Apr

6

 

 

 

 

Summer Dreaming

A twist on the saying ” Endless Summer” in Vermont for the 2014 Winter is “ENDLESS WINTER” ! This winterVermont has boasted record below zero temps haunting us well after March’s official first day of spring. If you are in the same boat, here are some pool workouts to keep you sharp in the water until you can bust outdoors, anyday now for us!

SPEED UP THE ICE MELT SET

Warm Up

2 x ( 300 Free, 100 Kick, 100 Back)

Focus on long balanced vessel in the water, eyes down, press down

4 x 400′s Descend from 75% to Good Effort Interval 1st swim time + 15 sec

6 X 200′s Hold 80% Effort on 3:15 Interval SCM Goal same time each repeat, interval 1st swim time + 10 sec rest

Speed Play 12 x 100′s ( 3 rounds of 4 x 100′s), interval 1st swim time + 10 sec rest

1-3 Hold steady 75% effort

4 Go Big record your time

Distance 5000 meters

 

 ICE BREAKER   SET

WU

Warm Up

2 x ( 300 Free, 100 Kick, 100 fist drill)

 Focus on your catch,keep upper arm high while applying gentle pressure to hand & forearm to face them backwards, now your’re ready to pull, focus on forearm pull with fist drill.

Pre Set

5 x 400′s Free ( Interval 1st swim time + 15 sec rest)

Main Set

4 Rounds of the following

2 x 200′s+ 4 x 100′s + 4 x 25′s DFBB+ 2 x 200′s Active recovery

200′s Interval time of 1st swim + 15 sec rest

100′s Interval time of first swim plus 10 sec rest

25′s 10 seconds rest

Active Recovery 200′s , 200 interval from above + extra 15 seconds.

There is no break between rounds, stay on your interval

4 x 100′s Increase effort by round, drop 2-3 seconds per round

 Round # 1  75%/ # 2 80% / # 3 85%/ # 4  Move it out!

Take 1 minute rest then swim 2 x 500′s, set a goal time, beating it’s OK, swim strong even if your’re tired!

DRILLS / ACTIVE RECOVERY

4 x 100′s Drill ( fins optional) 25 Arms By Side Drill, 25 Free, 25 6 Kick switch drill, 25 Free 20 sec rest

4 x 100′s Agility Paddles 20 sec rest

Distance 10, 000Meters

Have fun and stive for quality NO SLOPPY SWIMMING!

 

 

 

 

Jan

4

 20,140K

 

New Years Eve and the close of Brynnswim 2013 swimming adventures, what better way to welcome 2014 than with a distance swim?

 All it took was one short text from Paula Yankauskas, ” Will you consider a 20k instead of a 10k  to close out the year?” I replied lickety split ” YEHAW! How bout 20,140 meters for 2014? Im Pumped”, and with that I wrote the workout…

 Warm up  1000 Meters

2 x ( 300 Free, 100 Kick, 100 Back)

Pre Set

10 x 400′s on 6:15 Interval

Swim Time 5:55

Main Set

50 x 200′s on 3:20 Interval

Swim Times

1-15  2:55

16-20 Descend to 2:45

31-50 2:50-2:55

Speed Set

50 x 100′s on 1:45 Interval Swim Time 1:28

# 31-40  1:25

#41-49 1:22

# 50 SPRINT TO SHORE 1:16

Landing set

1 x 100 75% 1:28

1 x 40 meters Fast, stand up with a fist pump and walk 10 meters to the end of the pool!

Celebrate  success 20,140 meters!

Closing Thought: Monster swim = Monster fun

Dec

15

 

The  ”Brynnswim Holiday Challenge”

HOW IT STARTED

 It all started one dark winter morning at The Swimming Hole in Stowe, Vermont in 2011, I was gearing up for another winter of long indoor swims in preparation for my English Channel attempt in 2012, I would arrive to train in the dark  of the chilly Vermont winter early mornings 6 days a week and on Saturday’s slog out a good effort 10k swim, it was after one of these Saturday morning swims in December of 2011 that I started to hum in my cold shower post swim, ” On the first day of Christmas my swim coach gave to me One Thousand FREEEEEE”, the seed was planted, within 10 seconds and foamy shampoo all through my  hair  I’d declared a new short term training goal, ” The Twelve Days of Christmas Swim Challenge” Ta Daaaaaaa.

 Wrapped up in a towel  I emerged from the shower and shared the news with my training buddy Paula Yankauskas, ” Paula, are you game to join me in the 12 days of Christmas, it is 12 days of swimming, it starts on December 13th with 1000 meters swimming, then on the 2nd day it’s 2000 meters and well you get the rest add 1000 meters a day until December 24th, the grand finale  a 12,000 meter swim”, I blurted out at high speed, my post swim buzz having my speech in overdrive, immediately Paula agreed to join me and ” Bob’s your Uncle”, I had company and  that’s how it this whole thing started!

So where are we now, well YOU can join too! If you decide to swim along, find us on  facebook at Stowe Distance Swimmers to post your progress, or just follow along here, I’ll post some workout options, you can modify intervals to best suit your speed and ability, have fun and remember every workout counts and NEVER GIVE UP!

WORKOUTS OF THE DAY

 

DAY 1 Holiday Workout 1000 meters or yards

Drill Set

4 x 50′s Drill 25/ Swim 25 Free with 15 seconds rest 65% effort

Drill = side balance ABS ( Arms by Side AND engage your Abdominals for a tight body line)

Main Set

4 x ( 1 minute vertical kick hands up deep water + 2 x 25′s kick FAST w/board + 2 x 50′s SPRINT on 1 min interval)

Timed Swim

Have a swim buddy or coach time you for 100 ALL OUT off the wall, tight streamline off evry wall

Swim Down

100 Chicken T Push ( this is elementary backstroke, it will feel great after your sprint!)

Now GET OUT your’e done for today!

 

 

 

DAY 2 Holiday Workout 2000 meters Speed Work

These short swim sets are a perfect time to work on speed & pacing,  get ready to get uncomfortable…..

20 x 100′s = 4 Rounds of ( 4 x 100′s Free on 1:30 Interval + 1 x 100 IM on 2:15 interval)

Descend Free by rounds, set a goal time before you start swimming, then hold that time for all 4 100′s, all IM are 65-70%, focus on tight streamline off the walls and moderate pace.

Round 1: 75% Effort Goal Time 1:25

Round 2: 80% Effort Goal Time 1:20

Round 3: 85% Effort Goal Time 1:17

Round 4: 85-92% Effort Goal Time 1:15

Work hard!

DAY 3 Holiday Workout 3000 Meters Aerobic Cruise Pace Set

( Adjust interval for yard pool and to be  suit you!)

For today’s swim we take yesterday’s 75-85% descend pace and hold it for a longer distance

Warm Up 500 meters ( 300 Free, 100 Free 25 Drill side balance, 3 stroke switch, 75 Swim, 100 Back)

Main Set

10 x 200′s on 3:00 Interval

1-3 75% Effort Goal Time 2:50

4-6 80% Effort Goal Time 2:45

7-9 85 % Effort Goal Time 2:40

10 Good Effort for Grins 2:37

Active Recovery Drill set 65-70% Effort

5 x 100′s Drill 25, Swim 25, Drill 25, Swim 25 ( Interval = first swim + 15 seconds rest)

Drill = ABS Arms By Side, keep the core tight as you balance on your side with a light flutter kick.

Focus to work on Balance in the water,  leaning your bottom shoulder down and holding your aquatic line in the water, this means crown of the head leads down the pool, nose down, eyes down, no dragging hips, work to feel horizontal in the water.Switch from one side to the other, when you need a breath, hold your body line rotate your head so your nose is up, after you breath return to a nose down postion then rotate to the other side, drive from the hip to switch sides.

