Hey friends! I have been experiencing a very busy summer between keeping up both of my podcasts and my other responsibilities. I haven’t been as involved in open water swimming in the last 2 years as I once was but I still really love the sport. Last year I didn’t do the swim at Deer Creek and I really regretted it. It’s such a terrific event and there’s no pressure as far as time because we all have support and the 10 milers (I still can’t believe there are 10 milers!) give me plenty of time to finish before things are done.
Even though I really wanted to, I was nervous about participating this year because of my terrible sleep schedule and my lack of training. I knew I wasn’t as ready as I should be but I felt I could still do it if I could wake up in time. I gave it some thought and decided to go for it. Then 3 days before the swim my paddler had to cancel and I thought that might be the end of it. However, to my joy my friend Lisa agreed to paddle for me, which I am super grateful for.
Last night I was actually able to get to sleep at a decent hour! It wasn’t all REM but I got a good 5-6 hours which is great for me so I woke up nervous but excited. Then I started in on the race and the water felt great. Half of the race is mental because it feels like you aren’t making any progress and it can get very discouraging. Luckily I had support and I just keep swimming (as Dory says!). It got harder towards the end because there were more boat waves but I kept going and eventually finished. It was a slow but I did it.
You can watch it all in the above video. Another race has come and gone- 12 races in total for me. Now I just want to get even more ready for next year! What a great experience!
My friend Kyle nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. He’s an awesome fellow animation addict and you guys should totally check out his blog.
This is a fun blog tag where you get to talk about 7 Things About Yourself. Now after blogging for 8 years there isn’t much you guys don’t know about me but hopefully I can remind you of those fun things.
I write for Rotoscopers.com- I don’t get to talk about it often on this blog but I write fairly regularly for rotoscopers.com which is an animation website. It’s a lot of fun and my writing has improved as I’ve had to write for a professional site. I brought up the idea of doing a Disney Canon Countdown with the other writers and they have embraced it. My last canon post was on The Little Mermaid, which I love so much. I’d love for you to read it. http://www.rotoscopers.com/2016/08/19/disney-canon-countdown-28-the-little-mermaid/I also got the chance to be on the rotoscopers podcast which was amazing!
I am not voting for Trump- Frequent fans of this blog know I am a strong conservative. I have decided to vote for Evan McMullin an independent candidate. Some say I’m throwing my vote away but I just couldn’t vote for someone like Trump. I thought back on the early history of my faith and when the Saints had nobody they could vote for Joseph Smith ran for President. I figure if it is good enough for them to go third party it is good enough for me! Here’s a little bit more about Evan.
I recently became a Star Trek fan! Starting in May my friend Tom and I started podcasting about all the Star Trek movies. There are definitely misses in the films (14 including Galaxy Quest) but at its best Star Trek is an engaging and smart series with good sci-fi writing and charismatic performances. I have just started on the TV shows but the movies were a ton of fun to watch.
I love to swim. This year I finished my 11th open water race. I really need to get back in the pool more than I do but I really do love it.
I went to Spain this year! I hadn’t been out of the country since 2008 and that was just Mexico. The last time I used my passport was 2005 to Japan, so it was quite the adventure. I went to the beach 13 times! It was a dream for me.
I work from home as a digital marketing coordinator. Unfortunately I am not full time employed but with my basement apartment rented out I am able to make it all work. In a way it is nice because I have more time to work on my youtube channel and other writing.
I collect Funko Pop dolls. This is a fairly new collection but I’m having a blast doing it. I currently have 40 in my collection. I’ve gotten 5 since doing this video but it is pretty accurate. What’s fun about the funko pops is the attention to detail and their relatively low cost (under $10).
So now is the point where I am supposed to nominate other people to participate. I nominate Jeremy and Abby, Richard, and my friend over at The Love Pirate. They are all awesome bloggers so check out their blogs.
Write a blog post accepting your nomination.
Show the blogger who nominated you how much you love them by thanking them in the post and linking to their blog.
Tell us seven things about yourself.
Nominate other blogs that you think are totally rad.
Let the bloggers you’ve nominated know about they’ve received an award.
Post the rules again to let those bloggers know how it works.
