An amazing Boston Marathon this year… and not for the reasons you think!

2014_boston_marathonIf you haven’t heard about my pre-Boston story this year… do read this… it is one of the best stories I’ve ever played a part in.

It all started like this…

I had an ear operation this winter (had my ear drum replaced, it’s all fine now), so after LOST Swimming ended last summer, I decided to make it a “running winter”, instead of a “swimming winter” this year.

mcm logoMy son, Dylan, and I were supposed to do the Marine Corps Marathon, his first marathon, last fall… but a very sore Achilles kept him out, so I ran what turned out to be a very miserable race by myself… 3:59.  Yuck.

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall... and 1st in Joanne's age group for the half!  (yes... it was a tiny marathon!)

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall… and 1st in Joanne’s age group for the half! (yes… it was a tiny marathon!)

Next on the schedule, Joanne and I were planning on doing the Bahamas Marathon in January for our 25th wedding anniversary!  (which was a fun and special race… and a bit more respectable time for me of 3:42… see previous post).

road2hope_headerBut before we got to the Bahamas, Joanne was going to do the Hamilton Half Marathon the weekend after I did Marine Corps Marathon, as a training run, so still being a mess from my crappy race the week earlier I decided to just cheer her in.

Glad I did.  Because it was a pretty amazing story.

Now if you’ve heard this one before, or been on a long run with me this winter (Hugh, Al, etc), feel free to skip ahead!  I’ll give you the shorter version (or check out the post from Marine Corps Marathon last fall!).

So I found a nice quiet spot with not too many spectators, a few hundred yards up from the finish line at the Hamilton Marathon, cheering runners in and waiting for Joanne to come by to cheer her in.  And a runner stumbles and falls in front of me.  I ran over to see if he was okay.  He was pretty out of it, lying face down on the pavement.  Eyes all glossed over and breathing heavily.  I was talking to him to see if he was still with it.  He wasn’t.  And then his breathing stopped.  And then his heart stopped.

Another woman came along to help.  I yelled down the course for someone to get an ambulance.  She and I started doing CPR.  Several other knowledgeable people stopped and helped.  Someone brought the AED over and we shocked him.  Nothing.  We kept doing CPR.  We shocked him again.  Still nothing.  We continued doing CPR.  We shocked him a third time.  Still nothing.  Then, 15 minutes into it… we got a pulse!  The Ambulance instantly scooped him up and took him away.  I was left standing there, after a very surreal and intense 15 minutes.  I wandered over and found Joanne, Brett and Al and told them what happened.  And although it shook me up a bit, I pretty much figured it was over.

But it wasn’t.

I wrote a blog post here about my experience.  Somebody also told me there was a short article about “man collapses in Hamilton Marathon” on the  A few people that were there and helped do CPR spoke up in the comments section… and the man’s wife even commented that he was still alive!  I didn’t say anything, but was just happy to know he had made it.  I thought that was the end of the story again.

But it wasn’t.

About a month or so later… I got an email from Ted!  The guy who had died for 15 minutes and was now back in the game and recovering!  We exchanged several emails and I learned that he and I had a lot in common.  He was a very good runner, done several Boston’s, had just come back from doing one of those cycling tours where you do a section of the Tour de France and he even bikes with his group to the Starbucks in Oakville every Saturday!  And he seemed like a really nice guy.  Very cool to speak with him and know that he was recovering well.  I thought that was the end of the story again.

But it wasn’t.

About another month or so after that… I got another email from his brother Don!  He tells me how grateful he was that I had helped save his brother and that he was truly glad that his brother was still alive.  They both seemed like genuinely nice guys.

2014bostonAnd then Don said that in appreciation for what I had done to help save Ted’s life he would like to do something special for me… and my family.  He wanted to personally pay for a trip for us to Boston for the Marathon this spring!  Airfare and hotel and VIP seats in the grandstands at the finish line!  The whole nine yards!  AND… apparently he knows a bit about how important the Boston Marathon is to runners, having had a brother run it… so he was also going to get me into the BOSTON MARATHON!

What else could I say but: okay.  And thanks!

So that all was good and fine, but it still seemed weird that he could just “get me in”, I mean the Boston Marathon isn’t exactly easy to get into… as it turns out… he is a top executive of the lead sponsor of the race!!!  (I never know whether one should use names or companies in a story like this… he deserves all kinds of personal thanks and recognition for doing such a generous thing… but I’ll just leave it at that).

Again, the story isn’t over yet… one more chapter left… the actual running of the race!

