Monday, February 23, 2015

SLOW Check-Off Challenge

We are announcing a new club event for 2015: the SLOW Check-Off Challenge.

It's a fun way to get involved with the club and try new things.

The idea is that you download the check-off sheet (similar to a BINGO board) that has 16 different open water related challenges. Once you complete a challenge, mark it off on your sheet and record it here.

You don't have to be a SLOW member to participate, but awards will only be given to registered members at the annual awards dinner.

The challenges were designed to be attainable by newbies as well as seasoned swimmers.  Only one challenge can be checked off at a time!

We look forward to hearing about your adventures and seeing you check all of the challenges off.

Have fun!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Endurance Sports Show

SLOW will be participating in the Endurance Sports Show on Friday February 20th and Saturday February 21st at the South Town Expo Center.

The show should be a lot of fun with vendors, clubs, clinics, seminars, a free 5K, and even several endurance sports movies. SLOW will be offering special discounts on registration for our three open water events.

We have acquired some free tickets if you are interested in checking out the show. Use the code GOSLOWTOESS during checkout.

We are pretty well covered, but if anyone is interested in helping staff our table, please add you name and availability to this document.

Thanks! See you there!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Utah Masters Clinic

This past Saturday, Utah Masters hosted a free clinic for current USMS members at the Olympus Aquatics Center.

The clinic had four "stations" including: open water/triathlon, starts, flip turns, and video stroke analysis.

SLOW was in charge of the open water / triathlon portion of the clinic.  We walked each group through some fundamental skills including: sighting and swimming straight, mass starts, buoy turns and drafting.

Below is a summary of some of the information presented:

Swimming Straight / Sighting

Eyes Closed Drill
Swim across the pool with your eyes closed. This can help to point out some imbalances in your stroke. If you find that you tend to drift to one side of the other, pay attention to where your hands are entering the water. If your hands cross over the mid-line of your body, you will tend to drift to one side.

Bilateral Breathing (breathing on both sides)
Learning to breath on both sides can help balance your stroke and help you swim straighter. In addition, it gives you the flexibility to switch the side you breath on if needed (sun glare, another swimmer splashing, wind, etc). If the course follows the shore line, being able to breath on both sides also give you the flexibility to sight to the side to see if you are on course.

Ideally sighting should be with your eyes just above the surface of the water and should be incorporated into your stroke. If you crane your neck or stop to see where you are, you will wear yourself out. Take a quick peek before or after taking a breath. If you don't see what you were looking for the first time, don't worry. Take a few more strokes and look again.

Here is a good video about open water sighting.

Mass Starts

We practiced a few, in water, mass starts with each group to give them a taste of what it will be like on race day.  If you are not comfortable being around so many people, you can position yourself to the back or side of the pack. The disadvantage of doing this is you have to swim through all the water churned up by everyone ahead of you.

As the countdown starts, prepare yourself by getting your hips up and your legs behind you in a horizontal position. Sculling with you hands will help keep you in position and ready for the start.

Buoy Turns

We opened a lot of eyes with our groups when we showed them a faster way to get around a buoy. You can lose a lot of people during your race on the turns if you practice this turn technique.

The basic idea is that as you get even with, or even a little past the buoy, stretch out the arm closest to the buoy. Take one backstroke with the opposite arm, and then really pick up your kick so you don't lose your momentum.  Here is a link with some pictures.


We didn't have a lot of time to talk about or practice. The long and short of it is that you can save energy and swim faster (assuming you are drafting on a swimmer faster than you) by drafting. The ideal position is to have your shoulder even with the hip of the person you are drafting on. You should be swimming very close to get the maximum benefit.  For beginners, an easier position to be in is directly behind the swimmer you are drafting on.

Be aware that the person you are drafting on many not like it and they may try to lose you by speeding up, slowing down, kicking you, etc.

Here is a good video about drafting:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in review

What a fantastic year we've had!


Utah Triple Crown swimmers this year: Lisa Gentile, Charles Doane, Sarah Jones, Stacey Schluckebier, Chad Starks, Joelle Beard

Bear Lake Crossings:  
      Double Width: Lisa Gentile, Kelly Gneiting
      Single Length: Goody Tyler IV, Chad Starks

Club members voted and the following earned special awards:
    Most Improved: Sarah Jones
    Best Sportsman: Chad Starks
    Best Sportswoman: Lisa Gentile
    Volunteer of the Year: Gordon Gridley
    Goodwill Ambassador: Sue Frehse

Joelle not only finishes up the Triple Crown of Open Water
Swimming, but the Utah Triple Crown in the same year!

Charles earns his Utah Triple Crown certificate.

Our two Bear Lake length swimmers with their
certificate and patch, Chad and Goody!

