Monday, August 13, 2018

AKWA Newsletter article for Aquatic Exercise Association, Aug./Sept. 2018

AEA Spotlights:
Featuring Bridget M.M. Simpson

September of 2018 marks nineteen years of my certification with AEA.  2018 also marks nineteen years that I have been an open water swimmer. In August of 2016, I started planning to swim the 32 mile length of Lake George, here in New York State.  I live in Ticonderoga, and have been enjoying the local beach since buying my house here a few years ago.  When I first considered the solo (meaning it I would swim alone, not be part of an event or race, but have boat support), I wasn’t sure how I would prepare for the miles, especially since the lakes around here freeze in the winter.  I started to think about the first woman to do the swim back in 1958:  Diane Struble likely didn't have access to winter swimming pools.  

I worked out a plan including weights, running & walking, and hiking up and down Mt. Defiance (going up is 1.1 mile, and takes me about 20 minutes on a good day). I’d use my free Mondays to increase my activity time span-  staying in motion during my daughter’s entire school day, and planning for up to 24 hours of motion by spring.  I was able continue swimming into October until the water was 55F and the air temperatures were in the 40s. The fall foliage was stunning.

On December 5, I treated myself to a day pass at Vermont Sun Fitness in Middlebury.  I had been a substitute aqua instructor for them in the past, so it was nice to see familiar faces, and let them know I still had enough flexibility to sub once in a while.  I had a great swim, and on my way out, I got myself to a punchcard so I could come back on my Monday days off, and maybe a weekend morning now and then.  Even a little winter swimming after over ten years without any was going to be great.  

The drive home to New York took about 50 minutes.  It was a lot of car time for even a few hours of swim time, but in light of my big goal, it was a worthwhile investment, at least a few times a month.  When I got home, I had a phone message from the owner of Vermont Sun.  Shelly said she needed a regular Monday aqua instructor for a long standing 8:30 class.  My daughter goes to school at about 8:00, and Shelly was willing to move the class to 9:00 so I could teach.  I was thrilled!  I had missed teaching a regular class over the past few years, and it was for just this sort of opportunity that I had worked so hard to maintain my credentials.  A benefit of this job is membership.  There was potential for my one class a week to lead to more aqua classes and swim lessons, but for the next several months, my solo swim preparation was a priority.      

On December 19, I taught my aqua class, then swam four miles.  By April 14, I could swim 15 miles at a time.  My muscles had worked hard, but largely because of the aqua fitness classes, and the aqua arthritis class I sometimes subbed for, I was able to put them through a full range of motion.  Throughout my training, I was able to prevent the potential injuries and pain I might have been at risk for had I only been swimming.

Many of my participants are retired,  and we talked about how I was going to be the oldest swimmer to swim the 32 miles of Lake George to date.  I was turning 50 in October, 2017.  We talked about many of the women of open water who were doing great things during the summer of 2017, and how the oldest woman to swim the English Channel had just done it at age 66.  We talked a lot about putting age in perspective!  

I started swimming the length of Lake George on August 8, 2017, at just past 9:00pm at the Lake George Village docks.  I swam, with a boat and rotation of kayakers. My seven member support crew included my 24 year old son, two in their 50s, two in their 60s, and two in their 70s.  All new to marathon swim support, and all ready to train and take it on.  I swam for 28 hours and 6 minutes, until just past 1:00am on August 10.  I used some stretches from class when I worked out leg cramps in the first hours of swimming, and I had very little stiffness in the subsequent days.  My main physical impact was a week long case of jet lag, and an unusual hunger/satiety pattern.  Maybe 28 hours of an abdominal workout doesn't let you hold your usual amount of food, no matter how hungry you feel before eating.  I found myself sitting down to a sandwich with a great appetite, and only able to finish half.  

Since cutting back on the intensity of my training through the winter, I have seen a weight gain, but I’m staying calm about it.  I knew it was coming, and I know that as I gear up for another summer of marathon swimming, I will build my miles and impact my metabolism and body composition.  Using exercise for weight loss or management is best when the exercise is something you take on as a lifestyle component, not just a means to a goal.  Much as I would love to maintain my ability to log 20 miles a week year round, it is not an option right now.  Maybe when I am in my 60s!             

