Archive for category swimming

The Great Islay Swim

Chad gets a drink

You never really “know” people or what they are thinking. So it’s easy to be amazed, when you find out new facts about someone.

I was blown away the other day after finally reaching Chad Anderson. My calls for a week were not returned, and I hoped this new business acquaintance was okay. He calmly informed me that he had been unable to call back, because he was swimming around the wild coast of the Isle of Islay, one of the Inner Hebrides islands of western Scotland. This was a 100 kilometer swim (62 miles), and it took him and two other adventurers seven days to become the first hardy guys to achieve this distinction.

I have spent two weeks myself in the Outer Hebrides islands, and visited Scotland a number of times. So I can easily imagine how rough those seas and shores are. Plus the weather isn’t ever sunny like a Caribbean paradise. Islay has the Atlantic Ocean to its west and is as far north as Newfoundland. It’s often cold, windy and rainy. This swim sounds daunting.

Battling the Waves

If you check out some of the videos on this facebook link, you will be blown away (literally) by what you see and hear.

There is also an article that describes benefits to a local charity. There are eight whiskey distilleries on the island, and as the swimmers passed nearby, each distillery contributed some spirits to a single oak cask that will marry the blend for months until it’s bottled and sold. Some of the proceeds will go to the Royal National Lifeboat Institute.

Fighting all the way

The photos give you a sense of the challenges faced and overcome: rain, 35 mph winds, 12 foot waves. I am awed…but now read this post from the fb page:

Ok stage 5 was a 4 hr gamble, the forecast for tomorrow was not good at all 35 mph westerly left the north stage of the journey (a key part) not being possible, BUT there was a wee wee window of 4 hrs late this afternoon, yes a big gamble but the boys agreed to give it a go with the help of Peter and Steve in the canoe and Harold on the boat. The guys set off south of Nave island, and as the weather had it, we had a weather window. the swell was 12 ft the tide 2 knots with the wind and tide going the same way, the boys nailed it. I must admit I have the utmost respect for all 3 of them. they are true athletes and have earned the respect of doing this challenge. A cracking day and well done lads.

Islay shore

Three badass swimmers lagoon relaxing after the second day at sea

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Underwater Nightclub Cools You In The Day

Another heat spell—94 degrees today in New York City, 91 where I live. So I thought I’d post this mentally cooling video.

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From Couch Potato To Ironman Entrant In Six Months

Guy Adami at work

Pretty impressive story about Guy Adami, a Wall Streeter and Fast Money panelist whose historic exercise routine “consisted mostly of walking from his parking space to the front door of the CNBC studios in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.” But friends challenged him to do the impossible, a trainer gives him advice, and there is a charity involved as well.

Guy completes his first triathalon in New Jersey—5/2012

In May he was able to run a triathalon that had legs one fifth or one tenth of an Ironman—a half mile swim instead of 2.4 miles, a 13 mile bike ride instead of a 112-mile ride, and a 3.2 mile run rather than a marathon of 26.2 miles. And he still has not reached any of these Ironman distances in training.

It’s all a work in progress. But his dedication is intense, he is approaching his goals each day. and the results will be determined on August 11th, when he joins 3000 others in New York’s first-ever Ironman. He has already lost 38 pounds (from 235) and six inches around his waist. You sure have to admire his effort…Can you believe that 140,000 people a year compete in an Ironman? Interesting that 20% of those who sign up miss race day due to an injury or fear the night before the race.

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A Demanding And Contrasty Week

Biltmore Hotel

Went to Florida for a week to attend a college mini-reunion in Palm Beach and then meet some high school friends in Miami. I was able to play singles and doubles tennis games on four days, which was quite an accomplishment in the humid, 80+ degree heat. My legs were rubbery, and I collapsed exhausted most nights.

All my opponents the three times in Miami were former or current school team players. One was just 18. When I participated in a round-robin tournament raising funds for a private high school, most of the opponents were team alumni in their 20’s and 30’s, and my team (with a 45-year old) won just one of 16 games. I was easily crushed by the power and spins. In the singles sets, I lost 1-6, although there was a 4-6 defeat…or should I call that a victory (that I won so many games). All very humbling. Glad I was able to play at all. And the intense sweating contrasts shockingly with this past week’s CT snow storm that dumped 20 inches in 27 degree weather. I have had no internet for five days, and six out of 10 CT houses were without power. Lots of tree damage still being fixed. The indoor tennis courts I went to play at yesterday had water on them in spots and were unplayable—an 8-inch diameter tree branch fell through the roof and let in the melting snow. So we played outdoors in a windy 45 degrees. It ain’t that way in Miami!

long lap length at the Biltmore Hotel pool

The day I left, I forced myself to swim in the largest pool in North America : one lap was over 300 yards, and I had the thought that I could pass out and drown. In spite of all the cardio I do on the tennis court, my breathing was pathetic, when I did my two laps—one of butterflies and another of backstrokes. I hadn’t had a push like that in over a year…but I made it, of course, and was just dizzy for a few minutes. I was thrilled I didn’t fall on the concrete.