Hi! I’m excited to tell you another open water swim is in the books! This is my 11th swim and unfortunately my only race for 2016. I was hoping to get 2 in this year but with my travels it just didn’t work out. Hopefully next year will get a few more in.
I will be honest with you I felt a little under-prepared for this race and like I always do I got very nervous this whole week before the race. What if this is the swim that I can’t finish? I feel like it is eventually going to happen one of these days but so far it hasn’t. As I got my Dad and drove up to the race I felt nauseous and began to wonder ‘why do I put myself through this?’. Even as I got in the cold water (it seemed colder than last year) I wondered if I could do it.
But then I start swimming. I got about a 1/4 mile and I really was doubting my abilities. The 1/2 mile marker seemed like a million miles away. It seemed impossible I would ever get there. But I divided it up into small amounts, 100 strokes, 50 strokes, even 25 strokes and I kept going. Finally I made the 1/2 mile marker and wished the race was over but I had to keep on going.
I did several 100 lap batches and at the 3/4 mark there were a lot of boats so the waves get large and difficult to manage (especially when you are tired from swimming for nearly an hour). But I just kept going. My friend Etsuko was my paddler and she helped encourage me and boost my spirits. When I finally saw the finish line I knew it was almost over. I had almost done it and I could feel the adrenaline sink in. I gave one more push and hit that buoy with conviction! Wahoo!
So I am a finisher! My 11th race is done and it was an amazing experience. My Dad also finished which is an awesome accomplishment especially for someone who can’t swim freestyle.
In the end, it was an amazing experience and I’m so proud of my medal. I know it is an Olympic medal and I was one of the last ones to finish our little race but it feels good to watch these Olympians and know I did something physically hard today too.
Today my friends I am a finisher, 10 times over! Yes, I finished my 10th open water swim at Deer Creek and I couldn’t be more thrilled (and tired!). If you’ve been a follower of mine on the blog you might recall my very first race back in 2011. In fact, after my first open water swim at the clinic that year I posted “Yesterday was the best day of my life!” I hope that everyone is able to find something they love like that in their life. Once was all it took to get me hooked!
What a journey it has been since that first attempt. 10 races have come and gone and they all are treasured memories.
Like always today’s race had its fair share of challenges. I went in to the race feeling pretty confident. I felt strong at Bear Lake and then did a practice swim on Thursday that went very well. My plan was to break up the swim into sets of 100 strokes and then do 25 strokes of breaststroke. The problem was for some reason my asthma was bothering me and I felt pretty wheezy. It didn’t seem like I could get enough air which was causing me to get a lot of water up my nose and in my mouth. This is not the ideal way to swim by any measure. But I kept going…
This race was really neat because my Dad swam it with me. Typically my family and I don’t share a ton of common interests and so it was really neat to share this experience with him! He did the entire race alternating between breaststroke, backstroke and sidestroke but finished and did very well! It’s been a cool month for me with the swim with my Dad and doing the book videos with my Mom. Both meant a lot to me.
It’s the weirdest thing when you are swimming open water because it feels like you are on a swim treadmill. No matter how fast you go it feels like you aren’t making any progress and you will never reach the darn buoy. Then you do and it is so exhilarating! You would think after 10 races it would get less exciting but it is still such a thrill.
My time wasn’t good on the race but the important thing was I finished. I’m very proud of that as I am for all of my finishes.
I’d like to thank my paddler Michelle for taking time out of her busy schedule to help me achieve my goals. She couldn’t have been more encouraging and wonderful. It was so great to catch up as she isn’t my trainer at the moment since I left that gym.
I also want to say thank you to Jim Hubbard and everyone at Salt Lake Open Water for being such a wonderful community that nurtures all types of swimmers. I couldn’t be more grateful that I am accepted and cheered on at every race.
I was asked at work to write a blog about a fun thing to do in the outdoors in Utah. So I put together this post on the GSL. Most of it will be review for regular readers but I thought I might as well share it.
In Defense of the GSL
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Utah? Most Americans would probably answer 1. Mormons and 2. Great Salt Lake (maybe skiing or the Olympics for 3rd?).
I’ve lived in Utah for most of my adult life and the interesting thing is until 2011 I had never been to see the Great Salt Lake. I had driven by it but not stopped to take a look and certainly not swam in it. I would bet 80-90% of Utahns were like me and had never set foot near the Great Salt Lake. This is funny because daily buses of Chinese tourists come up to take a look at it.
