This section reads from bottom to top and chronicles my preparations for my English Channel swim in August 2009
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, July 24-26 - On Friday and Sunday I re-tried my "ice baths". I filled the tub with the coldest tap water and added 20 lbs of ice. It worked. The temp got to 50 degrees then started to warm up. I would start to shiver in the water (because I wasn't swimming, energy wasn't being created and therefore, no warmth) and I would try to block it from my mind. After 15 minutes or so, I got out and got dressed. About 5 minutes later, I started to shiver and was happy I was in sweats and getting warm. All in all, mission accomplished. I would rather get cold on my terms in my house, than out there!!!
On Saturday, Lou, Elaine and Donna piloted the pontoon boat for a night swim on Johnson's Pond. We began at 8pm when it was dusk. All was good for one hour and then it got very DARK! I could not distinguish between the dark sky and the dark water. The folks in the boat could only see my glowstick and nothing of me in the water! The good news is that I swam strong for 4 hours and wasn't hesitant in my stroke or pace. It was also good for Lou to see (or in this case, NOT) what it was like from the crew point of view.
Saturday and Sunday, July 18 & 19 - Joined Marcy, Liz, Tobey, John and others for a 6 hour swim in 66 to 72 degrees at Hamonnasset again. The conditions were challenging and interesting. Liz and I thought we were speeding away on the first leg only to find Marcy and Tobey waiting for us! The nose clip worked great as I did not experience vertigo this week despite the constant movement of the waves. It was Tobey's birthday and Marcy made her a blueberry cake. When I came out, everyone had gone, but I opened my backpack to find a nice-sized slice waiting for me! It was a perfect morsal just prior to the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Large Fries I got myself on the way home - just in time to meet my wife and friends for dinner!
On Sunday, I wanted to start my taper and begin to rest my body - specifically my shoulders. I decided on 2 hours in the lake. It felt like the 4th of July since there were a bevy of boats zooming by! Their wakes continued to move me around and around - so much for a leisurely Sunday swim.
On Saturday night, I attempted my first "ice bath". I filled the tub with the coldest tap water, got in and then emptied a bucket of ice....nothing. Not even cold - actually refreshing since the water has been getting warmer! Oh well, I went to the store and bought 4 LARGE bags of ice....my next attempt will be sometime this week....looking forward to it!
Wednesday July 15 - I normally don't provide an update during the week, but I need to make special mention of a guy that I swim with during the week at the Kent County YMCA. His name is Justin and he has made a big impact on me the last several months. He just showed up one day and we quickly figured out that we should swim together. He is a big, strong swimmer and he is eager to try any sets on any times that I throw at him. His consistency, determination and strength has inspired me and help me look forward to the next day in the pool. These interval training sessions are so important in my preparation for my upcoming channel swim! THANKS JUSTIN!
Saturday and Sunday, July 11 & 12 - On Saturday, I regrouped with English Channel veterans Marcy MacDonald, Liz Frye, Jim Bayles and some others for a 7 hour swim in 64 to 69 degrees at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, CT. Felt good most of the way and Liz made sure I got my money's worth by blazing some fast-paced returns on the loops we were swimming! I did feel a bit quesy and dizzy at times I think due to the conditions, but mostly my sinuses. Marcy gave me a nose-clip to try and I must say that I believed it to help. Liz also suggested that I try some ginger prior to my swim. And wouldn't you know that I ran (swam) into Tom Coffey yet again! This is the third week in a row in two different states that we have bumped into each other in the open sea! It was relieving to join up with him for my last 15 minutes of the day. Thanks to all!
On Sunday, I swam for 3 hours in 64 to 69 degrees at Sand Hill Cove in RI. While I swam alone, I felt strong the whole way. I used the nose-clip that Marcy had given me and was very pleased with it. I look forward to continue using it in upcoming training swims and will quite possibly use it in the channel.
I continue to learn the lessons about the importance of the mind on these swims. I clearly see that I am strong when others are beside me - probably due to some competitive streak or the fact that I can see someone next to me and there is solace in that. I also see that I am very strong at the end of a training session - I am sure that is because it is almost over and I can enjoy the satisfaction of another goal accomplished. I also have experienced "down" times and have come to ask myself a few questions, such as, "am I injured"? If I am not injured, then I ask, "am I making progress"? If the answer is "Yes", then I tell myself that I am just tired and I evaluate how to address that - do I need more calories, water, potassium, salt, electrolytes, advil, etc. After logically analyzing the situation and addressing the needs of the moment, it gets back to "Just swim, baby, just swim"! Time and distance will pass, and soon enough I will be in a chair by the pool with the warm sun beaming down on me and a smile on my face!
