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.


Prevention
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.
Recognition
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.
Treatment
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.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Deer Creek Open Water Marathon report by Sue Frehse

Once again, this year's Deer Creek Open Water Swim went off without a hitch. The skies were clear and the water temps were perfect for all distances.

All distances had a great turnout. Many swam for the first time, but also many competitors returned for this amazing venue. This year we had five swimmers earn their Triple Crown after finishing their 10 mile race. An additional sixth swimmer earned her crown about a month later! All distances had some great times and great accomplishments, whether by time or personal goals reached. Way to go swimmers. 

With this race no longer being USMS sanctioned, we also had some younger swimmers in the crowd. Two swimmers ages 12 and 13 swam the one mile race. Both placed in the top 3 and had respectable times. They were pretty nervous, but they stayed focused and finished their first open water race. We hope to see more of this in the future. This is a great way to get our youth involved in such a fun sport. 

A big thank you to Jim Hubbard and his family for organizing another great race. And also thanks to all the other support we had: kayakers, friends, family, EMT's, Deer Creek State Park, sponsors. These memorable races cannot be held without you! Until next year, keep swimming!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bear Lake Monster Swim, a report by Joelle Beard

Bear Lake, Utah is probably my favorite open water place to swim. I love how clean and clear the
water is, and I think the surrounding area is beautiful as well. July and August are great times to swim up there because the water temperature is from the upper 60s to mid 70s. So when registration for the Bear Lake Monster Swim on July 19th became available, I immediately registered for the race! This was to be the third year of the race and my second time competing in the race. I love these events because they are not only fun, but they are a great way to get to know other open water swimmers.

I was able to go up to Bear Lake the night before and have dinner with some of the participants, which was fun for me, because until about a year ago, I did all of my open water swims alone and was not aware that there were others around who were into open water swimming. It has been fun to be able to make new friends through open water swimming. I was excited this year to see so many people show up; there were so many more than the previous year.

Because I love Bear Lake so much, this was just going to be a fun swim for me. I didn't really care about my time too much or pushing it too hard. I was still somewhat recovering from another swim. On Saturday morning during the check-in I had someone come and tap me one the back, saying hello. I turned around to see two of the kids I coach swimming standing there. They were there to support their mom, who was swimming. Knowing that two of my athletes would be there made me feel like I should actually push it a bit more.

At 8:00 a.m. the relay teams entered the water and lined up for their start; five minutes later all of the solos lined up waist deep in the water for the swim. I was the furthest swimmer to the left, which was
fine, because I breathe to my left more often. It was fun at the start, everyone was chatting and having fun; the swimmers were all acting as friends, not opponents. I loved it! When the race first started I didn't push super hard because I didn't want to be stuck in the crowd with everyone else. That meant it didn't take long for everyone to pull ahead of me. I didn't realize I was almost last until I stopped to get a drink and my paddler told me. I immediately started playing catch-up. I started pushing it harder. I realized I couldn't go my "forever" pace for the whole race. The conditions were great and it was so fun to swim. It was so beautiful to be swimming in the morning light with the water being smooth and actually pretty warm. I have seen and swam through some pretty big waves in Bear Lake, but this day was perfect!

I always swim in green Swedish goggles, no matter where I am swimming. Sometimes in the bright light of the sun I cannot see very well with them, because they are so light colored. They can also fog up pretty badly. This made it hard for me to see anything if I would look ahead to spot; all I could really see was whatever was to the side as I would breathe. I could see other swimmers and I could see my paddler, but nothing ahead, so to speak of. So when my paddler started calling for me to really push hard for the rest of the swim, I didn't want to listen. I could finally see a little bit, and I could tell that I was still quite far from the shore. Finally after several minutes I decided I would pick up the pace, but I didn't think I could hold it all the way to the end. That was when I saw some rocks under me. It was already getting shallow. I really was close to the end. I pushed hard to the finish and didn't stop until my hands hit the ground.