Why don’t people go to the Great Salt Lake? Well, the long and short of it is- it smells.
One blog said:
“Yea, I was going to say, who would want to stink like the Great Salt Lake!??! You can smell it as you start to drive near it. My daughter went on a field trip there, and her shoes stank for at least a week. A co-worker once went out there and her shoes stank up the whole office afterwards.”
Sounds pretty unpleasant right? WRONG!
I was in the ‘who swims in GSL?’ camp most my life but in 2011 I discovered open water swimming and my life has never been the same. As great as pool swimming can be (I love any kind of water) there is something special about being out in nature where the water is unpredictable and full of surprises.
And no body of water is more unpredictable than the Great Salt Lake. It’s a totally unique and exhilarating experience.
You step in the water and your skin prickles. My friend calls it going for a quick pickle. Every pore in your body reacts and burns (people think it is like the ocean and it is not at all). It’s a wild experience but to me that is part of the fun of it.
There are so few times in life we can do something special and when I swim the GSL I can honestly say I’m 1 of only a handful of dedicated swimmers who have that same experience each year. That’s pretty cool! Plus, it really is beautiful.
The older I get the harder it is to be genuinely surprised by anything and each time I swim in the Great Salt Lake (or any open water) it feels new and unexpected.
Every year on the first Saturday of June my swim club Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) sponsors a 1 mile swim in the Great Salt Lake and it is tough in every way. But it is also exhilarating. I have done it 3 times and each time goes down as one of the best days of my life.
To challenge and conquer nature is an experience every human being should have.
Make sure to go early in the summer (May and June) because later there are too many spiders and bugs.
Always go with friends when open water swimming and wear a safe swimmer so you are visible to boaters.
Keep a swim to an easy return level because conditions can change rapidly at the GSL (windstorms can come on and I’ve been in 6 foot swells without warning)
You will have brine shrimp (only living organism in the lake) on your body and suit but it washes right off. (There is a hose to rinse off in. Rest comes off in the shower. No big deal)
Contact SLOW on facebook and find out when swimmers are going and join in. There are members of the Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club who swim GSL year-round!
Have great goggles. I usually tuck an extra pair into my suit because you do not want to have goggle problems at GSL
Drink lots of liquids before and after because that salt will dehydrate you fast
Where possible have a kayaker accompany your group giving water, checking safety etc
Count your strokes. This has helped me so much with open water. The shoreline can feel like a mirage but when you focus on 20 more strokes, 50 more strokes, you will get there. I promise!
Sighting can be helpful but GSL is tricky since nothing grows around it that’s why best to go with group.
Smell does not last for weeks. Take a hot shower and launder your clothes in hot water and you’ll be fine
Oddly the smell is much worse just outside the lake than when you are swimming in it. I don’t know if you just don’t notice it but it really is a non-issue in the water.
Wouldn’t recommend shaving anywhere right before going in the GSL. It will burn!
I’m probably not making it sound like very much fun but swimming in the Great Salt Lake is an adventure. It’s something you can gather with friends and take on together. It’s a beautiful part of my home state and I recommend everyone give it a shot, smell and all.
Open water swimming also teaches me about life every time I am in the water. The shoreline can feel so far off but if I push through and don’t give up I will prevail. That’s one of many lessons I’ve gotten from the sport over the years.
Oh and you do float which is kind of cool!
Here I am getting interviewed after my 2013 race, which was incredibly difficult for me to finish but I did it!
Next time you are in Utah let me know and let’s swim GSL together!
I’m still in a lot of pain but that has become fairly normal. What makes me sad is missing my race. For the last 3 years the Deer Creek Open Water Swim has been one of my favorite things to do during the entire year. I looked forward to it like Christmas, maybe more so, and now it is out of the question.
I was able to sell my spot which is good but it is still a serious bummer. I was just reading a post on facebook and it all sounds like so much fun. I guess they have awesome finisher medals and are doing the kayak raffle again. I’m sure they will get a good turn out like last year.
If there was any way I could do it I would, but I can’t even stand straight right now. Moving my leg hurts let alone kicking in the water.
That’s it. I’m just sad.