DAY 4     Holiday swim 4000 meters

Todays Focus: Easy Pre Set, Pace Work, Good Effort Kick, Strong Pull to finish

Pre Set 65-70%

4 x 150′s 15 seconds Rest

100 Pull + 50 Non Free ( Odd Numbers Brst, Even Numbers Back )

Main Set

3 Rounds of ( 4 x 100′s on 1:40 Interval + 2 x 50′s on 1:15 Interval)

Descend 100′s by round, drop 3-5 seconds of each round, first 50 SPRINT, second 50, EZ active recovery

Here are my swim times, you set your own and hit them!

Round 1 : 100′s 1:25 / 50′s 38 for the first, 45 for the second

Round 2: 100′s 1:20/ 50′s 38 for the first, 45 for the second

Round 3: 100′s 1:17/ 50′s 38 for the first, 45 for the second

Kick Set

100 Kick for Time + 100 EZ Recovery 15 seconds rest then repeat!

2nd 100 kick time should match or beat your first!

Recovery Drills

3 x 25 Fist Drill/ 75 Swim Free

200 Free, focus on early vertical forearm catch

Grand Finale Pull Set

TYR Catalyst Paddles 5 x 200′s on 3:00 Interval Swim Time 2:45

Good Effort on both Kick and Pull complete, kick back your’e done for the day!

DAY 5  Holiday Swim 5000 meters

Pre Set

10 x 200′s on 3:20 Goal Time 3:00 Easy Pace, focus on holding the same time every repeat, goal consistency. 70 % Effort

400 Free Every 3rd length kick on back, every 4th length underwater dolphin kick 70% Effort

Rev Set

8 X 25′s Free  Down Fast/ Easy Back with 10 seconds rest

200 65% Recovery Breath every 3rd stroke

6 x 50′s odd numbers Kick FAST, even numbers recovery Free

Leg Burner Main Set – Focus Kick

100 Kick with board , Good Effort + 200 70 % Effort Pull

Take 15 seconds rest then repeat.

4 x 50′s Good Effort Kick with board, your combined time should be faster than the combijned 200 Kick from the repeat set above.

100 Recovery

Pull Set

5 x 200′s Pull on 3:00 Interval Goal Time 2:45

Day 6  Holiday Swim 6000 meters

Focus: Pace Work / Kicking for Time

Drill Set 10 sec Rest

6 x 50′s with fins, 25  Breaststroke with flutter kick &  mini pull, focus on getting narrow and head in line with your spine

                                    25 Breaststroke with dolphin kick

Main Set

4 x 200′s on Descend 3:15 Interval

Drop 2-3 seconds off each 200

100 FlutterKick for Time with Board

4 x 200′s on 3:15 Descend Interval

Drop 2-3 seconds off each Interval

100 Flutter Kick for Time with board (  faster than your previous 100!)

Fin IMs 15 seconds rest

Focus: Great underwater kicking of the walls

4 x 100 IMs with fins, dolphin kick with breaststroke

Pull Set

15 x 200′s on 3:15 Interval

Focus: Hold goal time for all 15 repeats, Goal Time 2:55 ( modify to you and yards!)

Recovery Drill Set on 2:15 interval

5 x 100′s ( 25 ABS Drill, 25 Free, 25 ABS Drill, 25 Free)

6000 meters Your done! Rest up tomorrow we kick for time!

Day 7  Holiday Swim 7000 Meters

Focus: 400 All out Kick for time

Main Set

15 x 400′s on 6:15 Interval Set your goal time and hold for all 15

Goal Time 5:55

Recovery

200 Free Every 4th length kick side for 6 kicks, then take 3 strokes and repeat on other side

Kick Rev Up Set

4 x 50′s odd are Strong Flutter Kick with board, even are EZ Free 15 seconds rest

8 x 25′s # 1 Fast Free / # 2 EZ Free / # 3 Fast Kick with Board / # 4 EZ Kick with board 10 seconds Rest ( Repeat )

 Kick  Set a goal time then kick to hit it: My goal is 8:15 meters

 400 FAST

Record your time, lick your wounds and rest up for tomorrow’s 8000 meters!

Day 8  Holiday Swim 8000 Meters

Todays Focus: Early Vertical Forearm catch

Main Set  75% Effort

4 x ( 400 Free on 6:15 + 2 x 200′s Pull on 3:15 + 4 x 100′s on 1:45 with Finis Agility paddles )

12 x 200′s Pull on 3:05 Interval 80 % Effort

Drill Set 15 seconds rest

4 x 75′s with  Fins 70% Effort

25 Arms By Side Balance, 25 Balance Side 6 kick switch sides, 25 Swim ( Focus:  Steady head, No sinking hips)

4 x 75′ No Fins

 # 1 EZ, EZ, Fast Free

# 2 EZM Fast, Fast Free

# 3 All Fast

# 4 All EZ

Day 9 : Holiday 9000 meters

Warm Up

2 x ( 300 Free, 100 Kick, 100 Back)

Drill Set

4 x 100’s on with fins on 2:15 interval  (  Focus side balance )

 25 ABS, 25 Swim,  25 underwater recovery, 25 Swim

4 x 100’s with Fins on 2:15 Interval  ( Focus side balance )

25 Dolphin Underwater/ 25 Swim/ 25 Catch Up Stroke/ 25 Swim

8 x 25’s Free no Fins 10 seconds rest

# 1 Build

# 2 ½ Fast/ ½ EZ

# All Fast

# All EZ

Main Set
        ( 4 x 400’s  Descend on 6:15 )

          Set goal times, swim strong and smooth as you build speed

         Swim Time 5:45 / 5:40 / 5:29/5:17

        ( 8 x 200’s Pull  on 3:15 Fast on # 4 & # 8 )

        ( 16 x 100’s on 1:45  in rounds of 4 )

         # 1 & 2 Agility Paddles 75%

        # 3 Focus on underwater kicking off walls

        # 4 85% Set Goal Time and hit it

              Swim Time 1:20/1:20/ 1:20 /1:20

Speed Set

Interval Play 

4 x 100’s on 1:30 Interval moderate pace, short rest 2-3 seconds

1 x 100 IM on 2:15 Interval  75 % Effort

4 x 100’s on 1:35 Interval, drop 2-3 seconds off your previous swim time

1 x 100 IM on 2:15 Interval 75 % Effort

4x 100’s on 1:40 Interval, drop 2-3 seconds off your previous swim time

1 x 100 IM on 2:15 Interval 75 % Effort

4 x 100’s on 1:45 Interval, GOOD EFFORT SWIM

1 x 100 IM on 2;15 Interval 75 % Effort

 

Recovery

200 EZ Every 4th length Chicken T Push ( Translation Elementary Backstroke, it feel great after a speed set!)

Rest up tomorrow we swim 10k…

Day 10 : Holiday 10,000 meters

No Frills 10 x 1000′s on 16:00

Odd Pull/ Even Fins

Day 11: Holiday Swim 11,000 meters

This is a 3 dip day due to logistics

Swim 1

30 x 100′s on 1:40 Interval

Swim 2

10 x 400′s Pull on 6:00 Swim Time 5:45

10 x 200′s Pull on 3:00 Swim Time 2:50

Swim 3

3 x 1000′s swim on 15:45

Total Distance 11,000 meters

Nest up the ” Big Finale” Day 12 with 12,000 meters AND our Stowe Swimmers annual 100x 100 meters on the 100 second interval!

 

Day 12: Holiday Swim 12,000 meters

 

Workout : 100 x 100′s on 1:40

# 91-100 Descend to 1:15

5 x 400′s Pull on 5:45 Interval Swim Time 5:35

The Challenge is complete and with a swim cap a day, here is the evidence! If you swam the brute ” way to go”, if not enjoy the workouts above, guareenteed to get you pumping any month of the year, Happy New Year and all the best for 2014!

 

Total Distance: 12,000 meters

Sep

22

My Heart Will Swim On!

  The night  is long lasting, here is the routine, I swim,  every 30 minutes my crew sends down my feed cup  with a light stick attached so I can see it in the blackness of the night, hour after hour I swim on through the swells and the waves, cramps in both my upper thighs and hips plague me through the night, each time I stop to feed I draw my knees up into my chest to ease the cramping and release my lower back, feed down and I swim on, time after time, finally  after 6 hours of night battle, the dense blackness begins to lift, silhouettes appear on the boat some bundled in hats, jackets and shirts,  the sun begins to rise an amazing show of reds, oranges and yellows, the sunrise warms my soul.

