Category Archives: Swimming Anthropology

DNF as learning

In a swimming forum I frequent, I brought up my DNF rate to a beginning marathon swimmer. It just so happened that Saturday’s Beavertail 10K broke me out of the 50% DNF rate, to a whopping 44%. (DNF’d 4 of 9 swims I’ve attempted at 10K or longer.)

In response to my comment, another swimmer, a very novice open water swimmer/wanna-be marathon swimmer (N.b., he is 1 for 1 in marathon swims he’s done) responded thusly:

44% DNF rate?! I would have already given up the sport.

That surprised me. And made me think. What would make someone want to quit this wonderful sport? Would my interlocutor not have said it if my DNF rate were closer to 10%? 20%? What’s the number?

First, what is the equivalent to a DNF in other sports? If a (running) marathon and a 10k swim are roughly equivalent, let’s look at that event for comparison: How many  marathoners DNF their marathons?

Forbes did “the numbers” for the 2018 NY marathon. Fully 99% of runners completed that marathon. Now, the 1% who did not is +/- 500. That’s a lot. But still, 99% of runners completing a marathon is great!

There is a course time limit for the NYC marathon, based on when the last of the 50,000+ runners start the marathon:

In the interest of safety…race courses will remain open to all participants who are able to maintain a 13:45-per-mile pace (based on the time when the last runner crosses the start line). Those participants who are not able to maintain this pace should be aware that fluid stations…may not be available, and participants in races staged on city streets may be asked to move to the sidewalks. Late participants will be able to cross the finish line, but they are not guaranteed to be timed and recorded as official finishers.

By contrast, not many marathon swims allow the swimmer to “move to the sidewalks” or continue after the “last [swimmer] crosses the start line” as long as they maintain a certain pace. For comparison, Boston gives everyone six hours from when the last runner crosses the start line. That’s almost 14:00 per mile pace; equivalent to 58:00 per open water mile. But that 14:00 per mile is not including the minutes until the last runner starts. And those minutes aren’t trivial. The first runner wave starts at 9:32 am. The final wave starts on or about 11:15. So that makes the minimum run pace per mile just over 17:00, or the equivalent of an hour and 12 minutes per open water mile. I don’t know of any marathon swims with that kind of course time limit!

For that matter, in a marathon, if you get tired, you can walk and still make progress along the marathon’s route. The closest you can get to this in swimming is if you just happen to stop in water that is moving in the same direction as your swim route. Same with a bike race: if your legs get tired and you want to stop pedaling for a bit, you can plan it on the down-half of a hill, or even on a flat if you’ve got the speed. The only equivalent of this is the push a swimmer gets when going with the current. But in that case the swimmer is still stroking, so it’s not the same as a biker just sitting and resting his/her legs.

I think there are two major reasons for DNF in marathon swimming: a) speed (course time limits) and b) preparation (leading to injury preventing you from completing the distance). Frankly, that’s probably the reason in running, too. So let’s look at my 4 x DNFs.

