Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Field Set for Saturday's Running of the 8-Mile Boston Light Swim

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2014

SOUTH BOSTON, Massachusetts—The annual 8-mile Boston Light Swim is a perennial favorite among marathon swimmers around the world and this year’s event boasts an accomplished group of solo and relay swimmers hailing from near and far. From Boston and New York to California, Maryland, Texas, and Ontario, Canada, 23 solo endurance swimmers and six relay teams are set to compete this Saturday.

Competitors will start in the water at 7 am just off of Little Brewster Island in the shadow of America’s first lighthouse, the Boston Light. The marathon swim runs for eight miles amid the Boston Harbor Islands National Park and finishes at the famed L-Street Bathhouse in South Boston. Spectators are encouraged to arrive at the L-Street Beach to cheer in the finishers beginning at 9 am.

The historic race, dubbed the “Granddaddy of American Open Water Swims,” began in 1908 and is the oldest continually contested open water swim in the country today. The race is considered one of the most difficult open water swimming races in the world because of the chilly 58-degree water temperature typically found at the start, variable conditions, and strong tidal flows. Swimmers and their crews must carefully train for and navigate these challenges accordingly, and completion is not guaranteed.

Most swimmers manage to complete the swim within three to five hours. There is a five-hour time limit on the course, and safety is the primary concern for Race Director Greg O’Connor, who is running the event for the sixth year in a row. Lower-than-typical water temperatures in the harbor this year, possibly the result of ocean churn stirred up by Hurricane Arthur earlier in the month, will make for an especially challenging race.

“We have put a lot of time, energy, thought, and effort into making this race as safe as it possibly can be,” O’Connor says. The safety plan includes a motorized support boat assigned to each swimmer, Coast Guard and Environmental Police coverage, as well as dedicated Boston EMS personnel on standby should any swimmers experience difficulty during or after the race. “We’ve had an excellent safety record over the past several years, and we take great pains to ensure that continues for every single participant,” O’Connor says.

This year, 23 solo swimmers were selected by lottery to participate. The field consists of 8 women and 15 men. Nathaniel Dean of New York, N.Y., and Martin McMahon of Simsbury, Conn., are expected to battle for first place among the men, while International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee Elizabeth Fry of Westport, Conn., and Susan Knight of Kennebunk, Maine, are anticipated to lead the women and may be in the hunt for the win.

The Boston Light Swim staff wishes all swimmers a safe and personally fulfilling crossing. This year’s race is sponsored by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), Hammer Nutrition, and Harpoon. An after-party will be held on the beach at the L-Street Bathhouse, followed by a celebration at the world-famous L-Street Tavern on L-Street in Southie.

For more information, visit us online at www.bostonlightswim.org. For media inquiries, please contact: Race Director, Greg O’Connor, at goconnor@massopenwaterswimming.org or 508-728-0635.

Solo Entrants 

1.     Jason Glass, Brookline, MA
2.     Helen Lin, Quincy, MA
3.     Alison Meehan, Elkton, MD
4.     Susan Knight, Kennebunk, ME
5.     Loren King, Hamilton, ON
6.     Rebecca Burns, New York, NY
7.     Solly Weiler, Newton, MA
8.     Nathaniel Dean, New York, NY
9.     David Conners, San Francisco, CA
10. Bill Shipp, Mitchellville, MD
11. Martin McMahon, Simsbury, CT
12. Mo Siegel, Piermont, NY
13. David Cook, New York, NY
14. Kim Garbarino, Winthrop, MA
15. David Kilroy, Marblehead, MA
16. Melissa Hoffman, Sugar Land, TX
17. Elizabeth Fry, Westport, CT
18. John Shumadine, Portland, ME
19. Courtney Paulk, Richmond, VA
20. Francis O’Loughlin, South Boston, MA
21. Jerome Leslie, Dorchester, MA
22. Kellie Joyce, Norwood, MA
23. Bryce Croll, Boston, MA

Relay Teams


Two-Person Teams
·      Tuff Competitor II: Stephen Gillis and Kari Kastango

Three-Person Teams                       
·      A Fin & A Prayer: Lynne Mulkerrin, Douglas Dolan, and Richard Sweeney
·      Maine Masters: John Gale, Cheryl Daly, and Simon Wignall