But before I even get to Boston this year, and on top of all the events from last year that will make this year a very memorable race… this will be a very special race… for me and my family… and for Ted and his family.very-excited-im-running-the-boston-marathon





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How about a 459 km swim from Mozambique to Madigascar! Wow!

And no sooner do I say that Craig Lenning’s swim from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco was one of the toughest swims in the world (see post below!) does our local Town Councillor (and big LOST Swimming supporter!), Dave Gittings, send me an article he just read about a couple of South African guys who swam 459 km from Mozambique to Madigascar!  It was a “staged swim” (meaning not continuous), but still… a monstrous swim!  Which is why it is always so hard to compare swims like these… either way… an exceptional swim!

Congrats Thane and Jonno!




Smiles as duo complete ‘mad swim’

April 10 2014 at 10:59am

ct swim done WAVE OF EMOTIONS: Thane Williams and Jono Proudfoot celebrate as they land on Madagascan soil after completing a 459km swim from Mozambique. Photo: Vernon Deas

Francesca Villette

 MAD swim duo Thane Williams and Jonno Proudfoot survived sharks and French soldiers to complete their 459km swim for smiles.

Williams and Proudfoot swam from Mozambique to Madagascar to raise R1 million for the Cipla Miles for Smiles initiative. So far, they have managed to raise about half of the money, Williams said.

Operation Smile is a non-profit organisation that provides free repair surgeries to cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. The swim was dubbed “The Mad Swim” because it was one of the longest staged swims in history.

“We were swimming east against a western current (when) enormous swells and the scorching sun made it difficult to gain momentum,” Williams told the Cape Times.

He also said an oceanic whitetip shark had circled them at less than a metre away. “As the shark came closer, my heart started to beat faster. Our natural reaction is to scream and be frightened, but we remained still until the shark eventually swam away,” said Williams.

Fear returned when Williams and Proudfoot were detained on Juan de Nova island, a French military base about 100km off the coast of Madagascar where they were questioned for more than seven hours. They were on their way back home at the time.

Proudfoot said it still felt unreal to have been one of the first people to have successfully completed a swim through the Mozambican Channel.

l Anyone who wishes to donate can visit the website

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The toughest Marathon Swim in the World!

People love to debate adjectives like “the toughest”, but in my mind, and I’m sure in a lot of other seasoned marathon swimmers around the world, swimming from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco is the toughest marathon swim in the world.

First of all it is a 30 mile / 48 km swim… it is cold… around 50F / 10C… exceptionally rough water… very strong tide, current and lots of fog… oh, and it is the breeding ground for great white sharks… 11% of all great white shark attacks in the world happen here.

The numbers speak for themselves… Craig Lenning just became only the 3rd person to accomplish it… and only 2 relays have made it!

Have a look at the page in:

All I can say is:  CONGRATS CRAIG!!!



Craig Lenning’s 15 Hours 46 Minutes Ends 47-Year Hiatus

Photo of post-swim Craig Lenning by Vito Bialla.

It took a team of believers and one very hard-core man from the mountains to finally end 47 years of non-success from the Farallon Islands.

Craig Lenning, escorted byVito Bialla and supported byDavid Holscher,Patrick Horn,Jamie Patrickand Evan Morrison, started at the Farallon Islands at 6 am local time this morning and finished on Muir Beach - 14 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge – 15 hours 46 minutes later.

Due to thick fog as Lenning approached the California mainland and a flood tide that did not emerge as planned, the team shifted to Plan B and ended up aiming for the closest point on land rather than finish under the Golden Gate Bridge as originally planned.

But Plan B was very sweet and rewarding as Lenning – a Colorado resident who has been training in high altitude in cold water (i.e., under 10°C) – becomes the third person in history to complete a Farallons Island crossing after the legendary duo: Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Evans and Ted Erikson.

Evans successfully swam across the Red Triangle from the Farallon Islands to Duxbury Point near Bolinas in August 1967 in 13 hours 44 minutes. That unprecedented swim was followed 3 weeks later by Erikson’s successful crossing (on his third attempt) from the Farallon Islands to under the Golden Gate Bridge in 14 hours 38 minutes in September 1967.

Three’s a charm. And Craig Lenning is the third legend to etch his name in Farallon Islands history.

Additional articles on Craig Lenning and his Farallon Islands swim are posted below:

Craig Lenning Has The Right Stuff After 47 Years
Gotta Good Feeling About The Farallons
Big Day Out On The Ocean (Atlantic Division)
Big Day Out On The Ocean (Pacific Division)
4.4 nm To Go For Craig Lenning
So Far, So Good For Craig Lenning
When Technology Meets Channel Swimming

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Posted by Steve Munatones  
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120th annual “Around the Bay” 30k Road Race!

