This is the 6th year I have worked open water swim camps with Terry and Total Immersion, and every year, the roster expands, and the experience is more rewarding. Celeste St Piere directed this camp as well as an all women's camp the week before bringing together more than 80 swimmers in one of the most beautiful and accessible places in the world to swim in.
The Maho Bay eco-tent Village functioned as our home base. A large majority of campers and coaches also took residence here, so during swim breaks, there were opportunities to chat with swimmers in some of the other groups over a beer or a meal... at the dining pavilion or just under the shady canopy of a few trees (beware of falling iguana poop)
St John is sparsely populated, as a great majority of the island is national park http://www.stjohnusvi.com/map.html
A network of hiking trails lead to ruins of sugar plantations and beautiful panoramic views. I broke a toe on the second day, so with a pass on hiking, got to log more aquatic time.
With nearly 50 swimmers ranging from OW beginners to well seasoned, we divided into small groups spending our morning sessions working on OW specific skills and afternoons applying those skills to longer group swims. There was an informal early morning "coaches swim" for those of us looking for a little extra credit. Terry circulated among all the groups and offered us some challenging focal points to carry with us as we explored Maho and the nearby bays.
Willie Miller and I had the honor of working with a rather ambitious group of swimmers, and our afternoon swims were consistently between 5 and 10k. I'll describe a couple:
Maho to Waterlemon round trip - We started at Little Maho Bay and followed the buoy line through Francis Bay to Mary's Point. Things were always a little bumpy here, and tarpon and eagle ray sightings are common. We continued into the wind east, and then south-east to Waterlemon Cay where we met up with a group of swimmers that hiked out to Waterlemon. after a brief chat, we swam into the beach at Leinster Bay where we fueled up with a snack and some water before swimming back to Maho. Six of us swam to Leinster Bay, two would hike back, but we picked up another so the five of us set out for the swim back. At Mary's Point a school of 5 to 6 foot megalops atlanticus [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarpon[/ame] paraded by. Since we seemed to be making good time now with a tail wind, we decided to take a detour around Whistling Cay... counter-clockwise and then head straight back.... 12k. We swam much of this in sync.
Maho to Trunk Bay and back - Again, the start was at Little Maho with a heading south west to America's Point. We continued along the buoy line staying on the outside of Cinnamon Cay and hugged the shore line around the point between Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay making a bee line to the small sandy beach at the west end of Trunk Bay. Water break and back this time taking the inside tracks around Trunk Cay and Cinnamon Cay.... 7k.
The shallows of Maho Bay abound with schools of tiny anchovy-like fish under constant assault from schools of palm sized fish from below, and dive-bombing pelicans from above. At times the attacks are so coordinated that many of these little guys beached themselves to escape the head on assault... the next wave bringing them back to the brine, disoriented, they now fall easy prey to the opportunistic juvenile tarpon cruising by. This is our daily show. We become familiar with the preferred territory of the turtles and sting rays (Big Maho) and giant red starfish also abound. A visiting manta ray with a 7' wingspan cruised with coach Dave Cameron one afternoon, and barracudas would pop up anywhere.
I purchased an inflatable stand-up-paddleboard for this week, http://www.seaeagle.com/LongBoard.aspx , I spent almost as much time on the board as I did in the water, and rigged up a towing belt for some of the longer swim when we wanted to take along food, drink, cameras, etc... I also kept a phone and marine radio on board. The advantages of a board over a kayak are many; in the chop, standing is more visible to boaters than a kayaker, in heavy wind, the board remained easy to tow while swimming, in an emergency situation, it would be easy to put a swimmer on the board, on a long one way swim, the board could be folded up for the shuttle ride back to the camp.
I tried to find a pilot that would escort a small group of swimmers to Jost Van Dyke (BVI) 10k...but due to customs technicalities, couldn't convince anyone to do it. Instead, on the day after the camp ended, Lennart Larson and I decided to swim to Cruz Bay. Much of the route was already familiar to us, but we would be going past Hawksnest, Caneel Bay and finally into the very busy Cruz Bay. We loaded up the SUP with a few gels and sports drinks and set off at 12:07. We had a bit of a tail wind for the first half and seemed to be making good time. This came to an abrupt end as we came around Hawksnest Point. At Turtle Bay, a strong rip was moving us northeast... into the narrow channel between the point and Henley Cay. This was not good, as many boats use this short cut to get to Cruz Bay. I told Lennart that the only chance I thought we had was to head into Turtle Bay and hug the shoreline into Caneel Bay. We took a hard left turn and swam around the point in very shallow water, our bodies just inches above the reef. It was easy to see that we were making steady but painfully slow progress... each stroke gaining only a few inches. We did persevere, and finally we were past the rip and back to a cruising speed. One more point to swim around and Cruz Bay was in sight. We swam from moored sailboat to sailboat looking both ways and timing things carefully to avoid any "conflict" and as we approached the beach on the north side of the ferry dock we could see Clare, Celeste, Andy, and Todd waiting for us... Dry clothes! It was 2:47. Lunch and a shuttle back to Maho. Tomorrow back to the snow in NY.
