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Monday, May 19, 2014
The Magic Of Marisa, Passionate About Portland
Marisa Frieder went from becoming the first person to complete the 10.7-mile (17.2 km) Portland Bridge Swim down the Willamette River through the heart of Portland, Oregon to a passionate race director.
After her unprecedented success in 2010, Frieder has been organizing the Portland Bridge Swim for others to enjoy since 2011.
She explains her passion for putting on such an outstanding event:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your open water swimming background?
Marisa Frieder: I'm really a sprinter at heart, even after spending so much time in the marathon swimming world. My favorite event is the 100 breaststroke and I've only started doing the 200 in the past year. I always thought that was too far. I did my first open water race - the 1 Mile Bay Challenge in the Chesapeake Bay - in 2001 to fulfill a halfhearted promise I made to my friend and lanemate Michelle Humanick. I never thought she'd hold me to it, but she did. I completely freaked out when I couldn't see and I did most of it breaststroke and backstroke, but I'm stubborn so I finished it.
I think I did one other open water race when I moved to Oregon, but then I got hooked up with an amazing cyclist and we formed a triathlon relay team. We raced a couple of times a year, when our schedules worked out. We did the first-ever Portland Triathlon, and at the time the swim course went under two of the bridges. I couldn't believe what an amazing view that was, and it stayed with me for years.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What prompted you to attempt the first Portland Bridge Swim?
Marisa Frieder: I was walking my dogs along the Willamette River and thinking about what a great experience it was to swim under the two bridges during the Portland Triathlon. Then I thought it might be fun to swim under all the bridges. Then - and I'll never understand how this came out of my sprinter brain - I thought it might be fun to swim under all of them in one shot. As a member of the Tualatin Hills Barracudas masters team, I share a pool with some amazing long distance and marathon swimmers like Dave Radcliff, Michelle Macy, and Tim Cespedes. Training several lanes away from them makes it all look normal.
So it didn't seem unreasonable to think I could swim 11 miles.
When I first imagined it, I thought I'd get 5 or 10 of my long distance swimming friends together, we'd do the swim in a group, and when we got out we'd grill some hot dogs at Cathedral Park. So for the first couple of months, as I knocked this around in my head, it was a group activity and the safety plan I envisioned is basically what we've used for the first years of the Portland Bridge Swim. It was there from the moment I thought of doing this.
I eventually got up the nerve to talk to my coach, Jon Clark, about this crazy idea I had, and he didn't even hesitate. He just came up with a training plan. I got Tim Cespedes on board for the cold water training, and Michelle Macy taught me everything I know about long swims. She even came out to train my kayaker to escort me.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Was there anything difficult about the first swim, including logistics and training?
Marisa Frieder: It was all new to me, so in some ways everything was difficult about the first swim. I trained for about 10 months to prepare. Remember, I was a sprinter. There were physical changes we needed to make in my body and there were big changes we needed to make in my head to get me to focus internally and get used to being in my head for hours at a time.
Starting in January, I was doing 3-4 hour swims each Saturday and Sunday and my yardage went up fast. We worked a lot on my pace, improving both my speed and my control. In March, Tim told me to put on my big girl pants and he took me out in the cold water. We swam with a great group of people who were all training for big cold water swims that year and it was such an honor to get to swim alongside them. Both the long swims and the cold water training seemed daunting, but I was amazed at how quickly I just got used to them. I think we all have about twice as much inside us as we think, and once you start using it, it just grows.
On a personal level, this swim came in a period of continuous loss. I had already lost 5 close friends and family members in 2 years. Then my father in law died that spring after a long, hard illness. It was a hard time and I know there were days when it was just the swimming that kept me moving. And then my friend Michelle Humanick, who had conned me into that first open water swim and who was such a cheerleader for me, died in an accident a few days before I did my swim. They buried her while I was out in the river.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What kind of logistical support did you need that first swim?
Marisa Frieder: I had a kayak escort and a power boat. The Coast Guard was making broadcasts to boat traffic, to let them know we were out there, but we had no other boats with us. Tim Cespedes served as my observer on the boat and my friend Amy Marluke, who had tortured me with weight training for a couple of years, came along as well. Michelle Macy was my pace swimmer. She was on my left and I breathe on my right, so I mostly saw her during my feedings, but I always knew she was there and that made everything better. When we passed under the second-last bridge, she popped her head up like a demented otter and chirped "last one, fast one!"
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Were the city and government authorities easy to work with?
Marisa Frieder: Because I was just one person and it was an organized event, it turned out that I didn't need any permits or permissions. However, I still called everyone I could think of, to get permission if necessary and to ask for advice. The Willamette River doesn't have the best reputation locally, so plenty of people were a bit taken aback when I told them what I wanted to do. But they were all generous with advice and support.
Once the Portland Bridge Swim became an organized event the following year, I did have to work more closely with the city and governmental authorities. I had to learn to navigate their processes, but it's generally gone really well. The law enforcement agencies working the river invites me to speak at their meeting, the city's Bureau of Environmental Services provides water quality data, the US Coast Guard provides auxiliary boats to monitor the swim, and the city's Parks Department has given me great guidance as the swim has grown.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What were the water temperature and conditions of your first swim?
