Introduction to Open Water Swimming

I still can’t believe that I’m even writing this. I love swimming and recently my dedication to physical fitness has kicked to a higher level. This past summer, I just wanted to re-do a personal best from college of swimming 4000 yards in 93 minutes. I joined the San Mateo Aquatics Club (in addition to my regular 24 Hour Fitness membership) just to have access to a 25-yard pool. I got to 4000 yards and thought that regardless of time, I wasn’t as tired as I used to be when swimming that distance. Maybe it’s the 25% Slovenian in me (Slovenians do crazy things like free climbing 5.14d climbs), but I went from 4000 yards to 4500 yards to 5000 yards in about a week or so of swimming just every other day. I swam 6000 yards on my birthday “just because.” A couple of the lifeguards at SMAC have made comments on how long I’ve been in the pool when I go on those 6000+ yards days.

What was I going to do? Keep increasing the yardage and be in that pool for 3, 4, 5+ hours? I started thinking about something called Open Water Swimming as a more logical step than seeing if I can turn my swimming pool routines into 10,000 yards/day.

Sometime last year, I must have started following Jamie Patrick on twitter. I first knew of him from his 111-mile swim down the Sacramento River. I’m rarely ever on twitter, but one day this summer I was on there and saw him post about an upcoming Tahoe 360 where he was going to attempt to swim the 68 mile perimeter of Lake Tahoe in a single continuous swim without leaving the water or resting! Having started swimming again myself, I was very excited on following his adventure. He failed in that attempt due to weather, but of course he’s going to make a second attempt next year at it.

Jamie and I are friends on Facebook (as it’s easier for me to keep up to date with anyone on Facebook than twitter). He announced that he was helping to organize a Myrtle Huddleston Honorary Swim next August. I immediately expressed interest in this swim, but having never done OWS, I had no idea where to start. Jamie messaged me offering to help. I talked to him on the phone last Thursday, and he got me way excited about this swim! I had a lot of fears about it (Would I be out there entirely alone without any support boats? Would I get lost? Can I even pull this off?) which he was overwhelmingly supportive that I could do this swim, SOLO (as opposed to part of a relay team) and without a wetsuit. It was one of the most awesome phone conversations in my life!

So now here I am looking at my goal of swimming the 11-mile width of Tahoe solo without a wetsuit in less than 10 months from now. Jamie is going to put together a training schedule for me and help me stay on track so I can meet my goal. This blog was his recommendation so I need to give him credit for that too. He’s even going to swim with me a few times while I’m training! I am already so thankful for his help, love, and support and I have yet to meet the guy in person.

The swim is also on my best friend Maurice’s birthday. If I’m even more lucky, he, his girlfriend, and their son will be there to help support me during the swim.

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