Four –Person Teams
·      Sachuset Ocean Swimmers: Paul Talewsky, James Burden, Mary Phelan, and Franklin Johnson
·      swim4fun: Lisa Kromer, Christina Lin, Jennifer Downing, and Wendy Gulley
·      Frozen Nipples: Jen Olsen, Cynthia Baker, Steve Belletete, and Bennett McCarthy


--END--

Friday, July 11, 2014

Getting into the Swim... pool AND open water editions

The lakers!
Here's a quick link to my latest piece on the Athleta Chi blog... all about getting into swimming for fitness. Trying to give some practical tips for those interested in swimming but who may be unsure where or how to start.

I also recently published a series of 10 articles over at the usms.org website. The series, Open Water 101, covers the basics of getting into open water swimming.

And lastly, here's two links to two other recent stories published on the USMS website. The first is all about the history of escaping Alcatraz. The second is all about how swimming skills (or lack thereof) may well have changed the course of world history. This one was super interesting to write.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

24-Hour Summer Solstice Swim

Me and Jen at the start,
with Ganesh for good luck
I've been remiss in not posting about the amazing 24-hour training swim experience I had over the summer Solstice a couple weeks back. It blew my mind, and I'm only just now beginning to be able to pick up the pieces and collect my thoughts on this incredible event.

It all started a few months ago when my coach, Jen Dutton, sent me and my fellow marathon swimmer, Greg O'Connor an email with the subject line: "Would you ever?"

The one-sentence message asked a very big question: "Would you ever spend 24 hours swimming in Lake Cochituate?"

Lake Cochituate is a lovely lake that straddles Wayland, Framingham, and Natick. All three of us have been swimming in the North Pond part of the lake (in Wayland and Framingham) there for years; Jen's house is essentially on the lake, Greg lives a stone's throw from it, and I have long been a regular guest at Pam O'Neill's house, a haven for open water swimmers of all stripes. I met her probably about 10 years ago now while I was lifeguarding at the Longfellow Sports Club in Natick. Pam, being Pam, invited me to come swim with her and her posse of swimmers one morning, and a lifelong friendship was forged; I could never have accomplished or even dreamed up some of the adventures I've had in open water if it weren't for Pam's generosity in sharing her lake, her house, and her swimming friends.

I also met Greg and Jen at the club and soon began swimming with them at the pool and in the lake, and from there, my open water career was launched. Over the years, all three of us have achieved some pretty awesome stuff: Greg has swum Catalina, Manhattan, and the length of Lake Memphremagog. He and I did the Boston Light Double as a tandem solo back in 2010, and he also holds the record for the fastest Plymouth to Provincetown crossing. Jen has also completed Lake Memphremagog, Lake Tahoe, and an untold number of Boston Light Swims. They are both great swimmers, great people, and great friends. I was sold on the idea of spending 24 hours in the lake with them instantly.

After some more discussion, we decided to do the swim on the summer Solstice, to celebrate the full return of light to the earth and experience a complete rotation of the earth in as much daylight as possible. As it worked out, Greg wasn't able to join us then, but Jen and I went for it.

We started at 5:34 pm on Friday, June 20. We had quite a bit of fanfare at the beginning--our circle of laker friends had a little party on the beach (complete with wine and beer) to celebrate our insane undertaking and they cheered for us well into the darkness each time we came into the aid station for a feed.

The in-water aid station
We weren't exactly swimming together, as we are differently paced, but the first few loops (the lake is roughly 2.5 miles around, so I was doing loops in about 1.5 hours, give or take) saw us coming in at about the same time. It was a welcome sight to see Jen cruising in, her giant buoy ball trundling along behind her, marking her out against the waves in case any boaters happened upon her.

Overnight, we each had kayak support, though Jen swam alone for several hours in the pitch dark, a scary proposition I was glad I didn't have to face. Because Mark was swamped with school work, completing an intensive summer course, he couldn't be there to help me, so I had to rely on my friends.

And,

Oh.

My.

God.

Did they ever come through for me.

Rena Demeo and her boyfriend Rob were the early kayakers assisting me. Rob silently trailed me up and back along the eastern side of the lake. (I had stopped doing full loops once it got dark, as there were some submerged trees on the western side of the lake that I was concerned about having to dodge in low light conditions.) Up and back we went, back and forth, hour after hour. I don't even know what Rob looks like because it was so dark out when he arrived and still dark when he left. There was almost no moon at all that night and the lake is so peaceful with little light pollution. It was serene.

At 2 am, Fran O'Loughlin showed up. A Southie native who I first met three or four years ago through the Boston Light Swim, Fran has become a very dear friend in the last couple years. Thoughtful and sweet, he'll do anything for a friend, and the Solstice Swim was my chance to find out just what that meant; he had originally planned to turn up at about 5 or 6 am to kayak for me, but he "couldn't sleep" so arrived at the beach front at 2 am, just as Rob was starting to fade. This was an enormous help; I really didn't want to be out there all by myself, but knew that Rob needed a break.

So for the next four or five hours, Fran accompanied me in the kayak. Just like Rob had, he drifted along quietly in the kayak as I slap-slap-slapped up and down the eastern bank. As the sun peeked above the treeline, the lake slowly stirred. Birds started chirping and the warmth began to return. We had lost 9 degrees in water temperature overnight (it started at about 80 and dropped to as low as 71 before my watch battery died), so I had started to get chilled.

At 5 am, we pulled into the aid station for a feed and there, standing on the beach was my friend Bob Burrow, a swimmer from MIT who's also become a great friend over the last few years. I didn't even know he was in town--he travels a lot for work--and he and another MIT swimmer friend Katie O'Dair had plotted for him to turn up without me knowing about it. What a nice boost that little surprise was! It also gave Fran a little time to take a break, get some coffee, and grab a catnap.

I took this quick crew change as an opportunity to do a quick costume change of my own. I slipped out of the Athleta prototype suit I'd been testing and into a Nike water polo suit I've had for many years but almost never wear. I wanted to try out that different cut and figured the panel of fabric along my back would help with sun protection as the sunny day progressed and might just help collect a little bit of solar radiation to nudge my core temperature back up just a bit. I don't know that it did that, but it did chafe a little, and at least I decided that probably isn't going to be the suit to wear for the big Pend Oreille swim I have coming up at the end of July.

Anyway, once I was properly dressed, Bob swam with me for about three hours, and as we came into the aid station at about 8 am, there on the beach was Page Wasson, a West Side swimmer who I'd run into at a party the week before. I hadn't seen her in several months prior, but no matter. She was intrigued by the swim and wanted to help, and so there she was, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to swim, kayak, or do anything else I needed at that very moment. About an hour and a half later, the thing I needed most in the world was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which Page lovingly made. It was The Sandwich That Changed My Life. And I'm not overstating that. I had started to feel very sleepy a few hours after sun up, and that sandwich perked me right up and gave me some protein and fuel I needed to bring the swim home. Amazing.

A spot of hot water at 6 am helped a lot

I had been wearing a GPS watch that I'd borrowed from fellow ice swimmer Jonathan Gladstone. Despite his best efforts to program it to preserve battery life, it conked out about 14 hours into the swim. I was glad to take it off, though I missed knowing how far I'd gone. When it died, I'd already swum more than 22 miles.

Not long after Page got there, Katie turned up. The three of us swam for a little while while Fran kayaked. He told us we looked like "poetry in motion" swimming along together. I felt slow, but the ladies were happy to swim at my pace. It's a beautiful thing to share my special lake with people like Page and Katie who "get it."

At 10 am, several swimmers--the Saturday morning laker group--arrived for their regular swim. I was off in the far corner of the lake when they started, but we soon ran into them at Pebble Beach, one of our many named stops along the perimeter of the lake. They were enthusiastic and cheerful and enjoying the amazing weather in one of the world's most beautiful lakes, and their energy infused me with more energy. With roughly 7 hours left to go on the swim, I was finally allowing myself to think just a tiny bit that maybe I could make the whole 24 hours after all. It was an amazing sensation.

I honestly don't remember a lot of the details from there on out. I know Rena came back--after spending most of the night on the beach tending the aid station and helping out as needed, she had gone to the Against the Tide breast cancer swim in Hopkinton to be a swim angel. She came directly back to the lake after that and it was great to see her smiling face and hear her encouraging words as I cruised into the aid station. She swam with me at the bitter end, and that was really something.

