Category Archives: 2019 Season

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!

Revere not so cold

Where all the cold water at?

Revere today was delightfully warm at a constant 66F throughout my crazy track. Sun was out, people were lying on the beach, all in all, a great day of swimming.

Swam over toward where the breakwater rocks are, but this time the tide was in; seems I’m always there when the tide is out. Nice to have deeper water today. Once I got over to that area, I turned west and hugged the shore for quite a while. As the water got shallower, I did a 180 and headed back out. I saw a buoy way off, near the jetty, so I aimed for that. Within about 300 strokes I couldn’t find it anymore. Stopped and sure enough, I had just passed it. Seemed farther away!

I swam north toward the large rose-colored building I aim for often. Swam for a while and saw that I was beyond where I entered. The wife and I discussed prior to the swim that I’d get out down by the bathrooms to use the showers. I’ve never used the bathrooms there, so had no idea if they’d still be open and if the outdoor showers would still be on.

Started heading in and saw a weird group of birds floating near the beach. Weird color for a bird, and they seemed to be floating and moving in sync. A few strokes later and I realize it was an old man floating on his back. Whoops.

Came in and walked to the showers. A bunch of high school-aged kids were out and about with trash bags cleaning up the beach. So nice! Showers were on, washed my feet off and managed to keep them sand-free to the car. Another successful swim at Revere! But, when is the water gonna go below 60F?!

Revere getting a wee bit colder!

Had a nice swim today back at my old haunt, Revere Beach.

Yes, those are Mennonites out enjoying the beach. The kids were so cute!

Water was cold! Colder than last weekend by far. I stupidly forgot my thermometer, but I’d guess 62-63F. Not as cold as the Salem swim at the beginning of August. Hardly any waves; tide was going out.

My wife used the time to go get in a good walk, getting 6400 steps in the hour+ that I was in the water. I got 1.73 miles in, which was fine. Again, I enjoy looking around too much! Although this time I stopped less often. Did about 1300 strokes to the jetty to the south, where I found my wife hopping around on the rocks. I thought of getting up on the rocks with her for a selfie, but the shallow water had so many rocks there I didn’t want to get rolled. So instead she took a pic of me.

Wife took pictures of me as I was approaching the point in the picture above. I often wonder how visible I am. Mostly because of crazy boaters and jet skiers. The first picture below is zoomed in.

This next picture was taken seconds later, not zoomed in.

Still kinda visible, at least the orange SaferSwimmer buoy. My bright yellow MSF cap, not as much; most of it is underwater after all. When I wear my lime-green rash guard, I think I’m even more visible, but I’ll have to test that out next time my wife goes with me.

Made my way back to finish up the hour. Beach got a bit more crowded when I got back to the beach, sun-worshipers enjoying the day. I love seeing people out. Unlike when I was last here, and even last weekend at Nahant, there were no swimmers! One couple went down to the water and dipped their toes in and did some glamour shots, but nothing above the ankle got wet.

Was able to dry off, change and sit on the beach for a bit till my wife got back. Really beautiful day out there. Wonder what the water temp will be next weekend?

Summer’s over

Unfortunately, summer’s over. At least up here in New England. Had some beautiful days lately. The kinds where you can turn off the a/c and open all your windows. Really perfect.

Bostonians are already wearing jackets. It’s not that cold yet. But I guess low 60s and cool in the shade is too much for some. Speaking of 60s, the water at Nahant Beach yesterday was 66-67F. Beautiful. Not at all cold. Not anymore. I’m sure I would have considered it cold last year. So nice to be sorta acclimated to the water!

August was a good month for me, swimming-wise. Got 13 swims in, totaling a bit over 17 hours of swimming (the more important of two metrics) and 26.34 miles. Also got a lot of books read (another hobby) and lots of language study (ditto). Took a language test and got great results. All in all a banner month for Iron Mike!

Friday was my last day at Mirabella. I’m gonna miss that odd-ball of a pool. Crystal clear and clean water. Great views. Had time for a 2-mile swim on the last day. A great way to end the outdoor-pool season. But it got even better.

Yep. That old lady is the USS Constitution. This is the second time she’s sailed by me while swimming laps and at least the fourth time she’s been out this summer. I’m embarrassed to say that prior to moving to Boston I thought she couldn’t ever leave port. That she was permanently installed somewhere along the harbor. Nope. She still can sail. There’s active duty Navy sailors assigned to her. They all learn how to sail her and they actually take her out. I’ve seen her with her sails unfurled as well as like above. I wasn’t gonna miss her this time so mid-way between miles 1 and 2 I jumped out, grabbed the phone and took her picture.

That’s her returning to port a couple hours later sailing past the Coast Guard base, firing her cannons. She’s a beauty!

I managed to get 21 swims in in open water this summer, and will get more in before the year is up. I want to see how far into fall I can go. Some of you dear readers know that last Halloween I tried to swim in 51F and managed a few strokes before standing up and walking out. Then this past May I did 34 minutes in 50-51F at Winthrop. I wonder how much lower and/or longer I can go?

Brrr!

