Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post Catalina Publicity

There were a few links to the Catalina to California swim in the swimming press over the following days. I was very are some of them: (picture of the day)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Catalina Swim Pictures Posted

Between 4 cameras with 3 different time zone stamps, it was a little tough putting all the pictures in sequential order. It's getting close. Here's the link:

With time being in short supply as I prepare to leave the country, my complete write-up will probably have to wait until my upcoming plane trip to Abu Dhabi. Ahelee's comment on the swim though summed it up pretty well, though she has me blushing a little bit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Catalina Swim Success

At almost exactly 3pm, I became the 157th person to cross the Catalina Channel in nothing but a swimsuit, cap and googles. In challenging conditions that one Catalina Channel Swimming Federation observer noted were the worse that ever produced a successful swim, it took almost 14 hours and many extra miles to land on a beach that had never been used as a landing spot before.

The volunteer crew of Jim Fitzpatrick, Ahelee Osborn, John Steed, Jen Schumacher, Lynn Kubasek, Ron Roberts, Jordon Roberts, Jan Roberts and David Clark was incredible! While fighting horrible motion sickness, they stayed up for most of the night (since I started at 1am) and missed their entire Friday to paddle kayaks, be escort swimmers, mix sports drinks, and cheer me on as currents, cold water, winds, and large swells at times meant almost an hour of aggressive swimming that produced no forward progression.

The swim though, is dedicated to my biggest support and love of my life, my wife, Ellie.

Glad its over! I will post pictures and a more complete write-up after I've had some time to recover.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Last Swim Before Catalina

Tonight was the last time I will be in the water before I jump into the Pacific ocean Thursday night for the 21 mile swim from Catalina Island to the California mainland. I had a lot going through my head with politics, work, family, and the swim. The 50 minutes of lap swimming during the masters workout at the Deerfield High School Pool went quickly. The 3,000+ yards felt good and slowly my worries and paranoia melted into the peace that always comes from the repetitive sound of sloshing water.

Thursday night plans are about final. We are meeting at a restaurant in Long Beach at 6:30pm, boarding the boat at 7:30, and aim to launch into the channel by 8:30. We will start the swim from Catalina at around midnight and arrive on the Palos Verdes pennisula between 10-11am on Friday morning...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday's Ocean Time

On Saturday morning, I met up with a group of Orange County open water swimmers for a swim from Corona Del Mar to Crystal Cove, about 3 miles. We carpooled from the Crystal Cove parking lot to CDM and were in the water at 7am. The swells were big, but the surface was glassy and we made the trip in about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Water temps have been holding just shy of 70 degrees and visibility remains a murky 5-10 feet. It was a great "short" swim to keep ready for this coming Thursday's swim. Thanks to all the swimmers, especially Jen Schumacher who will be a pace swimmer for me on Thursday, who did a nice pacing practice for the last mile!

I returned to the Pacific at 7:30 pm for a brief ocean kayak with Lynn Kubasek who besides being a pace swimmer for my Catalina swim, has graciously offered a couple of sea kayaks for the trip. We put in at Laguna Main beach in the dark after rolling the boats down to the beach from the house where they were stored. On the way out, a large wave caught us both a little less-than-pefectly pointed into the surf and we were flipped unceremoniously over and into the sand before being steamrolled by the kayaks. Wet, but determined, we timed the next sets a little better and got beyond the surf line and spent 20 minutes confirming they were ready for 10 hours in the Catalina Channel. The moon came out a few minutes into the paddle and it was so bright I thought we were being spotlighted by a vehicle from shore. We turned around and in the big surf coming in, the waves decided to have some fun with Lynn again, upsetting the kayak and pulling the headlamp from her head. We chased the glow in the surf for a few minutes in hopes of recovering it, but it disappeared. That is the second time in as many weeks that the waves at Laguna Main Beach have decided to keep a souvenir as we exited the ocean. Lynn, thanks for all of your help today!

I also want to give a special thanks to my family- especially Ellie for all of her understanding and support.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Swimming in Lake Michigan

Both Jim Fitzpatrick and I are here in the Chicago area on business this week, so we decided to meet up for a swim in Lake Michigan this morning at the Ohio Street Beach.  I left Deerfield at 6:10am and made my way downtown in a little over 30 minutes.  Unfortunatley, after failing to find a place to park, accidently getting on Lake Shore Drive going north for a few miles, and making my way back to Ohio St., I finally just had the car valeted at the "W" hotel so I wouldn't leave Jim wondering where I was.

After taking the tunnel under Lake Shore drive, I found Jim right on the shore.  We were about the only folks out.  We saw one other swimmer and Jim said someone had just got out.  The wind was blowing (in Chicago?!) and the water was choppy, but the sun was warm and the water a nice 68-70 degrees.  We swam north along the buoys past the breakwater and back with the Chicago skyline to the west and sunrise to the east.  After an hour and 15 minutes and 2 and a quarter miles, we parted.  