  1. Swim for the Potomac 10K. Marathon swim #2. Distance completed: 8750m in 3:15. DNF classification: preparation. I had one more lap (1250m) to go, but only had 6 minutes left in which to swim that 1250. However, I wouldn’t classify this DNF under speed because the issue that slowed me down was my lower back. I did the first 5k in 1:35, leaving almost two hours to do the second 5k. I was ill-prepared to swim the distance, physically. After this swim I worked on “more time horizontal” to help get my back used to so many hours prone. (In comparison, marathon swim #1 was the Dart 10K, swum in a river with wonderful current, which only took me 2:35. Not long enough to put my lower back through the stress.) In fact my “time horizontal” worked as I had marathon swim #3 a month later and did great. (Swim the Suck, 10 miles, 4:44.)
  2. Ocean City Swim, 9 miles. Marathon swim #4. Distance completed: 4.1 miles in 2:30. DNF classification: preparation.  Too cold. Salt water issues. Some very slight race logistics issues, but DNF 99% my fault. Learned that for any future salt water & cold water swims, I need to acclimatize.
  3. Issyk Kul crossing attempt #1, 13.5km. Marathon swim #5. Distance completed: 4.7km. DNF classification: preparation. No course time limit as this was a swim of my own making. Cold water and elevation (5100 feet above sea level) did me in. 13C throughout and I couldn’t pee nor could I take any liquids after like the third feeding. I learned a couple things. For one, I need to sked this swim in July or August when the water is warmer. Number two: I need to get some cold(er) water training in. (Happy to report to new readers that I did successfully cross the second largest alpine lake in the world, only the second person ever to have done it, less than a year later in July 2016!)
  4. 20 Bridges, 28.5 miles. Marathon swim #7. Distance completed: 7+ miles, then 20+ miles. DNF classification: preparation and maybe speed? So first, for new readers I’ll explain the distances I listed there. I didn’t make it through the East river before the tide changed directions and started swimming in place/backwards. They gave me two options: quit, or be moved a mile up and continue, but the swim not counting. I of course didn’t quit. When I restarted, I swam again according to the rules for a bit over 20 miles. I say DNF for prep and speed because: If I had a faster pace during the first two hours, I could have gotten far enough into the East river that the change of current wouldn’t have affected me so much. I say preparation because if I’d done more reading and consulting with other experienced swimmers, I would have known that you gotta really push like crazy the first few hours to beat that river. I learned so much from this swim, and I really should count it as two marathons because according to the Garmin on the kayak, I did over marathon distance for each half! (No, I don’t count it as that.) The second half still counts as the longest in both miles and time that I’ve gone swimming (20 miles in 6:20).

So those are my four DNFs, out of nine marathon swims. I have one DNF in a 5k which I’d put down as speed. The current in the river was so strong I just couldn’t do the requisite laps before the cut-off. This is upsetting to me because 5k is my favorite distance. But, again, I learned something!

So to Michael, the commenter who simultaneously wants to be an elite-level swimmer in only two years (after only starting open water swimming this year) and would quit the sport after a few DNFs: I hope you read this and reevaluate. This is a great sport and community. I’ve rarely met more supportive people.

More swims at Lake Issyk Kul

In August, three more swimmers completed crossings in the second largest alpine lake in the world, lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan.

Finishers Daulet, Batybek & Arsenii

As I’ve discussed here before, marathon swimming is, if not new, then very rare in that part of the world. Tooting my own horn, I’ll say that mine and Sarah d’Antoni’s swims in 2016 opened up interest in crossing lake Issyk Kul, and with the help of Olesya Pakseleva, the lake has enjoyed an annual crossing. The latest was held on 26 August.

Arslan from Nomad Sport & Olesya

Originally, seven swimmers were scheduled to cross the lake: three from Kazakhstan, two from the US, and two from Kyrgyzstan. On the eve of the crossing, unfortunately, Olesya found out that the two Americans would not be swimming: they hadn’t received permission from their leadership to do the swim. I’m not sure what leadership; perhaps these folks were Peace Corps like Sarah or embassy employees. As well, one of the swimmers from Kazakhstan didn’t get his doctor’s permission so he wasn’t able to participate.

Three of the swimmers taking off from Kara-Talaa

So four starters. All wore wetsuits, despite Olesya’s protestations. Unfortunately, their times won’t count for any records or claims. As this is still a new sport over there, I’m just happy that people are swimming the lake. We get enough of these events going over there, more people will attempt the swim and more will swim it the EC way.

Arslan briefing the swimmers prior to start

Four started, but only three finished. One of the Kyrgyz swimmers DNF’d. Daulet Kurmanbaev, Arsenii Eliseev and Batykbek Turusbekov all finished in the low 5 hours range.

Batybek & Arsenii after the swim
All 4 starters at the end

Congratulations to all the swimmers, as well as Olesya, Arslan from Nomad Sport, and all the volunteers!

Swimmers, organizers, volunteers & family, all part of the marathon swimming team!