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Nyad Ends Attempt To Swim A Record

optimism at the start of the attempt—8/7/11

exhaustion at the end—8/9/11

Wind conditions, shoulder pain and “less than ideal currents” prompted marathon swimmer Diana Nyad to end her second bid to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys about halfway through her journey early today. Yet she deserves enormous credit just for making the attempt and staying with it as long as she did.
Before the swim, Nyad, age 61, told journalists she hoped her swim would inspire others her age to live active lives. She said she also hoped it could help improve understanding between Cold War rivals Cuba and the United States, even if just symbolically.

Nyad was pulled from the water after 29 hours. The swim was expected to take 60 hours to cover at least 103 miles (166 kilometers).

Nyad said that as early as the third hour of her journey she began experiencing pain in her right shoulder. By hour 15, asthma was a problem. As hour 28 approached, the pain was so great that Diana had to rest every three or four freestlye strokes, rolling onto her back to breathe. She was also nauseous early on.

“I’m hurting, I’m hurting,” Nyad told her doctor, clutching the shoulder and looking to the stars. Then, she’d turn back into the water, struggling through another stroke or two, pushing and pushing and pushing.

“It felt like this was my moment,” Nyad said. “I don’t feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck.”

In her second attempt, Nyad tried to accomplish at 61 years old what she failed to do at 28 in 1978. This time, she even attempted the swim without a shark cage, relying instead on an electrical field from equipment towed by kayakers to keep them at bay.

In her first attempt in 1978, she quit after being in the water for 41 hours and 49 minutes due to strong currents and rough weather that banged her around in the shark cage.

Had the latest attempt been successful, Nyad would have broken her own record of 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) for a cageless, open-sea swim, set in 1979 when she stroked from the Bahamas to Florida.

Here is another article detailing the swim and its premature finish. I like some of her thoughts mentioned in it:

“I’m almost 62 years old,” she declared. “I’m standing here at the prime of my life; I think this is the prime, when one reaches this age. You still have a body that’s strong, but now you have a better mind.”

On Tuesday morning, she said that her goal had been to demonstrate to people in their 60s that “life is not over” and that the age of “60 is the new 40.”

She added that she hopes her quest might inspire others her age to begin energizing their lives with exercise. “Life goes by so quickly and, at my age, you really feel the passage of time,” she said. “People my age must try to live vital, energetic lives. We’re still young. We’re not our mothers’ generation at 60.”

For people over 60, she said, the goal should be “to live a life with no regrets and no worries about what you are going to do with your time. Fill it with passion. Be your best self.”

Diana Nyad Is Swimming Right Now For Another Open-Water Record

Here is an inspiring article about Diana Nyad, a 61-year-old American endurance swimmer who just jumped into Cuban waters yesterday evening and set off in a bid to become the first person to swim across the Florida Straits without the aid of a shark cage.

Nyad said it has been a lifelong dream and she hopes her feat, if successful, will inspire people to live vigorously during their golden years. She first had a go at this crossing as a 28-year-old back in 1978, when she swam inside a steel shark cage for about 42 hours before sea currents hammering her off course put an end to that attempt.

The following year she set a world record for open-water swimming without a shark cage, charting 102.5 miles (165 kilometers) from the Bahamas to Florida before retiring from competitive endurance swimming. This distance record for non-stop swimming without a wetsuit still stands today. She also broke numerous world records, including the 45-year-old mark for circling Manhattan Island (7 hrs, 57 min) in 1975.

Still, she said the aborted Cuba attempt stuck with her all these years, and upon turning 60, she started thinking about a comeback. “Until a year ago, I hadn’t swum a stroke for 31 years,” Nyad said on her website.

“Swimmer’s burnout gripped me to the point that I could have sworn I would never, ever swim a lap again in my life. But approaching 60 last year threw me into the existential angst of wondering what I had done with my life. I felt choked by how little time seemed left. I started swimming a few laps, just to take some pressure off the knees from all the other activities I enjoy.”

