Summer of 2013 ocean swims


I’m long overdue for a post, but wanted to update on the races I will hopefully complete this summer!

*I hope to do this one, if I’m well trained enough before I leave for Brazil!

Manhattan Island Marathon Swim



Why is this woman smiling?

Elizabeth, somewhere in the middle of the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim.

Smith Mountain Lake Swim – Upcoming event

Info to know:  Both the Saturday 5K and Sunday 1-miler are open to youth and masters swimmers.  There is also a 1/2-mile swim on Sunday for 9-and-under swimmers.  This swim is also wetsuit legal.  There does not appear to be a separate wetsuit category.

Date: September 24 & 25

Location: Mariners Landing at Smith Mountain Lake, 1245 Graves Harbor Trail, Huddleston, VA 24104

Events: 5K swim Saturday, 1 mile swim Sunday, 1/2 mile swim Sunday for youth 9-and-under.  There are age-group categories for both the 5K and 1 mile.



Glossary of (pool) swim terms

If you’re new to competitive swimming, then the whole insider language can seem intimidating. There are a lot of people in masters swimming who grew up on swim teams, but while I had enough in the way of informal lessons and swimming experience as a child to be a solid, competent swimmer as an adult, I’d never participated in a swim team in my life when, pretty much out of the blue, I took up open water distance swimming at 45.  What did I know from descends and negative splits?

Today I came across a helpful glossary of terms via the Mountain View Masters web site.

Now if someone could just explain exactly HOW you descend (I mean really — “descend :02 on each 100.”  Seriously, are there swimmers who have such minutely calibrated sense of pace that they can do that?).

Chris Greene Lake: a first-timer primer

Here’s a quick primer on the Chris Greene Lake Swim for those of you who will be swimming it for the first time this year:

The event: 1- and 2- Mile lake swim at Chris Greene Lake outside Charlottesville, VA. Chris Greene regularly serves as the USMS National 2-mile Cable Swim Championship, but even in a non-championship year, should you set a national record, it counts.

The Course: The setting is a small lake in a public park, so this is one open water race where you don’t have to worry about extraneous conditions like wind or waves affecting your swim. However, if you’re from a land of crystal-clear lakes or sparkling ocean waters, know that the water here is the same murky greenish-gold of every other Virginia open water venue.  It’s perfectly nice, clean, spring-fed water; that’s just the way you get it in VA.  You’ll see your arm in front of your face and that’s about it.

The course is a precisely measured 440 yards, marked by a rope stretched between posts and floated by small buoys. (The header photo for this blog is from the Cable Swim.) You swim down one side of the rope and back on the other (which means an about-face turn at each end)—2 complete loops for the 1-mile swim and 4 for the 2-mile. Waves of ten, seeded by 1650 time, are sent off in 30-second intervals. The finish is at the same end as the start, between two inflatable buoys.

USMS sanctioned event? Yes, so you’ll need a US masters swimming license to participate.

Wetsuit legal? No

Qualifying time/swim required? No, but you do have to be able to complete the 1 mile within an hour or the 2 mile within 2 hours. You seed yourself in your race entry form by entering your 1650 time.

Novice-friendly? Yes.  With a sheltered lake setting, small wave starts, comfortable water temperature and relatively easy sighting, this is a great swim for first-timers, but year after year it also attracts seasoned veterans at the top of their form as well.

What you have to contend with: The water can be quite warm–expect from the high 70s to low 80s.  Other than that, about all you have to worry about is the occasional floating weed and the possibility of a rope burn from getting too close to the cable.  You might also want to keep in mind that the hard-core swimmers treat CGL like a sustained sprint; if your 2 mile time is in the 55-plus-minute category, expect to be lapped.

A word on sighting:  Before my first Chris Greene, I figured having a cable to follow would make sighting a cinch.  Kind of like a lane line, right?  So the first two years I swam it, I couldn’t figure out why I kept finding myself ten feet off the cable on one leg and blundering into it on the other.  Then someone told me that the cable is not quite straight.  It curves very slightly inward as you swim along the beach side, and therefore bows out just a bit on the lake side. Last year I switched my strategy to sighting forward along the cable, and this proved a more effective strategy for swimming a reasonably straight line.  Some people seem to have mastered the knack of hugging the cable coming and going; whatever their secret is, I haven’t figured it out yet. At any rate, sighting is definitely easier in this than in pretty much any other OW race I’ve entered, but you’ll still have to sight forward.

Nice features: This is an extremely well run and, even in a championship year, very friendly, low-key event. Chris Greene Lake features a pleasant sandy beach, plenty of parking, and a bath house with running water (including cold-water outdoor shower). Good post-race food and friendly people too.

Web site:

And a final tip on buoy turns: You do a 180 around a slippery wooden pole at each end. There are a variety of strategies on display, and you can always just kind of paddle around it; any way you slice it, the turn is a momentum-killer so your goal is just to lose the least amount of time possible. This spring, the USMS Swimmer magazine had an article (with pictures) on buoy turns.  The technique is illustrated in the video here, although you’ll have to roll through another 90 degrees at Chris Greene (one more spin?)  I tried this turn technique at my last race, however (which was a 90-degree turn) and it worked pretty well.

Inaugural Seaport Swim (1/2 mile and 2 miles) – Washington, DC

Where will you be on Sunday, June 26? Why not race in the inaugural Seaport Swim at the National Harbor in Washington, D.C.?

The event benefits the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, which helps at-risk youth turn their lives around and provides families, community groups, and schools with meaningful educational, social, and recreational experiences.

You can register at Lin-Mark Sports. You must be a member of USMS to enter. The 1/2-mile race is $45, and the 2-miler is $85. The 1/2 miler begins at 7 a.m., followed by the 8 a.m. 2-miler, and the races are wetsuit legal.

Pancake Pentathlon Swim Meet (San Diego)

Get ready for open-water season in Southern California with a pool meet! Join the San Diego Imperial LMSC for an SCY swim meet at the Mission Valley YMCA on Sunday, February 27, 2011. Warm-ups begin at 9 a.m., and the meet starts at 10 a.m. There is a $20 flat fee to enter in advance; the fee is $30 the day of.

Pancake Pentathlon Entry [.doc]

“Open Water Swimming” is bicoastal

Allison recently moved to San Diego, Calif. What does this mean for readers? We’ll be featuring more events, race reports and open-water information from both sides of the United States. For those of you who are curious, she’ll be training with the UCSD Masters Swim Team (LMSC: San Diego Swim Masters) and the La Jolla Cove Swim club. Stay tuned to watch Open Water Swim become transcontinental!

La Jolla Cove

Swimming myths

Turnover vs. distance per stroke?  Bilateral vs. one-sided breathing?  And is there one ideal pacing strategy?  Courtesy of Alexandria Masters Swimming, consider these Swimming Myths (and truths).