Issyk Kul crossing tomorrow

Another four swimmers will attempt a crossing of my route on the western end of Issyk Kul tomorrow. I must admit that I’m honored and prideful that my little swim adventures from 2015-2016 has turned into an annual event in far off Kyrgyzstan, the Switzerland of Central Asia.

This year there were to be six swimmers, two Kazakhs, two Kyrgyz and two Americans. Again, the Americans are Peace Corps members, like Sarah D’Antoni, who crossed a month after me and still holds the fastest time for the crossing (4:43). Unfortunately, the Americans did not get permission to swim this year, so there’ll just be the four locals.

And unfortunately, they’ll be wearing wetsuits. In that area of the world, cold water is scary for a lot of people, despite the fact the water there isn’t that cold. Folks in that area, with its connection to Russia, suffer from being raised by grandmothers who on the one hand will scream and cry if you go out in 50*F or cooler weather without a coat (fully zipped up!) and on the other hand will extol the health benefits of taking all your clothes off in the snow and dunking yourself three times in 35*F water in a cut-out hole in a frozen lake. The thought of swimming four, five, maybe six hours in 72-74*F water without the help of a wetsuit, is madness for these folks. While I try to persuade them to not swim the lake that way, and my friend the local doctor tries too, I am at least happy that people are even thinking of swimming across this beautiful body of water.

Tomorrow I will report more on how the swimmers do. Until then, here’s a picture of the swimmers, organizers and crew. Good luck to all!

Introduced a friend to Russian open water

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.

Note to self: Cruise ships are no joke

Great swim this morning, 3.6k with lots of practice swimming into the wind and current, very strong today. I don’t mind swimming into current and wind, knowing that I’ll get to take advantage of those same conditions on the way back! It was beating me up though. And here I am seven hours later with a sore back.

This time I made it past those sailboats. Maybe it being Monday helped. None of those sailboats looked like they were intent on moving. I went maybe 3-400 strokes past those boats and started pulling over. I saw an old fellow looking at me from his pier, so asked him if it was private, and he replied that it was. About 50m beyond him were some stairs so I asked him if those were private and he told me no. So there I swam.

I guesstimated 1.5k by that point but the Garmin said 1.81k. Nice and perfect. So I jumped back in and swam back. This time, however, I aimed to swim as straight as possible. On the way out, I kept coming up to boats moored offshore and would have to swim out and around their algae-covered ropes. I’m sure my track is zig-zaggy.

On the way back I was aiming true. I saw trees way off in the distance that I was sure were close to where I entered the water. Swimming straight took me far into the bay, maybe 300m off the shore. No biggie. Not a lot of boats were out this morning. I put my head down and got to work.

Not sure how long I was swimming as I wasn’t counting strokes but at one point I spotted something white in my peripheral vision and Damn! but there was a cruise ship right behind me, maybe 600 meters. I stopped and looked at it. All I could see was the front of the ship. Not either side. The ship wasn’t moving left or right. Just like a tornado, the ship was either coming right at me or directly away from me. And it wasn’t there earlier, so there was only one answer.

Sharp right, swim! I swam like the wind. It was a good number of strokes before I started to see the side of that huge ship. Over 950 feet long! After that, IronMike spent the rest of the swim hugging the side (~50m) swimming zig-zaggy back to his start point! (Yes, Kelley, I think I need you to escort me!)

But that wasn’t the end of the fun. Now with my heart-rate back to normal workout mode, I calmly swam back, taking advantage of the current pushing me. (But with the wind pushing my rescue buoy up over my arms occasionally.) All of a sudden I swam into something soft and fleshy. Surely that’s not what jellyfish feel like, is it?

Nope, that’s a human man’s foot. Some poor guy was floating around on his back minding his own business, enjoying his morning swim, when I ram right into his foot. We both say Sorry. We both laugh. I tell him I’m happy he’s not a jellyfish. He laughs more. His wife/girlfriend/whatever asks him something in a language I couldn’t identify, and she laughs. I get back to work swimming.