I love teaching aqua classes.  The support and camaraderie is priceless.  As important as time in a class or fitness center is, it is also important to take what you do there out into your life as an integrated routine of wellness.  My aqua fit classes enhance my swimming, both in the pool and in the lake, but they also enhance my routine quality of life and wellness.  Motions and postures I focus on in class get more attention throughout the day on land.  

Since my swim, a common comment is, “I could never swim that far.”  I always ask, “Do you want to?”  You get to pick what you value, what you enjoy.  I’m gearing up for another summer of marathon swimming, and I know that the time spent in class and preparing for class is time well spent- for any goal.  Is there something you have always wanted to try?  Now is your chance for your big adventure!


This article was reprinted with permission from AEA.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy birthday to me!

 I’m A Fabulous 50!

I’ve been looking ahead to 50 for a while, and have had some great adventures getting ready.  Someone made a comment about getting decrepit as we get older, but honestly, I started having back problems when I was 17, and have had several flare ups over the years, so mobility issues aren’t aging issues for me. 

Swimming has been a large part of my life over the past 30 years, increasingly so recently.  Long before I knew how to swim properly, I could turn cartwheels across any lawn, bike around the block for hours, stand on my head to watch television, and dream of the Olympics.  I loved learning to ride horses- Western, English, and bareback with just a halter and lead rope to guide a pony.  Between bikes and my feet, and the occasional bus pass, I was able to get where I wanted to go long before learning to drive.  

About a year ago, my big plan to Face Fifty took shape.  I worked on getting more fit, swimming into the fall to prepare for cold water, hiking and jogging to gain strength and endurance, and paying attention to basic mobility strategies.  When I spent all night watching the 2016 election unfold, I decided and declared at sunrise that I would spend an entire night doing something that would make me feel a sense of accomplishment by morning, and I promised myself that somehow, I would find a way to spend an entire night swimming.  

As I did laps up and down Mt. Defiance, I felt stronger, and knew that any miles I could do on land would make water miles easier.  I was able to tolerate a chill on my skin in air and water as long as I was warm inside.  When I started building swim miles, I kept track of distance and pace.  I had two big swim goals for the year— the 32 miles of Lake George, and a 10K swim in Hague.  My training had to reflect both goals.  I also made sure that my plan allowed for regular life.  I still had to work, and I still have a daughter at home.  A few workouts were cut short as the spring weather called, and I headed out to get my wee girl and I could find a playground, take a road trip, or go kayaking together.

As laps piled up, I recalled songs in my head.  I listened to more music on the radio and CDs in the car than I had in years.  I took note of the ages of some of the fabulous swimmers reaching their goals as I trained— women in their early 30s, and mid 60s. Goals were huge— oldest collective age of an English Channel crossing relay team, oldest swimmers to do the Oceans 7 challenge, someone attempting the first double crossing of the North Channel, someone trying the first Quadruple crossing of the English Channel.  Even when some of those goals were not achieved as hoped when attempted, just knowing someone has the nerve to aim for them is amazing to see.  

Of the seven who provided boat and paddle support for my Lake George solo swim, ages ranged from 20s to 70s.  Not an old person in the bunch!  What we all lacked in experience with a swim of that magnitude, we made up for in enthusiasm, willingness to work, and teamwork.  We had our moonlit night, we had the best weather forecast that worked with everyone’s schedule, and we did it.  Surprise storm and all.   (Details of the Solo swim and Hague 10K in other blog posts— enjoy!)

So, I spent a solid year facing 50.  Now I’m here.  Where to go next?  Because being finished isn’t an option.  I have years of 50s to play with! Several challenges have wandered through my head over the past few years. Lake George may have seemed too enormous to seriously consider, but clearly enormous dreams can happen.   I can go the distance.  Maybe I’ll see what I can do with sprints, in terms of gaining speed.  I’ve done triathlon, and may again.  I’ve run the 5K Freihofer’s race, and may again.  I miss riding my bike, and think about the Erie Canal trails that span New York State, and other “tracks to trails” options.  Mt. Defiance is a nice hike for me, sometimes a few times at once.  Will I look at other hikes?  No reason not to.  I once hiked up Santis, the highest peak in Appenzell- a canton in the Swiss Alps (2500M), with no idea what I was getting into.  I had sneakers and a tote bag- there may have been yarn.  

