Merry Christmas to all!

Can’t believe the time has flown so quickly. Pictures from past holidays have been popping up on my social media sites. Damn, a lot has happened in only a year.

Here’s wishing my dear reader(s) a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years. I hope your new year is filled with the swimmingest times and friends, and I hope the New Years Resolutionists crowd your lane for the minimum amount of time in the new year.  Looking forward to getting back in open water soonest!

Swimming with a team is how you get fast

When my dear reader(s) last checked in, I told them how I found a team, the Reading Masters housed in the Burbank YMCA in Reading, Mass. I’ve made every practice this month and must say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the ones that required me to wake up at 6:15 am on a Saturday morning.

The 8-lane pool at Burbank Y

I’ve not had much luck getting faster in the last few years. I’ve been self-coaching, kidding myself that I could get fast all by myself. Yet, despite my efforts, I would still average 1:45-1:50 per 100, even when I sprinted.

But it is hard to insist on that slow an interval for 10 x 100 when the lane next to you is doing their 100s on 1:30. Alas, I managed the first 100 in 1:23, something I hadn’t seen in years. And then managed to maintain 1:32-1:33 for the remaining nine 100s. Couldn’t believe it.

And then yesterday I was alone with one other swimmer. Our main set was 2 x 300, 2 x 200, 2 x 100, 2 x 50 then back up. All descend. I thought our interval for the 300 was 5:15. Unfortunately, as I breathlessly came to the wall after the first 300, she left on the second, and I realized we were doing them on 4:30. Yikes! After those two were done, I realized that meant that I did each 100 of that 300 in just under 1:30. Yay me!

The speediness continued. All the 100s were on a 1:30 and I got 3-4 seconds rest each time. Unbelievable. Never thought I’d get back to those times.

And this is only because of the team. There’s nothing better to increase your speed than having someone on your toes or to have someone ahead of you to chase. So glad I found Reading Masters!

29 Years Have Flown By

Can’t believe it’s been 29 years since the night The Wall fell.

29 years ago today I was standing at Brandenburg Gate with three of my friends, feeling the history in our bones. Watching the East Berlin police shoot water canons at Germans sitting atop The Wall. Trying to read Tom Brokaw’s teleprompter.

Berlin’s where I first started swimming laps. There was a very nice SCM pool on one of the Army kaserns. I swam with one of my colleagues. Our goal each time was to complete one kilometer. We started out swimming a length, taking 10 to 15 seconds rest, then swimming another length. Before long, we skipped the rest on the “far end” and did laps. Then the rest dropped down in time to 5 to 10 seconds. One day I went by myself and thought, I’ll just swim the whole 20 laps without rest. And I did. It was amazing! Couldn’t believe it.

Great memories!

Found a team!

Swam with a team last night for the first time in a long time (2014?). The team is Reading Masters, hosted by the Burbank YMCA in Reading, Mass.

I’ve been here since July and my dear reader(s) are probably wondering: Why did it take you so long to join a team, Iron Mike? Well, this is Massachusetts. Apparently here masters swimmers can only meet and swim together at 5 am. And I’m not a morning person. I looked around before and after I moved here for a team, and found several, but all of them meet mornings, at either 5 or 6 am. Just too damn early for me. I simply couldn’t find a team that meets nights. Until now.

No idea how I missed Reading Masters. They swim Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:15-9:30 pm. Sure, that’s late. But that’s okay for me. My boss is great: As long as I do my hours, she doesn’t really care when I show up. So last night being the first time I’ve swum with Reading, I came in this morning an hour later than usual. No biggie.

Anyway, besides the weeknight swims, Reading Masters also swims Saturday mornings, 7:00 to 8:30. Wunderbar! That’s four hours of swimming per week with someone else deciding what we’ll do. I can just sit back and do what I’m told.

And with that, last night…holy crap. It’s been a while. The main set was 4 x {4 x 75} on 1:15, 1:10, 1:05, 1:00. So yeah, I kept up through the first set and got 4 or 5 seconds rest. But then after the first 75 of the second set, uh, no. Thankfully, the guy I was sharing a lane with had no problem splitting the lane instead of trying to continue circle swimming. I tried to keep up as best I could; I skipped 50 of one of the 75s just so I wouldn’t be so far behind.