For the record to be considered valid, Nyad will have to make the swim without a wetsuit. Her crew will navigate, monitor her health and provide nourishment. But she is not allowed to touch the boat, nor can her helpers hold her, until she emerges fully onto dry land. Even that could be a challenge in Florida’s mangrove thickets, exhausted and with no land legs after 2½ days of swimming.

She plans to stop every 45 minutes for 20-second hydration breaks—water, juice, sports drinks. Every 90 minutes she’ll rest for 2 minutes and nibble on bread or a spoonful of peanut butter.

You can follow her progress with a CNN crew that is in a chase boat by going here .

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Sports/Exercise Report for May

May results set some good records. I was active 23 days, up from 20 in April, though below my record 25 days in November. Being out of town for my son’s college graduation was a welcome and happy break.

I played tennis or practiced during 17 days over 37 ¾ hours, which is up from last month’s 15 days/31 ¼ hours and is greater than my high of 16 days, though below my record of 41 ¾ hours. I was fairly tired the day I played with three different groups over 5 ¾ hours, and temperatures in the high 80’s and 90’s exhausted me. Many days I played tennis matches in the mornings and then hit balls with a friend in the afternoon. Forcing myself to fit in crunches is the ultimate challenge, and I usually failed at it.

My nine crunch session equaled my high in December. I set a new record of three sets of 450 (1350 total), up from my previous record of 1050 total in January. Then to vary my routine, I started just doing different stomach exercises for 30 minutes a session. We’ll see if I can fill in that one missing muscle, because I really only have a feeble five-pack at the moment. I was told that if you don’t change your routine, your muscles get used to it and don’t grow as much. Jason Statham’s abs still look better than mine.

There were also two squash sessions for two hours total, way below my record of 8 days and 7 ½ hours. I went bow and arrow hunting for wild turkeys four times for 19 hours and also spent two days (3 ½ hours) chain sawing shooting lanes and clearing trails in the woods. Never even took a shot though this year. Too few birds. And two few weight lift days—just two. But my wrist and shoulders are healing—even swam some butterfly laps yesterday and felt no shoulder pain.

Ken Kantrowitz Has Been Swimming For Life

Ken Kantrowitz, age 70, is one of those fortunate individuals who discover a passion that embraces him for life: he loves swimming in pools, has been competing on and off for 55 years, and still practices eagerly many many days each week. Inspired by this web site to describe his love affair, he has written a detailed narrative that shows his determination and what it took to make the most of his talents. Especially interesting is that after college and daily swimming, Ken gained 60 pounds due to the lack of intense exercise. Then at age 48, he returned to the pool and the regular exuberant workouts he loves, and much of the weight dissolved in the water. Most years he swims 5-10,000 yards (3-6 miles) a week and 300 to 350,000 yards a year. His best year was 504,000 yards (306 miles).

Ken's specialty was the butterfly—1996

Ken's specialty was the butterfly—1996

by Ken Kantrowitz

When I was six years old, in 1946, my dad took me to a swimming pool and saw that I received lessons to learn how to swim. My teacher, according to my dad, was Jack Morris (more about him later.) Today I would call what I learned to do “swimming doggie-paddle.” It was one step beyond learning to float. I could keep my head above the water level, move my arms and legs and very slowly get from one spot in the pool to another. During the next few summers I went to summer camp and had some more exposure to what a person could do in the water. I was very comfortable in this element and usually had to be bribed to get out of the pool or lake. Little did I know in those days in elementary school that my prime passion at the age of 70, in 2010, would be working out in a swimming pool three or four times a week for an hour and a half each session, and swimming competitively.

In 1954, in the ninth grade, when I was fourteen years old, I wanted to play for a high school varsity team. I was, and still am, a spectator and participation sports nut. Through grade school and junior high, I played softball, baseball, touch football, and basketball. These sports and several others were played on the street in pick-up games, at the Pittsburgh Oakland “Y” on Saturdays and during the summer school vacation, and in a league or two, whenever. Getting into a swimming pool, a lake or an ocean was an afterthought most of the time when the opportunity arose or if we wanted to cool down after doing other exercising land activities or sports. In most sports, I was decent or better than average, but I didn’t feel that I was good enough to make the starting high school varsity in any particular sport.