 You’re over half way, shouts from the boat convey, music to my ears, it fuels my drive even further, I swim on, Forrest’s light stick glows strong at the bow…..

 Cynthia  and Jen, keep my feeds coming, I can feel eyes on me, it is comforting, I swim on…..

 Daylight is shooing away the night, time for another feed….

 The sky is getting brighter,  the swells are easing,the waves small,  the white caps are gone and I am exicted, I feel strong… 

On I swim, the rough night is letting my back and shoulders know that they have been in battle, with each stroke I feel a shot in the shoulder, “time to start to think about how good your toes and feet feel”, I think, the water temperature has felt very manageable all night and into the daytime, now I have an added treat…. sunshine.

 Dolphin Escort..

 

Up with the sun come the dolphins, 3 pods of them, at times in front of me like they are riding the bow wave of a boat, escorting me in towards the mainland and at times I am told, right under me, looking up at me swimming, I do love dolphins.

 I swim on, stroke after stroke, fortunately the conditions have continued to  improve,  the swells have eased, the sun is rising high in the sky, and every chance I can I am smiling towards the boat.  What would you like us to tell Heidi? Shouts from the boat ask…( Heidi is my 13 year old daughter, who I ADORE!)

  ” Tell her I Love her”, I shout back, I know what is happening, the observers are  starting to ask questions to check on my mental state, if I don’t reply or answer incorrectly it is likely ” Game Over”, for this Kiwi, my focus is “Iron Clad”.

Cynthia and Me in the Sea…

 

 Cynthia is back in the water kayaking and I am now on the sunny side of the boat, I swim on, in and out to the big boat  for feeds, 7 miles to go, I swim on, 5 miles to go, I swim on, my stroke starts to slow, 3 miles, 2 miles, the water temperature is dropping, my pace is slowing, swimming against the current I drive my head low in the water, grit my teeth and pull hard with each stroke, I am making progress, SLOW progress.

Ready for a Heady?

 Those on the boat are asking questions, checking on my responses, to check in on my wellbeing and mental state…

“What’s Jen’s favourite Beer?” I am asked, ” What?”, I reply

” What’s Jen’s favourite BEER?” I am asked, ” What?”   HEADY TOPPER”, I reply, ” Mate, are you serious, it’s everyone’s favorite beer, it’s THE WORLDS TOP  IPA!”, I think to myself as I swim away thrilled with myself for giving such a ground breaking answer,  ”YIPPEE, I think they’ll let me swim forever”, I think. 

With each question I send back the correct answer and swim off…

“What’s the name of Jen’s dog?”, “What?”, I reply

“What’s the name of Jen’s dog?”, “What?, RICO “ I reply, head down I swim off once more. Rico, that little pistol, quick as a flash, rough and tumble fur, what a cute little hair bag he is”, I think as I swim, thrilled with myself that all functions are go, I sight to get a visual on the mainland it is close, I can see it, ” Kick, Kick”, I hear from the boat, ” hmm, I’m not much of a kicker”, I toss in a few token legs swings and focus on pulling hard underwater, my stroke I am sure has little resemblance of my regular stroke rate, I swim on.

Get in the Boat…

 I see the signal to come into the boat once more, “You’re done, we’re calling the swim, get in the boat”, the observer shouts, my heart sinks, I obediently turn and swim towards the swimmers platform on the back of the boat, and the crew hauls me in the boat, my swim is over.

 Jennifer pulls off my suit, sweatpands and sweatshirt pulled on, then she wraps me up with my sleeping bag, hat pulled down low,  the boat motors back to the dock, I quietly smile under my hat, what a battle that Catalina Channel threw down last night, she fought hard and I fought back, I feel grateful to be satisfied with my efforts, ” What a mission Kiwi, what a mission and what an amazing crew,  I am one lucky fish indeed!”

Farewell  Outrider Crew and Observers, you guys were awesome…..

 We say goodbye and huge thanks to our observers and boat crew, the car is all loaded up, me in the back, Jennifer and Cynthia in the front, in the back I just can’t seem to get comfortable, fidgeting about my sweat pants slip down exposing my hip, “ Hey, I’ve got holes in me!”, I exclaim with a laugh, “ Hold on something’s sticking out of one”, I add, with that I fish out a small object, “ Hey look, it’s a crab pincher!”, I say leaning forward to the front seat in a fit of laughter, we all laugh.

 Back at the house, time to get in the shower and wash off all the dirt and grease, I am filthy, after a good wash I discover something more “ Hey Cynthia, does this look like a mouth mark?”, there on my right hip are some puncture holes and the imprint of a jaw mark. “Show me that crab pincher”, says Cynthia,” that’s not a pincher Charlotte that’s a shark tooth” she adds, we both roar with laughter and with that turn in for the night. In bed I try to get as comfortable as one can post marathon,  ” how weird is that, a bite,  wasn’t a Jelly Fish at all!”, I think as I drift of to sleep to dream of dolphins.

 And that’s the adventure, after 12 hours of swimming I was pulled from the water, 2300 meters from shore, the Catalina Channel claimed victory that day, the shark  however did not, I swam on for another  11 hours with a full set of teeth, he swam away minus one.

What’s  Next? I am exicted to prepare for the 2014 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and my long term goal?  This Kiwi’s taking flight  home to New Zealand to take on Cook Strait 2015, check out the clip below, this is her annoyed….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPjWMDAYWZs

Have you heard news of the Shark ?  No, we’re not tight…… AND  I’m  not planning on  keeping  in touch!  However I am working with a shark researcher so he and me can learn more about the species, he is studying the water temperture, depth, other marine creatures in the area, how far I was from shore, my swim suit color, illumination and the cycle of the moon that night.  I am learning a lot about sharks!

One thing is  for sure, my experience is tattooed in my mind for life, the moment of impact is etchd in my memory bank forever.

Will I return to the Catalina Channel? “You bet! No worries mate, the water is great, the Catalina Channel Association and it’s observers are outstanding, and The Outrider crew, professional and super nice, I’ll be back!”

Closing Thought: I am often asked,  ’How do you do it?”

The Answer:  Go with your gut and have fun, for those of you who gel more with a  TOP TEN HOW TO LIST, here it is…

THE  Brynnswim Top Ten Tips to “ENJOY THE RIDE WHATEVER THE TIDE”

1. Whatever your goal pursue it with Passion & Determination

2. Develop GRIT , GRIT is sticking with it even when the going gets tough

3. Have a  Good Attitiude, it makes a not so good day better than it might otherwise have been.

4. Have fun, everything is easier with a smile

5. Have a tolerance for failure, use it as a learning tool to fuel the fire for future successes

6. Roll with the punches, embrace them as an added Challenge

 7. Only YOU can determine how you react to variables in your swimming and Life ” Roll with what you can’t control”

8. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, this will happen naturally if you are passionate about what you do.

9. Learn to embrace pain, it will be there at times, focus on what does not hurt, rather than what does, it will pass.

10. Never Give Up

 ~ Charlotte Brynn 

Sep

8

 

WHACK, “ what was that?”, I roll to see myself in close proximatey with Cynthia’s  kayak which just connected  with the  top of my foot , my foot aches for a few strokes, then  my focus shifts back to my next breath, we are talking about a top ten list here and air, moving forwards and my first feed are my top priorities. The collision is  soon put out of my mind. I swim on, my body on auto pilot, my mind focused on the next stroke,  I reach for a song, tonight’s ” I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose, I am Titanium”, I sing away in my mind,I have what I’d describe as an underwater voice, best not to be heard above the water. The song revs me up to punch at the waves with even more strength, I grit my teeth and drive forwards with each stroke.

That’s No Boat!

