Peak Training Weeks, Trial Swim

swimlog-peak-july2016The past two weeks marked the end of my official training plan for our crossing attempt, although the next few weeks might still see one more distance week – we’ll see how the taper goes as we approach the first week of August, when our primary swim window opens. The weekly totals were 40km and just shy of 56km by July 17th, respectively.

The training plan ended with a 10km swim at the North Shore Challenge on the morning of Saturday, July 16th, followed the next day by our trial swim, which we’d planned as a 18-20km point-to-point swim from Burlington Beach to the Oakville shore. The final distance swum was just over 18k covered in 5h52m, from the north end of Burlington Beach to the end of the Navy Street Pier in Oakville.

The core team for the trial had Mauro on shore coordination and logistics; Madhu coordinating on the water with Mark, our pilot, and our SSO swim master; Lynn on feeding, stroke count, and dynamics; and Geoff on camera detail.

Our swim master for this trial swim was none other than the long-reigning record-holder for the NOTL-MBP route, John Scott! And our pilot was experienced Solo Swims escort Thomas Dobokay and his 21′ rigid-hull inflatable Sea Monk.

We had some gentle onshore cross-winds with slight swell for the first part of the swim, but for the most part surface conditions were ideal. The water temperature was a steady at 17C, with a few warmer patches and one brief section of much colder patches, all concentrated around Bronte Harbour.

The swim felt good, although there were some strange elements: for some reason my kicking was completely off. I mean, quite literally: off. I usually only sustain a weak two-beat kick most of the time anyway, but for some reason, this swim, I basically wasn’t kicking at all. Not sure what was going on, but lesson learned: focus on kicking, even when trying to keep the pace slow and steady.

The trialteam-geoffshoulders were sore, but stable for most of both the 10k on Saturday and for Sunday’s trial swim, but the next morning they definitely needed plenty of rest. My stomach seemed fine with the carbopro and weak electrolyte mix we’ve been training with, but was definitely queasy that night and the next morning, which I attribute this to having a beer at the team meeting afterward (Thanks, Suman, for putting up with us loitering in the kitchen!).

Thanks to everyone for a great day on (and in) the water, and thanks especially Geoff for documenting the trial swim, and to John Scott and Thomas Dobokay for lending their considerable expertise and experience in getting us closer to the big swim, (hopefully) in a few weeks!




Klean Kanteen and our swim!

Thanks to Klean Kanteen for supporting the Great Lakes Trust and our rapidly-nearing crossing attempt of Lake Ontario. I’m honoured to have our message shared on their blog!

We’ll be using their bottles on our crossing, in particular the insulated 355ml wide-mouth bottles (with the new Cafe Cap 2), which are the perfect size for feeding every half hour. Being insulated, they keep warm mixes warm, and even better: they float!!

Training for Lake Ontario 2016

Training for a Lake Ontario crossing has involved some changes to my usual routines in the pool, the open water, and my dryland work over the past few years. The past three seasons I’ve been focused on shorter swims, mostly 10k races on flat water courses like Dorney Lake and Welland. I’m comfortable with 10km events, but my longest point-to-point swim to date has been the Boston Light Swim at about 13kms. That’s all well and good, but Lake Ontario along the Marilyn Bell route involves roughly five 10km swims, with variable currents, surface and weather conditions!

The aim, then, is to find what legendary endurance swimmer Jim McConica calls your “forever pace” : that pace where, with periodic refueling, you feel like you can basically go on forever.

(I alternate between that label, and thinking of it as my Dory pace!)

Since January, I’ve been using my pool sessions to alternate between shorter, more intense short-course workouts balanced with longer swims on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the McMaster pool is configured for long-course during the noon lane swims.

LakeOntario2016-pooltrainingprojectionsOriginally the plan was a slow steady build, peaking at between 40km and 50km a week, with lower and higher volume routes to those peaks.

Now, however, I’ve been focusing more on dryland, emphasizing core strength and rotator stability, and building up the weekly mileage more slowly than originally planned, following roughly along the lower projections of the original plans. I’ve been adding more dips and climbs, with more intense weeks balanced by lower-volume rest weeks.

I also try to keep getting in the lake periodically, not because short, intense cold-water swimming at those temperatures (under 5C) are really especially useful as preparation a long swim like Lake Ontario, but just to stay familiar with the cold water.

I’ll keep my swim and dryland training updated at my my Garmin Connect profile, and my swim log is here. I’ll periodically post updates here about my training, our team, the logistics of the swim, and occasional thoughts and reflections on the journey.

Thanks for being a part of the adventure!