Monday, July 21, 2014

First coached workout with Chad

Met Chad at 24Hr Fitness in Murray this morning.  It's been a long time since I've gotten up in the 3's to workout.  I was so excited that I actually woke up a couple times in the night and again at 3:09, one minute before the alarm went off.  Awesome morning.

Was out the door in 10 minutes and on my way.  I wrote up this workout last night:

1000 warmup
- CSS Test -
400 timed swim (5:55)
Recover Set: 300 drill, 200 free, 4 x 75's free on 1:15
200 timed swim (2:48)

Chad's CSS time calculated to: 1:33

Used that time to figure the intervals for the rest of the workout:

1800 - 3 x 600's CSS + 6 (10 minutes)
1600 - 4 x 400's CSS + 5 (6:30)
200 easy

I didn't swim the CSS test, but did the recovery set with him as well as the warmup and modified red mist stuff afterwards.  I ended up swimming a total of 5,350 yards

But this workout completed entirely comes to 6,000 yards which is what Chad did.

Nice work!  First decent workout I've done in over 2 months.  I'm excited to watch Chad's speed and power improve.  He's gonna totally be ready for next September, but the next big thing is his EC qualifier in mid September.  That itself is gonna be epic!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Report of Bear Lake Monster Swim

I paddled for McKenzie Thomsen, a 20 year old girl from Salt Lake and this was her first open water swim.  She was fully neoprened up.  Booties and all.  No way she was gonna get hypothermia on this swim, that's for sure.  Water temp was 72.

When we started about 2 minutes into the swim she stopped and said, "I'm panicking!"  I told her to make sure to exhale completely and slow her breathing down.  Which she immediately did.  After that not a single stop or complaint the entire swim.  She got into a rhythm and just kept it going, like the energizer bunny.

As you can see the line
was pretty straight
until half way across
and then I made a
slight course correction
directly to the red arch.
She asked to have me stop her every mile for a feed, which she had supplied.  It was 2 little power chews and that's it. She didn't pack any liquids at all.  Her first feed at one mile was at a little over 35 minutes.  I saw that she was treading water while eating and I advised her to roll over on her back so she could chew and conserve energy as well as maintain a forward progress to the other side.  I had my GPS so I had a close eye on her distance and pace.  Her stroke rate was about 61 spm the entire way.

At her 3rd feed (at just under 2 hours), I told her she needed to drink at least half a bottle of gatorade.  I explained that muscles are 70% water, and they need water to be able to process properly.  She didn't give me a fight and downed the first half.  She said, "A mile sure seems longer here than it does in the pool."  True that.

We kept on going and her pace seemed to be constant.  She was bilateral breathing the entire time which itself is extremely impressive.  I only saw her sight maybe twice the entire time.  She trusted me enough to guide her directly to the finish. I began to see the big red arch just after mile two.  I was using the mountains as a guide to get to the location I was estimating the red arch to be which was pretty close.

I forgot to put on sunscreen so my shins and arms got a little burned, not visibly though.  They weren't red, but last night I felt them a little sensitive.

When we got to the finish her family was there with a huge sign and tons of family members there to cheer for her getting out of the water.  What an awesome support system she had.  Her mother was a little nervous and asked me to really keep a close eye on her.  She did just fine.  Like she was a pro.  Not a word of complaint, and no stopping.  She did awesome.

As for the entire race, there were a few issues, but a majority of the people made it across and there were no emergency issues to deal with.  Chad was a great help out on the water monitoring the swimmers and pulling those that needed.  A success I thought.  We did have issues with shirts.  We didn't have enough for everyone since we had a lot of last minute registrants.

I also had a conversation with a swimmer that bothered me, so I wrote up this article to address it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Day before the Bear Lake Monster

This morning I met Chad at the Bear Lake State Marina where we planned to start our own version of the swim the day before.  We started at the beach just north of the marina at a little after 8 am.  The water felt a little cool, but not overwhelmingly so.  After letting my watch adjust, the first reading came to 72 degrees.

Since Chad and I shared the support boat it was agreed that we would swim fairly close to each other.  You wouldn't want to get separated and have issue with other boats out there not seeing you.