” OOOOOUCH,  that’s INTENSE!”, another hit, ” What was THAT?”,  this one is painfully different, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, clamping on to my what feels like whole right side”, my mind is trying to make sense of the sharp, powerful blow I ‘ve just been blindsided with,” whatever it is has left go”, I think swimming onwards,  ”I feel like I’ve  been smacked with a plank of wood with nails sticking out of it”,  the pain lingers, I swim on, I’ve swum with pain before, but  this is higher on the pain threshold level than anything I’ve encountered before, one stroke after the other, I swim on, my mind shifts gears to ” what just hit me?” 

   I am curious by nature,  my mind kicks into gear to make sense of what just happened, it wants answers ” somthing just hit me in the side”, I think, as I scan my right side, I sight  the kayak, too far away, I sight the boat, not a chance, way to my left,  ” YIP  that was NOT a boat”, I say, thrilled with myself that I am ruling out some of the  possibilities, my mind is busy trying to draw from all my sea swimming encounters:

Well that was no log, definately not a Dolphin, I LOVE them and that hit was far from appealing! Seal, nope, neither was it  like the trash floating in the English  Channel, one Channel  Swimmer  bumped into a refridgerator, definately wasn’t that.  Not like the lobster traps I bumped into in Maine and Boston Harbor and definately not a crab, I duked it out with lots of them as a kid in New Zealand. What about a  Jelly Fish? Well they sting for sure, although not sharp like this, certainly not the same forceful impact, how about a ”Mutant Jelly Fish?”, you know like a ”GODZILLA JELLY”, there we go a solution, I am happy  for now with that explaination, and with that I swim off into the dark, my mind content that it may have been a Jelly Fish, I am quickly  back on task, I am here to SWIM, Game on, you are not tossing me aside that easily Catalina Channel, I’m right back in your face!

 And that is the last time of think of it, I am 120% committed to swimming to the mainland and navigating whatever is up next, a big part of my training has been learning my doing that you can’t control everything that happens, you can control how you react.

 Suddenly a welcome sight, a light stick circling in the black night air,  SWEET, time for my feed, that’s one hour, I swim over towards light which I know = Cynthia and FOOD, I eagerly await sight of my feed cup,my  fuel, a welcome treat!

 With one fowl sweep from a swell Cynthia is gone, all I can see is the bottom of the Kayak, ” Oh No Cynthia”,  gone with a swirl of  water, there is only blackness, the overturned kayak and the boat, PHEW there she is, now moving towards the rear of the boat,  bobbing in the waves, she is one tough cat!

 Time to check in on my current situation…. ” OK, boat’s not moving, you can’t sit here, you gotta move it”, I say to myself,  I remember Dave the Captain’s  instructions, ” You are not to swim on alone in the night”,   Ned Denison’s evil Torture Swim lessons from Distance Week in Ireland, are still fresh in my mind,  ” If your boat breaks down, keep swimming, you can’t stop, swim around the boat until it’s ready to go”, I heard it  time and time again,  fortunately those torture swim lessons have stuck , thanks again Ned!

  I take another look at Cynthia in the water, ” I am not leaving this side of the boat until I see she’s OK”, I say to myself and with that I start swimming laps of the length of the 50 ft boat,after each lap I stop and look for Cynthia, Lap 1, another Lap  2,  another Lap  3, and another Lap 4, I can see my feed bottles being picked up by the waves and washed away, Lap 5, the Kayak and Cynthia are being pulled towards the boat, there is a light stick above me, following me as I swim my laps, I stop at the bow, “ Keep swimming Laps”, shouts the light stick, ” Are you Forrest”, I shout, I am not sure he hears me, but I think I hear “ Yes”. I put my head down and continue to swim, I stop at the bow, again, ” We are not putting in another Kayak, you are going to swim off the boat, move to the other side, stay up here”, I look at him at the bow and them swim around to the other side, I put my head back down and swim hard, I need to work  hard to warm back up after the stop, I am relieved  to be swimming again,  once more I swim in total darkenss,  it is pitch black, all I can see are the lights at the bow of the boat, I love those lights, they are a constant in this night of curve balls, I focus on them with all my might.

Will I hold strong to see the California Sunrise and what will be my next sea creature encounter? I’ll keep you posted

Here’s a hint:           Here comes the sun…..

Closing Thought: Pour in your heart and soul  to remain positive through the ups and downs 

Sep

5

 

Wednesday August 28th ~ Swim Day = Boat Departs 9pm

  The forecast for today  is stunning, a clear night and no sign of fog, I wake up early and head to the top of the road to the local gym for sunrise yoga at 6:30am, a good exercise in quietening my mind, and getting loose for tonight’s big swim, after a sound night’s sleep I wake up at the crack of dawn , my mind kicking into overdrive on all that had transpired yesterday.

Manhattan Beach ~ Golden Sand and Deep Brown tans

  Tuesday started with crew members Jen kimmich, Cynthia Needham and me walking the length of Manhattan Beach early in the morning, we were in awe of the many surfers and paddle boarders expertly manouvering the breaking waves, such a feeling of commradire as they bobbed on their boards waiting for the next set of waves to roll in, then there were the dads with their young kids, the kids eager to ride the next big wave to the fullest of their ability, I loved their enthusiam with each new wave,   just plain BIG  fun,  that’s how I feel about each and every one of my  swims.

Manhattan Pier ~ Sharks on Display

 Next up a stroll along the  Manhattan Beach Pier, at the end is The Manhattan Aquarium, a closed sign planted on the door, we peer in the windows to see a large artifical Great White Shark complete with a sign saying ,” please no sitting on the shark”. I notice the hours, open Mon- Friday 3-5pm and weekends. Finally there is a cool world map with a blue line around all coastal areas in the world where Great Whites are found, ” Oh dear ” I say to Jen & Cynthia, look at the blue along the California Coast, we laugh, “look at New Zealand”, we all say in unison, the entire coastline is massive shade of blue, “swam all the time in the sea as a wee nipper, no shark worries”, I say to Jen and Cynthia……. Jen does not look convinced.

  Round the back side of the Pier we come across a  fisherman with multiple rods cast, ” Hi, having any luck today?”, I ask,  he immediately bursts into an array of sentences, at the end of it all I catch, ” and then I caught a 5 ft Baby Great White right here, they were pulling them out all along the beach yesterday and tagging them”, he says with a VERY wide smile, he inhales and adds, “  look here in the photo”, with that he pulls out his phone and displays a large shark,  ”Wow”, I reply, “I’m swimming out there tomorrow, I point to the Catalina Channel”, the fisherman’s eyes narrow and he purses his lips ”  sharks in the water, sharks in the water”, he repeats, while pointing his arm out to sea, all while  flashing  the shark photo in my face as if perhaps I did not see it on the first viewing.

   We snap a photo, and wish him good luck with his day’s fishing, ” Good Luck to you in the water”, he says. We walk back down the Pier, ” we should watch jaws tonight”, Cynthia says amongst a  frenzy of laughter, we all laugh and decide that that is more than enough shark talk for the week.

A Dry Run to the Dock

 We wrapped up the day by picking up the kayaks from the most welcoming of Long Beach locals, Sue and Bruce Foat, Sue a swimmer herself cooked us up a terrific lunch, here we are loaded up ready to go…left to right is Jen, Cynthia, me, Sue & Bruce Foat.

Final stop a dry run to the dock and checking out Outrider, what a fine boat..

Wednesday ~ Eat, Sleep, Eat

 Back to today, Wednesday,  the day to motor to the Big Swim, ” you want some breakfast Charlotte”, Jen asks ”that’d be great, already had one  breakfast but I’ll take another” I reply,” how many eggs?” she asks, ” Ahh 7″, before I know it they are on a plate in front of me and ….down the hatch.

 With my tummy full of food it is now time for me to rest up, here is the challenge…to keep me low key for the day, I am wired to hit the ground running full steam ahead each day, today is different, nice and easy, the girls set me up on the couch with a bag of chips, a gossip magazine, TV remote and my phone, ” Phew, this being lazy is hard work”, I joke  ” and rather dull” I add, ” I have to take a photo” says Jen, “ I’ve never seen you sit still before!”  Smile couch potato…

 Meanwhile the girls bustle about getting the final crew supplies and feeds ready for tonight’s swim, first they head out to the store to pick up final supplies, then back to pack and label everything, I move from the couch to the bed, my schedule says rest 1-4pm, I do my best at closing my eyes…

 The rest time goes fast, there has been no rest for Jen and Cynthia, they are packed up tight ready to go, 5pm arrives we all put on our sea sickness patches, they need to be on 4 hours before we board the boat, I have never been sea sick before and I am not taking any chances of tonight being the first.