I finally see the water polo goal that marks when I’m within about 100m of the finish stairs. I get out and check the Garmin: 3.6k. Nice work. My lady friend is sunning herself again and we do the whole “good morning” exchange and laugh. I sit for a while, watching the cruise ship get pushed around the middle of the bay by the wind. The tenders all float well away from the ship waiting to be able to go in and collect the tourists. The ship finally gets settled (during my time sitting there, I saw all four sides of the ship), and the tenders hurry into the ship like mice running into their home in your baseboard. All in all an enjoyable, if slightly nerve-racking, morning!

Montenegro swims

Been vacationing in Kotor, Montenegro, a beautiful historical bay town in the Balkans. Really was not hard to decide on this location when I saw pictures like this.

The picture above is taken from the side of one of the mountains here, on which you can see medieval walls and churches. The mountains are steep, but the wall can be climbed due to stairs carved out of the rock. It’ll take you about 30-40 minutes depending upon how many times you stop to catch your breath. Frankly, not worth it to climb all the way to the top as it is dusty and dirty (trash everywhere) up there and the view isn’t as great. About 2/3 of the way up the view is incredible.

And of course when you’re that high above a beautiful bay, what else can you do but jumpography!

Swimming has been done here, too. Not just sightseeing and jumping. Got two solo swims in so far, along with several “noodling” type swims with the family. One daughter and my wife like to go out with me and swim along the shore, watching the beautiful old houses go by, the fishermen come in, the locals sunbathing. We cover about two km each time, one down one back, just lazily enjoying the water, heads up breast with some freestyle thrown in. Yesterday we rented a boat and went to Sv. Marko island, over by Tivat. We swam around for about an hour, playing games with the kids, drinking wine and Radlers. It was enjoyable.

Today I did my second solo swim, along the coast of Muo to the marina, about 1.4 km or so down. I wanted to go farther, but it wasn’t safe. I was swimming along minding my own business, counting strokes, keeping an eye out for jellyfish (we saw smacks of jellyfish all over the bay yesterday while boating), when I heard the tell tale sign of a motor boat nearby. I looked up to see one of the small tourist submarines coming right in my direction. It was still maybe 300 meters off, but it wasn’t moving left or right, despite me being only about 20 meters off shore. I swam towards an empty space among the dozen sailboats at the marina. At the same time, I noticed a catamaran right in front of me preparing to pull out of its parking spot. The captain was motioning to another sailboat coming in (both these boats were about 70 feet long). I caught the captain’s eye, pointed to the sailboat coming in then to the empty spot I was treading water in front of and he nodded “Da.” Great. So I’m swimming right in front of the parking place this incoming boat wants to go to.

I immediately turned around and headed back home. So much for my idea of doing 4k this morning. I stopped a little after and noticed the catamaran that was pulling out was now pulling back into another spot, and yet another sailboat was preparing to leave. Maybe Saturday morning isn’t the best time to swim there!

No worries, I swam back, hopping out at one of the stone piers near the house. An older lady was sunning herself and she said “Dobro jutro” (good morning) with a smile. Then I realized that she was there two days ago when I swam my first solo! She smiled and watched me unhook my bright orange buoy, remove my rash guard (I burn easily) and doff my cap and goggles. Nice and bright early morning swim, totally 3km with my zig-zagging. Delightful.

Four new Issyk Kul swimmers (maybe five!)

(Edited 11 Aug to add water temperature data.)

I got info and observer notes from the Issyk Kul Swim Challenge that happened on the 6th. The Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation now boasts six official crossers of the historical route, the one based on the Kyrgyz myth of Toru-Aigyr (Тору-Айгыр).

The swimmers above, Denis Kochenkov, Chingiz Alkanov, Almaz Koychiev, and Nazim Turdumambetov, each swam from the southern shore of Issyk Kul near the village of Kara Talaa to the northern shore village of Toru-Aygyr. Times varied:

In the list above, the order of names is: Koychiev, Alkanov, Kochenkov and Turdumambetov. Times are not too bad, but Peace Corps volunteer Sarah D’Antoni still holds the record for the crossing with a time of 4:43.38.

