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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Q&A With Craig Lenning
Last week, Craig Lenning was able to replicate the only two successful swims from the Farallon Islands to California that were first performed in 1967. With his 15 hour 47 minute crossing from the Farallon Islands to Muir Beach on the mainland, he was celebrated locally and throughout the global open water swimming community.
From the natural aquarium of marine wildlife that Lenning encountered at the start off the Farallon Islands to the dark, fog-enshrouded coastline, his swim was an adventure of a lifetime. The 34-year-old from Colorado discusses his swim in the wake of a legendary duo: Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Evans and Ted Erikson.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where do you train?
Craig Lenning: Open water season in Colorado runs from April to October so if I have an early swim, I spend a lot of time in the pool, primarily at the University of Denver which is a few blocks from my house.
Once the ice breaks loose, I try to train more outside than in. There are a few nearby bodies of water such as Chatfield Gravel Pond, Lake Georgetown, Turquoise Lake, and Blue Mesa Reservoir. You really have to watch the afternoon thunderstorms and the Colorado Parks don’t allow much swimming under 8,000 foot because of their restrictions.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When you are not swimming and traveling around the world, what do you do [professionally]?
Craig Lenning: I’m a partner in a software company, LRY Solutions (www.lrysolutions.com). We primarily work with clients to develop new software, websites, mobile applications, or fix bugs in legacy systems.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your swimming background?
Craig Lenning: I learned to swim when I was around 5 years old. I joined an age group team and swam all the way to my senior year in high school. I did not pursue swimming in college and didn’t get back in the water much until I was 29. That was when I started marathon swimming. My second swim in the ocean was the Catalina Channel. My first swim in the ocean was the day before.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You have tackled arguably the most difficult – and dangerous – swims in history over the last year in the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, and then you did the Farallon Islands. Do you ever get nervous? How do you prepare?
Craig Lenning: I think before any big event, I get a case of the nerves. While I’m training, I try to visualize all the parts of the swim from the boat ride out, start, feeds and finish. I also try to cater my training to what I think the swim will be like. For example, I knew the North Channel was full of big currents so I put in a lot of yardage pulling a swim anchor around the lake or if it is a hot swim, I will work more in the pool than I usually would.
There is really no way to prepare for jumping into the water at the Farallones or Bering Strait. You just need to keep a positive attitude and trust that everyone around you is ready to help you if things go wrong and cheer you on when they go right.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is it fair to say that you enjoy a challenge that is the tougher the colder?
Craig Lenning: I enjoy all types of challenges out there. I tend to lean towards events that are 15 miles or longer and most of those happen in colder water. I tend to overheat if I swim in anything over 60ºF so I have to be careful in warmer waters. There are some swims in the Caribbean that I would like to try, but I won’t be swimming very fast.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Captain Vito Bialla said you were a constant out there swimming from the Farallons. You were steady in your stroke count and your mindset. How do you maintain such focus and even-keeled demeanor in the midst of such difficult elements?
Craig Lenning: I have learned from experience that if you can’t stay consistent or take too much time on your feeds, a swim quickly gets into jeopardy of not being completed. I came into this swim in pretty good pool shape, but I haven’t spent a lot of time in the open water for around 7 months. I planned on the swim taking 18 hours in about 54ºF as a worst case. So I pushed as hard as I could without exhausting myself and would stretch my shoulders if they started to tighten up.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Captain Vito also said that you had an interesting episode out there. Can you explain that to us? Did you see any fish or shadows of fish while you were swimming?
Craig Lenning: If you are referring to the shark jellyfish, then I can explain that one. Other than the first 20 minutes of the swim, where I experienced more sea life than I ever have, the seas remained void of life. As we approached the coast, I was startled when I saw a large brown mass about 10 feet below me. I wasn’t sure what it was so I didn’t say anything. Later more and more appeared. I knew I was coming into a nice 3-mile stretch of jellyfish. They were always by themselves, pointing the same direction, and at the same depth. So I went back to swimming when something big appeared underneath me. It was shaped like a very large brown shark. I gave it a double take and saw that the jellyfish were having a party and were formed the perfect outline of an 8-foot shark silhouette. I wish I could have gotten a picture. Even as I watched my friends drift on, it still looked like a shark.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You have been successful in every swim that you have attempted. How do you continue to be perfect while attempting such difficult challenges?
Craig Lenning: So I have had one Did Not Start in my career. We were out in Hawaii trying to tackle the Molokai Channel. We had been watching the swells and wind for a few days and my window was closing fast. We decided to head to the beach in Molokai and give it a go. The weather did not break and we decided it was not safe for me to swim. That taught me to give swims an appropriate weather window. As for the training side, I always try to keep my weekly yardage greater than the distance of the planned swim. If something unexpected comes up, I make the yardage up over the weekend or at a 24-hour pool.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: You swim with a full beard. Other than a few others, this is unusual. Do you ever chafe?
Craig Lenning: I usually only swim with a trimmed up beard. In my first marathon, I got really bad chafing on my lower neck. After that I grow the beard out long enough to where it becomes soft. Then when I put grease in the beard, I don’t chafe at all and my beard lets me keep a little extra if I get a hot spot. I also use the beard much like hockey player grows a playoff beard. I don’t shave until the swim is done. But when I do shave, I keep a sweet mustache until my wife makes me shave that off.
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
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
Swim Across the English Channel...
Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!
Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.
In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...
Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.