 Next up 2 lbs of beef and  another 7 eggs, down the hatch…

 My gear bag is packed, my health insurance card and drivers license are in a seal tight bag,  I am excited and ready for battle, bring it on Catalina Channel, I have this gut feeling I am about to embark on an adventure unlike no others.

 The sun sets as we drive to the dock, we are singing away to the California playlist I made for the trip, ” California here we come”, then we see the lights of the dock, Jen and Cynthia muscle through unloading all the gear, I introduce myself to the guys on the boat.

Pre Departure Safety Meeting

 Finally we are all on board, Barbara Held, one of the two Catalina Channel Association Observers, David and Danny the boat Captains and Micheal,deck hand, who has the role of making sure we have everything we need, super impressive crew! David sits us  down to go over the safety features  of the boat including life jackets and life boat, he asks us our plan for feeding, my estimated swim time and makes a point of telling us that a swimmer is never to swim along ahead of the boat alone. “Any questions”, David asks, ” Yes ” says Cynthia with a smile, with that she makes a shark fin with her hands above her head, we all laugh, ” what?”, David asks, ” You know, sharks ” replies Cynthia, ” We have never had a shark encounter, nothing to worry about”, he adds. “I have a question, what’s  the shore like at Catalina Island, is it clear where I go”,  I ask, “Yes, you swim in, there’s thick kelp, you can get tangled in it so be careful and also there’s a buoy, you can go over or under it”, David replies calmly, ” Barbara chips in ” go over you can get caught under “, satisfied with the answers I make a mental note to not dive under anything unneccessarily swimming into Catalina Island!

Next up is Barbara, time to read over the Catalina Channel Association rules, Barbara reads the rules, which include that the swim officiallt  starts once I leave the shore of Catalina Island, I may wear only a bathing suit, one cap, ear plugs, goggles, no aids or flotation devices and no assistance from the boat apart from feeding,  I may not hang on the kayak or escort boat and an escort swimmer may be allowed to join the water only for an hour preiod at a time. She reads through the final rules and looks up at me, I know you know this, you follow the rules, I nod my head, in reply. Finally, ” Forrest, will be joining us by Water Taxi”, say Barbara, Forrest is anther observer, I am yet to meet,  I head down below to get some sleep, it is a 2.5  hour journey to Catalina Island, I lay down in the bunk, the water is swishing alongside the bow of the boat right by my head, the boat is creaking as it rolls from side to side, ” funny, I remember the forecast saying calm and clear”, and with that the boat rocks me off to dreams of dolphins swimming alongside of me, it feels like they are a baseball mit and I am the ball, I feel cozy…

Rise and Shine Time to Swim

 ”Time to swim Charlotte, 30 minutes”, Jen’s voice is right in my sleepy head, I open my eyes, it’s time, I climb up the stairs to the cabin and begin making final preparations, I lay out my light sticks, sun lotion and grease, Cynthia is all geared up to  Kayak, she is going to paddle to my right with the boat to my left for the first few hours..

 Jen applies my final layer of lotion, I pull my cap over my head, before my ear plugs go in I catch the boat captain saying ” squid hatchlings everywhere out here”, I secure my ear plugs and from then on hear only  the slow steady sound of my breath, the crew continue to bustle around me, Jen is applying grease thickly on my suit straps, neck, thighs, armpits, Michael is helping get Cynthia and the kayak in the water,” it’s time”  shouts David the Captain, I have already let him know that  I am not a jump in fast gal, I am a “piddle about” getting in swimmer.

Kiwi In the Water

  I peer over the side of the boat, next I go over and peer over the other side of the boat, all I can see is the black, there is no difference between the sky and the water, it is all pitch black, ”Where is Cynthia?” I think, as I move towards the swimmers platform off the back of the boat .

 ” Is she going?”, I hear someone shout, I step onto the swimmers platform, it feels cold on my bare feet, ” Relax, take your time and  enjoy the ride”, I give myself one final pep talk of  lessons learnt from past swims, the corners of my mouth curl up in a small smile ” what fun”, and with that I sit on the platform, dangle my feet over the side, take one last look into the blackness, and  slither into the water, I feel the swell move me away from the boat.

Blackness surrounds me as I swim away from the comfort of the boat,  I see a spotlight and swim towards it, then the  thick leathery kelp David had told me about is under my body, I pull through it with my hands, I half swim, half crawl up onto the shore, with the water cleared I turn to face the lightsof the boat and raise my hands signalling that I am on the Island of Catalina, cheering erupts from the boat and  I step into the thick kelp covered sea, my Catalina Channel swim has begun!

 The water is jostly, the swell unpredictable, the only consistant thing is the small  slither of moon, Cynthia is a mere dot of blue light, she appears and disappears with the roll of the ocean,  the swell picks me up and rolls me like cork towards her, with the next stroke I am picked up by another swell and tipped in the opposite direction towards the boat which is on my left, I evaluate the here and now, ” no calm seas right now, kick it in Kiwi, this is what you trainined for”, I think, I am in for a battle and I am not about to back down, I drive my head down and attack each and every stroke with all my determintaion.

  I swim on through the dark night, my body and mind feels freight train strong,” here is where I am at, at least another 6 hours of night swimming, you love the waves, lets get dig it in and enjoy them ”, with a positive outlook reinforced I roll to breathe just as a rouge wave hits my mouth, a mouthfull of salt water goes down the hatch, ” Rats”, I think, “I’ve gotta minimize that”, I breathe to the left in the hope that it is a clearer shot for air and swallow yet another gulp of salt water, ” regroup time”, I  ride my body a little higher in the water to better clear my mouth from the sea when breathing and swim on. ” Now time to   manage the space between me, Outrider and Cynthia and  I will be all comfy and settled in for the night swimming ahead, my performance zone is just around the corner”, I think.

 Will I settle into cosy  night swimming or will the dark of the night lure out yet another challenge?

I’ll Keep You posted!                        Here’s a hint… SHARK

Closing Thought: NEVER GIVE UP, difficulties strengthen the mind, as workouts stengthens the body.

Aug

27

 

 Touchdown in California, what a welcome, golden sand, surfers in the water, lifeguards on the beach, kids boggie boarding, wave juming and then there is us, resting up for our upcoming adventure…..The Catalina Channel.

 Here is Catalina Island, the start point…..

 Here is Point Vicente, the finish point, in between lies the Catalina Channel.

The Channel is 20.1 miles wide, with possible dense fog, gale force winds, swells, treacherous rocks and dangerous marine creatures such a sharks, along with that it boasts dolphins, a stunning coastline and little to no refrigerators floating in the water, sounds like a worthy adventure indeed!

Crew on board and or in kayak: Cynthia Needham/ Jennifer Kimmich, both sharp as a tack and adventurers, I feel grateful to have them on the Brynnswim team.

 They have a marathon of a night ahead of them tommorrow too when we team up to take on our latest adventure ” The Catalina Channel”  , they will be awake for an estimated 36 hours all told, Phew!

  Today, is rest and relaxation, what better place for that than Manhattan Beach, CA, we relax on the beach and take in the laid back Californian vibe…

 I am tapering, full rest, still I can’t resisit playing in the waves, the dolphins are surfacing  close while I wave jump..

 Time for final preparations, today we are going to meet some new friends Bruce and Sue Foat in long Beach, they are kindly setting us up with two kayaks for the big swim, then back to the beach house to rest up, what’s next?