I’ll be looking for chances to coach or paddle for other swimmers with big dreams.  I’ll also look at some of the really cool swims, both here in New York State, and further afield.  In the Hudson: 20 Bridges & 8 Bridges.  In Arizona: SCAR- an event of marathon swims in each of four lakes.  In Pittsburg:  Three Rivers Marathon Swim.  In North Carolina: Swim Charleston.  In Tennessee:  Swim the Suck River.  

Why would I stop now?  


What’s on your list of adventures?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hague 10K!


I felt good about this swim right from the start.  After the first few strokes, the water felt ideal— even though it was the same temperature that totally chilled me on my solo a few weeks before.  I was able to spot the buoys, and I felt strong— VERY unlike the last time I staggered by Hague!  The first lap took me about 52 minutes, and I felt steady, so was hopeful that I could finish in under the 4 hours— maybe 3:45??  In training, I can usually manage 6 miles in about that.  The last .2 to make a 10K always needs to be considered, but that isn’t even 1/4 mile, which I can usually manage in 8 or 9 minutes.  

The wind did kick up— I was very aware of it on laps 2 and 3.  Lap two took a bit longer, due to spotting challenges and the effort of going into the wind— especially at a slight angle, which knocks me off course more than straight on.  I did some ocean swimming the weekend before, and really love swimming in chop, so I wasn’t too worried, but the return trip of lap 2 wasn’t enough faster than the outbound leg of it to keep my pace on track— I took a full hour, leaving very little margin for error on the second half.  Lap 3 was as challenging, but I felt great— I felt strong, fast, consistent.  I may not have BEEN fast, but feeling powerful is my priority.  

I knew that there was a real risk that I would once again miss the cut off for lap 4, but I was ok with it— this year.  I had maintained a very solid pace, I had stayed focused, and I knew I was giving it my absolute best effort.  I was not hungry, I wasn’t distracted by a full bladder (last year, I hadn’t been able to deal with that while swimming, but yes, I trained for that this summer!), and I was not tired.  I was becoming aware of the fact that my shoulders were working at full capacity and might be sore later, but in a good way.  My kick was propulsive and keeping me on a good keel.  THAT is why I swim— for that feeling of everything coming together and getting me anywhere I want to go.

So, I pulled out the stops, and did my best to barrel into the turn toward the last lap.  I headed for those yellow buoys, and didn’t see any kayakers.  Hmmm. . .   I was close.  Very close.  It could go either way.  And I really was ok with that, even knowing that I was well able to do the final lap, time constraints notwithstanding.  Shoot, if a kayaker had been willing to keep me company, I could have swum back to Ticonderoga!  It was a beautiful day.  But I digress (which was part of my problem with the swim last summer!  Will I ever learn?)

During the safety briefing, they had said that even in lap 4, being too slow could get you picked up and brought in so that the marina could open.  I felt good, but still felt the need to power my way to the turn-around.  The wind was calm, the water smoothed out, and visibility was good.  Time shifted for me the way it sometimes does in a good swim, and before I knew it, I was at the green buoy at the far end of the course.  I had been aware of very few blue capped 5K swimmers, and wondered where they all were.  I was pretty sure I was the last one on the water.  

I could see the Marine Patrol boat with its flashing lights, a few larger boats- like the one with the Swimmers in the Water sign.  I hoped that I was doing well enough that I would be allowed to finish, even if they started gathering course markers and opening the marina in my wake.  The remaining orange buoys were lined up in front of me, and I could often only see one, as it blocked the others, letting me know I was on a great course— just skimming past them with peak efficiency.  

A kayaker came along side and paddled parallel to me for a few minutes— which was a great treat!  I love being able to navigate off a kayak, and it was like having a member of Team 32 from my solo alongside!!  I still glanced at the buoys, but not as often.  It was a nice rest for my neck.  I became aware of a blue capped swimmer near me!  Just what I needed to really kick it up and power forward.  It is so empowering to be able to boost past a swimmer who had to be fresher than I was, and as great as it was to see another swimmer, it was very cool to leave her in my bubble trail.  I was able to really motor along to the green buoy and head for the finish.  Hey, you take your motivation where you find it.  