But there is a lot to be grateful for. I’m grateful for good friends who have been so supportive. I’m grateful for all the prayers from family, friends, and my internet community. I’m grateful to anyone who has given me a ride or helped me out especially my friend Stacia and my roommate Regan.
What do you guys think I should do Saturday instead of just stewing on my missing the race? I don’t have many options and everyone seems to be busy. Any creative ideas?
I remember thinking in June that my life was going so well and wondering how long it could all last. Well, July threw me a curve ball I wasn’t expecting. Sometimes that’s the way life is. The Lord builds you up so you are ready for something hard (and I realize in the grand scheme of things my hard thing isn’t that hard but still it’s been tough for me).
So I have made a difficult decision. I have decided to not swim Slam the Dam. Here are the reasons:
1. I miss General Conference for my church. I should have just abandoned the attempt in the first place because watching this live and tweeting during it has become a big part of my life. I need the nourishment and its just not the same watching it backwards.
2. Despite their best efforts I have not gelled well with the organizers and I’ll just leave it at that.
3. My friend won’t be able to go so she will be driving me down just to watch me swim.
4. The likelihood of my finishing was about 50/50 (being generous). My best time in a 1 mile swim is 54 minutes which is cutting it very close to the hour time limit. I get why they needed to have it but it just wasn’t the best for my friend and I to have the time limit.
5. With the government shutdown looming and very likely the race would be cancelled anyway because they rely on the parks department for the permit and race. I think the chance of everything being resolved by Saturday is very small. One of the organizers said “If the government shuts down the park will be closed and no swim. It’s that simple.” I think its very unlikely the race will go on at all.
6. I have gotten to the pool about 4 times in September. With vacation, sickness, back treatments and everything else it just hasn’t been a great training month like August was
7. In the end, driving 7 hours to not finish or have it cancelled while missing Conference just didn’t seem worth it especially considering I don’t really have any friends going or who would be there to cheer me on.
8. My friend summarized why she wasn’t going and her outlook and I agree:
“I’ve also withdrawn, asking that my swag bag and hoodie be mailed to me. I still dont regret signing up. I had a goal to reach for, and though I fell just short of it, I succeeded in becoming a swimmer. I will take that as the lifetime win it is. And, this just means my first “official” swim will be a SLOW swim. I think I love that!”
9. I will also be following the directions and repeated orders of the planning committee. Today they reiterated that if you are “unwell, ill, injured or generally “off” from your normal self (whatever that means?) or can not meet course cut offs times, please do not swim” . I will respect their request and not swim, leave it at that.
10. All goals just don’t work out and I think there is a lesson in that. This is the second year I’ve tried to do this swim and will be my last for a time. It’s just too busy a time for me and has been too stressful for all involved.
Thank you to all the volunteers and my friends for your amazing support. I love you all so much. Swimming is after all just a hobby. It needs to always be fun and the last month or so it hasn’t felt fun. I’m going to work on that. I know that I’m a good swimmer. Not swimming Slam the Dam does not change that. I know that it is all for the best.
Thank you especially to Tania for being my training buddy and becoming my cherished friend. You are the best. (I feel like I’m giving an Oscar speech but its true).
Thanks you guys!
Guys- it was cancelled in the end so I’m extra happy with my decision (and glad I made my own medals in advance!). I am sorry for those hoping to swim that couldn’t. Karma…
For those of you who do not follow me on facebook you might not be aware of the recent drama in my life. It started in the summer when my new friend Tanya and I started training together. She was new to open water. New to swimming in fact. She is a student of my friend Kate who is a fabulous swim instructor for adults. She’s introduced so many people to swimming and open water over the years and has helped me tons with my own stroke.
In July Tania mentioned to me that she wanted to prepare for a race but didn’t feel she would be ready for Deer Creek in August. The next obvious choice was to take the trip out to Slam the Dam in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. I have done this race in 2011 and it was a lot of fun. I figured why not? (I had signed up last year but various dramas kept me from attending).
So the training began and we got to blackridge pond as often as we could and we both saw improvement. More importantly we had fun and became dear friends.
Tanya is honestly good for my ego because she thinks I’m such a good swimmer. I love to swim but pretty much always know I’m the slowest girl in the room and I’m ok with that. I get the job done and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve told Tanya repeatedly over these weeks ‘this is a hobby. If it isn’t fun you are doing something wrong’.