I was able to stay at the beach for a while and cheer others on as they finished as well. I had a fun swim and was only a little slower than my goal time, but one of the best things was being able to become friends with some of the participants and be able to share my love of swimming with others as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 Bear Lake Crossings

There were quite a few exciting Bear Lake Crossings this summer!

Aug 25th Monster Hunter: Kelly Gneiting - Bear Lake double width (14 miles in 16:13)
Aug 30th Monster Slayer : Goody Tyler IV Bear Lake length (19 miles in 13:08:05)
Sept 1st: Monster Hunter: Lisa Gentile - Bear Lake double width (14 miles in 6:44:49)
Sept 25th: Monster Slayer: Chad Starks - Bear Lake length (19 miles in 13:09:06)

Congratulations also to all the Utah Triple Crown swimmers for 2014:

  1. Lisa Gentile
  2. Charles Doane
  3. Sarah Jones
  4. Stacey Schluckebier
  5. Chad Starks
  6. Joelle Beard

Friday, June 6, 2014

What you don't see when you swim

I recently had a respected swimmer complain to me about the cost of entering the GSLOW Antelope Island race.  I felt defensive about the $100 entrance fee and tried to explain that it was a relatively low cost compared to other swims, (One day of Eight Bridges, or one day of S.C.A.R), but he referenced the cost of swimming La Jolla rough water, which ranges from $50 - $100 depending on how early you register.  


Instead of saying why $100 is a good price compared to another race, let's break down what is involved in organizing an event, and what expenses there are.  Here is a pie chart of what those costs are:


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Another big thing that is not seen or included in this chart is the amount of help from sponsors and volunteers.  Our food is generously provided by Associated Foods.  Our raffle items are provided by Pool N Patio and they also help us keep the cost of the caps low.


Every event is different; for example the one mile GSLOW race includes paddlers that are required for safety.  However, for the 8 mile swimmers, they are required to provide their own.  We work very hard to gather volunteers for paddling the one mile course for safety, and also are provided several kayaks to use by Gonzo Boat rentals.  For the 8 mile event, it is close to 150 miles round trip from the marina to Unicorn point.  That also involves volunteers to spend their own gas, and wear and tear on their vehicles on that unmaintained dirt road along the east side of Antelope Island.  


There is a permit required to hold an event at Black Rock which is owned by the state.  That permit fee is waived due to a cleanup event that our club holds.  That is another fee that is not included in the cost of the race.  


Race expenses such as insurance, permits, advertising and awards are fixed costs.  They don’t fluctuate as we get more swimmers.  The more swimmers that participate, we can lower the shared costs that the swimmers must pay to cover those expenses.  Salt Lake Open Water is still in its infancy, being three full years in holding events.  We are learning, we are finding more cost effective insurance providers, we are continuing to appreciate loyal sponsors, volunteers, and dedicated athletes.  Other races that have been going on for many years have an advantage in keeping their costs low.  They have more swimmers, and those fixed costs have less of an impact on each swimmer.


If there is anyone who is on the fence about registering based on an overpriced entry fee, please contact the race directors.  If you ask nicely, we can work something out and can get you a discount.  If you participate in our club service activities, you receive a discount.  We held a contest for a free entry this year, and only received a handful of entries.   


Please consider early registration.  It’s cheaper to enter and it helps provide the funds needed to pay for quality medals and shirts.  If you wait until the last minute, you risk not getting a shirt.  If everyone registered last minute, there wouldn’t be any awards or medals.  When you pay ahead of time, you give yourself a goal.  You are financially committed to train for the event and that helps when you have to get out of bed, and refuse to give in to that lazy voice in your head.


Please support our sponsors, because they’re supporting you!

Pool N’ Patio
Trislide/Foggle/Triswim
Bear Lake Lodging
Associated Foods
Gonzo Boat Rentals
Achiva
Utah State Parks
Cisco’s Landing
Elevated Racing
Deer Creek Open Water
Salt Lake Open Water
Wasatch Front Polar Bear Club