I love this race.

ATB logoOkay, I may not say that every year… I can think of a few years I’ve had my head handed to me by those hills… and I might be a little biased this year because I had a pretty decent race (my 3rd fastest time in the dozen or so times I’ve run this race)… but still… I love this race.

I love the history of this race.  120 years old, which as we all know (because it says on the back of most of the shirts for the past few years) is older than the Boston Marathon (by 2 years… 1894!), making it the oldest road race in North America.  I’d be willing to bet there aren’t many, if any, races in the world that are older than that either.  Someone (else) should look that up.

While we’re on the topic here’s a bit of ATB trivia you may not know.

Why is ATB 30 km and not the standard marathon distance, 42.2k / 26.2 miles?  Well, because there was no such thing as a “marathon” when it started!  There were only “long distance” races.  The Boston Marathon only started 2 years later, as did the Olympics, which also featured the marathon.  But the distance in the first marathon in 1896, at the Olympics was only 40 km… then 40.26 km, four years later… then 40 km… then 41.86… then 42.195… then 40.2… then 42.75… then in 1924, at the London Olympics, they had to tack on a bit to make it go by Buckingham Palace, which put it at 42.195… which is has been ever since.

And in case you are thinking the distance has anything to do with the ancient “marathon” in Greece… and Pheidippedes, the messenger… well you are partially correct.  There are at least 2 different versions and corresponding distances that go with the legend.

PhidippidesTheory number one is that Phedippedes ran from the city of Marathon (and battle of Marathon) to Athens to tell them that they had won the war… and collapsed and died after delivering his message… about 40 km.

Theory two is that he ran from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans to help them defend Athens from the Persians… to which the Spartans said no, so he turned around and ran all the way back to Athens… a nasty out-and-back run of 246 km… each way!  Check out the current race the Spartathlon, which is one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the world, and it follows this course… albeit, just one way!

The Spartathlon

The Spartathlon

Either way, the official distance of the marathon has really only been around since 1924.  ATB was 30 years old by then!

ATB mapAnd one other bit of ATB trivia… I believe that’s what I was talking about originally… so, Rob, you ask, why is it always so early in the year… 3 weeks before Boston?  Well… it has nothing to do with Boston (aside from being the perfect training race, 3 weeks out, especially since in emulates the Boston course almost perfectly… maybe a bit harder, considering it is only 30k!)… but it is because of the lift bridge!  If they waited any longer into the spring there would be boats that need to use the lift bridge, which would interrupt the race!

Great movie... and I love the tag line... been there!

Great movie… and I love the tag line… been there!

By the way, if you want to see a great movie with both the Boston Marathon and Around the Bay at the center of the movie… check out the heart-warming movie “Saint Ralph”… a great movie and a running classic!

I actually had what I thought was a great idea while running around the bay this weekend… somebody (else) should pass it on to the Race Director at Boston and or ATB… but I think it would be very cool for Boston to give ATB a bit of a tip of the hat… by making Around The Bay the only race in the world that you could qualify for Boston in a distance less than the marathon!  (I’m not saying they should make it easy or anything, it could still be stupid hard, eg. you’d have to get the Gold medal at ATB… sub 2:00 hours for the men and sub 2:15 for the women), but that would show a bit of class and respect by Boston for the only race older than it.  Anyway, just an idea.

Okay… that’s all I have to say on ATB trivia.  Unless you buy me a beer.

... the Berlin Marathon it ain't... but it is something else!

… the Berlin Marathon it ain’t… but it is something else!

As for the race… well, they had a bit of a new route in the first 10k.  Didn’t love it.  But you know what, I love the fact that it is ugly.  You know, some races are great because they are huge (Boston, Berlin, NYC, Chicago, Marine Corp, London)… some are great because they are quaint and small (Clarence Demar, Corning, etc)… tons of them are great because they are scenic destination races (Bahamas, Big Sur, St Georges, etc.)… but ATB… well, a big chunk of it is quite ugly.  But too bad.  Again, it was around long before the mega marathons or before anyone thought of flying across the country or the world to run a “scenic” race.  It is, what it is… and doesn’t try to be anything other than that.  And being 120 years old, well it has a bit of street cred… and doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for what it is.  And it’s tough.  I like people and races like that.  Although I can’t say I know that many 120 year old people… and none that can run 30k.

Anyway, it’s a good race.  You should do it.

