Just joined the group and have a bunch of questions - but I'll start with the bay swim. I have done a handful of open water swims (each under 1.5 miles) in the past but nothing like this. I started checking out some of the posts from past years but i wanted to open it up for any training tips or guidance. I'm ultimately training for my first ironman in november and figured this race (another first) would be a great way kick off the season in style. I am slow and finishing happy is my goal.
Note for one that some clubbers will start wetsuit swimming at Sandy Pt. pretty early in the spring. Keep your eyes open for this, or organize & announce your own.
Fantastic! Thanks! I'll keep my eye out for it.
Does anyone have a guide for gearing up to this distance? I was thinking along the lines of marathon training (eg 1 long swim per week (increasing by 500m each week working up to 8000m?), 3 medium swims per week (starting at 2000m per workout and working up to 3500m, maybe 4000m?), and a 2 week taper. I'll probably add a recovery week or two based on fatigue &/or weddings.
Thanks for the help!!
Congrats on being accepted into the GCBS -- that may be the hardest part! I was in your position a couple of years ago and really didn't find any real training guides for distance swimming, unlike marathon training where there are a zillion guides. I laid out the training I did in this thread that got me to the finish comfortably, but that's just me.
You will LOVE this swim -- it is just so cool to take a breath and look up at the Bay Bridge above you. And after you finish, every time you drive over the Bay Bridge for years to come, you will always get a good feeling. Good luck and keep us posted!
I got in this year but unfortunately have another commitment that weekend and won't be able to compete. It looks like a great time though and a nice accomplishment.
Wonderful feedback happyrunner!! Thank you (and Luke) for sharing!! I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from the course and those threads were right on.
I'm sure training with a group and/or coach would help but does it seem unreasonable if I plan on doing the majority of workouts on my own? Just curious if I need to plan differently.
I do the majority of all my marathon swim training on my own, and have completed various distances up to and including 10 miles. So yes, you can swim on your own.
That being said, I'd recommend group workouts if only to get some speed practice in. Yes, despite this being a long swim, sprint/fartlek/intervals are still useful. I don't know about you, but when I train by myself, I don't push myself in the sprints as much as I do when I"ve got someone to chase and/or got someone tapping my toes.
Cheers and good luck,
I'm sure you're right - nothing like a little competition! I'll make sure to join in on a few group swims. Thanks so much mike!
Congrats on getting into the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim! This is one of the coolest races I've had the opportunity to compete in... right up there with the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon and the Empire State Building Run-Up. There's nothing quite like picking your head up in the middle of the swim and seeing nothing but water all around you, as far as the eye can see (besides the 2 spans of the bridge, of course!). As HappyRunner points out, you will always feel a great sense of pride when you drive over the bridge!
In terms of training, I did my training almost exclusively on my own. Just as long as you get your training in, you should be fine whether you train alone or with others. That being said, it's easier to stay disciplined if you are training with a group (and more fun too!). I believe my longest training swim was 3 miles and I was fine on race day (I grew up swimming, so it has always been a strength for me). Of course, if you swim longer, you will be in better shape later in the race, and have greater confidence going into it.
I would practice sighting when you are in the pool, because you'll need to do this periodically when you're swimming... you swim between the 2 spans of the bridge which are far easier to sight than a triathlon swim buoy, but there can also be some decent chop that can make this challenging. Also, keep in mind the alternating current... you will be pushed one way for the first half of the race, then the tide will gradually switch and you will be pushed the other way during the second half of the race... sighting is important to keep yourself from getting pushed into the support columns (and thus getting scooped up by a rescue boat!) and you will want to sight the span of the bridge that the current is pushing you towards so you can swim gradually away from it (like toward 11 or 1 on the clock). You might also want to practice taking a GU or other nutrition when you're swimming... in a 2+ hour open water swim, you will want some nutrition, and you'll probably want to practice how to take this nutrition while treading water before race day.
Depending on the year, the Bay can be a beast. I did it twice, and it was tougher in 2009 than it was in 2005. Then again, I did the 1 Mile Chesapeake Challenge in 2012, and the calm water was described as "glass". You cannot compare times from one year to another, but if you look at the 1st place from one year to another, the 50th place from one year to another, the 100th place from one year to another, etc. you can get a good idea of how much harder/easier conditions were from one year to another. Regardless of the conditions, there's no feeling quite like seeing the golden shore as you near the end of the swim, putting your feet back on terra firma, and mustering up the strength to stand up after 2+ hours of swimming and stagger through knee deep water up onto the shore to cross the finish line a few feet from the water's edge. I saw one guy swim his last few strokes doing butterfly and another guy propose to his girlfriend shortly after the finish. The finish line is a pretty cool place for friends and family to watch the action and take in the magnitude of the event.
I don't know if you received direct feedback on your training plan, but what you are proposing is basically what I did -- set a baseline distance for about 3 swims per week (do with a group -- about 3k to 4k per practice), and, similar to marathon training, work your way up to long weekend swims to be about 80% of the race distance, which is about 7,080meters total. That should get you to the finish. Of course, if you are going for a specific goal time you may need to adjust your training accordingly. The swim is definitely an experience. Make sure you are well hydrated beforehand because the mysterious hydration/snack boats (I never saw them) can sometimes be too far away to get to when you need it the most and are getting close to the end and just want to finish. -Jim
Luke says "in a 2+ hour open water swim, you will want some nutrition, and you'll probably want to practice how to take this nutrition while treading water before race day."
I don't agree with Luke on the need to feed during a 2-3 hour swim, but I do agree with him that if you are feeding, you should practice it.
There are a couple of options for Gu feeding during this swim. Practice with a Gu under your cap, as well as in your suit. Try one tucked in the leg of your suit if your suit has a jammer-like leg. Avoid tucking it anywhere near the arms or shoulders; too much movement can lead to a nasty rash. Out of those options, I prefer the cap. While feeding, lie on your back and continue to kick. Do not stop all motion, and avoid going vertical as much as possible.
You should rip the top almost all the way so it is easier to rip it when wet. Practice that in the pool. Also practice tucking the empty so that you don't get jabbed by an edge.
But seriously, if you train for it, you can easily do this swim w/o the need to feed. Drink a lot of water in the hours prior to the swim. If you think you need some carbs, eat the Gu right before swimming.
MSP Coach and marathon swimmer
I went without any nutrition in 2005, but I took 2 or 3 GUs during the swim in 2009. Much like when running a 10 miler or half marathon, I would recommend bringing nutrition with you in case you want it. With proper training, you can probably make it through the distance without nutrition, but if you'll have it if you want it!
In 2009, I duct taped my GUs to the zipper pull on the back of my wetsuit, and that worked pretty well. Mike is right that you will want to lightly tear/cut the top on the packet to make it easier to open. I usually take a scissors and lightly snip both sides of the tear strip (about 1-2mm deep) to make the GU easier to open (I do this when running and cycling too).
You will probably also want to bring a disposable water bottle when you're walking down to water's edge before the start of the race, as you may be standing there for 10-15 mins before the race starts. I usually have an empty old plastic Gatorade bottle full of water. This way you can keep hydrating up til the start of the race, and you won't have to worry about losing a water bottle.
Ed is correct. There are a couple of crazy clubbers who head out to Sandy Point for OWS. I frequently head there when the weather breaks. Check the Forum in the spring.