Marathon Swimming homecoming date set

Looks like I’ll be attending homecoming this year. I’m so excited!

Dear reader(s) know that I consider Swim the Suck to be theĀ homecoming of the marathon swimming world. At least, the North American world. I’ve met so many marathon swimmers I’d only met online in Chattanooga in Octobers past (2012, 2018, 2019). The after-swim (apres-swim?) party feels so much like a family get-together. I’ve really missed it the last few years.

So Saturday 8 April I told my family I had to sit at home in front of my computer at noon because Swim the Suck registration opens at that moment. I’d learned in the past that if you waited a couple days to decide, you’d miss out. The swim often sells out in a few hours!

This year I got in! I’m so happy. I needed a goal like this to even get me back in the pool (yes, I’ve been absent for months). I miss open water so much; it’s not as close here as it was in Boston. But I’ve been back in the pool for the last two weeks and am looking forward to swimming, slowly, down the Tennessee River on October 7th!

Last swim of the season

The 2022 season ended Sunday morning with a great 2.25km swim in National Harbor. And head coach Denis Crean gave us a great course.

Denis set out a start buoy (orange) and a final turn buoy (also orange). “Out” were three lime-green buoys. We were allowed to choose which lime-green buoys to swim to, as long as once we got there, we swam outside the other lime-green buoys.

Jen, my friend from embassy Moscow, moved back to town. She swam the 2.5k comp last weekend and swam with me this Sunday. We decided to do a double (swim to the middle lime-green buoy), then swim a triple (swim to the far right lime-green), then a single, then a double, then a triple. All told, only 2.25km. But so much fun.

Great season. Thanks Denis and to all the volunteers at WaveOne Swimming!

Swim for the Potomac, part II

Today was day two of Swim for the Potomac (S4tP). 5K on tap for me. Woke up quite sore, but didn’t really think I wouldn’t swim. Jumped in and the water was refreshingly cool.

First lap, 1250m, felt pretty good. I decided to really push it for lap 2 (2500) and 3 (3750): strokes 1-20 fast, 21-100 normal. Felt really, really fast. Lap 2 flew by. So did lap 3, till the whistles.

I told myself I wouldn’t look at my watch till the end of lap 3. After all, I only had to do 4 laps. If I was swimming as fast as I thought, I’d finish this 4-lap 5K easily. We jumped in at 0845, 15 minutes past sked time. I don’t blame anyone; I’ve never been a race director, but things happen. But I had hoped we could have more time in the water. There again, I can’t blame anyone: WaveOne has to get permits and such so that we can swim in National Harbor.

The saddest part: bringing the buoys in

Still, I thought I had finished the first 3 laps in 1:15, thus it would be 10:15 when I finished lap 3. But: the whistles. I ignored them, hoping they weren’t meant for me. No such luck. A hundred meters or so into lap 4 a kayaker gave me the bad news. We’re done. I looked at my watch. 1:35 for a measly 3.85km. Ugh.

The good news is, I felt very good, despite the 4+ hour swim yesterday. 13.85km in two days (8.6 miles). Feel good. Tomorrow morning I’m sure I’ll be very sore.

Better news? WaveOne will still swim, this coming Thursday night and Sunday morning. w00t!

Swim for the Potomac 10K

Today was the Swim for the Potomac. Actually this weekend is S4tP. I foolishly signed up for both the 10K today and a 5K tomorrow. Real goal was to finish the 10K today.

Ten years ago, I attempted S4tP 10K, a month before my first Swim the Suck (StS). That 10K ended poorly. My back ached and I only finished 7/8 laps. I was worried about StS, but I did much “time horizontal” as I termed it and finished that 10 miles in 4:44. I was very happy.

But always, throughout, this particular 10K in National Harbor, MD, has been on my mind. It’s my neighborhood. I needed it in my life. And today, I had it.

That was the course today, a loooong 1666m course. Buoy 1 to 2 and 3 to 4 were so long. Laps 1-3 (5K) went by smoothly. Had some issues sighting 3 to 4, but got that figured out. Finished it around 1:55. If I could keep that pace, I could finish in the 4:00 course limit.

I knew that wasn’t going to happen during lap 4. Was starting to get tired. Stopped seeing others. Except for, I think, Kathy, who is so fast. She was most probably passing me on her 5th lap. (A month ago during HarborFest, she did 7K in the two hours we had.) Lap 5 was difficult, I had to distract myself: strokes 1-79 my normal old man speed, 80-100 fast. That got me through lap 5. That and hoping they’d let me start lap 6.