Friday, Saturday and Monday July 3, 4 & 6 - On Friday I swam for 5 hours in 69 degrees at Sand Hill Cove. The beginning was extremely foggy and I was swimming alone through the throngs of beachgoers. I checked in with the lifeguards to let them know what I was up to and to keep an eye out for me. To my surprise, after I was swimming for 5 minutes, I noticed a swimmer tailing me. It turmed out to be Tom Coffey, a Master's swimmer from New Haven on his way to Maine for the weekend. He just dropped by to put in a quick 3 hour swim! The weather became clear, sunny and just beautiful! The swim was a piece of cake having a swimmer of Tom's caliber along with me. Thanks Tom!
On Saturday, the 4th of July, I met Josh at 6:15am at Potter's Cove on the Jamestown side of the Newport bridge. I swam for 3 hours in 64 degrees and met up with Rich, Dan, Joanne and John about halfway through. Another beautiful day, but a strong tide kept us checking to make sure we weren't getting pulled too far from the beach.
On Monday, I had just enough time for a 3 hour swim in the lake. The water was HOT at 76 degrees and I felt sluggish and bored getting through the workout as I was alone and going back and forth in the cove. A good mental workout as I was thinking about quitting at the 1 and 2 hour marks. These small mental victories will payoff when the big challenge comes!
I can see that July is not going to provide anymore cold water experiences. I will rely on cold showers daily and ocassional ice baths to keep me ready for the cold of the channel. I know that I have become acclimated...just want to keep the feeling!
Saturday and Sunday June 27 & 28 - 6 hours in 62-69 degrees at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, CT. on Saturday with several successful English Channel swimmers and wannabees like myself! Marcy, Liz, Jim, and George have all been there before and have history and tips for all. A total of 11-12 folks entered the water at 8:30 am with John, qualifying for the upcoming Swim Across the Sound staying in for almost 7 hours! I swam the whole way with Liz and Erin, who was also qualifying for her upcoming Swim Across the Sound experience. It was great to swim alongside them and it made the hours go by more easily. Liz stuck around and offered advice and pointers that were extremely helpful for my upcoming swim.
On Sunday, I had a late swim at Sand Hill Cove in RI from 2:30 to 5:30 - 3 hours in 61.5 degrees. Donna braved the heat to cold to heat to cold on the beach as she tried to keep an eye on me. Thank goodness for the pack of swimmers that appeared at 4:30pm led by none other than one of RI's best open water swimmers, Fred Bartlett! I had been lethargic, cold and enduring this training swim until they showed up. With renewed vigor, I worked harder, forgot about the cold and enjoyed the moment (1 hour) with this crew! After that, Donna and I had some fresh seafood and drinks overlooking the water and strolled the beach at sunset - a lovely end to a tough training weekend.
Saturday and Sunday June 20 and 21 - A whirlwind couple of days with wonderful surprises. On Saturday, I swam for 4 hours in 60-61 degrees at Potter's Cove. My friend Josh met me at 6:00am and it took a while to get in. The fog was so thick, our sighting was very restricted. We decided to swim very close to shore in 2 to 3 feet of water and stick close together. Soon, Al and Mike joined us and then Joanne brought up the third shift. There was overlap between shifts and each group managed about 90 minutes each.
After the swim, we quickly gathered at the Cranston Country Club for the Different Strokes Golf Tournament that my friend John organized. Rain was predicted but it never happened. The groups had tremendous fun and laughter was heard throughout the event! Gift certificates and baskets were raffled off and double winners were quick to "re-gift" their winnings to share with others. Many thanks to John, Terri, Donna, Elaine, Jackie, Mark, Jeane, Jessica, Kathy, Mitchie, Conner, the Cranston Country Club and all the participants! What a successful, fun event - Thanks John!
On Sunday, the wind was incredible at Potter's Cove. I swam for 2 hours in 61 degrees with 1 -2 foot waves that came one after the other! Thank goodness for Rich, Greg, Stephanie, Lou and Joyce...the group worked through the waves and enjoyed the very different conditions that Mother Nature provided. A group of wave and wind surfers came in just as we were leaving and in looking back at the group in the water, it looked every bit like a playground but in a very extreme sense! A treat was provided at the end of the workout by Paul, who was distributing Hokie Nuts which his daughter from Virginia Tech had purchased. They were a delicious ending to a tough and interesting challenge!
Saturday and Sunday June 13 & 14 - I have been blessed with a cool summer, numerous helpers and wonderful supporters! On Saturday, I swam in Potter's Cove beneath the expanse of the Newport bridge on the Jamestown side. Al, Josh, Lou, Rich and Joanne were wonderful company swimming along with me in two shifts. My goal was to get some time in cold ocean water and I did 3.5 hours in 60-63 degree water on Saturday and 1 more hour in 60 - 63 degrees at Sand Hill Cove with a group of RI Open Water swimmers, led by the famous Fred Bartlett. No kayaks this week, just fun group swimming at two beautiful locations! The golf tournament being run next week by my friend John, is taking final shape. It looks like we will have between 40 and 50 golfers participating. Thanks to Donna, Elaine, Jackie, John, Terri and others in donating and preparing many beautiful gift baskets, prizes and gift certificates for the raffle that will be held during the barbecue afterwards! It is not too late to join and there are still open spots, just contact myself or John Kiernan at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Details of the tournament are located at the bottom of this page.