Ken (far left) and friends—

Ken (far left) and friends—4/94

I knew how to swim I thought— but not really! “Doggie-paddle” wasn’t VARSITY SWIMMING. So in ninth grade, I tried out for the Varsity Swimming team. Coach Claude Sofield, who was a junior and senior high school physical education instructor, coached the Taylor Allderdice High School Varsity Swimming Team in Pittsburgh. Al Wiggins, who swam for Allderdice and the Oakland “Y,” was one of the premier swimmers in high school and in the state and the country. Al set the state record for Pennsylvania in the 100-yard backstroke and eventually was an All-American at National Champion Ohio State and later a top medalist in the Olympics. It was an understatement to say that he was my HERO. Read the rest of this entry »

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Swimming With Memories and Murders

Here I am beside the biggest hotel pool in North America, 22,000 square feet, at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, built in 1926. It’s fun to swim in these 700,000 gallons: never crowded and when you do a few laps, you feel like you have been somewhere. Usually I do just the butterfly, but this time the shoulders hurt from my recent injury, so I stayed with the crawl and backstroke. Not really much of a workout. But something. And a welcome antidote to the very humid 85+ degree weather. The picture of me by the pool was taken just after an hour of exhausting tennis practice. I am still dripping from the heat. In Connecticut that week, I had played tennis outdoors in 36 degrees!

Biltmore Hotel's gigantic pool

Biltmore Hotel's gigantic pool

after hot tennis, a cool pool at the Biltmore—10/09

after hot tennis, a cool pool at the Biltmore—10/09

According to one article I found, “That pool played an important role in helping the Biltmore through the nation’s economic lulls in the late 1920s and early 1930s. People came from all around to aquatic galas with synchronized swimmers, bathing beauties, alligator wrestling and Jackie Ott, the boy wonder who would dive from an 85-foot platform and slip through a circle of fire into the pool.

Before he was Tarzan (in the movies), Johnny Weissmuller was a swimming teacher and broke a world record at the Biltmore pool. Weissmuller was fired for running naked through the hotel one night. His female fans put up such a fuss, the hotel management hired him back.

The man famous for swinging through trees is only one source of entertaining stories at the Biltmore. The hotel had a gangster reputation, too. Mobster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was murdered there while an illicit casino was in full swing. His ghost continues to scare occasional guests on the 13th floor, according to hotel storytellers.”

The hotel’s own web site boasts that “The Biltmore was one of the most fashionable resorts in the entire country in its heyday, hosting royalty of both the European and Hollywood variety. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby were frequent guests. In fact, everyone who was anyone – from politicians like President Franklin D. Roosevelt to notorious gangsters like Al Capone.”

Last year when I stayed there, I saw John McCain (campaigning for President) leave the hotel in an SUV caravan that had been sniffed by dogs and included snipers with sunglasses.

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Senior Athletes Who Inspire All Ages

I learned about a book called The Wonder Years that celebrates senior amateur athletes “who never slow down.” Of course these are rare individuals who have their health, the will to persist, and the physical capability to still compete. Very inspirational. They are truly blessed. The USA Today article follows the pictures. The photographer Rick Rickman’s words apply to us all: “…no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”

The first portrait is of a Catholic nun who began exercising at 49 and has since finished 20 Ironman triathlons in Hawaii and over 300 more around the world. She is 79! There is a video about her accomplishments at Check out 66-year-old Clifford Cooper’s October 31st post below about his upcoming Ironman dedicated to his brother who died of Alzheimer’s.

Sister Madonna Buder has completed over 325 triathlons

Sister Madonna Buder has completed over 325 triathlons

Margaret Hinton has competed in numerous national games. “I can tell that some of these people came here to socialize. That is okay, but I’ve come here to take home the gold.” Eve Fletcher began surfing more than 50 years ago. “I don’t think you can be too old to be stoked.”

shotputter Margaret Hinton

shotputter Margaret Hinton

surfer Eve Fletcher

surfer Eve Fletcher

Jane Hesselgesser was a concert pianist and Bill Cunningham was a soccer player and a double for Frankie Avalon. Now in their 60’s and 70’s respectively, they compete as a pair in bodybuilding events around the world against couples 20 years younger.

bodybuilders Bill Cunningham and Jane Hesselgesser

bodybuilders Bill Cunningham and Jane Hesselgesser

Senior Athletes Still a ‘Wonder’ at Their Age

By Reid Cherner, USA TODAY

Growing old might be a contact sport, but it shouldn’t be a competition you need to lose.
That is the premise of The Wonder Years: Portraits of Athletes Who Never Slow Down, a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Rick Rickman.

The official photographer of the Senior Olympic Games, Rickman has profiled everyday athletes who many think were past their expiration date as competitors. From surfers to runners to swimmers to body builders.