The final was 16 x 25 in IM order on :45, which after the first “IM” turned into :40, then :35 after the second IM. Damn fast. This was followed by 16 x 25 free on :30. More doable. But jeez, what a (great) workout! 3400 total in the end, after the warm-up, pre-set, and cool down.

So nice being back!


Just plain ol’ nope. Not gonna do it.

Went to Revere Beach today, geared up and ready to swim. Figured after my Vampire Swim in 51F water (all 10 strokes of it) and 43F air temp, how bad could it be in Revere with the sun out, 45F air temp?

Well, within seconds I knew it would be bad. Upon stepping into the water, my feet were on fire. So damn cold. Went up to mid-calf and dropped the thermometer in, let it sink.

So beautiful, so unassuming…

Cold. Mercury hovered between 49 and 50F. Felt colder. Frankly, couldn’t believe I was able to stay in the 51F last weekend as long as I did. Probably peer-pressure.

I tried to go to Breakheart Reservation right after. Haven’t been yet, figured I could buy the annual parking pass and while there take a temp of the lake water. That’s the only lake nearby that you’re allowed to swim in. Might be colder. Might be warmer. Who knows? Couldn’t get there anyway; something big was going on as people were parked up and down the street leading to the park. Couldn’t even get in. Will try again during the week.

So perhaps my ocean swimming is done for the season. Dang.

Go back human, you can’t hang

Vampire swim 2018

On Saturday I learned of the Vampire Swim happening here in town. If you don’t know what this swim is, where have you been hiding?

The Vampire Swim is a blood drive and open water swim close to Halloween. You don’t donate blood at the beach but at a donation center prior to the swim. Then you dress up and jump in the water!

(c) Karen Nazor

Eleven of us braved the 51F water in South Boston. Some swam for 20+ minutes while others, like yours truly, dunked their head, swam a few strokes, then got out.

The coldest I’d been in prior was my 2.5 hours in 57F in lake Issyk Kul. 51F is a different animal all together. My feet were absolutely frozen. Toes hurt. The tide was low, so lots and lots of shells to walk over, but frankly, I couldn’t feel my feet anyway. It must have taken me 10 minutes to walk up past the cockles. And I stayed there for a while, talking with the other crazies!

(c) Karen Nazor

Mina and I decided to go ahead and dunk our heads and swim some. Mina, whom I met this year in BLS and then saw again at StS, swam way more than I did. I probably swam maybe 5 or 6 strokes, then some breast, then turned around and got out.

When I started swimming, I felt like something was strapped around my belly, like one of those waist sweat belts that some guys wear. I thought for a minute that I had strapped my buoy to myself, but I hadn’t. Very weird feeling. I spoke with Elaine after and she explained about what the organs do when the body is immersed in cold water.

Got out and changed in Kellie’s portable changing tent. So much easier than using my changing robe.


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!

Back on the straps

Traveled this week and needed to find a way to keep up my swimming. Well duh! Thinking back to my days in Kyrgyzstan, I had the answer: Aqua Sphere Stationary Swimmer, in other words, straps!

I found two hotels with indoor pools, strapped myself to the “deep” end’s ladder, and swam away. I remember pretty much right away how boring it is. Ugh. However, it certainly is nice to not have to flip-turn for an hour or so. Sure can get a lot done, thinking-wise, while swimming in place.

Got two swims in during this trip. Better than not getting in the water. My shoulder feels worse than it normally does after just a little bit of swimming. I wonder if this pain is specific to my swimming on straps vice swimming free. Hmmm…something to investigate.

My playground this week!

Swim the Suck 2018, part III

(Part I and Part II)

The logistics on race morning are a little different now that they’ve changed the finish spot. We had to bring the kayak to the starting spot at Suck Creek boat ramp and then drive to the finish. Problem is, the finish is on river left while the start is on river right. There’s no bridge crossing the river, so we couldn’t simply follow the river to the finish. We had to drive around the city to get there.

Once there we parked the car and waited for the school buses. I slept. Not sure what Aunt Donna and Uncle Tony did. Before long, the buses arrived. We got on the bus, where I met a nice neurologist named Steve who was doing his first marathon at Swim the Suck. We had a great talk on the bus and I was glad to see later that he had finished the swim. Congrats Steve!