Wednesday August 28th, 2013  9 pm Depart San Pedro on John Pitman’s boat “ Outrider”  to motor to Catalina Island

Thursday August 29th, 2013      12am    3-2-1 JUMP TIME

Will it be smooth sailing or High Adventure on the seas?  I’ll kee you posted

If you want to follow our  journey in the Channel  here is the link to our spot tracker, look for the red spot

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0kVsiOSoKWKJ5bj21ZTaG19j9n7Wn3Wec

Aug

24

 

One Week until my California departure date, perfect timing for the annual Lake Willoughby  Race, a 5 miler end to end. This swim is part of the Kingdom Lake Swim series which features a Vermont week of scenic lake swimming, this is one of the most stunning of swims, with deep clear waters and drammatic rocky mountains.

 Today Beth is racing with me, I am thrilled, she has bucket loads of experience and best of all she has great energy, when you swim alongside her she oozes an amazing blend of ” I’m on it” seriousness mixed in with lashings of ” this is a blast, I lOVE it out here”, you just can’t help but swim well and enjoy yourself. We are beachside, the day, a real crowd pleaser, I adore a splash and dash Lake swim, this is going to be a blast!

 

  Beth has my swim plan recorded and ready to go, we are in sync….

 We make our way into the water to start, some in wetsuits, some skin swimmers like me, Beth and the other kayakers paddle out a bit and wait for us to swim out, what a view!

 Go Time, suddenly I am racing, I pull hard, my heart rate drives up fast, all cylinders are firing, what a rush. Beth and I quickly connect, it is always a relief to settle in alongside your kayak support after the start, I tuck in alongside her like a star fish, my eyes are fixed on her with every breath I take.

 The field spreads quickly and soon all I can see is Beth, me and another kayak swimmer pair ahead and  to our right drinking in the calm waters and breathtaking view with us. Beth counts my stroke at 20 minutes, gives me a signal to dig deeper for my 25 minute speed pickup, I roll through another 30 minute cycle to make an hour, then it is time for my feed, Beth  reaches for my feed cup, I lurk close by ready to snatch it up, ” Thanks”, I say as I tip back the cup, gulp and go.

 I notice the walls of the lake closing in, the lake narrows towards the far end and dramatic rock faces appear, we are close to half way, no time to let up, I push harder and work on eyes down, hips up and staying  long to maximise my distance per stroke, Beth is holding a straight course, we make a good team. The lake continues to narrow, we are getting closer to the red kayak and swimmer team, time for my 1 hour, 20 minute stroke count, Beth signals 66 strokes per minute, the other team look on at Beth and me communicating seemlessly without uttering a word.

  I am excited, red kayak swimmer pair is in sight, they are giving me a good push, I love a good race and set out to narrow the gap!

 We narrow the gap as we close in to the finish, Red Kayaker swimmer pair holds the lead to take first skin swimmer overall, and me first women overall in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, what a swim, and good training, turns out red kayak swimmer is  Scott, a strong swimmer from the Upper Valley, he gave me a great run for my money, most excellent!

 Me and Beth accept our medal together and then the big honor arrives….” Charlotte, would you sign my paddle, I have had my Catalina swimmers sign it and you would be my first Lake Swimmer to sign”, Beth asks, ” No way, are you kidding me, that is such an honor, YES”, I reply, ” Great, who would you like to be next to”, Beth asks, well I scoop up the paddle and my jaw drops as I read the list of names of Marathon swimmers on Beth’s paddle, Greg O Connor, Penny Palfry, Dave Barra, I read on, ” you sure about this?” I ask Beth, she smiles and I start signing my name next to Greg’s

I am grateful for a fun day  teaming up with Beth, what a blast!  Time to head home, tomorrow Caspian Lake swim then it is ” Taper Time”, Rest, Yoga and packing for Catalina, I am excited, after sea swimming in Rhode Island, dodging the lobster traps in Maine and some Greater North East Kingdom Lake swimming it is time to fly.

 What day and time will I swim the Catalina Channel? I’ll keep you posted

Aug

23

 CATALINA CHANNEL ~ The Training Game

Post NYC  there is some welcome recovery swimming, then back in the water for the Greater Kingdom Lake Swim held in July at Lake Memphremagog, Vermont, this year the 10 mile event is a World Open Water Swim Association Championship, 3 weeks after my swim around Manhattan I am rearing to go at the start line, I do love a good race!

 It turns out to be a stunning day, the Lake for the most part  treating us to relatively calm waters. I enjoy the great outdoors for 4 Hours and 33 minutes with a sprint to the finish for 4th place women overall.

 

 Out of the water and  next up my daughter Heidi racing her first 1 mile skin swim, no wet suit for her either, second place in her age group, watching her rip up the course, defintely the highlight of my day!

OCEANS OF FUN

Time to log some hours in the ocean and find some cooler water, the hot summer temperatures have driven the Lake Water Temperature sky high in Vermont, fortunately I am joining  family for one weeks vacation in Maine, via a weekend of sea swimming in Newport, Rhode Island

 Newport is a fun place to visit, I did much of my cold water swimming there a few years back and was lucky enough to befriend some fast, good natured sea swimmers, then they were all in wet suits, this trip they are all skin swimmers too, BIG FUN , then off to Maine I go.

 MAINE EVENT

 

 Funny how things can work out, I sent a message to my Memphre 25.2 Miler buddy Elaine Howley, ” Hey Elaine, I’m going to be in Maine next week, know anyone who might be game to catch a few swims?”, I  saw a photo of Elaine in the Nubble Light House  Swim just a few days ago,  worth asking I think, ” Kristen Read, she’s fast”, Elaine replies.

 I shoot Kirsten a message and before you know it I’m arriving in Maine and me and Kristen are talking on the phone about a 6am swim in the morning, ” Hey Kristen, psyched you are game to swim, where should be meet?”, ” Mothers Beach”, she replies,  turns out our house is right across the road from Mothers Beach, perfect!

   Kirsten and I meet at Mothers, ” I was worried about no wetsuit at 60 degrees, then I saw you, if you can do it, I can, look at you, your skinny”, she says, ” You’ll be good as gold”, I reply and with that we wander into the sea. There is thick fog, the water is calm, we wade out and dive under, then full steam ahead. Kirsten is tall with a long, strong relaxed stroke, we swim side by side, I am thrilled, what a great pace and excellent drive in the water she has. We swim the span of Mothers beach and down the next beach too, Kristen pulls up, I stop too, “we are way far out, you comfortable swimming through those rocks”, she point at mounds of jagged rocks poking through the surface of the water with the outgoing tide, the position of the rocks seems to change with each swell of the sea. “Yip I’m good, for around the point”, I reply, ” your tenacious aren’t you?”, I grin and with that  we swim off through the rocks. Once around the corner we have a straight shot across the bay, we pull up for a  boat, then hug the shore on the return leg of our out and back  swim, what fun great water  and company!

 

 ” I can’t swim tomorrow, my friend Susan may be game”, Kristen says as we say goodbye, ” Brilliant” . So that’s how we became Maine swim pals, Susan and I met the following day, much to my delight she was also brilliant to swim with, we lapped up and down the beach. Later in the week the three of us bombed around the Maine coastline.  Thanks to some great company and good variety of conditions  58km of  sea swimming over the  week, perfect training.

 

 

Maine was a blast, swim, nap, eat, swim , nap, dinner, perfect training, I say farewell to my new friends, ” see ya Pencil Fish”, I hear from a distance, I know I’ll swim with these Maine mermaids  in the future. It’s official I LOVE MAINE!

 

RHODE ISLAND ~MANSIONS OF FUN

August is here, time for one last Hooray sea swimming, crew member Cynthia Needham and me head back down to Newport, Rhode Island for some ocean paddling and sea swimming. A stormy Friday leaves us with some surf and sea swells to train with on Saturday morning. Here we are armed with kayak, feeds ready to paddle out through the surf, my pal Jacki drops as off at first beach, the plan is for us to swim to second beach for a ride back to hers….. 