“These are people who, for the most part, really have no misconceptions that they ever are going to be athletic superstars,” Rickman said. “They are people who love to stay fit and healthy and competitive. Most of them started training late in life, and it has been a wonderful thing for them.”

When a high school student asked the photographer if he had any remorse taking pictures of people doing activities “that might hurt them,” a book idea was born. “I was so taken back I didn’t know how to answer at first,” he said. “I realized that there is this strange perception about aging in this country. I think in the process of growing old and gathering days under your belt, you can decide for yourself whether to be active and engaged and vital all the way to the end.

“I hope (the reader) takes away the fact that, no matter how old you are, you can be active and engaged in life and have a whole lot of fun and not be this fragile, decaying entity.”

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Helluva Week For Physical Stuff—From A (abs) to Z (zumba)

Back home to normal life: signing checks, initiating roof replacement, selling a horse. But still awed with the increased physical activity of the last week. I will post specifics later of my time:

hot tubbing with Palm Beach girls,
eating enough desserts in Florida to gain five pounds,
swimming in the country’s biggest hotel pool,
tennis playing/practice (four times in six days),
squash practice twice, including a one-hour group lesson,
ab crunch workouts twice,
practicing archery for upcoming hunting of wild turkeys,
two gym visits for mi latissimi,
Zumba dancing with 26 mostly Latina ladies,
skipping Connecticut meals and exercising enough to lose five pounds,
driving a newly-leased, “brilliant red” car like I was on the race track, and
making 25 green-headed, red-faced, white-ring-necked pheasants feel drunk, so they wouldn’t fly away as I set them in bushes.

I am determined to rebuild my abs and play better squash and tennis, and this burst of body energy better jump-start the effort.

“Because I Can, & He Cannot”

(left to right) Clifford, Richard and Stephen Cooper—1999

(left to right) Clifford, Richard and Stephen Cooper—1999

Our Mother’s license plate said “My 3 Sons”. The picture above is of the 3 of
us. 2 are still playing tennis & celebrating life. The 3rd is not. He died from
complications of Alzheimer’s. Richard was 59 when he was diagnosed, he died
when he was 67.

At 66 years old, I have qualified & will participate in the 70.3 Ironman World Championship, November 14, 2009 in Clearwater, Florida.

I have chosen to acknowledge the spirit & memory of my Brother by
dedicating my training & participation to Honor him & raise awareness
to help find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Contributions in any amount are welcome (but increments of $730, $70.30,
$35.15, or $17.575 might have more meaning) should be made in Honor of
Richard, c/o Team Cooper,

You can follow my effort on line at Bib # 506
I will be sure to feel your energy & I know Richard will be watching.

“because I can, & he cannot”

contact me at:
41 Westover Road
Litchfield, CT 06759

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Vladimir Putin Needs To Work On His Abs Too!

vladimir putin needs work on his abs—8/09

vladimir putin needs work on his abs—8/09

The Russian Prime Minister is an incredible athlete, so it may be nervy to comment on his physique. Nevertheless, now that I am aware of a good ab from a not-so-great ab, I would like to suggest that he work on his stomach area a bit as well. And you can look at my post of June 17th to compare President Obama’s mid-section with that of the Russian leader: The Battle of the Stomachs…much better than the Battle of the Bulge(s).

Vladimir Putin has buffed up his action-man image and raised the pin-up stakes among world leaders by posing barechested for another set of holiday pictures.
Photographs were published yesterday showing the Russian Prime Minister stripped to the waist riding a horse through rugged terrain during a brief holiday in the Siberian region of Tuva. Wearing only green fatigues, his eyes hidden behind reflective sunglasses, Mr Putin also showed his gentler side as he fed the horse from his hand after the ride.

The former KGB officer, a mountain skier and judo black belt, is a fitness fanatic who regularly starts his day with weight training in the gym and swimming in his country residence outside Moscow.

putin butterflying—great arms

putin butterflying—great arms

Mr Putin, who will be 57 in October, showed off a set of rippling arm muscles as he demonstrated his butterfly swimming stroke. The photos will inevitably trigger mass swooning by women all over Russia — as well as unfavourable comparisons of their husbands to Mr Putin’s manly physique. They will also confirm the Russian Prime Minister’s status as a gay icon.

Mr Putin camped overnight and went whitewater rafting down the region’s fast-flowing rivers, according to Russian news agencies. Other pictures show him walking through fields with a hat similar to that worn by Indiana Jones, the Hollywood adventurer. Read the rest of this entry »

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