Wednesday June 10 - Today I was interviewed by WJAR Channel 10 in Providence - Joe Kayata visited Donna and I on Johnson's Pond. Joe did a terrific job in conducting the interview, working the camera, piecing the report and delivering it on the 6pm news. Here is the link for those interested.
Saturday June 6 - A big swim today - 12 hours in 64-69 degrees! A great start to another month and my second longest swim ever! I never suffered like last week. While I had my ups and downs, I altered my nutrition intake to include two dosages of Advil (at the 4 and 8 hour marks) and supplemented my powdered carb mix (Perpetuem) with other "whole foods" like Pop Tarts and Chewy Granola bars. I also had some Gatorade along the way which tasted nice and gave me an electrolyte boost. I had great kayak support from newcomers, Jessica (my daughter), Rebecca (of Rebecca D'Alise Real Estate in Massachussetts and Sister in Law) and Dr. Amy (Sister in Law). Old Reliables that kayaked included my buddy Al and my wife, Donna. Jessica was the most entertaining kayaker, as she must have thought the event was interactive. She kept trying to talk with me most of the way! The good news is that life did not come to a standstill after the swim. I quickly showered and entertained dinner guests for the evening. Sunday was busy as usual...the takeaway is that I could keep going - but it will be interesting to see how colder water, nightfall, waves, tides, etc. will affect me. For sure I will hit the beach this weekend, searching out colder water. I may head to Potter's Cove or Roger Wheeler Beach to enjoy some mid to upper 50 degree water!
Saturday May 30 - A big finish to a great training month! 8 hours in 65 degrees in the lake. I was suffering from 3.5 to 5.5 hours, however, after a smorgasbord of peanut butter crackers, an Odwalla bar and a couple of fistfuls of peanut M&Ms, I was back in top form! Oh yeah, the Advil was a big help as well. Many thanks to Dr. Rick (a member of the infamous Swell's Angels), Al (aka Steady Eddie) and my wife Donna for kayaking and jet skiing their way to keeping me safe and sound. Next weekend, I will look to hit the beach for colder water.
Monday May 25 - Memorial Day was my initial 2009 outing in salt water. I swam for an hour at Goddard Park in East Greenwich, RI. The water was warm at 66 degrees, but it was nice to taste the salt water, be more buoyant and enjoy the swim. The not-so-fun part was the constant sighting of clear, red and pink jellyfish - all within inches of my body! I was lucky that I didnt get stung and they were on my mind throughout most of the swim.
Saturday May 23 - 6 hours in 64 degrees in the lake! Thanks to Bill, Al, Donna and kayak newcomer, John! I concentrated on two major training principles - Total Body Confusion and Bi-lateral Breathing. One aspect of Total Body Confusion regards nutrition and feeding during a long swim. In this case, I did not feed for 4 hours of the swim. My body transitioned from using internal glucose stores to provide energy, to fat cannibalization. After awhile, without additional energy sources, such as a maltodextrin-based supplement, my energy began to fade. I began to get colder, slower and my mental attitude began to suffer. At the 4 hour and 20 minute mark, I fed and fed and fed! My favorite supplement is made by Hammer Products and is called, Perpetuem. The next hour flew by, and my energy and mental outlook were all restored. I also forced myself to breathe on the left and the right side during this swim. I primarily breathe on the right, however, in the channel, it may be necessary for the boat to be on my left. It is important to practice breathing on both sides of the body to be ready in that event.
Saturday May 16 - 4 hours in 60 - 63 degree water today! A big step in the right direction. Thanks to my kayakers Al, Bill and Donna (2 hours for her)! I can dive into the cold water without too much concern. No coldness or shivering before, during or after! I will continue in the lake with longer and longer swims until it gets in the high 60s. Then I will look to hit the ocean - right now, the Bay is around 50 to 52 degrees! Next week, I will look to do a 6 hour swim in the lake.
Saturday May 9 - Good day in the lake today - 2 hours at 59 degrees. I will look to do the same tomorrow. Unless there is thunder and lightning, I will not go back in a pool on the weekends. From here on out, it will be the lake or the ocean. I have to thank my buddy Al, who again was my catalyst. He kayaked for the first hour under threat of rain in a Mickey Mouse poncho! Donna kayaked the second hour and she was strong throughout her "shift". I will look to go 3 to 4 hours next weekend. I guess the cold showers are paying off. I was never cold and didn't shiver once I got out.
Saturday April 25 - Outside Swimming Has Started! April 25th and I finally got into the lake. It was a gorgeous weekend in the 80's and the lake was 61 degrees on Saturday and 63 degrees on Sunday. While I only got in for 15 minutes each day, it was the mental awakening that I needed and my buddy Al was the impetus. While the water was "brisk", I never got cold or felt uncomfortable. I swam 16,000 yards (almost 10 miles) in the pool on Saturday, but my lake swims made me feel that the weekend was a great success. Thanks Al!