We got to the start and Tony set about getting the kayak ready. I lined up in the bathroom queue. Still had plenty of time before splash so I walked around talking to old friends.

Before long, I had to Desitin-up and get in line. The worst, and I’m serious: the worst part of StS is walking on the boat ramp. Small pebbles, like little torture-Legos, digging into my wimpy-soft toddler feet. And even worse, you have to drop your finish-line clothing bag at the top of the ramp, then the death march to the line. I was at the end of the line (#1598, based on last name), so then had to walk to the water, and just got in the water right before Karah called the start.

Different this year (than 2012), we had to immediately swim to river left around a particularly interesting buoy: a cow. That’s right, a huge white with black spots cow. This is undoubtedly a buoy owned by the good people of COWS. It was very easy to spot and we all got to feel the wonderful push from the river: Every time I sighted on the cow, it was to my left. I was getting a really nice push from the dam output.

Then we had to swim to one of four buoys spread out over a half-mile distance to meet up with our kayakers. I got buoy four, based on my last name. The buoy sequence was red, red, cow, red. These were smaller than what would be the finish buoy, but still big enough and red-enough (except the cow) to be seen…if your goggles weren’t severely fogged. I saw the first red and the second red, then nothing. I stopped to try and see where the cow was. A kayaker asked me if I’d found my team yet. You see, you’re not allowed to go beyond your assigned buoy without your kayaker. I asked him where the cow buoy was. “You passed the last (red) buoy already.” Uh-oh, I better stay here and start shouting.

(c) Jenn Galler

You can just see the cow buoy to the left of the woman sitting on the closest boat. That’s the cow we had to swim to and around to get us to river left. And if you look right under Karah’s left elbow, you can see the first of the red buoys. That span of red buoys stretched out approximately a half-mile. You can see where my team were waiting for me at buoy four based on where they were when they started my Garmin at the start of the race.

The white blob between the Trail and Rd is the Suck Creek boat ramp. That is where we started from and immediately swam to river left. My uncle started my Garmin when Karah hit the siren on the megaphone. That was about 600m of swimming before I got there. And yelled. I started swimming backwards a bit, heads-up; I didn’t want to be disqualified. After just a few shouts, I found them. There were only a couple tandem kayaks so it wasn’t hard. And I noticed my aunt had a wonderfully easy-to-spot purple hat on, so knew I’d have no trouble keeping them in sight. I put my head down and got to work.

I felt good! I had no right to feel so good, with my lack of prep for this swim. But I did feel good. No shoulder issues, no right elbow issues. I did have one little bit of pain in the tendons of my left elbow, similar to what I’d get in my right elbow. Why my left? That made no sense! That pain went away almost as quickly as it appeared. Sometime during this first hour of uninterrupted swimming, my stab wound started to nag me.

Yes. Stab wound. You see, Murphy reared his ugly head on the Thursday prior to the swim. I was at work, already changed into my riding-the-train-home clothes, to include my sandals. I was picking up my lunch dishes to wash them when my steak knife flew off the plate angrily and landed, point end first, in the top of my left foot. Right in the meaty part near the outside edge. And then it bled like a stuck pig. All over. I did my best to staunch the bleeding, but not much you can do on the top of your foot. I stuffed toilet paper around it and my sandal and walked the office looking for the first aid kit. I found some generic bandaids, grabbed a bunch, and went back to my cubicle. Still bleeding. A lot. I put a bandaid on and tried to keep weight off my foot. I still had an hour of work. Sitting for an hour seemed to help, but the minute I got up to leave for the day, it started bleeding badly again. The bandaid was covered in dark red. I got to the train, sat down and covered the old bandaid with a new one, just so I wouldn’t scare the other commuters. Then I walked home and did a better cleaning.

So here we are about 36 hours later and I’m still limping a bit. It hurts. And now I feel it throb every once in a while. My mind immediately going to tiny evil bacteria coursing into my wound and bloodstream. I’m gonna finish this, then go get my foot amputated. If I finish quickly enough and the evil didn’t go farther up my leg. The mind is a funny thing. The throbbing, real or imagined, only lasted a bit and was temporary and intermittent. Before long I forgot about it.