That said, I’ve had nagging doubts about my abilities all along. With my back and other chronic pain I haven’t been able to train as hard as last year, it was frustrating for me to feel like I wasn’t the swimmer I was just a few months ago. These anxieties were made worse by the realization of a strict time limit at Slam the Dam. For some unknown reason the park service would only give them until 11 am and then everyone has to be done.
This only gives the 1.2 mile swimmers 1 hour to swim. The organizers have told me it is ‘plenty of time for a swim’ but they don’t understand or aren’t interested in nurturing new/nontraditional athletes. My best time on a 1 mile swim is 53 minutes. At Deer Creek my time was 1 hr 2 minutes for 1 mile.
To make matters worse they sent out an email last week saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race” What does that even mean? I’m not mentally prepared for life let alone a race. I mean who feels adequately prepared for something so monumental? I bet if you asked Michael Phelps he’d tell you things he wished he’d done or worked harder on. To me this was baffling and kind of mean-spirited. (and I begged for some kind of an accommodation but no go)
They have also made it clear that you will be pulled from the water if you go over time, which I’m ok with but I just wish the time limit didn’t exist. It honestly makes me sick inside. Sick for my friend. Sick for me. Sick for all the other new swimmers who will be discouraged from participating. A side of me wants to throw in the towel and not make the effort to drive out there and be humiliated…
But where’s the victory in that? I’d say there is about a 50/50 chance depending on weather, current, course, strength, stroke etc that I finish the race. My GSL time after all was 1 hr 24 minutes so not even close to the cut off time because of the strong current. (Thank you Utah races for not having a time limit or at least a strictly enforced one).
50/50…so I either succeed and have a triumphant moment or I get a DNF (Did Not Finish). Even now there is a side of me that shudders when I say those words. It is so outside of my nature to not finish, and yet isn’t it always a possibility in any endeavor? At least anything worth doing can be a success or failure?
The funny thing is the ingredients are nearly the same for a finish and a DNF- both have training, goal setting, driving, racing, happy friends and lots of people who say to me ‘I could never do that’. The only difference is me and my pride. Kind of silly…
I love what JK Rowling says about failure. ” It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”
I don’t want to fail by default. For me a DNF will be a DNQ (Did Not Quit)
How do you guys deal with DNF’s and potential failures in your goals? Its especially hard when it is so outside of your control. What are your strategies?
I can definitely promise you this- I will not be swimming Slam the Dam again anytime soon. If they only want athletes with a specific set of skills than they have got it. This will be the last year myself or my blog are involved. Too bad really…
I’ve gotten some great encouragement on facebook from the swim forums. Thanks everyone!
Shawn C Turner the worst that happens is a dnf (eh!) and a boat might pick you up before the finish (or race officials ask you to swim out near a feed station, depending on course layout). if you don’t mind the drive and want to swim the race, i say go for it.
Rachel Wagner I think what has made me worry is the organizers sent an email saying “If you are not adequately prepared mentally and/or physically, do not race”. I never feel adequately prepared. Certainly not mentally.
Shawn C Turner i think they mean swimmers who might take the race for granted, or who don’t know what they’re getting into. they’re not talking about you. your objective in this race is that time limit; you’re close. concentrate on your technique, keep some gas in the tank, and when you feel you can kick it up a gear toward the end, go for it!
Richard Nuell It was interesting that the business of whether event organisers really want not quite so fast people was thrashed out quite recently either here or on another site. If the event took place last year, check the results if not, the general opinion was t…See More
Kelly Grace Winters Go for it Rachel! I am having a similar thing about a triathlon I’m supposed to do next weekend. I have an illness that prevented me from doing much training over the summer, so I am not exactly going to cruise through the thing. But what the heck! Go and do it anyway, and enjoy the day. Feel proud of yourself for giving it a go and doing the best you can.
Floyd Fisk Go for it and don’t worry if you don’t make the time limit (my bet is that you will). The statement in the emai is there to protect the race organizers and for those who are inexperienced in open water swimming. You have the experience as shown by your 6 previous swims. I’m sure you will do great. I will be there too and this will be my longest OW swim (2.4+1.2). Good luck!