These swimmers were mentored all along by Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation co-founder and federation medical officer (and certified observer) Olesya Pakseleva. The Challenge began with 10 interested swimmers. Initially, they all wanted to swim in wetsuits, but Olesya talked them out of that, citing the universally accepted rules of marathon swimming. (Olesya knows the rules backwards and forwards!)

On the day prior to the swim, as all 10 swimmers and their support crews assembled at Hotel Aliya in Balykchy, Olesya took this picture of the lake.

That picture, combined with the weather forecast for the next day and the water temperature, scared off six of the swimmers. Four stalwartly individuals stuck to their guns and committed to meeting Bakyt and his boat at the hotel pier the next morning at 0400.

Then is when the trouble began! Bakyt overslept! Olesya had to find his home address and go wake him up. He and his boat didn’t arrive at the pier until 0700. The swimmers were very nervous, but Olesya calmed them down, assuring them they’d be ok. At 0715, they set sail for the southern shore of Issyk Kul and the village of Kara Talaa. At 0915, all swimmers started.

The swimmers were each accompanied by a kayaker, with Bakyt’s boat being the base of operations. Unfortunately, no one had a GPS, and the lake still has spotty coverage so no one was able to use their phone for tracking either. Olesya ensured that the swimmers started at the same location Sarah and I did last year, as well as finished at the same spot.

The swimmers averaged between 45 and 55 strokes per minute during their crossings. Their feedings were about every 30-45 minutes. Some of them listened to the wise advice of Olesya and put diaper rash ointment in certain areas of their bodies, some didn’t…and are suffering now. (Lesson learned!) Water temperature was 22C near the shore and 18C in the middle of the lake. All four who started finished. None of them touched the boat or kayak, none got support from another person in the water, all entered the water dry and exited the water dry under their own power.

One swimmer, however, did wear one of those full body suits that aren’t technically considered wetsuits. In other words, for a triathlon whose water temperature is too warm for wetsuits, this body suit would be legal. (Chingiz is the president of the Kyrgyz Triathlon Federation.) Sadly for Chingiz, that suit is not legal for marathon swimming. He still swam across Issyk Kul and will have his name listed in the records of the Federation, but his time will not count as far as any lists of the “X-number of fastest crossings” or anything like that. Olesya tried to talk him out of wearing the illegal suit, but he wore it anyway. Perhaps next year he’ll try it again, only then wearing a proper marathon swimming-approved suit!

Additionally, two days after these four men swam across the lake, I received a link to a news story about yet another person who swam across the lake over this same route, the day prior to these four swimmers.

Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund Board Member Erkin Asrandiyev swam across Issyk-Kul lake. The idea to cross Issyk-Kul came to him last year when he saw in the TV news that Peace Corps volunteer Sarah D’Antoni and U.S. Embassy officer Mike Tyson swam the lake following the route of the legendary horse Toru-Aigyr.

I’m trying to get in contact with Mr. Asrandiyev to find out if he had anyone observe his swim. Frankly, there is only one person not certified by the Federation who could have observed his swim and the Federation accept the results, and that person is Akhmed Anarbayev, the first person to ever swim across lake Issyk Kul. Mr. Asrandiyev never contacted the Federation, didn’t contact Olesya or any other person associated with the Federation. For now, his results will be absent from the list of successful crossings.

Dear reader(s) remember that one of my goals for swimming across that wonderful lake was to get the locals interested in using their natural resources for swimming events such as these. I was happy when I heard about their Lake Issyk Kul Challenge and will remain happy as long as I hear more wonderful stories like this. Next year they will repeat the Challenge, and hopefully have more and more swimmers, including, perhaps, an American who is missing the magic of the world’s second largest alpine lake.

Issyk Kul tomorrow!

