Tbilisi Swim Fest, part of the Swimcup series (Кубок Чемпионов) at the Tbilisi Sea on September 22, 2019 (the same guys who did the 2017 Sochi Swim – they do a fabulous job).  I experienced issues registering online since I don’t have a Russian phone number, but emailed the organizers who registered me for the 3k.  BUT, I got nervous because I hadn’t trained enough, so I changed to the 1852m race, which is always a comfortable distance for me.

View from water

The morning started off around 8:30a – they even had Georgian dancers provide great entertainment to start the day.

Georgian dancing

The conditions were rough so the organizers reduced the distances due to the weather and wave conditions.  I believe 7k became 4k, 3k became 1852m, 1852m became 1000m and 1000m became 500m.  I was given competitor #1 (which I’ve never been in any race) and waited until about noon for our start.  I was one of the only swimmers without a wetsuit in the entire Swim Fest – and the only one of four women in the 1000m race swimming skins. Water was 18C, but compared to the chilly, windy air, I was so glad I didn’t wear one.

That’s me!

The water felt really good, although it resembled an ocean swim, especially the first portion, swimming into the waves.  After the turnaround, swimming with the waves was more fun, but many of us were annoyed at the buoy impeding our stroke (the rope needs to be longer, so it doesn’t chafe under the arm).

Thumbs up!

I finished in 13:06 and ended up surprising myself with first place for the women.  When I finished, I wanted to keep swimming – I would have much rather swum a longer race (my fault for not sticking to the 3k!).  But I was certainly glad I showed up.

I won!

They handed out beautiful medals and Georgian wine for those who placed.  Alexander Koshkin, a paraswimmer, competed as well, showing us that nothing is impossible.

First place swag

Sadly, the season is ending, but I may try my hat at a SwimRun next year.  Have fun everyone and JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

Group pic

Damn cold

Wow! Took 14 days off from the open water, and boy oh boy, that was a mistake. Last time I swam outdoors, 66F was the temp I believe. Bearable. Even warm.

Saturday, however, not so much. Different place, sure. But holy crap. 54 freakin’ degrees. Brrrr…

As I walked in there were three guys throwing a tennis ball around, diving into the water. They were complaining about the water temp, as I would have if I had friends swimming with me, and I asked them if they wanted to know the temp. One of them guessed 54F. The thermometer said 56F. We both agreed it was cold.

15 minutes later, after much head-out-of-the-water breast stroke, I looked at the thermometer: 54F. F for freakin’ cold. That local was right. Damn.

So, only 38 minutes and 0.84 miles, hardly anything. Except a lot of cold water adaptation. Really looking forward to the Vampire swim at the end of October; really think I’ll actually be able to swim this year instead of just stand in cold water!