The water was very clear and blue.  Just as I remembered it last time I swam out here.  It was a sensational treat to swim there.  The wind was calm so only a slight ripple here and there.  Occasionally I'd see a clump of dead weeds that would float at the surface and I'd run into it.  Kinda freaky!  Last week at the Low family reunion, Isaac was playing in the pond and started collecting all the seaweeds and piled them up on himself and yelled out to me with a big grin, "Hey Dad!  Look!  I'm the Swamp Thing!" Love that he has no irrational fear of underwater things and how they feel on his skin.  This kind of creeps me out, unless I build my mind up to expect it like with Catalina and the kelp.

Anyway the swim went well and I did a lot of drills, and when I got sick of that did one arm fly, and after that did breast stroke.  I didn't mind the pace.  It was nice feeling not rushed and had all the energy in the world.  Left shoulder was giving me a bit of a fit though.  Nothing terrible, just a little ache.  But concerning given that I have the Deer Creek 10 mile in a month.  Need to get at it, and not keep this slump I've been in.

As we got closer to the other side I saw the small driveway down into Cisco Beach with the toll shed.  Pointed the boat to that direction and we made our way there.  The finish area sure was rocky and difficult to walk on.  I thought of an idea that should make next year's race go better. Some really old carpet that we can put in the water leading the swimmers out.

We did the 7 mile course in 4:11.  And a new PR on most breaststroke I've done in a day.  Don't know how far of it was breaststroke exactly, but I estimate probably a mile.  Man that Capt. Webb dude must have had knees with strong tendons, cause the morning after I felt like Danny Leruso after getting a leg sweep.


Breaststroke is tough on the knees for distance apparently!

I had a great time and Chad got down on himself a little too much on the pace difference, but it made me realize that if I'm gonna invest in a plane ticket to London next year I need to step it up in supporting him in his training.  I plan to meet with him at least once a week at the pool and give him a workout with video analysis so he can see what he can work on for the most improvement.  Nothing would make me prouder to see him power through some serious waves and keep a strong pace.

Thanks to Chad's friend Ryan and his wife Chandra for the support.  They were great in timing those breaks and getting them out to us.  Another width crossing in the books!

Monday, July 7, 2014

First open water swim since MIMS

This morning I met Goody at Pineview at 0530 and we did a swim out to the dam buoys.  Then I continued around to the south end and along the shoreline to the no wake buoys.  Then did a small little extra loop right at the start in order to get my full 2.5 mile "Goody Lap".   I just realized that its two miles just doing a dam route and back, but the extra bit of going to the no wake buoys and around in a big loop is just under 2.5 miles.

What a beautiful morning out on Pineview!
Goody used my swimmer buddy board to try it out.  He's looking for something to allow for easy access to feeds which a safer swimmer buoy doesn't offer.  I used his buoy and was surprised how I couldn't feel any drag at all.  Practically the same as the board, except the board string sometimes gets tangled with your feet if you over rotate a little on your kick.

Had such a good morning.  Shoulders were just fine, and the water was as flat as glass.  Forgot to take a temp reading with my watch but it had to have been over 70 degrees.  It was nice.

Total: 2.5 miles in 1:20

Saturday, July 5, 2014

CSS test with Cathi

This morning I coached at SDM and there were only 6 swimmers given that last night was the 4th of July.  The die-hards showed up.   Three of the swimmers were not in attendance when I originally gave the CSS test, so those three did the test while the others who had already known the CSS number from earlier in the week, I had them swim the red-mist set.

When I got home it was only 8:30am, and I really wanted to get in my exercise for the day so I asked Cathi if she wanted to try the test with me.  She did and so we went over to RUSH:

1000 easy
CSS test: 400 strong timed, 200 easy recover, 200 fast, then 200 warmdown

Here's what Cathi got:

Dist in yards Cathi Gords
400 7:42 5:09
200 3:47 2:19
CSS 1:58 1:25

I was expecting to be fairly slow since I'm still just getting back into it.  Almost feels like I'm starting completely over.  Oh well, now I have a baseline.