Our next meet up?  In one week at the dock in San Pedro on our way to Catalina!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

8 Hour Training Swim

My last big training swim before Catalina happened this morning. 8 hours from the strand in Dana Point. After 16 miles I was still feeling good and that is a big confidence builder for September 18th.

I met up with Jim Fitzpatrick and Lynn Kubasek at 7am at the Strand parking lot and we headed down the steps to a fog enveloped beach. After sticking bottles of sports drink in our suits, we headed out into fairly large waves and very murky water and determined to stay within sight of shore so we wouldn't get lost. It wasn't too fun- being that close to shore in big swells and chop made for a lot of bouncing around in a lot of kelp that scratched me up and irritated my nipples- I wish I had a rash guard. I'll admit with foggy goggles and the foggy air- I had a hard time even seeing Lynn and Jim swimming right next to me. We lost sight of the shore at one point and got pointed out to sea in the fog- not good. We were able to stop and use the sound of the waves to guide us back.

Lynn left us after the first 2 hour shift as we switched out our "crack bottles". Jen Schumacher then joined us for the second 2 hours as the fog was lifting. We were able to get out of the kelp forests for the latter part of the swim. Jen's friends came out on kayaks for the last 30 mins and commented on a couple of dolphins swimming along side me and Jim.

The 3rd 2 hours was an uneventful one. Jim and I swam alone up to the point north of Salt Creek beach and back for the third time. The water visibility for some reason improved from 5 feet to 10-15 briefly. The fog thickened briefly just before burning off completely.

During the last 2 hours, we were accompanied by Tory in a kayak, which was nice practice. The sun was bright and I got a bit of a sunburn on my back.

As we finished hour 8 a little after 3pm, we met Dave Galli on the beach. I had a good, but brief conversation with him before Dave headed out with just Jim for hours 9 and 10.

In the end, I only had a little bit of "raisin tongue", sunburn, and some chaffing on the front of my neck. The sea life was friendly and the shoulders held up. Gu Gels on the hour, 8 oz of Cytomax every 30 minutes, and 1/2 a Powerbar every 2 hours seemed to keep me well fueled.

A HUGE thanks to all the people who accompanied Jim and I on the swim. The most thanks goes to my wife Ellie, who ran kids to 3 soccer games today while being 5 1/2 months pregnant on her birthday weekend. She was supportive beyond belief of this swim I needed to complete 12 days before my Catalina Crossing. Guys, they don't make them any better than that! Mom, I promise I'll make it up to her. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

COHO Masters Workout

I joined the Deerfield COHO masters and coach, Jeff Summy, for a 9-10pm workout at Deerfield High School. It was my first coached pool workout in weeks and only the 3rd pool workout since my thumb was broken in early June. It consisted of a 600 yd warm-up of swimming, kicking and pulling. Then we did 6 x 50 yds descending before doing 10 x 200 yds on 2:50. Finally we did 400 yd warm down for 3300 yards (2 miles).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Finding a Pool in Chicago After Labor Day!

Flew back to Chicago late Monday night and couldn't find a 50m pool for Tuesday morning.  I did find a 25 yard outdoor pool at the Midtown Athletic Club in Bannockburn online during the day.  It is conveniently located about midway between my work and hotel and had been recommended by some folks who I swam with at Deerfield's Mitchell pool during the summer.  I checked the facilities out Tuesday night and determined to give their 1 day free membership a try today.

After work I was able to start swimming at 7:35pm and was able to go until a few minutes before 10pm, a good 2 and 1/4 hours.  It was tough to get used to the warm water and short 25 yard distance after swimming in open water or cooler 50 yard pools since June, but I settled into my "groove" after about 2000 yards and was able to log 8-9,000 yards (4.5 to 5 miles) for the night.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Swim in Laguna

Met up with Jim Fitzpatrick a little after 7 for the first 2 1/2 hours of his 8 hour training swim. Though the water was a bit choppy and visibility was 10-12 feet, the swim felt fantastic. We swam north to 3 Arch Bay and then back south past Laguna main beach about a 1/2 mile. We met up with Jen Schumacher after the first 2 hours. While coming in at the end, my attempt to body surf a late breaking wave ended in a flip over and lost googles- bummer. Probably swam 5 miles.

For anyone wondering about the tongue from Saturday- the eye and tongue were back to normal in a couple of hours. My shoulders felt a little fatigue, but no chaffing or impingement issues. I am feeling very good about a 10-12 hour swim.

A good friend of the family, Jane Posner, sent me a link to an OC Register article about Greg Farrier's Catalina swim a few weeks ago. Congrats again Greg! We'll have to get together for a swim soon!
Here is the link for those interested to get a feel for the swim: