Saturday’s Swim Up the Coast

On Saturday morning I met up with Dave and the dedicated paddle crew of Brian, Scott and Doctor Jack for a swim up the Pacific Coast. We started the swim at Corona Del Mar, swam north for 2 hours past the Newport Harbor breakwater, Balboa pier, Newport Pier, and then the next 2 breakwaters and put into shore after 4.5 miles. The water temperatures were in the low 60s, a few degrees colder than our southbound swim a few weeks ago.

Click to view the video of our swim past Balboa Pier

I felt pretty good until the Newport Pier, then my stroke started breaking down. It was tough keeping it together for the next 1/2 mile. Though the water temps weren’t an issue and I felt like I had several hours in me still, I know my pace was dropping off significantly. These last 2 long swims have made glaringly clear my training needs for the next couple of months: weight training and stoke improvement.
Afterwards we made plans for training for the next 2 and half months. We are looking forward to spending a bit of time in the Pacific this summer.
Thanks to Brian “D-Fro” DeFrancesco for taking the picts!

Back in Southern Cal

After arriving in LAX a little after 11pm on Thursday evening, I did the obligatory wait for the luggage, wait for the shuttle, queue to pay for parking, and drive down the 405 to Orange County. I crawled in bed at 1am.

When the alarm went off at 5am, I wasn’t readyto get up, but I wanted to head to Wollett Aquatic Center in Irvine for the 5:45am Nova practice. I crawled out of bed and got there in 15 minutes. Chris called the set on a 50m layout:
1 x 600m warmup
10 x 50m (odds sprint, even easy)
Repeat 3 times:
3 x 50m kick w/fins (sprint/easy, easy/sprint, sprint)
1 x 50m easy kick
5 x 50m sprint w/fins
1 x 50m easy
5 x 100m negative split 50s
6 x 50m sprint from blocks
1 x 200m warmdown

Get some naps today- tomorrow is a 9.5 miler in the Pacific.

Wednesday Ride and Thursday Swim

I tried out the new mountain bike after work last night with a nice ride up Waterton Canyon. It was fairly flat 6.5 miles each way. Then I explored a few miles of the Platte River down to Chatfield reservoir. All told, probably 20 miles of riding. It was incredible being in the mountains, smelling the cottonwoods, pines, and river in near perfect weather. I encountered a deer near the trailhead after the ride.

This morning I did the 6-7:15 workout at Highlands Ranch- only it is now 5:45 to 7:00 due to the kids workouts. Still I got in a good workout:
1 x 200 warmup
1 x 500 pull on 7:00
5 x 100 Race Pace on 1:40
1 x 400 pull on ?
4 x 100 Race Pace on 1:35
1 x 300 pull on ?
3 x 100 Race Pace on 1:30
1 x 200 pull on ?
2 x 100 Race Pace on 1:25
100 easy
100 Fast
200 warmdown
=3,400 yards

Rest and Recovery Long Weekend

Well, it wasn’t intentional, but probably good none-the-less: After the 7 mile swim one day and then a couple of miles with paddles a few days later- my body probably needed a few building days before tackling another big swim. A late Wednesday night kept me from a Thursday morning workout, Friday’s workout at Soka University in California was cancelled due to the Speedo Grand Master Challenge. An overnight get away with my wife to La Jolla on Friday night meant lots of food and lots of sleep, and no Saturday intensive workout with Nova. I like to avoid working out on Sunday. Cold weather and a little rain conspired against a planned 4 mile swim at Laguna Main Beach on Memorial Day.

When I arrived back in Colorado on Tuesday morning, it had been 6 days since my last workout and I needed to get my swimming fix. On Tuesday evening after work, I left my client’s and headed to Grant Ranch. Though the water in Bowles Reservoir was cool (mid sixties) and the sky was overcast, I was able to swim 2 short laps and 1 full lap around the lake in under an hour for 2600-2700 meters.

This morning (Wednesday), I did the 5:30am Highlands Ranch Masters workout in Northridge Recreation Center’s outdoor pool for the first time. Summer is here! That consisted of:
150 warm-up

Repeat 4 times:
4 x 25 (2 drill, 2 kick) on :40
1 x 100 (changing each repeat: IM, free, stroke, free) on 1:30

1 x 400 pull (even 100s stroke)
8 x 150 (free, choice, free by 50s) 4 on 2:00, 4 on 2:15
12 x 25 (mid pool starts) on :45
12 x 100 (4 free, 4 pull, 4 fins) on 1:20
150 warm-down
= 4,200 yards

The age groupers are now swimming mornings too and kicked me out at 7am sharp.

I bought a mountain bike last night after the reservoir swim and hope to get in a good ride tonight on Denver’s famous trails.

Stroke Day

I set the alarm last night so that I wouldn’t miss the 5:30am masters practice in Highlands Ranch.

Coach Paul called a good set for a guy who was feeling the effects of a good swim less than 12 hours earlier- good mix of strokes and lower yardage:
1 x 400 swim
1 x 100 kick
4 x 100 pull (odds Reverse IM order, even free)
16 x 25 (4 back drill, 4 back, 4 free drill, 4 kick)
1 x 200 pull
6 x 100 (odds IM, evens free descending)
50 easy
8 x 25 mid-pool starts, 2 x strokes in IM order
6 x 50 (odds stroke, evens free descending)
8 x 25 (odds drill, evens fast)
200 warmdown
= 3,250 yards

Open Water Swimming in Colorado

I guess the travel, the swimming, and the many social activities over the weekend with their accompanying accumulated sleep depravation took their toll. Since I’ve been waking up consistently at 5am for months, I thought I didn’t need to set my alarm clock Monday night. This morning I woke up at 5:50am and realized that, at best, I could make it to practice 10 minutes late. I decided to catch an extra hour of sleep and hit an evening practice.

An hour and half later and better rested, I threw my swim gear in the back of my Hummer and headed to work. (BTW, if you ever rent from Thrifty, choose the “wildcard” car option. Apparently, you can sometimes get a Hummer for the price of a compact. A word of caution though: the Colorado Highway Patrol tend to notice quickly moving BRIGHT RED HUMMERS more than the average vehicle, but that is a story for a different blog.)

On Monday night I had discovered that the former Highlands Ranch Master’s coach, Matt Beck, had started an open water swimming program on Bowles Reservior in Littleton. I left work at 5 and headed to the Grants Ranch Clubhouse situated on the lake’s shore. I immediately found the coaches, Pete and Steve of Mile High Multisports, who showed me the locker room and the way to the Lake.

I started my swim at 5:30. The water was glassy and the top 2 feet of water was high 60s. A 1500m open water course had been laid out so I did 3 laps and a short loop on my own while the coaches keeping watch from the shore. I guess the crowds start coming after Memorial day. The simple set consisted of:

  1. 1 loop (1500m) swim
  2. 1 poorly sighted loop (1600m) pull
  3. 1 loop (1500m) pull w/fins
  4. 1 out and back (500m) swim
    =5,100 m (5,575 yards or 3.2 miles)

I finished before 7pm and felt great. It is a little wierd swimming alone in a fresh, still-water lake, but it was also nice not to worry about waves, sharks and jellyfish.

Sunday Post Swim Update

I’m back in Colorado tonight. I wasn’t feeling too sore today after yesterday’s big swim. However, my wife and folks at church commented on my strange coloring. My face got some nice coloring in the areas that my cap and googles didn’t cover, creating a nice racoon look.

My back was a little splotchy. My lower back got a nice burn. You can see the contrast with what my suit covered. (Sorry for the plumber shot) It doesn’t feel as bad as it looks, but…

next time, more sunscreen!

Beautiful 7 mile Swim in Newport…and sharks?