I swam to the first feed at 1:00. Still felt good. Drank fast and got my head back down and to work. From here on out it would be 30 minute feeds. I got to 1:30 and the team asked if I’d peed yet, just like I asked them to. I was close, but no cigar yet. Feed, keep moving. Somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 I peed and shouted “Peed” to them on one breath. They smiled. From then on, I was able to pee with no issues. Hydration plan successful.

I used Rubbermade Chuggs. I bought the 10 oz ones this time; I had the bigger versions before but they’re just too big for what I need. What I didn’t notice about these is they have a straw/suck flip-top, instead of a flip-top which reveals a large whole in the lid. I like the latter better than the former. Easier to get a large quantity of liquid in ya in a short time. With these smaller Chuggs I had to suck the liquid out. Took a bit longer. The smaller size was nice though. I tried to drink about half the bottle each feeding. So I must have gotten on the order of 45 oz of liquid in during StS.

To make the time go by I started counting laps. I’d done this before while training on straps for Issyk Kul. It helps me take my mind off the swim. I knew I was stroking somewhere in the 50s per minute, so something along the lines of 1500 strokes should get me to the next feed. Of course, I’m sure I missed some counts, or counted 400 twice, but the three times I counted strokes between feedings, I was in the 1600-1700 range each time. That jives with my usual spm pace.

I think at the 1:30 or 2:00 feed, I licked the inside of my goggles. Fog gone finally. Now I could see what Tony was signalling to me. The fog was so bad prior to this that I could barely see his hand signals. Now I could see clearly. Only issue was I could see clearly. You see, the river has buoys and signs that give you an indication how far you’ve gone. I don’t need that kind of support! The last thing I want to hear is “You’re halfway!” I actually want the finish to surprise me.

As the 2:30 feed came up, I entertained the idea of asking them to “feed” me the ibuprofen bottle at the next feed. I was just starting to feel my back. Not in the usual place, the lower back, but in the trapezoids. I was surprised. I never feel it there. But I could feel I was using my traps for the event today and perhaps I should get ahead of the pain? But it wasn’t really that bad. And wow! I still couldn’t feel anything wrong with my right shoulder or elbow. I didn’t say anything about pain relief. I did eat though. I got a Babybel cheese. So yum. Head down, back to work.

Still feeling good at the 3:00 feed. I asked one question: Am I in danger of not finishing in the six hour time limit? The team responded “Not at all.” I felt good, so I ate some more, this time a Justin’s nut butter packet, drank a lot, and took some time to pee vertically. I told them to go ahead and give me the ibuprofen at the next feeding. I wasn’t hurting that much more, but knew it was coming so thought it better to get ahead of the pain. At least, that’s what my Issyk Kul doc told me to do. And by this point it was just over 4 hours since I took 800mg. The bottle is filled with 400mg of liquid ibuprofen. And the max per 24 hours is 2400mg, so I still had plenty I could take tonight. And I’d been eating, so my stomach should be ok. Head down, back to work.

Somewhere around this time the sun finally came out. The forecast called for sun right at the start, but it was overcast forever. I was afraid it would be blah like 2012. Amazing how your mental state, attitude, body feels so much better when the sun comes out. It was glorious. I could see some of the beautiful houses on the right bank, the gorgeous trees, the blue blue sky. I drank up the medicine at the 3:30 feeding and dared a glance up and down the river. No, I’m not last. Good. Ate a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup. Oh yeah. I can swim forever with these as rewards. (No, I’m not sponsored by Justin’s, but maybe I should be.) Head down, back to work.

Glorious sunshine!

As the 4:00 feed came I started to get tired. I really wanted this to be over with. I was happy that nothing really hurt. I was just ready to be done swimming. I started actively seeking out things on the right bank, trying to determine if I remembered anything from 2012 or if I was looking at something new. The finish is now 0.36 miles farther than in 2012, so surely if I see something new, I’m close to done, yes? Well crap, all those trees look the same. Not the same as 2012. I mean the same. I am moving, yes? It was also at this time that I thought back to one of my rules for my team: If I insist on being told how far I am or how I’m doing, and I’m not doing well or I’m not halfway yet, lie to me. Uh-oh! When I asked them if I was in danger of finishing, were they lying? Crap. The 4:00 feed came and went. Head down, back to work.

Sun still out. Body still tired. Mike still wanted to be done swimming. Somewhere after the 4:30 feed I saw something that definitely wasn’t there in 2012.