Then there were various other people who came down to watch from the beach in the afternoon. Jen, who had called it quits after a very long 14+ hours and 20+ miles came back to see me finish. My mom turned up. Pam, who had been there most of the day, was taking videos.

And then suddenly it was 5:34 pm on Saturday, July 21, and my one, submerged rotation on this awe-inspiring blue and green marble we call Earth came to an end. Based on the data we did get from the watch, I'm estimating I swam about 38 miles in that 24 hours. And the cool thing is, that's exactly the number I was aiming for. I might have been able to do more if my feeds hadn't taken so long; I was "self-catering" as I'm calling it--standing up at the table in the water, mixing the feeds there, sucking them down, taking time to reapply Vaseline, sunblock, etc., all of which made for a lot of lost time. But this wasn't so much about a set distance, this was about seeing how my new training and nutrition program is working and building confidence for the Idaho swim.
A little slice of awesome--14 hours of swim data
courtesy of Jonathan's Suunto watch
Mission accomplished: I felt so much better than I thought I would during and after the whole thing. Yes, I was tired, and yes, I had some soreness, but it was nothing like other swims I've done. There was no peeing blood like after the 2011 In Search of Memphre Swim, a 25-mile, 18-hour windy slog to Quebec. There wasn't the salty stiffness and swelling of the English Channel, nor the convulsive stinging I felt last summer after just 5 and a quarter hours in the North Channel. There was instead a quietly confident ache of having accomplished something I really didn't know I could do. A cleansing and inspiring feeling that I've been reveling in ever since.

Prior to starting the swim, I had warned everyone who planned to be involved that I would probably need a lot of help getting out of the water. My mom insisted on picking me up and taking me to her house for the night, as she didn't want me driving. A good idea, but as it turned out, I probably would have made it home on my own. It was just really nice to not have to.

I had no problem walking out of the water on my own. I packed up all my gear--glowsticks, Vaseline, zinc oxide, the Ganesh statue Jerome Leslie gave me for good luck, all sorts of food products I didn't end up needing because the UCAN worked so well, and everything else--three reusable tote bags of stuff all together. I picked them up and carried them and myself up the steep hill to Pam's patio all by myself, where I proceeded to shower and execute a successful deck-change without any steadying hands and without flashing anyone. I had a lovely time drinking two beers with the crew who remained--Rena, Fran, Pam, Jen, my mom, and then as I felt the adrenaline surge begin to ebb, my mom and I went to get pizza.

I was installed in her very comfortable bed by 8 pm and I slept well until 6 am, only waking three times to pee. Not bad for what all I'd put myself through. Interestingly, I stepped on her digital scale just before bed out of curiosity (I didn't have a proper baseline or weight prior to starting the swim, but I was curious anyway) and noted the number. (Sorry, not publishing that!) What is interesting about it though is that first thing the next morning I stepped on the scale again just to see if it was the same; it wasn't. I'd lost 5 pounds overnight, no doubt respiring waste that had built up in my body.

I had a little soreness in my delts, but by mid-day on Sunday, I felt no worse than I typically do after a 10K swim. By Monday evening, I was back swimming. I went to the ocean to take a celebratory lap from the yacht club to the flagpole and back, a little less than a mile. I needed to recalibrate my salt levels after all that sweet lake water.

By Tuesday, I was back to normal. On Wednesday, I did a pool workout, and on Friday, I did a set of 200s free holding a 2:45 pace. That's way faster than usual. I did feel a little sluggish the following week as everything caught up to me, but I *think* I'm fully recovered now and I even logged a 15K pool swim on Monday of this week. Back to normal.

What a great confidence builder this swim was, and I couldn't have done it without the amazing network of supportive, awesome friends I have here. I am one lucky lady to have such reliable, cheerful, and dedicated support. And they're fun people, too. This was just an incredibly affirming, encouraging, and extraordinary experience--one I won't ever forget.

After it was all over, my friend Bob wrote up his thoughts about the swim, and I thought what he had to say was really touching. I was so glad he was there. And his comments make a nice bookend to the writeup my friend, the wonderfully talented tattoo artist Charon Henning, had published a week before the event. There's just something magically powerful about the Solstice and what a treat to be able to celebrate it in one of my most very favorite-ist places like that.