My friend Olesya took some pictures from lake Issyk Kul today.

Tomorrow, one year and one month after my successful crossing, four intrepid local Kyrgyz will attempt to swim from Kara Talaa in the south to Toru Aygyr in the north.

Unsure how many will be with and how many without wetsuit. We will see. This is a great first step for Kyrgyz swimmers and I hope this will herald great swims on this beautiful lake in the future. Good luck! Жакшы ийгилик!

Eurasia Swim Cup and Cup of Champions Changes

Recently, the two major swim series here in Russia have changed things up. Both involve the beautiful town of Sochi!

The Eurasia Swim Cup, the wonderful folks who gave me one of their t-shirts and who welcomed the crazy wetsuit-less foreigner with open arms, had a swim on their schedule in Sochi, set for 17 September. Unfortunately, that swim is now missing from their schedule. It hasn’t been replaced by anything, it is simply gone. I was looking forward to that swim as I haven’t ever been to Sochi. The closest I’d ever come was the lovely town of Gelendzhik, some miles up the coast from Sochi.

But Sochi may not be out of my plans completely. Just announced today is the Cup of Champions’ new event on their schedule: The Sochi Swim Festival. The Festival will run from Friday, 29 September through Sunday, 1 October. They will hold workshops throughout the weekend, in the pool, in open water, and in classrooms. But there’ll be lots of swimming, too. On Saturday, there’ll be a 30-minute and a 60-minute swim for distance in the pool. There’s also a team event: 3 people swim 100s for 15 minutes, trying to out-distance other teams. These seem to be popular over here. This organization has a whole series of these pool swims throughout the winter. I might have to try my hand at the hour swim, or find two friends to do the 15-minute event with.

Sunday is open water day! They’ll have three individual events: 5.5k, nautical mile, and 1k. There’s also another 3-person event, 3 x 1000. Swim map below.

The yellow is for the 1k course. The red loop for the other two events: one loop for nautical mile and three loops for 5.5k. The timing is such that I might be able to do both the 5.5k and the 1k, or maybe even the 3 x 1k! Unknown what those green arrows are, but probably they are where the workshops and host hotel are. The host hotel looks nice. It’s the Imeretinsky Resort. These types of resorts are very popular here. You pay one price for room and board (2 or 3 meals a day) and live in a communal and social (ex verbo socialism) environment. This is the type of place I stayed in for my Cyprus swim all those years ago.

For now, decisions decisions. Can I go? Can I find two friends who want to swim with me? We’ll have to see.

Issyk Kul One Year On

A year ago today I successfully swam across lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan. I became the first American and second person to cross the lake, also the first person to swim across the historical route, on the western side of the lake, between the villages of Kara-Talaa in the south and Toru Aygyr in the north.

Since my crossing, Peace Corps volunteer and FIU swimmer Sarah D’Antoni also crossed the lake, becoming the first woman and second American to cross the lake and simultaneously destroying my time by about 1:20, setting the course record of 4:43.

My hope after my crossing was to show the Kyrgyz people how wonderful their lake is for open water swimming. I have a dream that sometime in the future there will be an Ironman-length triathlon held there. There already is a marathon held along the lake each year. Once they finish repaving the road encircling the lake, the bike route will be safe enough for a 112-mile race. And we already know the second largest alpine lake in the world has plenty of water for a measly 2.4 miles!

But my  greatest wish is that some locals will start crossing the lake. And it looks like that is going to happen! On July 16th this year, five swimmers will attempt to replicate mine and Sarah’s crossings, following all the same rules that we did last year. [Edit: Within two hours of composing and scheduling this post for publication, my friend contacted me and informed me that these swimmers have decided to change the date to 6 August and to wear wetsuits.] The news of the Lake Issyk Kul Swim Challenge, when I read about it on 3 July, excited me so much, it was a little embarrassing. Like a little kid Christmas morning! I hope to be able to bring you, dear reader(s), good news on 16 July about five new names in the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation database. Good luck to all the swimmers!