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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Patti Bauernfeind Finding Solutions In The Ocean

She has gotten zapped before. Badly. Over and over again.

The jellyfish in Monterey Bay were relentless and innumerable.

The intermingling of the jellyfish tentacles and Patti Bauernfeind's arms and legs were just too much.

She had to get out. Defeated by venom.

But like a swimmer perfecting their stroke, Patti went back to the drawing boards. She has to find something that will relieve the pain she endured in Monterey Bay. For her next ocean swim, she will be using Ocean Care Solutions' Man o War kit at the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim. She's done the training, now she wants the protection. The Daily News of Open Water Swimming caught up to the reigning Lake Tahoe world record holder in the midst of her training:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You are known as a cold water swimmer. Why are you taking your talents to a warm-water venue?
Patti: Although I enjoy solo swims, I also enjoy competitive swims. A solo swims are unique since you compete with yourself while adapting to the elements. Competitive swims push you as well but its often in surprising ways. I like the dynamic nature of competitive swims.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You are known for swimming right smack into tons of jellyfish. Are you a jelly magnet?
Patti: I hope not! I prefer to be a dolphin magnet.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You keep running into jellies, but you don’t stop. Is there something you can do?
Patti: Just keep swimming. I let me crew know about each sting so they can keep count and know what's happening in the water. I don’t dwell on the stings. That would waste energy.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have scars from your jellyfish stings in Monterey Bay?
Patti: I don’t have any scars from the Pacific Nettle jellies.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Can you explain how a jellyfish sting feels?
Patti: Being stung by the Pacific Nettles feels like having a thick piece of wire that was pulled from hot coals hit your skin. I was stung across my mouth and quickly learned to keep it shut for the rest of the swim! In the cold water of the Pacific, the sting doesn’t last that long. The toxin build up is much more of an issue than the stings themselves.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When you see a jellyfish now, what comes to mind?
Patti: That they are beautiful and that I am in their environment so I don’t want to harm them. The best jellyfish to see are the ones that are peacefully gliding five feet below you.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why don’t you wear a protective swimsuit – wouldn't it make your swims so much easier?
Patti: I prefer to swim by English Channel rules. Jellyfish have always been present, but the explosion of jellyfish population is a fairly recent phenomenon. The presence of jellies is no different than fluctuating water temperature or weather conditions. These are all things that we contend with when we swim. Having a solution that addresses the jelly toxin is key.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How do you balance work and family with your tough swims?
Patti: It's not easy, but I have wonderful friends and family who support me. In some ways, I'm more productive at work since I have a hobby that I love.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You also swam in the Red Triangle as a relay swimmer last year and recently as a pace swimmer for Joseph Locke. Aren’t you afraid of Great White Sharks?
Patti: I get asked this question a lot. I respect the Great White sharks, but I don’t fear them when I am in the water. I read Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey which is a great book about the Farallon Islands and shark research. I learned a lot about great whites. I think that they more you are informed about their behavior, the less afraid you become. A Great White is not interested in a skinny swimmer compared to an elephant seal. Of all the attacks to date, they have been inquisitive in nature. There is no doubt that a bite can be serious, but is that any different from a car accident?

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: There isn’t much you can do for Great White Sharks. What about jellies?
Patti: I work with some jellyfish experts to keep tabs on population trends especially in Monterey Bay. We try to plan the route around the jellyfish. However, they move swiftly with the wind and currents so it's not an exact science. Now that I have an allergic reaction to the jellyfish toxin, Ocean Care Solutions is really important to minimize the effect of the toxin.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why are you so confident in Ocean Care Solutions?
Patti: I trust the research that has gone into their solutions. I will have their jellyfish kits with me during my swims this year including the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and the San Francisco to Santa Barbara relay swim.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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