Life. Is. Good.




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clocks Dedicated at Doty Memorial Mile Swim

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2014

One of the clocks in situ at the L Street Bathhouse, Southie
South Boston, Mass.—On Saturday, June 14, 2014, overcast, drizzly skies fortuitously perked up just before the start of the Third Annual James J. Doty Memorial Mile Swim held at the L Street Bathhouse (Curley Community Center) in South Boston. Fifty-one swimmers from as far away as Maryland and Maine came out for the event. Of those swimmers, 49 finished the entire 1-mile loop, with Nathaniel Dean of Arlington, Mass., finishing first in a time of 22:44, also winning the men’s nonwetsuit division. First nonwetsuit female finisher was Katherine Owen of Arlington, Mass., in a time of 25:45. Among the swimmers who opted to wear wetsuits, Katie O’Dair of Watertown, Mass., finished first for the women with a time of 24:00 and John Minigiello of Boston was the first wetsuited man to cross the line in 24:01. (Full results are listed below.)

The start of the 2014 James J. Doty Memorial Mile Swim
But the day was not just about placements, finisher awards, and fast swimming. Rather, what turned out to be a beautiful summer afternoon in South Boston was dedicated to the memory of a legendary swimmer and community builder, former professional marathon swimmer Jim Doty who passed away in 2012 after a long illness.

Prior to the start of the race, swimmers and members of the Doty family along with friends of the family and other members of the community participated in a heartfelt remembrance of Jim Doty and a dedication ceremony for the two new clocks that have been installed at the L Street Bathhouse in his memory. Several friends, swimmers, and family members spoke of how Jim had influenced their lives and their swimming pursuits and thanked him for his generosity of spirit, time, experience, and passion for life.

Stan Luniewicz (left) and Joel Saperstein (right) offered fond
remembrances of their friend and swimming buddy Jim Doty
during the clock dedication ceremony. Nearly 100 people
attended the ceremony, including more than a dozen
members of the Doty family.
Close friend and swimming partner Dr. Joel Saperstein—a retired orthopedist whom Jim nicknamed “Dr. Chicken” for his hesitancy for jump in Gloucester Harbor one day in December 1969—spoke of how much he misses Jim everyday. Sharon Beckman, a law professor at Boston College who swam the English Channel in the 1980s and trained occasionally with Jim said that Jim was responsible for creating a lot of lifelong friendships in the swimming community. Jim’s daughter Elinor Juviler also spoke at the ceremony about how much her father loved swimming.

Of the dedication ceremony, Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association President Greg O’Connor says, “It feels good to see the open-water swimming community give back to someone who gave so much of himself.” The clocks that have been installed at the L Street Bathhouse will aid swimmers training in the harbor, “and that seems a fitting memorial,” O’Connor says.

To celebrate Jim’s accomplishments and to formally dedicate the clocks, the Boston Fire Department’s fire boat cruised past spraying water, an appropriate and exuberant tribute for a waterman who is missed greatly by friends and family alike.

Thanks to the SCAR Swim series for donating caps!
Many thanks are in order for the Doty family, the Curley Community Center, the New England Marathon Swimming Association, Stan Luniewicz, Fred Ahern, Bob McCormick, and the cast of volunteers who helped put on the event. Product sponsors included Hammer Nutrition, the Arizona SCAR Swims, the Boston Fire Department, and the No Name restaurant.

###


For more information, please contact Greg O’Connor, President, Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association at goconnor@massopenwaterswimming.org or 508-728-0635.

About MOWSA
Formed in 2010, the Massachusetts Open Water SwimmingAssociation (MOWSA) seeks to promote interest in swimming in Massachusetts waterways. MOWSA also advises and supports swimmers intending to complete a MOWSA sanctioned swim and hosts two annual races: the 8-mile Boston Light Swim and the Jim Doty Memorial Mile event. MOWSA also seeks to gather and preserve historical data on swims completed in Massachusetts waters while promoting the natural beauty of the islands and waterways of Massachusetts.