Friday, July 4, 2014

3 miles at RUSH

400 warmup
300 - 4 x 75's back/free
200 easy
100 back

1000 - 5 x 200's free/back/free/back/free
1500 pull large paddles
1500 - 3 x 500's
300 warmdown

Total: 5,300 yards

Shoulders not feeling normal, hoping they just need some more time to heal completely.  Not planning on getting back to hardcore yardage.  I also heard one of Cathi's friends had an ulcer due to an overuse of ibuprofen, so she told me I really need to watch that, so I'm going to quit using it as a "vitamin".  Only when absolutely necessary.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

First "me" time since MIMS

I've done several 500 yard swims the past week, which is enough time to send the boys to the shower after a good swim lesson with them. But today Jacob came along which was nice cause I had him focus on helping give tips to Isaac and Jonas while I worked with Sam and Oliver.  They're coming along real nice and they're making some good progress.

Kim Chambers does another
epic swim.  She's got 6 out of 7
Ocean's Seven swims!  
Jacob took them all home and I was able to stay after with Cathi and swim 1800 yards.  Cathi swims during the lesson as well and she is up to over a mile per session as well.  Then she runs home.  I told her she might as well ride her bike there and she'd be training for a triathlon.

Last night I stayed up till midnight watching Kimberly Chambers spot tracker.  She swam the Tsugaru Channel!  Cool thing is she said the water was relatively calmer than what she was warned against and it was a wonderful swim.  That's encouraging.  I would absolutely LOVE to sell this swim to Cathi.  I'd love to do this one.  But it would be comparable to English Channel in terms of cost, and that is almost the hardest part (saving that amount of money when you've got 7 kids and they all have their own individual activities that can be very expensive).

However I just got a raise at work.  I've been there for 16 years and they're taking very good care of me.   Anyway, one step at a time. Next big swim for me is 2016 with a Gibraltar crossing.  Perhaps I could convince Cathi of taking a trip to Japan in 2017?  I'd have to see if I could also convince a fellow GSL swimmer I know, Etsuko, to come along as my interpreter and crew member.  That would be awesome.

Oh to dream...

Total swam since last logging: 3,350 yards 

I know, pretty pathetic,  and I feel pretty guilty about slacking, but it'll feel great once my kids are able to swim on a team and really excel.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review of the new Syracuse RUSH Funplex

I learned about this new pool earlier this year, and it was completed a couple months ago.  I love that we have a pool in Syracuse now, and with MIMS completed, the next goal is to get my four youngest boys: Jonas (12), Isaac (10), Sam (9), and Oliver (7) aka "The Fantastic Four" in a state where they can vigorously pursue their swimming dreams.  I haven't been in a position to be a regular coach to them and I'm looking forward to working with them in the pool.

I took them yesterday to the pool, which also happened to be Sam's birthday.  We bought a family annual membership.  It cost $700.  ($400 for the first adult, $200 more for the second adult, and then $100 more for all children in the family)  Ouch!  A family membership at Layton Surf n' Swim for the size of our family cost under $500.  However, I'm fine paying a higher price, and here's why:

Benefits:

  • Only 5 minutes from my house.
  • The water temp was 82.0° (currently the coldest pool in Davis County, and WAY colder than Clearfield Aquatics which has the record for the hottest pool in Davis County)
  • Brand new pool - VERY clean and modern.
  • The membership base is very low, so there was only one lap swimmer when we went, among 6 lanes
  • Opens at 5am (rather than NWRC's 6am opening)
  • The water pressure and temperature of the showers is superior. 
  • This particular thing doesn't really matter to me, but to my kids.  The slides and splash pad.  Three slides, with a big river and spash pad.  All inside so you don't get sunburned.  
  • The "walls" can be opened to allow lots of air to flow.  It'll never get stuffy in there.

Not so impressed:
  • The locker room layout sucks - no lockers, no benches, just plastic picnic chairs.  There are tiny lockers out in the pool area.  They don't seem to be very "membership friendly" based on the locker room.

  • Also in regards to the locker room, is that there is no barrier between the door going into the pool and the shower area.  If you happen to walk nude in the locker room between the showers and the changing area, there is a huge likelihood that someone is gonna get a clear view of your full monty if anyone opens that door.  But I'm a big believer in being modest and covering yourself even in the locker room, but still kinda has potential to be embarrassing.
  • The evening hours end at 7pm for private parties, so if you plan to swim laps, it better be before then.
  • No barcode on your membership card.  You have to manually show it to an employee, and then get a cheesy wristband put on, so the lifeguards know you're legit.
However the benefits in my opinion greatly outweigh the points that can be improved on.  Some of those negative things I would expect would get worked out eventually, but being such a new facility, I'll cut them some slack on those. I'm extremely happy about the pool temp. That makes me want to shout from the rooftops how awesome this place is.  