Future SLOW swimmer Porter Green with his
parents Josh and Sabrina.

Thanks to Steve and Sarah for the delicious dinner
and making the arrangements for the party.

What a great group of swimming friends!

Chad, Sarah and Gords after the dinner.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

SLOW Awards Dinner - Please RSVP and Nominate

The SLOW Awards Dinner will be held this year on December 30, 2014 at 6:00pm at the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club (at the Great Salt Lake Marina).  Please join us for an evening of food, awards and fun!

In preparation for the awards banquet, we need your help with nominations for the following awards:
  • Most Improved
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Best Sportsman/Sportswoman
  • Goodwill Ambassador
Click on the link below to nominate up to two people for each award.  Please include a brief summary of why you are nominating each person. Nominations close on November 26th.

Awards will also be given to 2014 Utah Triple Crown swimmers, Bear Lake length swimmers and Bear Lake double-width swimmers.

We need to get an idea of how many people plan to attend so that there is plenty of food and seating.  Please RSVP by December 22nd at the link below.

Thank you for a great year! We look forward to seeing you at the awards dinner!

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Membership Option for 2015

In the past, SLOW has been strictly a USMS club. Starting now, SLOW will be offering another membership option. The USMS club will continue, but will be strictly for USMS events and will not include many of the benefits listed below.

The new membership option is available for individuals and families and will include the following benefits:
  • Unique membership number that will also be used as your race number at open water events (Great Salt Lake, Bear Lake, and Deer Creek)
  • SLOW swim cap ($5 value)
  • Brine shrimp keychain ($8 value)
  • 20% off registration fees for SLOW sponsored open water events in Utah (Great Salt Lake Open Water Marathon SwimBear Lake Monster SwimDeer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim($25 - $48 value depending on the distance)
  • Use of the SPOT GPS tracker for live tracking of swims
  • Access to the SLOW Lending Library
  • Participation in club-only swims (including nights swims, Tour of Lakes, etc)
  • Participation is club social events and contests
  • Regular coached open water workouts
  • 10% Discount at Pool N Patio, Salt Lake's classic swim shop
  • Use of the SLOW kayak (stored at the Great Salt Lake Marina)
  • Annual awards banquet in December
This new membership option was created to keep membership dues within the club for club development, purchase and maintenance of club equipment, etc. In addition, this new option will allow swimmers under 18 to participate with us.

For more details on both membership options, please click on the "Membership" tab.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hypothermia, an article by Sarah Jones

Hypothermia, a condition which every open water swimmer needs to understand, can quickly turn a great swim dangerous. There is always something new to learn, and so I encourage all swimmers, even the old-timers, to continue reading to add to your knowledge-base regarding this dangerous condition. Mild hypothermia begins when the body temperature is 95 degrees or below. This condition can reach severe hypothermia, when the body temperature is 86 degrees or lower. This article will focus on prevention, recognition, and treatment.

