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Monday, June 9, 2014

A Salt Water Marathon Swim In Utah

Courtesy of Lynn Kubasek from the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

I recently had the opportunity to swim the Great Salt Lake Open Water Marathon Swim. This is an 8-mile swim that traverses a path from Antelope Island to Blackrock Beach. I learned that it is part of the Triple Crown of Utah Open Water Swimming. The other two swims are Bear Lake Monster Swim, 7-mile point-to-point swim and the 10-mile Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim.

I read up on the swim and came prepared with everything I thought I might need:

• Bug spray for gnats at the beginning.
• Heavy duty sunscreen for the higher-than-I-am-used-to elevations.
• Lube for chafing (A&D ointment is 15.5% lanolin); I used 2/3 of the tube.
• Mouthwash in addition to feeds for the salt.

We met the night before at Spaghetti Factory for a pre-race meal. It was great to get to meet all the other swimmers and my kayaker, the amazing Becky Richins. Becky set a historical record, the first person to paddle the entire length (90 miles) of Great Salt Lake in a kayak and then back again in one week for a total of 180 miles. I felt really lucky to have someone so confident and experienced.

We met at 5 am at the Great Salt Lake State Marina. The sky was clear and there was just a slight wind. I heard many interesting and unique calls from the myriad of migrating birds that were passing through the area. It is a magical environment. The race directors provided breakfast treats (fruit, bagels, water, Powerade, etc.) that we snacked on prior to departing in three vans with a kayak-hauler.

We were treated to a beautiful ride through the Salt Lake region over the Antelope Island causeway. We saw a large herd of buffalo and stopped to take pictures. We also saw some antelope racing in the distance.

Once we got to Unicorn point, the kayaks were unloaded and we all made our last applications of sunscreen and lube. Either the biting gnats did not materialize this year or my bug spray was super-efficient and scared them all away. It is important to bring a pair of rugged sandals to walk to the start point as you have to portage the kayaks over some sage scrub and salt flats.

Once we got to the water we had to wade out to a spot deemed suitable by the race director.

The water felt a nice, maybe 70ºF (21ºC) at the start. I swim in the Pacific Ocean and was not sure what to expect with the salinity. When I put my face in the water I noted a stinging in my nostrils, which quickly disappeared as my nasal tissues became inflamed. The swim started in lovely glassy conditions. There were brine shrimp consistently throughout the entire swim about 1 inch apart. They are a lot like the poppy seeds on a lemon muffin. You notice them but not so much. As for buoyancy, my legs felt like they were lifted by an invisible pull buoy. I felt “high” in the water.

The water temperature was maybe 70-72ºF for most of the swim, except in the middle of the lake I noticed a banding of cold (65-67ººF) and warm temperatures maybe 2 feet in width for quite a distance. I was told later on there are fresh water springs that bubble up in the middle of the lake that cause that effect.

About midway through the swim, my kayaker told me I was on course for a 4-hour swim. I felt strong and was pretty excited by that. I began to wonder if anyone ever turned around and did a double? (oh, hubris!) Immediately after I had that thought, the winds kicked in and there was a cross-current. Whitecaps rolled over me and my kayaker. Conditions felt pretty crazy and I turned down a couple of feeds in favor of a mouthwash swish. Mouthwash is magical. I was wished I had brought some minty gum to lodge in my mouth.

A couple of Coast Guards on Sea Doos kept buzzing by periodically. There was a 6-hour time cut off that I was aware of. My kayaker told me one of the swimmers had been pulled. Conditions became pretty rough. I struggled to stay parallel with my kayaker as the currents were going in several directions and there was a point where I questioned if I was making any progress at all. Becky assured me I was and we forged on. I was pretty sure my stroke technique was a goner too. All the happy swimming songs in the world were no solace now.

At a certain point I noticed I could see the bottom. I was pretty excited about that because I thought that meant I was close to the end. Right? Not necessarily so…we still had a mile and a half in sloppy seas. Becky succumbed to motion sickness, she said for the first time. I have been there and know that pain. I could see the end and wanted her to head in, but she stuck by me. What if something happened?

We got to a point where I could touch bottom and I told her I would be fine. She headed toward Sea Doo Coast Guards and one of them came to accompany me in for the last ¾ mile. It looked very close for a long time. Finally I was able to stand up and walk toward the finish arch. I saw one of the other finishers on the sand spit and broke into a light jog to the finish.

There were treats: fruit, bagels cold water and mouthwash at the finish. What an incredible triumphant experience! I was not the last swimmer and I suppose I could say I was first in my age group.

This is a first-class event with all details attended to. Although fun and camaraderie were at the forefront, I could tell that safety was number one. I would like to do this again (praying for better conditions) and I someday I want to tackle the other two legs of the Utah Triple Crown.

Open Water Swimming in Utah??? Really??? YES!!!

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

3 comments:

  1. Way to go Lynn!! Sounds like a lot of fun!
    Natty

    ReplyDelete
  2. Despite being a Utah native, I have yet to swim the GSL. I would love to join you if you ever decide to do it again. Congrats!

    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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Open Water Swimming Magazine

The 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.

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An 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.

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