Marisa Frieder: The water was somewhere between 68 and 70ºF for my swim, and has been true for most of the years since. The weather was kind of overcast on the day I swam. That was a bit of a disappointment because it just didn't feel as celebratory, but I know it was a blessing for me and everybody out on the water. The water was nice and calm, though, and I'll take that over sun any day.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is this a downstream swim? Do you get any push- either with you or against you- along the Willamette River?
Marisa Frieder: Yes, it's definitely downstream. I'm a sprinter, remember? I wasn't going to make it any harder than I had to.
The Willamette is tidal, but the current and the tides aren't terribly strong. According to the monitors I follow closely, the peak current for that time of year is about 1/3 mile per hour. It's enough that you notice you're working a little harder if you turn to swim upstream after a few hours, but you don't really notice a push when you're going downstream. We've had swimmers come to the race expecting more of a push and they're surprised to find they have to work the whole way down. For safety and kindness, we schedule the Portland Bridge Swim for a day with the most favorable tide. Ideally that will mean a push all the way, like we had last year, but sometimes it means the tide will turn against them late in the race. That can be rough, because it happens when they're in the industrial section of the river, with no landmarks and no bridges to gauge progress. All they have are the last 2 bridges, mocking them from a couple of miles up ahead. When the tide turns on you in that section, it can really make you wonder why you thought this would be a fun thing to do. That's the cool thing about our course. It's great for sightseeing, but it's still a mental and physical challenge.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who helps you organize the Portland Bridge Swim?
Marisa Frieder: Tim Cespedes was our safety boss for the first couple of years and there's no way any of this would have happened without his input and calm oversight. Tim Waud, 2013 recipient of the U.S. Masters Swimming Dorothy Donnelly Service Award and the energizer bunny of Oregon Masters Swimming, is our new safety boss. Byron Olson is our web and social media guru, also managing our registration system. On race day, he's our boat boss and serves as Tim's eyes and ears on the water. I kind of don't breathe until all the swimmers arrive safely at the race finish, and Tim and Byron are the ones who make that possible. Tim and Byron also have a really lively swim team, the Oregon City Tankers, and they've been instrumental in recruiting volunteers. My teammate, Julie Andrade, has taken over registration, packets and check-in. Michelle Macy comes out to work as a race official on the boats when her schedule permits. All these folks and so many others have put their backs into this, but they're also really fantastic for knocking ideas around. We get together for dinner and pick apart systems and problems to figure out how to make the swim better and stronger every year.
When we started, it was mostly people I thought I could guilt into getting up at 5 am on a Sunday. At first I honestly didn't think anybody much cared about this crazy idea that I had, and I felt like I was imposing on them by asking for help. But once we pulled it off the first year, word spread and people got excited. Volunteers have come back and worked the swim every year. Members of Oregon Masters Swimming have stepped up to build and improve the swim. And people in our community, who have no connection to swimming at all, have brought their boats and their skills and their bodies to make this happen. So many people have gotten excited about this race and they are so generous and wonderful, I can't say that enough.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why do you do it?
Marisa Frieder: When I was training for my swim, I talked with other, real, open water swimmers who were interested in doing it themselves. I promised one of them that I'd make it an organized event the next year. And she hasn't done it yet, so I have to keep it running until she does.
Honestly, there are so many great things about it. The marathon swimmers come and they race, HARD, for 11 miles. For me, an open water swimming race is a test of our relative paces. I might be able to pull a little more out at the end, but for the most part all I can do is just go at whatever my pace is. So to watch people battle neck-and-neck for miles is an awesome thing for me. And I get the honor of watching, and maybe even helping, people challenge themselves. I've got a couple of teammates who signed up for the relay, started doing some training swims, and quickly got up to 7 or 8 miles. At least one of them is coming back this year to do the solo swim and I can't wait to see her finish. Every year I get to see people do this and it never gets old.
Portlanders have a really uneasy relationship with their river: It used to be really dirty, and then local and federal governments worked hard to clean it up. The EPA says it's safe for swimming. The city changed its sewer outflow system to almost eliminate sewage releases into the river during storms. My background is in infectious disease research so that was something I checked very carefully, and now I get bacterial counts from both the city and our friends at Willamette Riverkeeper, to whom we donate proceeds from the race. We don't get into the water unless both groups agree that bacterial counts are safe, and we've never had a problem. So the water's clean, but nobody was getting into it to enjoy the benefits of our hard work.
When I had my crazy idea in 2010, the only people who swam in the river were associated with the Portland Triathlon. In the years since, we've had almost 200 participants who can go out and be ambassadors for the river. The swim has grown to be highly visible and it's drawing spectators. I know we're making them rethinking their understanding of the Willamette. And swimmers use it for open water training now! The Big Float, a community pool party in the downtown section of the river, came together at about the same time and they draw a couple thousand people more. The Willamette is a jewel in the middle of the city, and the more people we can get to understand that, the more they'll advocate for the health of our favorite open water swimming venue.
It's just such an amazing thing for me, to see how this thing has taken off. The Portland Bridge Swim started as a pretty hare-brained idea, or maybe an excuse to grill some hot dogs with some friends. Four years in, it's turned into a way for us to connect with swimmers and our community, and to change the city we live in. And oh boy, it's such a rush to see all those people in the river on race day.
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.