Like I said, I really like that race.  Or maybe it was because I had a good run.  More likely though it’s because I got to knock back a few pints at the Gown and Gavel with some great friends after the race and talk all about it!  ;-)

Who knew that LOSTies could run too!  Actually they are all much better runners than swimmers!  :)

Who knew that LOSTies could run too! Actually they are all much better runners than swimmers! :)

See you there next year.

Oh, I almost forgot… because I know you all keep score… here are the results for the LOSTies and friends… (sorry if I missed anyone!)

ATB result, 2014.JPG



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Ding, Dong… the witch is dead!

… and the “witch” in this case is “winter”!

I know, I’m probably like the rest of you and think that I’ve jinxed it… but I’m going out on a limb here and going to say that the winter of 2013/14 is finally over.  About freakin’ time.  Early April to be exact.

This hasn’t been the most motivational winter, to be sure.  As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t even had much gumption in putting out the LOST posts… but I’m back, baby!

I know we’ve had snow storms in April before, and they melt quickly and are disheartening and all, but I don’t recall a winter quite like this one before, where winter started in mid-November… and stayed.  Cold, icy, snowy, everything… and a lot of it.

(okay this video is a bit of a cheat… because it wasn’t in Oakville, was just posted a couple of days ago… but it pretty much says it all about this winter… mind you… it says it all in a Newfie accent!… Jumpin’ Jesus!)

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall... and 1st in Joanne's age group for the half!  (yes... it was a tiny marathon!)

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall… and 1st in Joanne’s age group for the half! (yes… it was a tiny marathon!)

It had to be about the worst winter to try and train for a marathon… mind you it was a good winter to find a destination marathon… so Joanne and I went to the Bahamas for our P3110114 P3110102 P311011725th wedding anniversary and ran the Bahamas Marathon (see the earlier post on that)… and Maisey and Jillian and I did get one of the few really nice days for skiing over March break at Mount St Louis Moonstone.  So there was at least one day when we enjoyed the snow this winter.  And I shouldn’t forget the fun we had at the fittingly very cold LOST Polar Bear Dip… oh ya, and the Winter Pub Run!

So I guess it wasn’t all bad… but this winter really did suck.

Bring on the summer… and open water swimming!  It will be interesting to see if this winter and the frozen Great Lakes play a factor in the water temperature this summer… we’ll see.

Regardless… I’m shooting for the first Saturday in June for the first official LOST Swim of 2014… June 7!  (I’m counting the LOST Polar Bear Dip as a “dip” rather than the first “swim”… which it was!)

I’ll keep you posted!

PS.  if you are wondering about registering for LOST Swimming this year, Miguel and I have been working on implementing on-line

The 2014 LOST Polar Bear Dip and Dashers!

The 2014 LOST Polar Bear Dip and Dashers!

registration… so we should have that up shortly!  (we’re also going to have the LOST Store up too, where you can order all kinds of LOST merchandise too!).

... and the 3rd pint was at the Queen's Head... starting to loosen up a bit now...

… and the 3rd pint was at the Queen’s Head… starting to loosen up a bit now…

See you soon!




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LOSTie sails to Australia!!!

Okay, our very own LOSTie, John Gayford did just that… albeit a few years ago.  However, his adventure became more topical recently when Malasian Air flight 370 went down right where he had sailed.  I love sailing… but can’t imagine this.  Wow what an adventure that must have been!

To use one of John’s own quotes, on himself  “that boy’s got a bit of spark to him, doesn’t he!”  Well done, John.



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Great Lakes nearly freeze over completely!

During a winter when ice coverage on the Great Lakes hit a high of 88 per cent, Lake Ontario manages to avoid the brunt of Old Man Winter.


By:  Living reporter, Published on Mon Feb 17 2014

Given the bone-chilling temperatures this winter, it may not come as a surprise that last week the Great Lakes almost completely froze over, reaching a high this winter of 88 per cent ice coverage.

The last time there was that much ice was two decades ago, when 90 per cent of the lakes froze.

But one lake is better at avoiding Old Man Winter’s frozen touch: Lake Ontario.

On Thursday, when ice levels hit their highest peaks this season, about 95 per cent of lakes Superior, Huron and Erie were covered in ice. And about 80 per cent of Lake Michigan, and 41 per cent of Lake Ontario were frozen, according to the U.S. government’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).

By Saturday evening, 81 per cent of the Great Lakes remained frozen — and just 25 per cent of Lake Ontario.

So why, in this chain of five freshwater lakes, is Lake Ontario so different?

“Yeah, of all the lakes, it is a very strange lake,” laughs Jia Wang, an ice climatologist at GLERL, located in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It’s one of the more interesting lakes to study, he says, especially in what has been “a very, very interesting year.”