As I got to the orange buoys at the finish, I had just enough energy left to do a few strokes of Butterfly, which I like to do as a tribute to my dear friend Doris Russell— Madam Butterfly of Ellicott City, Maryland.  We used to train together when I was doing open water in Maryland and she was doing Masters Nationals and Senior Olympics.  She is currently 97, and hoping to get to Sr. Olympics in September.  Doris is awesome— she started competing with Fly at 70, and holds many age group records.  I often hear her voice in my head saying, “Keep Kicking!”  

My official time was 4:00:58.2.  Dead last of the 10K swimmers, but I’ve finished last before.  Let me tell you, finishing last on something like this is NOT a problem.  I was very happy to cheer on the two swimmers from the 5K group who finished right after I did, and to find that kayaker and say thanks.  I also found my friend Hope, who had been so supportive last year when I was coming to terms with my “7.5 K.” 


A very good day for a swim.

Bridget M.M. Simpson & Hope Mao Oehler
August 26, 2017
(Photo credit:  Mike Oehler)

(Update- Doris swam the 50 & 100 Free at Senior Olympics after missing most of the summer in the pool due to consecutive cataract surgeries.  She didn't feel like doing Fly cold turkey, but she kept kicking!  Rock on, Doris!)


Friday, August 25, 2017

Solo Swim of Lake George with Team 32

Swimming alongside my son, Quinn Simpson.

It has been quite an adventure, both the swim and the astonishing community response-- In a nutshell, as the dreaded Dickens said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." The lake had dropped a few key degrees, which I had trained for, but I was hopeful. The first night was cool, but beautiful. Clear sky, I watched the moon rise over the mountains, and made good progress. I did look forward to the sunrise, in hopes that it would make me a bit warmer. 

The first night was so calm and clear, I thought a lot of Sarah Thomas, one lake over, making her way north in Lake Champlain after her first night was so wretched. I wished there were a way to find out how she was doing, but I loved the fact that we were swimming together. Matching diaper cream!!! Everyone should take on that style.

As beautiful as the sunrise was, and the day as it progressed, I did not notice an increase in warmth-- in fact, daylight just let me see more clearly the goosebumps on my arms under the Desitin. I did a few sunrise strokes of Butterfly for my friend Doris Russell back in Maryland-- in her mid 90s, and USMS record holder for a few fly events in her recent age groups. I knew it wasn't going to be an option at the end.

We had a second boat to shuttle in a morning kayaker, and two overnight kayakers departed.  I started daydreaming about warm soup and pizza, one of the men on the boat, Tom, mentioned bringing a Bunsen burner! He warmed up some of my son's blue Gatorade for me-- totally disgusting, but warm. It offered momentary comfort-- and showed how very supportive Team 32 was. 

I could tell it was a beautiful day from the sunshine, and the fact that the team kept taking off jackets and lounging in t-shirts.  Mid-afternoon of August 9, we hit a squall. I worried about thunder, and swam harder to manage the waves and wind. The boat had to back away a bit, but my son Quinn hit his stride as a kayaker- navigating the waves, keeping me on course. I could see him really come into his own, and was so glad he had come to be part of the team. The silver lining of the storm was that I was warm, but knew I could not maintain that pace and warmth for long. 

When Jim C. paddled to the group near Hague to take on the last leg of my swim, he had two water bottles of chicken noodle soup!!! YES!!!!! Warm, warm, warm. He said to take the cap off to get the noodles and chicken, but I had ingested enough lake water by that time (and the first thing I teach beginners is NEVER drink the water- it has feet in it.), and I only drank the broth through the squeeze cap. I was aware of people boating and paddling closer to see what was going on, and Quinn waving people away so they didn't cross my path.

Knowing I was in the Hague area was a mixed blessing. I had swum while Marsha paddled from the Hague beach to Ticonderoga weeks prior in 4:20, and figured I'd need an extra hour to get totally to Diane's Rock, and more to account for tiredness. I could see Anthony's Nose (a sort of peninsula I had to go around) in the distance, and thought I might still finish by full dark. But I just couldn't make progress toward Anthony's blasted Nose. My original training plan involved a progression past 15 miles to 20 and 25, but life happens, and I wasn't able to do more than split a 25 mile swim across about 36 hours. I knew it was a risk, and the last section of the swim might have gone better had I realized a few things would shift for me beyond a certain point.

