2019 Member Spotlight – Michele Mintling

August, 2019

How did you get into doing kayak support?

It was sort of an accident, really.  I met a Spin instructor at my gym who was involved with WaveOne. When he found out that I like to kayak, he said they were looking for extra support and then he connected me with Denis Crean.  The WaveOne crew was very welcoming, and I felt at home from day one.

Why do you do kayak support?

I do kayak support because, without it, people wouldn’t be able to practice the sport they love so much.  Not many people are willing to do it, for various reasons, so it also makes me feel like a valued member of the OWS community.

What events do you do kayak support?

For two seasons I supported for WaveOne, doing their sunset and sunrise swims at National Harbor, in addition to Denis’ races and OWS clinics. We also did support for Nations one year, which was a blast. This season, I’ve supported a few swims for WaveOne and also Traci McNeil’s Crossing Currents Aquatics and the Bay Swim.  But mostly, I’m moving away from that type of support, and learning to pilot individual swimmers for long distance races and training swims. The highlight of my summer so far has been piloting a friend during the 9 mile Ocean Games swim.

What are some mistakes that you see people making? Have you learned anything from watching other people?

Goggles.  People need to test out their goggles in the pool or at the dock before starting a swim. They also need to research different types of goggles and get advice on features and proper fit.  This seems elementary, but every single swim I see lots of people having trouble with their goggles and it can take away from the enjoyment of the activity.

The main thing I’ve learned from watching other people is that consistency is the real key to improving your swim. Those who progress the most are the ones who show up week after week, even when they don’t feel like it and even when they have a bad swim.

Any funny or memorable experiences from being kayak support?

The funniest thing is always the spectators who aren’t familiar with OWS. They ask, “Are people SWIMMING in there??”  This isn’t funny, but it was cool – while kayaking for 5 hours during ocean games I got to see a number of dolphins. One of them separated from his pod and came over to circle around me and my swimmer. He was most definitely checking us out.

Any advice that you’d like to offer?

Within the limits of your safety and ability, don’t be afraid to go out (but never alone) and explore new places to OWS.  There are tons of great places in Maryland and Virginia to practice swimming. Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Beverly Triton State Park in Maryland, and Hammerman Beach north of Baltimore are a few of my favorites.  Also, don’t be afraid to try ocean swimming. It’s the ultimate sense of freedom.