 

 Next up is a comedy of errors as Cynthia and I do a comical impersonation of two land crabs trying to paddle a kayak through the breaking waves, translation = we SUCKED at this and tipped the kayak upside down atleast 3 times, littering all our supplies all over the beach, so much so a paddle boarder paddles in  and politely asks, ” could I help you get out past the breakers”, “YES PLEASE”, Cynthia and I reply, ” definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result”, I say to him with a sea smacked face smile, he laughs with us, and then manouvers the boat out for us, Cynthia bounces on it like a kangaroo and we are off, I roar with laughter underwater for a full 30 minutes as I swim thinking of what we must have looked like trying to launch! We swim along the cliffs and gaze up at the Mansions, outstanding 3 hours of Mansion views, sea swells and Jelly Fish.  

 

Next is Sunday, time to meet the  Expedition swimmers from Rhode Island, the swim 7 miles along the coastline from  Breton Point to Second Beach, stunning conditions, views of fish below and only menacing thing these pockets of hatching crabs that pinch your skin, one  snacks on the back of my neck at the base of my cap line as I’m swimming, menacing to say the least and a little creepy due to the fact I can hear the snapping of its wee crab claws as it pinches, too stubborn to stop  I swam on regardless, eventually it washes off, afterwards I found little chow marks on my tummy, darn crabs! Here we are at the end  of the point to point expedition…

 

What a fun way to wrap up my final 50K week, time to head back to Vermont, a lighter week coming up with 30km of swimming and then Open Water 5 mile race at Lake Willoughby to mark the end of my Catalina Training and start of my taper, the forecast looks great for race day which is Saturday,  kayaking for me is Beth Barnes, also knowen as” I kayak for you”, Beth has supported some amazing swimmers across Catalina and lucky me she is game to join me for a little Lake Willoughby pace and race, can’t wait.

Will it be a stellar day and will we be a lean mean kayak swim machine? I’ll keep you posted

Aug

21

 

 

 

Manhattan Island Marathon June 8, 2013

 I am pumped, the rain has let up overnight, as I arrive to the Pier, there is a ray of sunshine breaking through the reminant clouds of Tropical Storm Andrea, crew is ready,  gear is ready, I am ready, as my eyes scan the pier I catch glimpses of my fellow swimmers greasing up, all sorts of individual techniques are in use to apply the messy grease which helps reduce chaffing during a swim, I use straight lanolin, all around my suit straps, around my neck and upper back, now I am ready to go too.

 Cynthia and Jen load our boat ” Charlie Tuna” ,  Jeff, my husband waits with me  for the  call to load the swimmer zodiac boat which will motor me and the rest of my wave to the start location, nearly time to  jump. We wait and we wait, I am aware that we have  missed our scheduled start time, I notice some swimmers getting fidgety, I cuddle under Jeff’s arm, he is the calmest of individuals, he  helps me stay relaxed, ” remember have fun out there, enjoy it”, he says with a warm smile, I smile back. There is much activity on the dock, and then….. we get the call, ” Swimmers time to laod the boat”, I kiss Jeff goodbye and me and the rest of the swimmers walk single file down the ramp towards the boat, ” I feel like I am walking the plank on Captain Hook’s ship”, it feels exciting and magical, I am about to find out just how much!

 

 

 

 Jumping Ship ~ The Race Begins…

On the boat I go, we all sit down, there are a bunch of the Aussie swimmers, an Irish contingent, a few from the USA and me…..

 We begin to motor towards the start, I gaze at the skysrapers, ” OK that shiny one right there will be a good landmark at the finish”, I think, as we get closer to the start location I see a crowd gathering, directly across from the crowd  is Lady Liberty, holding her torch high in the sky, ” WOW, Impressive”, I take a long mental snapshot in my mind. My wandering thoughts are quiclky pulled back to the boat, ” Gezz Mate “, the Aussies’ are hooting and holloring, I start to giggle, ” I forgot what troublemakers you Aussies are”, I say with a grin, ” Awww gezz, wait til you see us with some beers in us after the swim MATE”, one shouts out, they all explode into laughter like a pack of miscievious monkeys, I laugh too,” those Aussies are great at keeping ones spirits soaring”, I think.

Wave 1 jumps, I start to strip of my jacket, Wave 2 jumps, the crowd cheers as the swimmers hit the water, I look up from the boat and see Jeff smiling down on me, I take of my hat, the countdown begins for wave 3, my wave,  this is it, after nearly 1000 miles of training, a brutally harsh spring of 45-55F swims in Vermont and a power of eating to fuel my swim it is time, 10, 9, 8 , 7, 6, the crowd starts to join in the countdown, 5,4,3, the Aussie are perched up on the side of the boat ready to plunge, 2, I am  poised on the side of the boat, 1….JUMP, the boys leap with an Aussie warhoop, I slide slowly in to the brown, turbulant water below and take a moment, I turn and look up at Jeff, wave and swim away after the boys, I feel relaxed and even better the 60 degree water feels great, ” This is the best”, I think and it is, with that I swim towards the Staten Island Ferry with a vengance.

 

Are You my Kayaker?

 I am off  pounding towards the East River and the historical Brooklyn Bridge, the first on my to do list, apart from swimming of course is to connect with my NYC Swim assigned kayaker, Daryl, I have looked at photos from past years and am on the look out for a yellow sit on top kayak, the brown foamy water swirls around me as I roll to breathe,  I search for my paddler, # 28, I stroke and stroke, still no # 28, then I spy a purple kayak, a women with a big brimmed hat sporting the number 28, I swim with all my might towards her, then she disappears, again no #28 in sight, then I notice a yellow sit on top by my side, # 28, there is Daryl, #28 my kayaker….my new best friend, I hug close to his boat, bam, I feel a smack on my left side, I roll to breathe to the left to check out what I hit, there is the purple kayak, #28, can you beleive it there are two kayaks escorting me towards the legendary Brooklyn Bridge, head down, onwards I go sporting a smile.

 

 We make our way under the Brooklyn Bridge, going through my head is all that I have learnt about what it took to build this amazing bridge and what it means to both to those who have crossed it over the last few hundred years, now here I am right underneath, I roll momentarily onto my back and live the moment…..then back to the task at hand, head down and swim hard. At one hour my feed cup appears in Daryl’s hand, I take it without  a word, he says nothing and I swim on, feeds come and go, the scenery changes from grim looking walls to brick buildings, I don’t know where I am, I have not seen my crew, nor ” Charlie Tuna”, the boat they are on, there is just one stroke after the other, I feel good, all is as it should be, I am swimming strong and being fed!

Rescue at sea by ” The Aussie Boat!”

 

 ” You gotta get in the boat, NOW they’re pulling everyone”, I turn to see two other swimmers beside me, ” Get in the boat”, in front of me are steps, I climb into the boat  looking for Cynthia and Jen my crew and some clothes, now that I’m not swimming my core temperarure is rapidly plummeting, two emergency blankets are tossed around me and a white hotel towel, ” do you have anything warm”, I ask, ” No, sorry wev’e got other swimmers coming on board”, I pull the thin blankets around me tight,” time to take an inventory”,I think, ” OK, this is not your support boat, your dry bag with your most cozy of clothes, hat and down sleeping bag are not on this boat, your crew is not here, time to make the best of what you have at your disposal”, I coach myself, I remember Ned Denison’s advice, get yourself  into the cabin of a nice boat, out of the wind, I scan past the Captain, it is definately a nice boat and there is a cabin, I am in luck, I shuffle down the steps into the cabin and  huddle into the corner of the bench, Ipull my knees up towards my chest and drop my head low in a tight little ball, my teeth catter, my body begins it’s post swim hypothermic shake, not unusual for me after exiting 60 degree water post swim, not ideal mid swim,I sit and wait it out. ” I wonder what’s going out there?”, I think, ” roll only with the here and now I command myself”, with that I relax and do my best at warming up.

 As luck would have it, Barbara, fellow Cork Distance Camp Swimmer  is on board this very boat as an observer, she fills me in with  information at hand,” some swimmers are in distress, the tide has turned, Race Director called over the radio to pull swmmers”.

Two  Aussie swimmers join me in the cabin, it is their support boat I am crashing, I feel gratefull to be sharing their ride, ” we are going to be dropped back in the water past Hellbrook to continue swimming”, they say,  ” Charlotte, you OK”, my fellow Aussie swimmer says, I have seen photos of me when I come out of the water, sheet white face and red sunken eyes, ” I’m good”, I reply. with that Aussie Andrew sits beside me, scoops me up and folds me into a big Aussie Bear hug, I feel the heat from him instantly and start to warm up, and many say Kiwis and Aussies don’t get along WRONG!  