This is the view from my uncle’s camera. The view closer to the water level looked more like a wall lining the side of the river. Ending in a white hotel with a red roof. At least, that’s what I thought it was. I even saw one of our race motorboats approach the hotel and park. This sure as hell was not there in 2012. I’ve got to be past the 10-mile mark by now.

They stopped me a little after 5:00 for my final feeding. My rule-set did not prohibit them from telling me where I am if they can see the finish buoy. And sure enough, they pointed it out to me. 600-800m away. I threw the bottle at them and put my head down and sprinted. For about 10 strokes. Then I was tired. Hell, that was the 5:00 feeding. I’ve got an hour to make it those 600-ish meters. I’ll get there.

Finish at those blue umbrellas…so close!

What I remember from the pre-brief was that there would be another (the same?) big cow buoy right before the finish buoy. I couldn’t see the cow anywhere, but I sure could sight on the red buoy. The first red buoy. My brain started playing tricks on me: Didn’t they say there’d be two or three buoys leading up to the finish buoy? Is the finish buoy around the bend up there? Oh my God, do I still have a half-mile or more to go?

The thought of having to swim even farther than that one red buoy was killing me. I just want to be done. I want to be vertical. I want to eat. I want out of the water. And before I knew it, I was.

(c) Jenn Galler

That’s me right before I touched the buoy. You can’t see it, but I’m smiling ear to ear. Another Swim the Suck in the records!

(c) Tiffany McQueen

Finishing a bit before me was my Army friend Tiffany. She jumped back in to get a selfie with me. Then I noticed another recent finisher getting back in the shallow end so her kayaker could take a picture of her with the cow in the background. Yeah! Where the hell was that cow?

Yep, there it was. And I swam right past it.

The announcer here, like in Salem, had fun with my name. “Few people know that the boxer Mike Tyson was named after the marathon swimmer Mike Tyson!” He had so much fun with my name that some folks asked me if I knew him. Nope.

Here is my track from the Garmin. You can subtract 5:00 from the time as Tony didn’t remember to press stop till we were already on the beach. Final official time: 5:15.56. Happy with that, especially considering the lack of prep. And you can add about 500m to that distance, so just shy of 11 miles. The dam pushed us pretty good, especially at the start. I had some periods where my 100m times were 1:30 or less.

(c) Jenn Galler

I looked around for the changing tent area, couldn’t find it, so hid behind some guy’s Uhaul trailer and changed into dry clothes. (Later, before leaving, I would walk right past the changing tent area, which turned out to be about 30m from where I changed. What is with me and not being able to see things in front of my face today?) Next stop? Taco bar! Karah got a restaurant to cater and damn did she do a great job. Beef and chicken choices. All the fixings. Tortillas. I’m sure they weren’t low-carb tortillas and I didn’t care. I had two. And beer! Chattanooga Brewing sponsored the event and they had two brews available (a Maibock and Brown) I had to try each. Of course! (If you’re in town, go sample their beers. Very tasty.)

(I also found out that the “new” thing I saw near the end of the swim was, in fact, new. But it wasn’t a hotel. Turns out it was a barge that found out about our swim and decided to pull over to allow all of us to finish! What a mensch! He was pushing four huge barges full of who knows what. That would have created quite the wake for us to swim through. From all of us swimmers of StS, we salute you, Captain!)

We also got our finisher awards. StS is great in that everyone, including kayakers (and other volunteers I assume?) get a piece of original art. Karah finds a local artist and gets him/her to create something original for everyone. This year was pottery by 423 Pottery. I had a helluva time choosing. In 2012 it was “fish on a stick” which I still covet.

L-R: 2018 & 2012 finisher awards

Then it was reunion time. Met so many great swimmers. Half of them I’ve already “met” online. So great to meet them in person finally. We also stayed to cheer in the final male and final female swimmers. Despite the 6:00 time limit, Karah got permission (from whom, I’m not sure) for Felicia to finish the swim, which she did in 6:45. StS is a unique swim in that you get an award for being the last one to finish. And the award is nothing to sneeze at: A very beautifully framed and matted photograph of some part of the swim. Nice touch, Karah! And it turns out that the final finishing male was escorted by a longtime FB friend, MJ, whom I met for the first time here. She said her swimmer had overheard another swimmer at around the 3:00 mark. That other swimmer asked how far she’d swum. “Halfway,” was the answer. “I don’t think I can swim another five miles in the three hours I have left. I quit.” Apparently this worked against MJ’s swimmer. MJ persuaded him to continue. “Karah’s not gonna kick you out at six hours when you’re close.” Sure enough, that guy finished in 5:48! Congrats James!