After coaching the kids I swam 500 yards then took the kids and Cathi out for breakfast to celebrate Sam's birthday.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Observer's point of view

Huge thanks to Capri Djatiasmoro for sharing her youtube videos of her perspective of the swim:
Lots of stuff to review:


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-DfPLpTvkE
  2. Macombs Dam Bridge - Yankee Stadium - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2Ymc6tNMSA
  3. Past Yankee stadium - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piAqgsOgpuE
  4. Ibuprofen and Ho Ho rolls - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V5mU_5rWvM
  5. Continuing North in the Harlem River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkL1w9HiN7I
  6. Ground water run-off in the Harlem River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdW5bEw_i9E
  7. Top of Manhattan - we had to hustle to the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xiky7aq-OP8
  8. Spuyten Duyvil into the Hudson River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LVMnvzsxfk
  9. At 5 hours 30 minutes … consistent, looking good and strong. Going South to the GWB: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCq56gh96cI
  10. Strong West wind and chop all the way down the Hudson River - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoiGShIHCjU
  11. Getting close to the cruise ship terminals - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B89qUVZpI2s
  12. Fast current - West wind and chop - cruise ship pulls out Terry was flooding in the back you can see he was sinking we lost him after this and then I was up front on the boat pointing you down the river -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5bUP5GoKb4

My Manhattan Island Marathon Swim experience

Video Highlights:

Last night I was finally able to sleep a little after 11pm last night.  Not too bad considering the nerves.  Last night spend about 2 hours in the shower doing my traditional shaving routine.  Which I didn't do for EC or CC. On those the cool water I knew would be a factor. On this one though, it wouldn't.  In fact, speed was the factor.  So I shaved off my sideburns and I felt as slick as a whistle for today.  Got up at 4am and helped get Cathi and Lucy up and ready to go.  Then walked them to Pier 25 where the crew was meeting.

We stayed at the Sheraton Tribeca, which was only about a 12 minute walk from Pier 25.  I got this hotel as soon as I got accepted into the race thinking we needed something close, and that was the right move.  Low stress morning.  I met Phil Bowen, Suzanne's husband at the crew location.  Then I walked from there to South Cove.  It was a nice walk, about 3/4 mile or so.  

I was the first one there.  The volunteers were still setting up the tent.  I was about an hour early.  What else was I gonna do?  The hotel was the other direction and I figured I'd get to meet and talk with some other swimmers.  Met Javier Merida, a very successful swimmer from Spain who has swam the Strait of Gibralter and the English Channel.  

Other swimmers started to show up.  Mark Spratt, who swam the GSL 8 miler last year.  He sure is a nice guy.  Having him there made my nerves settle, cause he's so chatty and down to earth.  Some other swimmers you could tell were in the zone and didn't seem to want to be bothered, which is fine.  For me, this wasn't a huge competition.  I was gonna get smoked and knew it from the start.  My race was against the clock.
Cathi took this picture from the boat.  There was enough time
before the swim that the pilot took them
close to the Status of Liberty on a personal tour.

Some really cool people I got to know:  Ernie Hoftyzer from California, a local, Richard McKern from New Jersey, Ken Classen from Colorado who mentioned that he knew Will Reeves, Mark Smitherman and Chris Burke from Florida, and Charlotte Brynn who I met at Varne Ridge, two years ago.  It was actually quite calming and enjoyable talking with them all.  One thing that bothered me is that I didn't bring any kind of jacket.  I was just standing around in my shorts and shirt, and the breeze was a little cool for me.  I was even starting to shake to keep warm!  I was pretty self conscious about that.  Here I am among legendary swimmers and here, an ice miler, shivering in the NY breeze.  I was  nervous that I might get chilled in the water, but I had a realization in the back of my mind that the water wouldn't be as cold as the air temperature this morning (and it wasn't).