Dave Galli (lt blue), Chris Roberts (dk blue) and Emily Evans (orange)

Today was our first long ocean swim of the year: 7 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes from the north side of Newport Pier, south past Balboa Pier, outside The Wedge to the Newport Harbor breakwater and back again. It was a good taste of what the Catalina swim may be like.

I loved the swim south to the breakwater- the pace was just right, my stroke felt strong, the water was warm and smooth, and the sun was bright. We had Brian in a kayak on one side and Scott on a paddleboard on the other. At 1 1/2 miles, we met up with Emily Evans and her entourage which consisted of her pace swimmer/dad and her sister in a kayak. In the midst of this armada, it was about as safe as you can feel in the Pacific. Though some dolphins passed right underneath us, I missed them.

After we reached the Newport Harbor breakwater we refueled and headed back. Emily apparently had been sandbagging the trip south and turned up the speed going north. While Dave met the challenge, my energy level dropped and I started to lose ground. Scott stayed with me as I began to trail the group (thanks Scott!). At Balboa pier, Emily headed in to shore and Dave waited for me so we could finish the last 2 miles together. After half a mile, I begin to loose energy again and my stroke got “lazy”. While my “lazy stroke” is easy to maintain, it is too slow to keep up with Dave- even when I am drafting. We decided to separate. Brain accompanied Dave back and Scott guided me for the last 1 1/2 miles. I finished about 10 minutes behind Dave. Even with lead shoulders, it was a fun swim coming back. Though I had no extreme fatigue during the swim, I did become accutely aware of the strength training and feeding strategies I would need to improve upon before our Catalina attempt to ensure that I can maintain a strong stroke for 21 miles.


On a final note, Scott told me that a little seal was following me for a while when I was about 1/2 mile from Newport Pier. While I appreciate nearby dolphins, I prefer to swim without seals (aka sharkfood). As I came into shore after going around the pier, a large crowd was on the shore. I wondered if a fight had broken out. I swam in and looked to see what the others were oggling. Someone had pulled a dead baby seal out of the surf. It had two broken bones extending out of its body where its tail should have been and its abdomen was punctured. Given the fresh state of the wounds, it was obvious that it had been killed very recently- within minutes or hours. I don’t know if it was a propellor or shark, but I was grateful for my beautiful and peaceful swim.

This swim has me even more excited for the Catalina swim. It is a zen like experience being in the ocean while listening to the sloshing of the water and thinking for hours. Click here to get Dave’s take on the day and see additional pictures.

Novaquatics Workout

I am back in Orange County today and so I did the 5:45 Novaquatics workout at Soka University in Aliso Viejo. It was great to see Coach Ahelee again. It is the first time I’ve seen her since she got back from the World Championships in Perth and National Championships in Austin. She took age group titles at both events, as in she placed first in the world and nation! Congratulations! I understand she may no longer be coaching at Nova this summer and it really bums me out. She is the type of coach who notices when you aren’t there and is full of positive energy. I hope the team can prevent her from leaving!

She gave a good speed workout:
350 warm-up
6 x 75 (kick, drill, swim)
12 x 25 yds (down underwater, back sprint)
100 easy
4 x 50 fast on 1:00
150 easy
4 x 50 fast with fins on 1:00
150 easy
4 x 50 fast with fins on 1:00
150 easy
4 x 50 fast with fins on 1:00
200 warm down
=2,800

Thursday Morning

I seriously debated turning off the alarm clock and sleeping for another hour, but I knew I’d regret it later so I crawled out of bed and got out of the hotel by 5:45am. Coach Susan Williams called today’s set:
Warmup: 2oo swim, 100 kick, 200 swim, 100 drill, 200 swim. (descending 200s)
20 x 25 yds (3 FAST, 1 Easy repeated 5 times) on :30
200 easy
1 x 800 yds (every 4th 50 surge)
1 x 600 (drafting drill)
1 x 400 yds (every 4th 50 surge)
1 x 200 yds at 1500 race pace
100 easy
5 x 100 pull on 1:30, 1:20, 1:10, 1:20, 1:30
200 easy
= 4,300 yards