Posts Tagged 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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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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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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Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week?

Excerpts From an article in the NYTimes, 5/24/09, by Gretchen Reynolds. [Summary: Six minutes or so a week of hard exercise (plus the time spent warming up, cooling down, and resting between the bouts of intense work) had proven to be as good as multiple hours of working out for achieving fitness. The short, intense workouts aided in weight loss, too.]

The potency of interval training is nothing new. Many athletes have been straining through interval sessions once or twice a week along with their regular workout for years. But what researchers have been looking at recently is whether humans…can increase endurance with only a few minutes of strenuous exercise, instead of hours? Could it be that most of us are spending more time than we need to trying to get fit?

The answer, a growing number of these sports scientists believe, may be yes.
“There was a time when the scientific literature suggested that the only way to achieve endurance was through endurance-type activities,” such as long runs or bike rides or, perhaps, six-hour swims, says Martin Gibala, PhD, chairman of the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. But ongoing research from Gibala’s lab is turning that idea on its head. Read the rest of this entry »

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