They started to check people in and I heard the main volunteer yelling out, "Have your arms exposed for body marking, and your ID ready!"  I was like oh crap.  I wasn't quite sure of the security of my belongings at the start, so I made sure to only bring my shoes, shirt and shorts.  Not even a towel, not to mention my ID.  So after Mark checked in, I tried to convince the volunteer that Mark would vouche for me which he kindly and vigorously attempted.  He brought up facebook on his phone and showed picture after picture of me.  She gave me crap saying "Oh that's a terrible picture, and that one too..."  Ha!

I got marked with an "18" on each arm, and put on my cap.  One thing I forgot to also bring, which was in Cathi's gear back was my grease.  But I wasn't too worried cause this was fresh water and the chaffing factor wasn't going to be a big issue.  Little did that logic hold up as I later found out.

They lined us up along the dock in numerical order.  They came through and accounted for everyone just before jumping in.  They stopped at Ernie who was wearing a Jammer and said he needed to wear a speedo.  I could see his panic and realized that he could use one of mine.  I wear two because my favorite speedo, the Salt Lake Open Water speedo (which I'm wearing to the left in the picture), is a little faded in the back.  To avoid any possible embarrassment I wear a black speedo underneath as insurance since it's not double lined in the back.  I went up and offered him my SLOW speedo.  He thought he'd just take scissors to his Jammer, but a couple of the other swimmers agreed with me that it probably would just be better to take the speedo even though it would be a little small for him.  He went for it and wore my SLOW speedo, and ended up taking 10th place after it was all said and done.

I was last to jump in for the start, being number 18.  They took some pictures and then counted us down.  I quickly found my Kayaker, Terry O'Malley who would be by my side the entire swim.  We started south along the Battery to where it turns up the East River.  My first impression of the water was about what I expected.  There was a small amount of debris (Water bottle, a empty doritos bag, small pieces of wood), but nothing terrible. It actually reminded me a lot of Bountiful Lake, so in that sense it was a good place to swim. 

And we're off!  - pic taken by David Barra
The start was a little congested, but after about 5 minutes and we got to the ferries, it spread out pretty good.  There were times along the east river that I passed people, and then got passed by those same people.  I had dark goggles on to protect my eyes from the sun.  It was partly cloudy all day and didn't have any rain to deal with.  I could tell I was going back and forth with Mark, but didn't recognize anyone else with their caps on, nor was I terribly concerned about my placement.  Just my time.

Took my first feed one hour into it.  Vitargo.  That stuff rocks!  Got pumped and was able to pick up the pace a bit.  Going up the east river was fast.  The shoreline was moving right along as if I was on one of those airport walkways and you feel like you are flying!  I'd take a breath to my left and see a building at my 9 o'clock, then I'd take three strokes, breathe to my left, three more strokes and breathe to my left and that building was already ]at my 8 o'clock.  It was awesome!

Near the top of the east river however, the current seemed to slow and that effect of moving fast along, was gone. It almost seemed as if I was swimming in still water.  That last 30 minutes at Hell's Gate seemed to take forever!  Once I got into the Harlem, things picked back up again which was a relief.  In fact the water was much flatter in the Harlem.  The taste of the water in the east river reminded me of diesel fuel.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't trying to taste the water, but inevitably it will get in your mouth.  However in the Harlem, that strong taste subsided to a neutral taste.  

I kept wanting to yell out "Hey Hey Hey!"
like Fat Albert,  to lighten the mood for
the crew during one of the feeds, but that
show isn't based on NYC.  But it seemed to fit.
The Harlem river portion of the swim was my absolute favorite.  It was much calmer, I was able to stretch out my stroke and get a good feel for the water.  I knew that I was a little more than a quarter of the way through once I got into the Harlem.  My right shoulder was really getting chaffed up. I yelled out to Terry to get the grease for the next feed so I could dab some on.  On the next feed he handed me the bag and I opened it and dabbed some along my shoulder and jawbone.  Duh, I forgot to do the left side too!  So on the next feed I did the same thing to my left side.  I was getting ripped up with my whisker which already had started to make my shoulders go raw with the rubbing.  

At one point along the Hudson, Terry kept waving at me to move closer away from the left side of the river along the wall.  He occasionally would point to something and then yell, but with my ear plugs couldn't hear a thing.  I had to lift my head stop momentarily and yell back "What?"  He said, Come close, there's sewage coming in. I looked at the wall and up ahead a there was a pipe about the diameter of a basketball releasing "water" into the river.  When I'd swim by it I made sure to keep extra tight lipped.  Didn't notice anything except a quick drop in water temp.  That only happened twice I think.  Not a big deal.  