Among the key reasons why Lake Ontario hasn’t frozen to the same extent as the others has to do with its depth and location.

Although it’s the smallest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of about 19,000 square kilometres, it is the second deepest, with an average depth of 85 metres.

“Depth is a big issue because the deeper the water, the more heat it can receive and store,” said Wang. “Even though Superior is deeper than Ontario the water temperature there is much lower.”

Lake Superior has an average depth of 148 metres, which enables it to also absorb heat. But being the most northwest of the Great Lakes means that even its deep waters are no match for the freezing effects of cold Arctic fronts, says Wang.

Because those cold fronts usually come down from the northwest, and Lake Ontario is the farthest east of the Great Lakes, it ends up getting less cold air than the others, notes Wang.

David Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, says the waters flowing into Lake Ontario — it is the downstream Great Lake — may be a factor in why it’s not freezing like the others.

The flow of the Niagara River, which connects lakes Erie and Ontario, “would help to circulate the water and prevent the ice from forming because there’s more agitation,” says Phillips.

“But certainly, we know that all of the waters from lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie are flowing into Lake Ontario and that would be another factor that would keep it, perhaps, a little less likely to form ice.”

Less ice coverage on Lake Ontario means the open water may result in more lake effect snow in areas such as Kingston, says Phillips.

What’s happening this year isn’t unusual, says Wang. In 1994, when 90 per cent of the Great Lakes were frozen, just 55 per cent of Lake Ontario was ice.

The highest ever recorded ice coverage, says Wang, was in 1979 when 94 per cent of the Great Lakes froze, and 85 per cent of Lake Ontario.

Phillips, however, says anecdotal evidence suggests that Lake Ontario froze completely during the winters of 1892-93 and 1933-34.

“In 1933-34, people actually went skating on Lake Ontario,” he said. “They would head out and skate and skate as far as they could go and then they’d come back.”

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Zsofi Balazs: Canada’s Only Female Olympic Open Water Swimmer

Zsofi Balazs!

Zsofi Balazs!

Here is a great story from Triathlon Canada magazine about a great Canadian open water swimmer, a great Olympian… and someone who has paid her dues… and then some!

Funny thing for you triathletes out there that don’t like the mass swim start, read about

why Zsofi still gets anxious about the start of open water swims… she’s been knocked around pretty good too!

... in fairness to Dylan... 2006 was in his "less-husky" days!

… in fairness to Dylan… 2006 was in his              “less-than-husky” days!

… and I’m sure my son Dylan would be quick to point out that he knows Zsofi too… or at least her foot!  I remember the 3k Ontario Open Water Championship in 2006 and Dylan came 2nd… in the men’s group… but a girl won the whole thing… it was Zsofi.  I asked him what happened after the last turn when he got dropped from the pack?  He said, “Zsofi kicked my goggles off!… and I was dying!  Hey, if you are going to get “chick’d”, best have it by an Olympian!  But that’s open water swimming… all in good fun!  Don’t worry Zsofi, Dylan and the rest of us LOSTies still cheer hard for you!

Pic021Oh, I just about forgot… I even have my own Zsofi story!  The next year at the same Championship they introduced the 5k… 5 x 1km loops… and they ran the Masters and the Age Groupers together… so my glamorous Zsofi story… she (and the whole lead pack) lapped me!  But like I said, if you are going to get lapped, it might as well be by an Olympian!

Keep up the good work Zsofi… and we hope to see you out at LOST Swimming this summer!




While Team Canada is making us proud in Sochi, our country’s only Olympic open water 10km swimmer is still hard at work in the pool and the weight room. Toronto-based, Hungarian-born Zsofi Balazs is the first Canadian woman to gain a spot in the Olympic marathon swimming race since the event appeared in 2008. In 2011, Balazs finished in the top-10 at the Pan American Games and was fourth there in 2007 in the 200m butterfly. Balazs won the national championship in open water from 2006 to 2009 and scored her first pool national title in 2010. In her Olympic debut, Balazs competed as a 22-year-old and finished in 18th place and she was 19th in the 10 km at World Championships in Barcelona in 2013 where a super tight race saw mere seconds separate her and 18 other girls from first. But, her prowess in the pool and open water has been hard fought.

She’s bubbly, gregarious, incredibly down to earth and yet she could take people three times her size in an arm wrestle. Despite being only five-foot-five-inches, Balazs has a massive presence. For those of us triathletes who think swimming 3.8km of an Ironman is one crazy long swim, the 10 km open water swimming event might seem unfathomable.