Things that changed in the second half, or at least last third- I wanted the paddlers much closer, and didn't care where the main boat was. I wanted to throw up often, but worked at keeping steady to not alarm my very novice crew. Letting it go and starting with fresh food might have given me a bit of a boost. My feeding plan was great in the first half, as it mirrored training. Having more time for longer swims would have been smart, but I certainly learned a lot in this swim. (Happy to share, not doing it again.) I was very aware that I was hallucinating, but figured that as long as I knew it, I was ok. I'd take a breath and see black spray paint graffiti on the sky over a paddler's head, and it would be gone in the next breath. My eyes started closing before darkness fell on the second night.

When I finally passed that blasted Nose, and was at Rogers Rock, I knew I was within what should have been two hours. I have no idea of the real time, but it was likely closer to four by the time I got to Diane's Rock. I was shifting to breaststroke and side stroke periodically, and my freestyle count had gone from 55 at the start to in the 30s at the end. But I was moving, and although people who had seen me swim could tell I was very slow, I felt solid for the last stretch while doing freestyle. Odd. But I was flanked by Quinn on my left, and Jim C. on my right. Quinn would yell (I had earplugs), "MOM! Eat this- you need solid food." and hand me a small bite sized piece of a protein bar. Sassy lad, eh? And I was a good Mom and did not spit it into the lake, no matter how my stomach felt. Alternately, Jim would just reach a soup bottle toward me, and I'd roll over to drink some and then swim on.

Rogers Rock to Diane's Rock passed in a muddled blur, and I had no idea that people were following me in boats, on docks, lining the beach to cheer, and posting all over Facebook about my progress. Many people told me of going from one point to another to keep up. I remember the bright lights of the Baldwin boat launch, and very little else. When I got to Diane's Rock, I slipped and climbed and scrambled my way clear of the water, and hit the stop button on my watch. 28:06. Quinn was kayaking to the end, the boat with his iPhone was back a bit in deeper water to avoid rocks, and so the tracker kept going until he got to it.

I had to scramble back into the channel to climb out a few feet away onto my friend Joan's property-- where family and friends had gathered at her "point" nearby. I was bundled up, someone said it was after 1:15am, and I saw Jim Beaty's boat just past where I was sitting, but did not see any of my team beyond Quinn that night. It was late, everyone needed to get sleep, and I think we were all glad to be in Ticonderoga, and not have to drive from Lake George Village. I had a lovely shower in Joan's house, stopped by a few days later with all sorts of cleaning supplies to make up for the totally rude mess I made (although Mom and my aunt, Martha cleaned it up, and Joan said not to worry about the carpet). Really???? How to be a good guest? Ew. Once I was home, my own garden took a hit before I was settled on that front. Yes-haw. TMI? Your turn may come.

I was up and about the next day, and my son was my driver, as I was feeling a bit loopy. I had jet lag for most of a week- couldn't sleep at night, tried to nap. Got really hungry, but couldn't eat much. Weird.
I was thrilled to hear about Sarah's astonishing triumph-- and glad to see familiar faces at the Betsy Owen's swim in Lake Placid the following Saturday. I wasn't setting any personal best times, but I did the 2 & 1 mile swims and felt great. I knew I needed to keep moving, and going to that swim helped. I really hope I can pull off a 10K this weekend. It's a grudge swim-- it turned into a 7.5 K last summer, but I'm hoping I've done the miles at such a consistent pace for up to 10 miles that I make the cut off for the last loop.

There has been an overwhelming outpouring of support, and I'm still hearing stories of people who came out at all hours to be a part of it. Even this post from Mike, I just saw this morning. In a town where high school football is king, I was on the McDonald's sign, and had August 10 proclaimed Bridget Simpson Day. (No break on my taxes, but there were pretty flowers!). Someone I teach swimming with is planning to focus her daily swims and work toward a 5 or 10K next summer. How cool is that?

I likely had the single most inexperienced team to undertake a swim of this magnitude since Webb swam the Channel in 1875, but we did it!!!! Happy dance!!!! Team 32 got it together and set the bar high. And they were very good sports when I took so much longer than hoped.