The "C Rock" for Columbia University
The feeds went well and pretty quick.  I mostly ate either a banana which went down really fast!  I made about 8 half sliced peanut butter and Jam sandwiches the night before.  Those weren't as fast going down, but were so GOOD and hit the spot!  I loved those!  I had a buzz bite at halfway, had a few Little Debbies, and either Gatorade or my Vitargo/Creatine mix with water.  

George Washington Bridge in
the background with the NJ
shoreline along the right.bb
Once I got to Spuytin Duyvil the Hudson clearly was in charge. It went from pretty flat to crazy choppy.  At first I thought it would be temporary because of where we were on the river where the Harlem comes in to the Hudson, but that chop stayed with me the rest of the whole race!  I was in for a LONG half of the race.  I remember reading someone's blog
video
post on their MIMS where they said something about expecting the swim to George Washington Bridge to take a long time.  It did.  It's such a huge bridge that you don't think it's that far, but it is.  The water chop was really wearing me down.  My shoulder's were fried and I was tired.  Once we got past the bridge, I was hoping that it would calm down just a little cause the river widens just a little.  But it stayed as crazy as before.  This reminded me of the first two hours of my Catalina swim where I got seasick.  I just watched some video and man the chop there looks like nothing!  When you're in the water swimming in that crap it seems many times worse!

I never got sick to my stomach on this swim, but was sick (annoyed) of the chop!  That Hudson portion for me was a real downer.  I was slowing down, and spent.  Once we finally got close to the start of the piers (about 4-5 miles from the finish), I head Terry yell out something like "get pulled".  WHAT!  I knew I was slowing up, but to risk getting pulled because of my speed?  The time to get pulled is at a 9:30 pace.  I went into panic mode and swam like there was no tomorrow.  Even the crew on the boat were all out standing up and waving at me like there was a shark on my feet.  I was FREAKING OUT!

videoI put my face in and would try to exhale completely before breathing.  I have a tendency to stick to single sided breathing when I speed up and that doesn't really allow me to exhale properly and then I hyperventilate.  So while I tried to speed up, I tried bilateral breathing. It was very unnerving the last 4 miles realizing I was at risk of getting pulled.  I looked forward once and saw a humongous cruise ship pull out of one of the piers and pull forward.  It was far enough ahead that it was done pulling out and making it's turn to starboard and forward motion.  

Then I noticed Terry was WAY off to my left about 50 yards. I thought "CRAP!" and started to change course towards him.  Then Cathi and the motor crew intercepted me and yelled "NO!!!  Keep going and pointed south towards the statue of liberty which was still just a tiny little spire on the horizon.  Terry was gone and I had no idea why.  I used the motor boat crew for the rest of the swim which was about 4 miles.  My observer, Capri was right on the bow of the boat with her arm extended way out front for me to use as a pointer of where I needed to go.  


Occasionally they would wave me in more, and wave me to go faster.  That last 4 miles I was sprinting the whole DANG RACE!  I was not having fun.  I was not enjoying the sights, cause my mind was so focused on that triple crown.  I thought about how sad and disappointed I would be if I didn't make it.  Especially if I was so much slower than my goal (7:57 compared to the 9:30 cutoff).  This is the only big swim where there is a cutoff.  With English Channel and Catalina, you don't have to go fast. There is no cutoff.  You just swim at your own pace and it doesn't matter (unless you go so slow that you get hypothermia and get pulled for safety reasons).

Then I saw Cathi and Capri on my right side all pointing to me to look left.  There I saw we were at Pier 25 and a ton of people lined up along the end waving and cheering.  I couldn't make out any details, but I knew my parents were there proud as ever.  I saw one guy about 25 yards ahead and the crew were going nuts motioning for me to swim faster.  I went from 100% to 110% and I heard Scotty inside my head, "Capn!  The engines can't take it anymore!  They're gonna blow!"  But I only had another 400 yards or so.  I saw two big orange buoys along the wall and I was catching this guy!  