This is arguably the best place to start with your hypothermia education. Preventing hypothermia is not a single event or one-size fits all approach. Most important is acclimation, or helping your body over time get used to the colder temperatures in which you’d like to swim. This is a key element and cannot be ignored. As you expose your body to extremes in temperature (which cold water does much more efficiently than cold air), your body responds by producing brown fat which can help you regulate your temperature during cold swims. Developing more brown fat is a process and takes time. You need to consistently spend time in cold water to help this process. In her book Swimming to Antarctica, Lynn Cox shares how she not only trained in cold temperatures regularly, but also wore summer clothing during the winter, slept with her window open to the cold night air, and skipped socks. She reports feeling that all of these strategies helped her body develop a resistance to the cold. Our own SLOW swimmers, Gordon Gridley and Chad Starks, use the aid of ice baths to prepare their bodies to swim the English Channel and other cold water swims.
Some argue that acclimating is too tough and time consuming; it’s better to just put on 10 or 20 pounds and you’ll be fine. After all I've read, observed, and experienced, I would say that acclimating is not optional, but extra weight doesn't hurt either. The most successful cold water swimmers seem to have a sturdiness around their core that surely plays a role in keeping their organs warm enough while they swim. This extra weight must be balanced with the fact that however much weight you put on, you've got to move that much weight from point A to point B during a swim. You can’t ignore the fact that you may lose something in speed, athleticism, and general health if you gain weight. This may not ring true for everyone; weight isn't necessarily an accurate indicator of health. These are just things to keep in mind as you consider your own approach to preventing hypothermia.
Another important element to preventing hypothermia is to keep an accurate log of your cold water swims. Note the temperature, the time that you’re able to stay in the water, and your reaction afterwards. This information will be vital as you plan your future swims. You’ll know exactly how far you can push yourself and what your body can do. However, remember that many other factors can play a part in developing hypothermia; air temperature, the amount of sunshine, your health the day of the swim, and wind all need to be taken into account. It’s very important to swim with a buddy during your cold water training swims. Members of SLOW have assisted each other in recovering from hypothermia during cold water swims; it’s important to be smart and always have someone with you just to be safe.
The job of recognizing hypothermia is shared by both the swimmer and his or her kayaker. A swimmer generally doesn't stop to take his or her body temperature, so it’s very important to know the signs. These can come on quickly, as up to 90% of heat loss occurs through the skin, and the movement of the waves and water can increase heat loss up to 50%. During the first stages of mild hypothermia, a swimmer may be aware of some of the dangers. Shivering, feeling cold, and a drop in stroke rate are all danger signs. As mild hypothermia becomes moderate and then severe, blood vessels narrow, the liver and heart produce less heat as they attempt to shuttle more heat to the brain, and low temperatures cause confusion and fatigue.
At this point, due to extreme confusion, a swimmer is not capable of making intelligent and safe choices. Kayakers have the main responsibility to be decisive and act quickly to stop a swim. In the case of severe hypothermia, it is not exaggeration to say that a kayaker is dealing with a life or death situation. Eventually, as the body temperature drops, a swimmer would lose consciousness if he or she is not pulled out of the water. Kayakers need to understand the dangers and warning signs, know their swimmer so that they will be able to determine when hypothermia has set in, and have the guts to act quickly once they have made a decision to terminate a swim.
They also need to have a plan for what they will do if a swim needs to end. Some things to think about, for kayakers and swimmers both, include: Is my kayaker physically strong enough to pull me out of the water if I develop hypothermia and am too exhausted and mentally confused to help get in the kayak? How will my kayaker get the two of us back to shore in the event of an emergency? Does my kayaker have a way to call for help in the event of an emergency? Is my kayaker prepared with a life jacket if he or she needs to get in the water while I’m in the kayak? Is my kayaker decisive enough to terminate a swim, even if I’m arguing?
It’s important to think about these issues beforehand, because mental clarity really does go right out the window as hypothermia sets in. Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with this, as I experienced severe hypothermia as I attempted a double-width crossing of Bear Lake this past summer. I didn't show the signs above, so it was a very good thing that my kayaker, Gordon Gridley, knew me well enough to know that I wasn't acting like myself. I’m usually very pleasant (this is what people tell me!), but I was stopping often, complaining, and glaring at Gordon. I ended up with a temperature of 78 degrees, clearly a very dangerous situation. Kayakers need to be attentive to these types of changes in a swimmer and follow their intuition to know when something isn't right.
The most obvious need when dealing with a person with hypothermia is getting him or her warm. The swimmer needs to be taken out of the water, brought indoors (or into a warm vehicle) if possible, and dried off. Wet swimming suits should be removed and he or she should be dressed and then wrapped in dry, warm blankets. Focus on warming up the person’s core, and then the warm blood will naturally circulate to the rest of the body. Cold hands and feet will take care of themselves.  If you focus on the extremities by immersing the hands and feet in warm water, you’ll increase the risk of shock.
Also, it may seem like a good idea to immerse the swimmer in hot or warm water if you have it available (such as a hot tub), but it’s not. This can actually cause heart arrhythmia due to the cold blood being heated so rapidly. If you have access to hot water bottles or chemical hot packs, place them under the swimmer’s armpits and between the thighs. Wrap the hot water bottles in a towel if they are hot to the touch.
Warm drinks are helpful, but avoid caffeine and alcohol, both of which can dehydrate the swimmer further. Wrap the swimmer’s neck with a warm blanket, and generally just be attentive as he or she warms up naturally. It’s important to take the swimmer’s temperature if you have access to a thermometer; that way you can tell when he or she is out of the danger zone. You’re watching for a temperature that is at least 95 degrees.
Experiencing hypothermia and then recovering is pretty exhausting. Your body has been through a lot of stress trying to keep warm and then warming up again. You’ll be very tired, right to the core, if you experience hypothermia. Allow yourself plenty of time to rest and recover, and eat lots of healthy food. You’ll also inevitably reflect on the blessing it is to be alive. Hug all of the people you love and vow to enjoy every single day as much as possible. Thank all of the people that were involved in making sure you were safe, from your kayaker to your swimming buddies.

As open water swimmers, we are so blessed to be able to experience all of the beauty of the water. Sunrises, fog, sunsets, rain, wind – all of these add to the joy of open water swimming. We forge close friendships as we support each other and swim together. Being aware of the dangers only makes us more prepared and better able to help ourselves and each other during tough situations. Let’s all take the time to make a personal plan to avoid hypothermia and also learn the signs in case we do encounter it.