At the London Olympics, Balazs battled the banging and hitting and punching of other swimmers as they hammered it out for roughly two hours in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, stopping only once at a feeding station to be given a bottle of Gatorade, protein powder, caffeine and Advil by her coach Linda Keifer. In that swim, Balazs realized a life-long dream to be an Olympian.


Her family has always believed in her ability, funding her training and racing throughout her childhood despite modest means. Just two days after their move from Hungary, her parents took Balazs from the Scarborough motel room they were calling home to the University of Toronto pool to train. As too often happens when people immigrate, Balazs’s father and mother were not able to find jobs in their fields. Although her father was a software developer in Hungary, during his first years in Canada he worked painstakingly at various construction and assembly-line jobs to make ends meet. Her mother was a midwife in Hungary, but needed to go back to school and get certified in Canada, making for one less income in the family while she did so. But, like their daughter in swimming, they have endured and Balazs is just as proud of them as they are of her.

Her family insisted she did not get a job and focus instead on swimming and school. “There were times we had to go to the food bank—we just didn’t have enough money. My mother hated doing that. I carried a lot guilt for using money for gear and training.” In an interview with the Toronto Star last year, Balazs’s coach marveled at the swimmer’s drive and responsibility. When Balazs began receiving $900 a month in government athletic funding, she used the money to contribute to her family’s funds. “Some of the kids that get carding money, they spend it on bikes and stereos and TVs. She was giving some of it to her family so they could eat,” says Kiefer. “It weighed on her all the time. When she was at the nationals…[s]he was competing to get money so she could help support her family. It was a lot of pressure.”

Zsofi at the London Olympics!

Zsofi at the London Olympics!

Like many triathletes, Balazs doesn’t love the frantic churn of legs and arms at a race start. After suffering a concussion in 2009 when a teammate accidently jumped on her in the pool, she was out for almost six months. When she returned to the water she did so with an increased fear of open water swim starts but has since worked with a sports psychologist to overcome that.

Racing in Cozumel!

Racing in Cozumel!

“There’s nothing calming about hundreds of people just closing in on you–you can just feel the water sucking you in and under,” says the Olympian. “No matter how many races I have done the start and first turn still make me anxious. What I do is just get out to the front as fast as I can and stay there until the pack settles down a bit and until I can calm down too, then I settle back into the pack so I am not the only one doing all the work. It is also a good idea to do head up swim for the first bit to avoid the heels and feet on the start up kicks of other swimmers,” she insists.

With her coach Linda Kiefer.

With her coach Linda Kiefer.

Balazs describes her lead up to the London Olympics as particularly intense because she decided to switch coaches to get there, walking into Keifer’s office in January of 2012 saying, “I want to do this together. You say ‘jump,’ I’ll say ‘how high?’ and from that point on, Linda and I were just like a well-oiled machine.” It paid off particularly for the 10 km FINA Olympic marathon swimming qualifier that June in Portugal, where Balazs finished sixth in a deep field.

Up next for the Olympian is the Pan Pacific Championships this summer in Australia and the Pan AM Games in Toronto in 2015. While she covets a spot on the Olympic team for Rio in 2016, she hopes too to make the police force, so some of her longer term race plans are tentative. One thing is for sure, if there’s anyone I’d want to be protecting me it’d be Balazs—with her endurance from swimming, her big heart, her strength and mental tenacity, she’ll make a damn fine cop.

-Suzanne Zelazo

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The Best Run this Winter…

The 4th Annual Oakville Pub Run... a small start, but we pick up more along the way!

The 4th Annual Oakville Pub Run… a small start, but we pick up more along the way!

… okay, I’m going to say that when Jo and I ran the Bahamas Marathon on our 25th anniversary that was better.. but other than that… this was the best run this winter!

I'm pretty sure the un-named individual was playing possum to avoid the inevitable... at least at this point...

I’m pretty sure the un-named individual was playing possum to avoid the inevitable… at least at this point…

First of all, the competition this winter has been pretty abysmal.  Without a doubt this has been the worst winter for running in the last 25 years or so (unless you are from out West, in which case, my cap’s off to you… I don’t know how anyone does a spring marathon).  But I digress…

Today was the Sunday after Super Bowl… which is time for the 4th Annual Pub Run!  Another tip of the cap to Scott, for (dis)organizing this year’s run, yet again.  Of course, he does it all in stride and actually had no idea this was the 4th year in a row we’ve done this.  Thanks Scott!  (and he’s not even a swimmer… actually I shouldn’t say that… he’s the first one in the water for the Polar Bear Dip!).