Team 32
Jim Beaty- pilot                             
Tom Cunningham- main observer and recorder, backup pilot
Quinn Simpson- backup observer and recorder, tech support for Tracker software
Janet Lawrence- back up pilot, shuttle captain, kayaker
Kayakers:  Virginia Westbrook, Janet Lawrence, Marsha LaPoint, Quinn Simpson, Jim Cunningham


Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Swimmer's Moon

Posted to my Facebook page on July 25

Did anyone notice the moon tonight? A wee sliver, just starting to grow. Keep an eye on it-- when it is full, I'll be swimming the lake.  
I am very fortunate to have a core of people willing to park themselves on a boat, some doing shifts in a kayak, for hours and hours. It has been compared to watching grass grow. Well, from my vantage point, if my goggles are clear, I'll be watching the sky dim as the last glow of sunset fades,. The moon will be out, ready to rise and move in the sky, stars will come out, hopefully only a few clouds will be lit by the moon, not obscuring the view. 
During my early morning long swims, I've watched the sun rise past the mountains and trees, letting me see a clear view when I breathe away from the glare of the sun once it clears the obstacles. I've swum miles and miles as the sun has risen higher, to the point where the glare fades and I can see a view in all directions. I'll have many hours to mark the progress of the sun across the sky, and my progress past the stunning landscape that frames the lake. Oh, for a clear, sunny day! 
With calm water, and minimal wind (from the south if at all, please!), I should be watching the sky turn colors with sunset, and maybe land at Diane's Rock while the mountains are still backlit by a deepening blue, still lighter than the silhouette of the mountains. Maybe the moon won't have risen quite yet. . . 
We shall see. 
I do love to swim with the Moon.
------------------------
Thoughts on August 5- 
I've had a few night swims with the bright moon in the past few days.  I love the way it lights up any clouds that aren't able to hide it, and the way it shines through the shallow water in places so I can see submerged rocks and even some of the weeds that are not my favorite things to swim through.  The moon also shines on anyone paddling, and helps everyone stay on course.  

We are likely changing the start of the solo swim from August 7 to August 8, to avoid the worst of the rainy forecast.  I really want anyone on the boat or in a kayak to have the most pleasant time possible.  Torrential downpours are not fun if you are not the one swimming.  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lost & Found?

No. Lost & Not Found-- Sorry Lake George!!!

If anyone out in the middle of Lake George near Rogers Rock finds a small, clear plastic, semi buoyant nose clip, it’s mine. Oops.

And where were my spare clips? Back in my car. Oops.

Yes, I packed snacks to practice consuming, a spare cap in case my new one didn’t work out, and a water bottle. I started for the lake as Judy Walker was getting her kayak situated, and had to go back for my earplugs (don’t want swimmer’s ear to come back!), but did not grab a spare clip.

It was a beautiful morning— lots of blue sky, some clouds still tinged by the sunrise, the water felt great, and we were off on adventure. After about 50 minutes, I figured it was a good time to practice getting something from my snack pack. Judy go the lid of my drink bottle as I got my clip off and tucked it on the hair elastic I wear on my wrist in lieu of pockets. After a quick guzzle, I went to get the clip back and it wasn’t there. Did I say oops??? Big oops.

I started wearing a nose clip a few years ago when all fresh water gave me sinus infections after swimming, and chlorine impacted my breathing. It has made a world of difference. Now, after 50 minutes with the wind at our backs, I needed to swim back to the beach with my face out of the water rather than risk a sinus infection by bedtime. Had this happened during my marathon swim, I would have just kept going and risked it, hoping to make it to the end of the swim without consequences. For today- backstroke, sidestroke, and a bit of breaststroke.

Judy was a sport, continuing to maintain a very helpful position for me to navigate from. Seeing the sky was fun, as was a bit of chat while we meandered back.  Judy asked, “What do you think about on these long swims?” There’s a question! Everything, nothing, songs, stories, snippets & phrases, occasionally an old argument if I need to power up for some reason.

I became aware of the sounds of my breathing, normally muffled by exhaling into the water. I still got a bit of water on my face, but after a while, my throat got very dry. Not typical while swimming. My main thoughts were to maintain good in-line stabilization from my neck through my spine, and to vary my strokes often enough to give different muscle groups a break. My front crawl muscles are very well toned and ready for action, but moving in different ways works different muscles, and I wanted to avoid soreness later on. I’ve been working on varying my stroke for a few minutes now and then to be ready for anything in the swim, but a straight out mile of backstroke wasn’t something I was trained for. So far, so good. I’m more aware of my trapezius muscles (across my upper back) than usual, since front crawl tends to get more power from the latissimus dorsi in the mid and lower back.