About Jim Doty
Jim Doty, who passed away in 2012 after a long illness, was a local open-water swimming legend who charted new marathon swim routes and adventures all around New England. He picked up open water swimming in his 30s to lose weight and soon became a top competitor in the elite ranks of marathon swimmers. From participating in the 24-hour La Tuque relay event in the 1960s to setting numerous distance and speed records to and from the Boston Lighthouse, Graves Light, around Cape Ann, and several other iconic locations, there isn’t a body of water in New England that Jim didn’t swim. Jim was also responsible for forming the nonprofit New England Marathon Swimming Association (NEMSA), which is dedicated to promoting swimming and a clean aquatic environment in New England. Jim re-started the Boston Light Swim back in the mid-1970s after a long hiatus; the 8-mile BLS is the oldest open-water swim race in America dubbed “The Granddaddy of American Open Water Swims,” and is used by many open water swimmers as a launching pad for more arduous challenges like solo crossings of the English Channel.


Several South Boston residents also took part in the Doty swim, including Scott Dalrymple, groundskeeper at the L Street Bathhouse who is well known among the local long distance and cold-water swimming community for his feats of endurance in frigid water. In December 2013, Dalrymple completed a mile swim in the harbor in 55-minutes. The water temperature was 38 degrees F and he completed the MOWSA-sanctioned swim without the aid of a wetsuit. 
*** 
Official Results of the 2014 Jim Doty Memorial Mile Swim
June 14, 2014, South Boston, Mass.

First Name
Last Name
Gender
Age
Wetsuit (Y/N)
Time (MM:SS)
Place
Nathaniel
Dean
M
37
N
22:44
1
Bill
Shipp
M
54
N
23:06
2
Katie
O'dair
F
47
Y
24:00
3
John
Minigiello
M
50
Y
24:01
4
Bob
Burrow
M
51
N
25:28
5
Katharine
Owen
F
35
N
25:45
6
Lisa
Kromer
F
35
N
25:50
7
Jennifer
Downing
F
35
N
27:25
8
Alison
Meehan
F
42
N
27:32
9
Helen
Lin
F
30
N
27:55
10
Emma
Luniewiez
F
15
N
28:31
11
Rick
Born
M
52
N
28:34
12
Miye
Jacques
F
22
N
30:15
13
Jonathan
Gladstone
M
45
N
30:44
14
Stephen
Gillis
M
55
N
31:00
15
Michelle
Mix
F
42
Y
31:15
16
James
Haynes
M
37
N
31:17
17
Sharon
Beckman
F
56
N
31:34
18
Jerome
Leslie
M
35
N
33:03
19
Christina
Lin
F
39
N
33:22
20
Michael
Ohic
M
56
N
33:40
21
Tom
Scannell
M
51
Y
33:42
22
Maura
Twomey
F
58
N
34:00
23
Eduardo
del Solar
M
62
Y
34:00
23
Rob
Curtin
M
46
N
34:10
24
Michael
Workman
M
42
Y
34:59
25
Tamanna
Ahmad
F
28
Y
35:00
26
Eugene
Gallagher
M
59
N
35:49
27
Gabor
Korodi
M
39
Y
35:56
28
Katrina
Gosek
F
37
Y
37:39
29
Erin
Vandeveer
F
33
N
37:48
30
Gwynre
Gallagher
F
24
Y
38:07
31
Deirdre
Devlin
F
28
N
38:34
33
Alp
Dedeoglu
M
51
N
38:34
33
Melissa
Looney
F
44
Y
38:40
34
Mary
Devlin
F
58
Y
38:49
35
Fran
O'Loughlin
M
53
N
39:52
36
Cathy
Kittredge
F
37
N
40:21
38
Joseph
Reid
M
50
N
40:21
38
Stan
Luniewicz
M
61
N
40:35
39
Monica
Mehigan
F
60
Y
40:49
40
John
Stelling
M
51
Y
45:00
41
Bob
McCormack
M
76
N
45:25
42
Sean
Loftus
M
11
N
45:50
43
Michael
Walsh
M
11
N
45:52
44
Peter
Wehrwein
M
57
N
46:08
45
Scotty
Dalrymple
M
51
N
49:52
46
Leo
Gerstel
M
66
N
54:00
47
Rena
Demeo
F
44
N

DNF
Roger
Croke
M
68
N

DNF