The first stop... The Gingerman!

The first stop… The Gingerman!  (note the shots for slow starters!)

Anyway, this winter sucks.  The running has been brutal.  Cold, snowy and icy.  So what to do?  Drink.  And even better?  Drink and run.  So we hit the pubs on one of the worst (or typical) winter runs this year.  Cold, snowy and slippery.

So we started at the King’s Arm’s.  Jo and I pulled up next to Scott and Cathy in the parking lot.  Scott rolled down his window and said I think it might be a small group this year.  So there was Scott, Jo and myself.  Lambrina and Kirsti said they’d be there too, and they were.  We drove past Andy running to the pub, so he was in.  Brian rolled in just before take off too.  Then Mark and Eileen caught up at our first pub.  And a few others (Brett and Cathy) caught up at the end.  Nice.  Just a nice run on a crappy day.  Half cut.  Nice.

... next, O'Finn's Irish Temper... (pretty good shot considering the guy who took the picture was blind!)

… next, O’Finn’s Irish Temper… (pretty good shot considering the guy who took the picture was blind!)

First stop was a good solid km or so to The Gingerman… then O’Finns Irish Temper… then 200 meters to The Queen’s Arm’s… then 100m to the next pint at the Southside Cottage Grill… and full circle for the 5th and 6th pints back at the King’s Arms.

... and the 3rd pint was at the Queen's Head... starting to loosen up a bit now...

… and the 3rd pint was at the Queen’s Head… starting to loosen up a bit now…

You know.  The funny thing is.  When we started the weather sucked… it was cold and slippery.  But by the end… I (we) found it wasn’t nearly as cold and my footing didn’t seem nearly as bad.  And I had started this day like most days in February this year… -10C with a foot and half of snow… not feeling really very motivated.  But oddly… getting together with a bunch of great friends… a little bit of exercise (about 3.69 km according to Lamb’s Garmin… unless you are a keener like Kirsti, who ran 24k yesterday and 21k this morning!)… and, you guessed it, a half a dozen pints of beer… well, I feel a whole lot better.

... 4th pint, at the Southside Cottage Grill... well down the road now... literally and figuratively...

… 4th pint, at the Southside Cottage Grill… well down the road now… literally and figuratively…

Now I now it’s not very politically correct to promote drinking and running… and given what a bunch of talented and hard training runners we have in our group it may even seem at odds with each other… but… I could give a crap.  This is the real world.  Where you do the best you can and try and have a little fun along the way.  You might think it’s just the beer talking… or maybe I’ve been listening Jimmy Buffett a bit too much… and you may be right (since I’m writing this under the influence of said beer and a half hour hot tub), but life is pretty good when you have good friends, running (or swimming!) and beer.

... and pints 5 & 6 bring it all full circle after a hard 4k (I'm rounding up) at the King's Arm's again!

… and pints 5 & 6 bring it all full circle after a hard 4k (I’m rounding up) at the King’s Arm’s again!

PS.  No one is looking forward to vanquishing this snow and getting in the Lake more than I am.  See you soon.  I hope!



PS.  …but the weather still sucks… I have to go shovel the driveway now…


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Ministry Confirms Bull Sharks In St. Lawrence

 Category: Gananoque & Leeds & 1000 Islands
 Created on Monday, 01 April 2013 06:45
 Written by Media Release / EON News

The Ministry of Fish and Game have confirmed that a Male Bull Shark was caught and submitted to the Ministry last summer in the St. Lawrence River. There have also been additional fins spotted this season in the main channel, which means that there has been active mating in the river and that there are indeed Bull Sharks in the river.

The shark was caught near the main shipping channel, south of Mallorytown Landing in the month of August by a local angler who brought the suspicious fish immediately to ministry officials. The ministry indicated that the bull shark exceeded four feet in length. Ministry officials wanted to wait until Spring to understand the possible size of the shark problem in the St. Lawrence.

While bull sharks are commonly found along coastlines, bays, and harbors, they also frequent a most uncommon shark habitat—freshwater rivers.

The species has been spotted 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) up the Amazon River in South America and dwell in Lake Nicaragua, a freshwater lake in Central America. Now they are in the St. Lawrence River.

Ministry officials urge boaters and swimmers to exercise caution until the end of the day after which the threat will no longer exist….For more information contact us.

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Swimmer Marilyn Bell recalls historic Lake Ontario crossing…

Here is a very interesting and detailed story about one of Canada’s greatest athlete’s and hero’s… Marilyn Bell!  As an open water swimmer, marathon swimmer and or Canadian… it’s a good story to know!  Still makes us proud after 60 years!