 Next comes the ” Are you getting back in conversation” , the Aussies and I chat, ” What are YOU doing Charlotte, are you swimming?”, asks my Aussie swim pals, ” Too bloody right…. I’m swimming this thing to the end”, I reply, with my never give up intensity.

 ” Back in the water”, calls the Boat Captain, my folded up body climbs the cabin steps, “  I have no support boat or kayak, want me to wait”, I ask the Captain,” your boat broke down, you get in with the boys”, he replys. I start to unfold my stiff body, my saving grace I have two feeds to guzzle down…… how you may ask? That sharp crew of mine had the forsight to send 2 feeds to me via the NYPD, boy I feel the love from my crew, down the hatch goes my feed, I toss off the paper thin emergency blankets, throw back my shoulders, stand tall and stride to the edge of the boat, ” Game on”, I think, before sliding back into the river with the Aussie swimmers,  I look back at the boat full of strangers who took this vagabond on board, ” Hey, thanks for having me over”, I shout with a smile, and with that swim away, what an adventure I am having, I  wonder what on earth could happen next!

Grin Swim!

 

 Back in the water, how great to be swimming again, I have no idea where I am, what I do know is that my two #28 kayakers are no where in sight and my crew is currently MIA, my only job right now is to stay relaxed and swim hard to warm myself back up, the good news is the water is feeling good. I start to swim under small bridges here and there, nothing looks familiar, after a while I notice something pulling up alongside me, YES a feed cup and on the other end of it is Daryl, # 28  WAHOO, boy am I happy to see him and to my left Carmen in the purple kayak, still where are my crew? And then I see some HUGE smiles from Cynthia and Jenn, they are giving me the hand signal for ” you’re doing great”, what a rush, I smile my biggest “grin while you swim” smile in the hopes they can see me, ” Who’s boat are they on?”, I find out later that they brokedown in the East River, and had to remain anchored off Roosevelt Island until help and a new boat arrived, it arrived alright, check out the COOL BOAT….with our observer, driver dude and Dean who became a welcome cheer leader!

Harlem Jellies

  What a trip, I am having a blast, my crew  has perservered and returned with a killer boat and boat captain, they resourcefully recruited the NYPD to deliver me feeds until Daryl and Carmen my paddlers made it back to my side, I am one lucky cat, the skies are clearing, there is some sun on my shoulders, I am one happy camper, is that the Harlem Boat house? YES, now I know where I am to boot! Here is me and Daryl at the Boot House…

 Head down I swim on, the sun peaks through giving me just a bit more vision under the surface of the murky Harlem waters, hey hold on a minute, there are lots of white objects down there, they start bouncing off my body as I swim, how strange to have Jellies all the way up here in the Harlem I think, Jen and Cynthia are enthusiastically jumping up and down on the boat, ohhh I must be swimming well I think and smile. Next up comes my feed, some slippery little peaches appears coutesty of Carmen in my feed cup, clumisly I tip my cup slightly sideways and some Harlem water spills in with the peaches, I look in dispair, they would feel so nice on my throat, ” Oh well, down the hatch”, I tip back the peaches and the brown Harlem water. the peaches are a lift, 30 minutes later the next feed arrives including, wait for it the biggest treat EVER….mint fresh mouth wash, ah pure bliss rinsing out my mouth which right now tastes like a toilet, um an unflushed one. 

 On I swim, something is caught on my goggles, it is long and flappy and caught on the top strap of my goggles, every time I roll to breathe it dangles across my face. Whatever it is I am not stopping to disentagle it from my goggles, I swim on.

 

 

 

Spuyten Duyvil

 I can picture it in my mind, the course map at the top of the Harlem River is Spuyten Duyvil, a small waterway that connects the Harlem to the mighty Hudson River, the Hudson will have a strong tidal push, once there it should be smooth fast sailing down to lower Manhattan, Lady Liberty and the finish buoy of the 2013 Manhattan island Marathon. I know from studying the map that there is a train  track near the entrance to the Hudson and a big C painted on the cliff, I am dreaming of a train whistle and that C, C for Charlotte, C for conquor, right now C means success. I swim on. Meanwhile Daryl is feeding me every 30 minutes, suddenly I feel that I knowen him for a lifetime, Daryl and Carmen are my new best friends even though we have never spoken a word! Suddenly I hear a train, then the giant C appears to my right, my spirits soar, the best is yet to come a WAHOO from Daryl, his excitment fuels mine, I dig head head even lower and pull hard, Hudson River and George Washington Bridge here we come!

George Washington Bridge

 In to the Hudson we go, Carmen, Daryl and me, I am excited for the tide assisted cruise down the river, to my dismay what I meet is wind against tide and a menacing chop, Daryl, Carmen and me bounce around as we make our way down towards the George Washington Bridge…

  I can see Carmen getting bounced around, both Kayaks disappear then they return, yellow kayak towing purple, I feel like the three of us are a line of ducklings, I  sense we are closing in on Battery Park our finish location, my stroke rate picks up, I feel a fire in my belly to drive home hard and I do, we start passing other swimmers, Daryl is getting animated, what’s that? There is my New Zealnd duck balanced on Daryl’s paddle, how he is balancing that duck I don’t know but I LOVE it and swim even harder, Daryl starts to cheer ” Come on Charlotte, Faster”, I swim as fast as I can, I am having fun. Here is Kiwi duck, which needed quite the bath post swim…

 

  Then something amazing happens, I catch a glimpse of the big shiny skyscrapper I noticed close to the start location before I jumped, I drive my head down, pull hard and kick it up even further, I am on the home stretch…

 

  Then I catch a glimpse of her, Lady Liberty, standing tall and proud amongst the NYC/ New Jersy skyline, the emotion builds in my gut, tears wellup inside my goggles, the iconic Statue of Liberty, so powerful, so meaningful to me, after covering close to 28 miles around Manhattan Island to reach this very point,  the intensity of the moment grabs me,    ” imagine what Lade Liberty must have meant to those immigrating to the United States all those years ago, leaving their homelands in search of a better life, seeing Lady Liberty welcoming them, a symbol of freedom and hope” I feel quite small and humble in comparison to those who caught glimpse of her before me, ” Whatever happens, whatever my time or my finish standings in this great race, it will be inconsecequential compared to this moment, success is right here, right now”, I think to myself as I pull towards the finish.

Half a mile to go, I can feel the energy of the gathered crowd, I can see my crew cheering, I give it my all to the end and then, the finish buoy is before me, I punch it with all my might, then turn to Aussie Andrew, my fellow swimmer who warmend me on the Aussie boat, he finifshed mere seconds before me, what a rush, we high five, check out the finish here…

https://www.youtube.com/v-WlFfi1pIXi4

 

  Jen and Cynthia are close at hand, I swim the boat and they call me over the side, we motor to the pier and reunite with my husband Jeff and Jen’s husband and son, John and Charlie.  I feel great, we walk back to the hotel sharing stories of the day, I hear of their boat breakdown and the condoms in Harlem River, you guessed it that was not a school of Jelly Fish I swam through and the thing hanging off my goggles while I was swimming….say no more, you do the math!

 

 

 

  Back at the Hotel I shower, put on fresh clothes and head to the post race prize giving, as I arrive there is my buddy Barbara, ” Your swim is not official, you and a bunch of others”, It takes me a few minutes to process, I think back to those thoughts in the Hudson River, the feeling of having the best day, the greatest of adventures, the feeling of elation seeing the Statue of Liberty and of course punching the finish buoy, a quiet calm flows through me, ” You know I had a great day swimming around one of the greatest cities in the world” And there we have it,  8 Hours, 9 minutes, an unofficial swim around Manhattan Island, what an adventure!

 Will I be back in 2014 for an official swim? You bet

 Closing Thought:     Fall down seven times, get up eight….

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