Before long I realized Aunt Donna and Uncle Tony were MIA, having gone and put the kayak on the truck. I felt bad, so I ran around and hugged all the swimmers I knew and then ran to the truck. That was a mistake; longest 100 yard run of my life. We got in the truck and headed back to the house. It was on 5:30pm by now, maybe later, and we were all full, so we opted for no dinner out and instead stopped and got ice cream for dinner. Best. Decision. Ever. Peanut butter chocolate. No better.

Bed by 10. So gloriously tired. Up at 3:30am for the Uber to the airport. Back home in Boston before noon. Already planning next year’s Swim the Suck.

Swim the Suck 2018, part II

(Part I here.)

Swim the Suck actually starts on the Friday before. This is when packet pick-up and (evil carb) pasta dinner happens. If you don’t know your kayaker, this is also the time to meet him or her. And of course it is time for the race briefing.

(c) Jenn Galler

That right there is the “Suckiest Suckster,” the one swimmer who has done every StS since the beginning. She’s describing the course. This briefing is pretty in-depth. When I first did StS back in 2012, I was so thankful that Karah takes the time to brief so thoroughly. I now am thankful that she’s still briefing it that way, and I like how she’s letting the suckiest suckster brief the course. Nice touch. But the most amazing thing? And I’m not sure if it’s been like this for a few years, but I can tell you this was not part of the briefing in 2012: Swim giveaways.

Odds weren’t bad, compared to something like a lottery. Every swimmer had a chance to win an entry to SCAR, or Swim Hobbs Island, or Bridges to Bluffs, or a Viking swim. I mean really, holy crap. SCAR itself is worth $1500. The Viking swim includes paying for the boat escort. Jesus, how I hoped that one of the winners would announce that they couldn’t accept so that I got another chance at winning one of those swims! Beggars can’t be choosers, though; I was lucky to even get this spot in StS this year.

Karah is an esteemed marathon swimmer in her own right, so we are lucky to get her not only as the race director but as the briefer. And from her years of experience, she’s got a lot of great advice. Her best is illustrated below.


Can’t get much better advice than that right there.

Karah got the food catered and there were no complaints anywhere in the room. My aunt, uncle and I had eaten a late lunch so weren’t too hungry. And me eating LCHF, I opted for the salad. It was good, but damn did the meat sauce for the pasta look good. I seriously contemplated taking a plastic cup and filling it, but I chose to behave. Instead I decided to eat one of the homemade cookies they had there, chocolate chip.

The briefing took about an hour, to be followed up with a briefing by Dr. Andreas Fath. Dr Fath has swum the entire length of the Tennessee River while doing a study on water quality. I did want to listen in to his briefing, but it was already 7pm and I wanted to get back to the AirBnB and rest.

(c) Jenn Galler

We made our way back to the house and settled in. We had already gone over my gear and needs. I briefed them on my rules: Let me swim for an hour, then feed me every 30 minutes from then on. Never tell me how far I’ve gone, in distance or time. Stay to my right, between 2 and 4 o’clock. If I need food I’ll either tell you during a feed or shout it while breathing. Don’t engage me in trivial conversation while feeding. At the 1:30 feed, ask me if I’ve peed and if I haven’t yet, ask me every feed until I have peed. Simple.

I also told them to not be offended if I was short with them. I just want to put my head down and swim after a feed, so I’ll throw the bottle back to you. We had the bottle on a nylon thin rope. It worked great. At one point in the swim, I ended up talking more, but I’ll get into that in part III.

Then I went to bed. At a pretty decent hour, 10:30-ish. I expected to not sleep and I failed to bring melatonin, so figured I’d be tired the next day. However, when the alarm rang at 5:15am, I was initially shocked to be on my wife’s side of the bed. Then I remembered I’m not home, but in Chattanooga and realized that I slept all the way through! This is gonna be the start of something great…

All I am is a body adrift in water, salt & sky