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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Randy Perkins Describes His Strait of Magellan Crossing

Randy Perkins, also known as Conquistador is an American open water swimmer who crossed of the Strait of Magellan on January 20th this year. The water temperature ranged from 36.5-41ºC (2.2-5ºF) where he faced currents ranging between 11-17 knots while being escorted by Pedro Ordenes of Water World Swim to Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

This is his story:

"It’s quite the journey to go from Seattle, Washington to Punta Arenas, Chile. It took about 17 hours of flying through Dallas-Fort Worth, Santiago and five time zones with arrival into Punta Arenas at 4:30 am. I was told the LAN pilots selected to fly into PUQ are the best in the fleet due to the challenging cross winds and unpredictable weather seen in that region. I should have known something was up when the flight attendants served drinks with attached lids. A surprisingly small number of Chileans speak English, but all are extremely friendly and helpful so getting around was not a problem.

The town of Punta Arenas is the jumping off point for many traveling to Patagonia and filled with things to see and do. My first order of business was to kiss the foot of the Ona Indian statue in the center of town which is said to bring good luck.

There are a wide range of lodging options in Punta Arenas and since I wasn’t planning much time in the room, I just went with a small hostel a few blocks away from the center of town.

Safety is always a priority when doing this type of swim. I was surprised at the level of detail the Chilean Navy group required to allow a skin swim attempt of the Strait of Magellan. Prior to my departure from Seattle, I needed to provide details of my physical check-up as well as written approval from a specialist saying I could endure up to 90 minutes in the 36ºF (2.2ºF) water. After arriving into Punta Arenas, I had a follow-up physical with a Navy physician to confirm what my doctor back home had said.

The following day, we traveled to Punta Delgada for the attempt. The Navy captain had originally set our start time for 2:00 pm, but was checking with the local ferry pilot on conditions from the Patagonia side and decided to delay until 3 pm. Our primary safety boat was a specialized 50-foot Navy frigate designed to drive directly onto shore and extend a set of stairs to allow easy entry and egress under extreme conditions and was generally positioned mid channel. My following zodiac was staffed with a medic, the pilot and two navy swimmers and was always within 10–20 feet of my position.

The swim briefing discussed general conditions of the Strait and suggested a calm swim start on the north shore in water expected to be in the mid-40sºF (7ºC) for the first 1.5 km, then a 1-kilometer section containing the fastest current and coldest Antarctic flow expected to be in the mid30sºF (1.6ºC), followed by a fairly easy last 1.5 km on the Patagonia side.

How does the saying go, "The best laid plans of mice and men…?"

The shoreline was covered with upwelling and small whirlpools. I immediately encountered 38ºF (3.3ºC) water temperatures. This had me concerned at first, but I realized it was just a localized temperature in that section of the Strait and likely due to the upwelling. The conditions of the Strait on this day had divided the cold center channel into many smaller sections which helped me manage the cold.

At an hour 15 minutes into the swim, I sighted the big navy boat on shore and felt I was no more than 5-10 minutes from the exit. But I didn’t realize the current had picked up and it would be almost another 30 minutes before I would reach the Patagonia side. The pilot on the zodiac had me give the OK signal with much more frequency during the last 30 minutes since the cold was really starting to take its toll on me. I was beginning to struggle with my swim form. Both calves were cramping as well as my right forearm and I could feel my core [body] temperature dropping to the coldest I’ve ever experienced.

At 1 hour 40 minutes, I made it out of the current and into a somewhat protected bay with temperatures in the upper 40sºF (8ºC) that felt like bath water to me by this time of the swim. I exited the water at 1 hour 43 minutes under my own power. I was very surprised how good of condition I was in. There was a little shivering, but I able to stand on my own and speak in somewhat coherent sentences. I had been swept about 1 kilometer down current from the where the navy boat was waiting and exited onto an empty shore. Within a few minutes, the navy captain, the Governor of Patagonia, and Pedro Ordenes who coordinated the swim through Water World Swim in San Francisco arrived with a contingent of navy personnel, enthused locals and media
."

Perkins looked back on his crossing and compared the Strait to his home waters of Seattle, San Francisco Bay and the Strait of Magellan:

"Of course, the biggest difference was the water temperatures, but other than that, the swim was very similar to an Alcatraz crossing, but just on a bigger scale. We prepared with over 10 Alcatraz crossings in everything from flat calm water in 30 minutes to super rough chop and ripping currents where no one was able to make it into Aquatic Park. The water temperatures in San Francisco were not quite cold enough for the needed conditioning, but the Seattle Puget Sound provided a good 5°-10° lower water temperature and more importantly the 30’sºF (1-3ºC) air temperatures needed to truly chill ourselves.

Both areas had a good influx of colder fresh water to bring the temperatures down a bit and experience that little bit less buoyancy expected in the Strait from the Antarctic fresh water melt. During the final month of training, our group would go out when the weather was particularly bad or especially cold in Seattle just to prepare for the worst possible conditions I could expect in the strait. The conditions in the Strait on the day of the crossing is undoubtedly the reason I was able to survive for so long in that water. It was the warmest January 20th in the last 131 years (with a 72°F air temperature) and the water was very flat considering the typical 3-5 foot swells we saw the very next day in the Strait
."

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Source

1 comment:

  1. I totally enjoyed re-living your adventure, Randy! You are truly our NW Conquistador. I am super-proud to swim with you!

    Guila

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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