I passed him about 10 yards before getting to the buoy reached out and tagged it.  Then I heard everyone above me along the railing yell out "No! Keep going!!!! The finish is around the corner!"  So I quickly started back up to round the bend, but the guy I passed was already up there.  Oh well!  I had to smile about that.  Again, I didn't really care about my placement, but it sure was fun to give the crowd something really close to see."  When you have such a long race with such few swimmers, it often doesn't make for a nail biter finish with people close together.  Sometimes there are really close ones, but it's not common.

They had staff to help us out of the water, and found that the guy I was close with was Mark Smitherman, from Florida.  Shook his hand there as we sat next to each other at the finish.

After I got out, David Berra was there and took my picture.  Found out my time was 8:10:56.  What the
13th place finisher of MIMS 2014 - yours truly
crap!  I thought I was gonna get pulled for being too close to the 9:30 mark!  I found out later in the day that the reference to "getting pulled" was due to the cruise ship.  Some of the swimmers were right in it's path and ended up having to get on the boat, where they took a GPS coordinate.  Then after the cruise ship pulled out, went back to that point where they would resume the swim.  All being completely legal and not a disqualifying event.  I had no idea they were referring to the cruise ship.  And all that excitement from the crew was simply in reference to other swimmers.  They wanted me to catch up to other swimmers.  

Pretty sweet finishing trophy!
I was like "Oh my gosh!  I busted my butt for that!!!?"  I didn't care about passing anybody really.  And the reason Terry had to leave.  His kayak was filling up with water and he wasn't able to bale any of it and had to get to shore to get the inside of his boat emptied out.  When I got out and was walking up to the nutrition tent, he yelled out to me "Great job Gordon!" and I saw him give me a thumbs up as he just arrived as I finished.  

So in actuality that last 4 miles was done under a dead sprint not because I was at risk of hitting the deadline, but because they wanted me to go faster to pass other swimmers, and I misunderstood (thanks to my stupid earplugs).  And that cruise ship situation never really affected me.  So I guess the swim for me was most enjoyable in the Harlem, but that Hudson portion, I was "Swimming Scared".  Not a fun moment. 

Me and Terry, my awesome
kayaker.
Now that it's all over I look back and have fond memories, but man that was tough!  For me tougher than the other two, English Channel and Catalina.  That Hudson River was a killer!  The chop was insane and it covers about 45% of the course!  As far as the water quality.  It was fine.  The only taste I got out of it was diesel fuel, both in the East River and Hudson.  With all the chop I did end up accidentally swallowing I estimate about a quart of water.  I haven't got sick at all, and I feel wonderful.
  
I'm so thankful for my kayaker, Terry, and my crew, Cathi and Lucy.  My observer Capri, joked that she had never seen anyone swim and eat that much food.  I guess I ate quite a bit more than she had ever seen.  When your body is a machine you need to fuel it!  I smiled thinking that I was considered to having a picnic out in the river.  Also grateful for my my pilot Phil, whom I never did get to meet or shake hands with!  Cathi was able to represent me in thanking him, but I'm extremely grateful for his service.  We had to rush out early from the awards dinner because of our shuttle leaving at 8pm at 39th and 9th.  So I unfortunately didn't get a chance to get to go around and congratulate and talk with many of the other swimmers.  All in all it was a great time, and I finally am able to mark that Triple Crown goal off my list.  Officially the 84th person in history to complete it.  

Finally, my apologies to any New Yorkers that may have been offended at the pre-race media report that went out prior to the race where they emphasized the dirty water around Manhattan.  Myth and legend unfortunately often trumps the reality and truth, which is definitely the case here.  Other than the diesel taste, the water itself was about 3 feet in visibility and only about 8 times did I actually see any garbage in the water.  Considering the vast distance covered, that's exceptional!  If I were a New Yorker, I would definitely be buddies with all you here swimming along side you in your beloved water!

Big thanks to Morty and his huge team of volunteers, this whole organization really had their act together and I would highly recommend any race NYCSWIM puts together for any swimmer.  It was a wonderful experience and quite the change from last year according to the reports I had read of last year's race.  Well done you guys!

Here is a copy of my observer's report (Capri Djatiasmoro):

Terry took a lot of video with his camera.  Here is the first 30 minutes of the swim.  Note that the earplugs I wear are extremely good at keeping water out of my ears, as well as sound.  So I didn't hear him at all.