I bailed on the Boston Light this year, deciding after my slow-ass 10K in Rhode Island that I’m just not fast enough or salt-adapted enough to swim eight miles in five hours in Boston Harbor. Even with currents helping me. Then the race had to be canceled due to fog. I feel for the swimmers who traveled up here and paid for hotels and especially the boat pilot. Luckily, I gave mine enough notice that I didn’t lose anything but the entry fee.

But, as mentioned, I did get a 10K (really, 10.5K) in down in Rhode Island. It was so nice, if a lot of work, and nice and small with just a few swimmers. I’m looking forward to doing that one again next year. The area is really pretty.

The Beavertail 10K’s iconic buoy. (c) Mike Scott

And Salem. I stupidly signed up for both the 2-mile and 5K this year, even though they would both be on the same weekend. Figured sure, I can do both. Not so much. I was so wore out from the 2-miler, which I thought I swam fast, that I wasn’t moving my arms the next day, never mind for a 5K. The 2-miler was in wonderfully cold water, 58F or so. I was one of only a handful of skins swimmers. Unfortunately, the Wild Fish Swim people don’t differentiate skins from neoprene, my only complaint about that swim.

A few skins swimmers in a sea of neoprene

One more swim this season, and that’s my favorite Swim the Suck in Tennessee. I will write at length about that swim later. Looking forward to meeting up with everyone in October in Chattanooga!

But yes, summer is over. Mirabella is closed. I’ll have to move my pool swimming indoors. Gonna try a new Y close by, see if their pool is nicer than my local Y. The local one is ok, but sometimes the water tastes funny; I think something is up with their filtration system. I have literally been kicked out of the pool before because the chlorine level was zero. Yes, 0.0. How does that actually happen?

Edit: Forgot to mention my DD took a trip down to Cape Cod. She was excited about the beach. Then she saw this sign.

Rainy day swim

Got a nice fast swim in today down in Rhode Island. Went to McCorrie Pt and met up with Beavertail 10K veteran Dan. Dan is fast so it was quite a bit of work trying to keep up with him. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)

Ugly day…still better than not swimming

Water was choppy and there were bits of rain, so my arms now are sore as hell. Water deliciously warm at 72F. So salty. Low tide. Lots of boats, all moored. Tons of little squiggley jellyfish or something that feels like schmoshy sausages floating around in the water. At one point something big and bag feeling floated over my back. Also caught something in my underarm. If these are anything like the little squiggleys I met at Beavertail, then I’m gonna have some itchy spots in a day or two.

Fast forward to now, about 30 minutes after the above. My wife cut my hair and I showered McCorrie off of me. Sure enough, spots along my neck and under one arm. Itching ETA, 24 hours.

Dan swam fast as hell, getting to each of our checkpoints well before me and he waited, which was nice. Once we got to the far end, a bit over a mile, we turned around to swim back, straight through without stopping. He kept near the coast, I tried to beeline it back. I kinda did, as you can see in the screenshot below. My total was 1.95 miles while Dan’s was 1.99. (The loops at the bottom of Dan’s tracks is an extra mile he threw in at the end for an even 3 miles.)

My swim today: 1.95 miles
Dan’s swim

Been to Rhode Island 10-12 times. Swam there four times and only once was it sunny, and that was for Beavertail 10K. What’s up Rhode Islanders? You guys ever sunny?

Nahant swim with the kitesurfers

Checked out a different place today, near my usual haunt, Revere Beach. This time I went to Nahant Beach. I’d been warned about going anytime after 7am, due to limited parking and crowds. Well, part of that turned out to not be an issue today. Tons of parking and I even got a spot directly in front of beach entrance #6.

It really was a terribly pretty day. The one issue I had was the crowds…of kitesurfers. Seriously, look at all of them!

And that’s not all of them! At one point I stopped counting at 12. I had to be very careful entering the water. I waited till there was a space between kitesurfers then entered and began swimming as quickly as I could into the waves to get deep(er) so as to avoid them.

Two of them came close, but both made a point to look at me and wave. I appreciated this as it meant they actually saw me. I can’t be that hard to spot: I’m wearing a bright yellow MSF cap, a bright lime green rash/sun guard, and towing a bright orange buoy. That should be sufficient, I think.

As I mentioned, the water was pretty rough today, and it’s been weeks and weeks since I’ve been in salt water. In fact, I think the Beavertail 10K was the last time, so three weeks. I decided to do just a bit over a mile and then get out. That mile took forever. Half of it was me stopping to look out for the kitesurfers and to check out the views (it really is pretty there), the other half was me fighting those waves, trying to get distance. My moving time had me doing 100 yards at 2:10-ish, but with all the stops I ended up taking over 2:30 per 100y. No biggie.

If you were to go by the pic above, you’d think I’d forgotten to start Mr. Garmin till after I started. But the satellite view clears this up nicely, dear reader(s).

Low tide was about an hour in the past when I showed up, so got a nice push home near the end. If one were to come around that point at the bottom of the map (Eastern Point) then swim directly west for four miles, you’d end up on Revere Beach.

So, good day today. Oh! Water was wonderfully warm at 66-67F throughout. Couldn’t ask for a better temperature. If the water were flatter, would have stayed longer.