Updated January 24th, 2012 at 09:00 PM by chaos
We all know them.
In fact, many of us are them.
The "more is more" philosophers of swimming known as either yards whores or, in polite company, triathletes.
The very wise Britisher, Mr. Richard Skerrett, a swimmer from Wales whose USMS discussion forum name I should know but don't, who is nevertheless as capital a chap as can be found in the blessed realm, sent me a fascinating link this morning that I strongly urge you to read.
Look at Mr. Skerrett and ask yourself this: Can you imagine any Dylan Thomas/Richard Burton-esque Welschman with so handsome a weathered face ever steering you wrong? My god, man! He appears to have learned about the sea and the ways of water from Admiral Nelson himself!
Take to heart the wisdom in his link, which I shall reproduce here:
Alas, we live in hurried times, rushed times, times when there is very little time whatsover to stop and smell the pixilated roses depicted on your computer screen.
Smell this, you Type A bastards, you!
For those of you too busy to read the link, let me excerpt a key passage:
Research into the effects of high-volume swim training on performance suggests there is no advantage to piling on the kilometres. The legendary US physiologist Dave Costill has undertaken a great deal of research on swim training over the last three decades. In one study, his team of scientists followed two groups of swimmers over a 25 week training period. Both groups began with once daily training, but one group moved to twice daily training in weeks 10 to 15, reverting to once daily for the rest of the study period. At no stage of the 25 week training period did this group show enhanced performance or increased aerobic capacity as a result of their extra training. It was a waste of time.
In another study, Costill tracked the performance of competitive swimmers over a four-year period, comparing a group averaging 10 kilometre per day with a group averaging 5 kilometre per day in relation to changes in competitive performance time over 100, 200, 500 and 1600 yards.
Improvements in swim times were identical for both groups at around 0.8% per year for all events. Again, even though one group did twice as much training, both groups benefited to the same extent in the long term.
To quote Costill directly: 'Most competitive swimming events last less than two minutes. How can training for 3 to 4 hours per day at speeds that are markedly slower than competitive pace prepare the swimmer for the maximal efforts of competition?' Research from France supports Costill's conclusions. A team of scientists analysed the training and performance of competitive 100 metres and 200 metre swimmers over a 44 week period. Their findings were as follows:
Most swimmers completed two training sessions per daySwimmers trained at five specific intensities. These were swim speeds equivalent to 2, 4, 6 and a high 10 mmol/L blood lactate concentration pace and, finally, maximal sprint swimmingOver the whole season, the swimmers who made the biggest improvements were those who performed more of their training at higher paces. The volume of training had no influence on swim performance.
--with thanks to Rapheal Brandon
So, the next time you are tempted to swim nonstop at a plodding pace in the hopes of doing your competitive swimming some benefit, think twice. Even if you kick it into somewhat elevated gear, but don't give yourself too much rest, chances are that once you've trained your aerobic fibers to the max, you're not adding much.
Dare to make yourself uncomfortable, in fact, very uncomfortable with more race pace practice than you want to do, even if this drastically reduces your overall yardage.
I am not sure exactly what i think of the famous feminist work, A Vindication of the Rights of Whores [ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Vindication_of_The_Rights_of_Whores[/ame]
However, I am increasingly critical of all who would vindicate the rights of yardage whores, particularly our plodding freestyle lane hogging brethren who only swim in order to be able to finish the first leg of triathlons.
On this note, let me segue to my growing acceptance that weight lifting, if not necessarily the source of swimming speed, may be--in my case, at least--a possible mild protector against swimming injuries, which in turn is allowing me to do more race pace sets in practice without long bivouacs on the couch under bags of ice.
Today, my 21st day of consecutive exercise, I managed 66,000 lb. of Nautilus weight--a meaninglesss amount, I know, given that it depends on the number of sets, etc. However, it does show that I am improving quickly from my first session three weeks ago, when my total weight lifted was 18,000.
Today's film, which boasts perhaps the poorest quality of anything yet posted to YouTube, shows a weekend day in the life of exercising Jim.
It took place on Saturday, when I lifted 53,000 lb. in preparation for Sunday's tennis match (alas, not shown), which lasted for 3 hours and 15 minutes and was the first time this season that Bill and I actually won not just the Women's Championship (2 sets Bill/Jim to 1 set John/Rick) but went onto claim the Men's Championship, as well (Us 3 sets; them 1 set.)
I looked into my Nike shorts after successfully driving the final shot of the match down the unprotected alley, noted what now so handsomely resided there inside my underwear after weeks of punishing losses, and proclaimed, oh so happily, "It's a boy!" Or maybe it was a geoduck.
Either way, it was cause for celebration.
Herewith today's vlog: 53,000 Pounds. (In case you can't figure out the initial action, I am riding a Honda Metropolitan Scooter down a closed road while simultaneously trying to film.)
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5hS-MGlMzY"]YouTube - 53,000 Pounds[/ame]
Updated May 27th, 2009 at 08:56 AM by jim thornton