Once we got back to the beach, Judy loaded up her kayak to start her day on land, and I got one of the spare clips from my car and got back in the lake to do a few beach laps. I was feeling the muscles that had gotten an unusual workout, and wanted to stretch out and keep warmed up for a bit. I did about 3/4 of a mile, feeling fine, and then headed home for a resting day. I’m expecting to swim a lot both days of the weekend, but likely not do huge miles much past Wednesday.

So far, I’m breathing easily, although a bit sniffly. I’ll be keeping Vick’s handy, in case of any stuffiness.

This is why we practice. And one more example of why it is good that I’m starting the marathon swim at night- plenty of time to check and recheck my swim packs for the kayakers.

The face of Rogers Rock from the Ticonderoga Beach at sunrise.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Not Your Typical Event Fundraiser

I have been asked by many if my solo swim of Lake George is a fundraiser, like so many athletic events out there.  Rather than narrow it down to a single cause, I would like to invite anyone interested in my effort to consider supporting any cause of personal significance.  It’s a DIY fundraiser!  Don’t send me anything.  Feel free to name a cause you support in the comments of my Facebook page- can we get a list of 32 causes?  Specific or general.  Let this list serve to bring attention to your cause or causes.  Just a list— no need to announce a pledge.  

There are a few groups & causes which resonate with me as I swim:

Boy, can I relate to needing help getting food!  So many families depend on access to a local food pantry to make ends meet.  While swimming, people on my support boat will need to toss or hand me water bottles and food products that I can consume on the go.  It isn’t easy to ask for help, but I can’t do it alone.  Local and regional food pantries are a great resource for millions of people nation wide.  

This foundation addressed the lack of treatment available when one family had a child receive a diagnosis of Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN).  GAN is an orphan disease- it affects so few people that funding research is not profitable. Hannah’s Hope Fund set goals and faced uncertain outcomes, and after years of work (because when you have a sick child, your first thought is to establish a world class research team, network, and bring about clinical trials, right???), Hannah’s family has kept going, and clinical trials started last year.  I have thought of Hannah and her family on several of my longer training swims, and it always helps me get through rough patches.

Go Seawolves!  Dr. Kuhner was the chair of the English Department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and my first advisor when I declared my major.  I took many courses from Dr. Kuhner, from Renaissance Drama to the contemporary short fiction of Canadian women authors.  Lap after lap, I often run lyrics of songs and poems in my mind, and when I can’t recall verses I once knew, I envy Dr. Kuhner’s effortless recall of what seemed to be the entire literary canon, verbatim.  Has an educator or school made a difference to you?  Pay it forward. Get involved.  

 YMCA, The American Red Cross, US Masters Swimming
I learned to swim properly at a YMCA day camp over the span of several summers, working my way from Minnow to Shark.  I remember thinking that being a Water Safety Instructor (WSI) would be the coolest thing ever.  After almost 30 years,  I have taught hundreds of swimmers of all ages and skill levels- as it turns out being a WSI really is the coolest thing ever.  My cousin, Erin, has done YMCA swim-a-thons with her team to raise money for swim scholarships, and is now a lifeguard willing to help with my swim! (And likely try it herself one day.)  

The Environment
I swim in that water! I want it to be clean.  I want to see to the bottom where it is shallow, I want to see the funny fish and turtles swimming around.  I like that it tastes good.   I love seeing how the landscape of the Adirondacks frame the lake, and how the mists rise off it in the morning.  Since the swim will take me about 24 hours, I’m looking forward to the stars at night, away from the light pollutions of cities.  I’m also looking forward to a lot more open water swimming in many more bodies of water in the future.  Clean water.  Healthy water.  The cool thing about supporting the environment is that you can pledge to save money, and it helps the cause!  

Do you groove on sports?  Support a team or player.  Want to be more active?  Pledge to spend 32 minutes a few times a week doing something- walk, stand instead of sit, dance.  You name it!  

Here is my list so far
The Food Pantry
GAN
Education
YMCA/Red Cross
The Environment

And how about:
Your alma mater
A predetermined sum shared among street performers
A visit to a nursing home to say hi
Animal shelters
 Libraries

Bonus points for me if what is important to you motivates me to power through the water more. 

Thank you!