They mentioned pulling people at 11:30. I started lap 6 at around 11:00. At that point, I just kept hoping to get to the next buoy. I looked at it like: okay, one lap is just four lengths (two horribly long ones: 650m?), swim length per length. When I got to the first buoy and turned to start the first long length, I just wanted to make it to buoy 2. I figured if they pulled me at buoy 2, I’d have to swim back to the start anyway. I’d zig and zag enough to make the full 10,000. At buoy 3 I saw a jet-ski with a sled and thought, Oh shit. Last I was in one of those was at the end of 20 Bridges. Please don’t pull me!

Thankfully, they didn’t. I did the last length in forever, but finished. That’s all that matters. 4:15. And I wasn’t last. That’s kinda nice, too. All in all, a great day. And now I am sore, and wonder how the 5K will go tomorrow.

Outdoor pool season is over


I found out only in August that the base pool here had morning lap swim. Last time I was stationed here, the base didn’t have the money to hire lifeguards for morning swim. The time before that they had morning swim, but civilians had to pay $3.50 each time. But now: anyone with base access can swim for free in the mornings…

…in the pool that has joined that elite club (that I made up), the weird-length pool club. The JBAB base pool is 40 yards in length. Very strange. But very pretty!

HarborFest 5K (or more)

WaveOne held their annual HarborFest swims this morning. Tri-length swims, along with a 5K. I signed up for the 5K, composed of 5 laps of a 1000m loop. It was untimed, meant mostly for triathletes who wanted to work on their swim skills. The water was open for a bit over 2 hours and one could swim as much as one wanted. I figured 5K would be enough, but in loop 4 and 5 I thought I could add a sixth.

Great morning for a swim!

Sadly, upon finishing the fifth lap, one of the kayakers told me the yellow course (the 1000m loop) was closed and only the orange course (375m loop) was open. It was only a bit after 10:00am so I thought I’d be able to fit in two.

One of the many volunteers that make these events happen!

Nope. I got one done. I started the second 375m loop and when sighting saw that one of the kayakers was bringing the buoys in. Dammit. 5500m according to my app. A smidge over 2 hours. Good enough for me!

My week in Florida

Fun was had! And now that I’m miles away from the ocean, and months if not years from the next dip in salt water, I can say without tempting fate that on the second day in the ocean I saw, 300-400m out from where I was, a huge fish or some sort of creature jump out of the water, much like you might see on Discovery during a particular week of the year.

To say it freaked me out is to minimize what my heart was doing. Took me many, many strokes before I calmed down. And I still went in the water after…

In the ocean again!

On a work trip to Florida and as such, of course, I had to swim in the ocean.

Can’t tell from the picture, but it was crazy wavy. Couple of legit surfers came out while I was there. But that’s part of the fun of open water swimming.

Haven’t been in salt water for about a year, felt fine (stomach) during this short swim. I cut it short because as soon as I got out about 100 meters I noticed the storm clouds coming. I already had to avoid the water in the morning because of storms (lightning, not my fav), and sure enough another storm came after I got back to the hotel. But when I got to the beach, it was nice and sunny.

Wish the happy couple a wonderful, and dry, wedding

Still, a fun, cozy swim, getting used to the water again. A measly almost-half mile. But who cares. I’m back in the ocean!

WaveOne Sunday sunrise swim

Had a good swim this morning with WaveOne. Cloudy and with the threat of rain, about 12 of us swam. All the fair-weather swimmers stayed home. Ha! They missed out. Nice and warm water (76-ish) and a nice tight course.

I ended up doing nine laps and 2800 meters. While coming in on lap 9, I intended on stopping to ask the time (forgot my watch again) and to see how much time was left. I kept losing the final, red buoy. Figured out as I got close why. They had moved it over to the dock. Time was up and I was last one in!

A little over an hour and good practice with sighting. And then the day ended with sun! Great day.

Denis, WaveOne founder, putting away the buoys

Washington’s Crossing, 2022

Had my first race this weekend, WaveOne’s Washington’s Crossing. National Harbor over to Jones Point and back, 4.2km or so. Did this one back in 2020, and also didn’t swim straight back then.

That straight line from 0 to 2km was because I was following buoys. Yellow out, orange back. But for the life of me, I couldn’t find any of those orange buoys. Thus, my apparent attempt to cross under the Wilson Bridge on the way back.

Right in the middle of the safety brief, Denis got a call from, I suppose, the Coast Guard. All set up!

My final goal. Took longer than I thought. No idea on my official time, but my app said in the low 1:50s. Will update this once I know for sure.

When I swam back in they were pretty much closing up. I think there were maybe 3 or 4 swimmers after me. The pier was pretty empty, too.

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