Marilyn Bell 3

New Paltz Times

by MIKE TOWNSHEND on Jan 29, 2014 • 6:30 am

In the morning, usually at about 6 a.m., Marilyn Di Lascio hits the pool at Woodland Pond in New Paltz with her friends. The room’s high wooden ceilings look a bit like a church — a metaphor the 76-year-old swimmer enjoys.

The room is her chapel, she says. Even after her brief but epoch-making professional swimming career, and despite a degenerative back condition, water still holds magic for her. It’s still a lot like her first love.

If you don’t know her story — as many Americans outside of hardcore swimmers do not — Marilyn Bell Di Lascio comes across as a nice old lady — charming, polite and quick with a joke. She’s down-to-earth, humble to the point of self-deprecation at times.

Talking to her, it’s a bit hard to believe she’s an international swimming legend — the first person ever to succeed at swimming across Lake Ontario.

But at age 16, back in 1954, up against a famous American shoo-in, she conquered the big lake when no one said it could be done — much less by a woman. In doing so, she became a Canadian national sports hero.

Early days: Learning to swim

Marilyn-Bell-Slideshow03-smOriginally from Toronto, Marilyn Bell started swimming late in life compared to some. “I didn’t learn to swim until I was about 9 years old,” she said. “I took swimming lessons for the first time that summer. I took to it. I loved it. I can still remember the first time I floated by myself. I can remember that sensation of popping up in the water.”

By the end of the summer, her swim coach invited her to join a competitive swim club. At first she didn’t have rhythmic breathing in her skill set. The first race she won, she didn’t breathe in the water at all — which left the official timing her swim a little baffled.

“I remember saying, ‘I haven’t learned how’,” she said. “So that was like, ‘okay if you can hold your breath a long time, that helps’.”

She swam her first mile in a pool by age 10. “Nobody thought I could do it. Not even my teacher. But he said, ‘Well try. Go for as long as you can and see what happens.’ And I did.”

Far from being a champion early on, the young Marilyn Bell was an underdog.

“I would usually place fourth of fifth. On a really super good day, when one of the top swimmers didn’t show up, maybe I would place third and get a medal,” she remembered. “I usually did well on a relay — not because I was so great, but because the other girls were so fast.”

Early on, she had endurance, but the speed didn’t come. “I could never get there based on my own ability — no matter how hard I tried. I tried so hard. My parents sent me to different instructors to try to refine my stroke. I just couldn’t go as fast as I wished I could.”

One of those new swim instructors happened to be Gus Ryder — who became one of Canada’s most famous coaches. Both he and Marilyn were eventually inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. She’s also an International Swimming Hall of Famer.

He saw something in her that others didn’t. Where others saw obstinacy, he saw determination. “It was during that period of time that he knew I was working so hard. I would be the first one into the pool, the last one to get out.

“He said, ‘You never complained. You just did everything I told you to do. There was just one thing missing: You weren’t hungry enough. You were more concerned about your team members doing well. So you didn’t concentrate’.”

Marilyn Bell today... with the "Marilyn Bell doll!"

Marilyn Bell today… with the “Marilyn Bell doll!”

Something about the way she swam gave him an idea. He started grooming her to become a long-distance open water swimmer. At age 13, financial difficulties at home almost ended her sports career before it started.

“My parents didn’t have a lot of money,” she said. “I don’t even think you would call us a middle-class family. So money was very scarce, and my parents decided that since I wasn’t excelling — and it was costing money for me to swim — that they were going to pull me out of the program. That for me was like a catastrophe. I couldn’t imagine a life without swimming.”

The team was a huge part of her social life back then. Also, she taught at Ryder’s now-famous Lakeshore Swim Club, teaching swim lessons to the physically disabled.

“I was actually working with handicapped children. That was the era of the polio sweep in the country. And we had a lot of young people — some younger than me, many older than me — who had come down with polio and had been left paralyzed,” she said. “He was one of the first people in the swimming world to say, ‘Hey, we can make a difference here’.”

Ryder worked out a special deal with her parents. Marilyn worked in the office at the swim club’s pool in exchange for continued lessons. “It was really a live-saving gesture to me.”

She started training in hopes of making the 1952 Olympic Games in Finland. She tried out, but the Olympics weren’t in the cards for her. At age 14, she’d turned professional. She swam in a 3-mile, professional women’s race on Lake Ontario. Those early pro races retreaded her old pattern — placing third or fourth — but she was still pleased.

“The first year, I placed fourth. I was thrilled because I’d won $300, which for a kid who had no money was really a lot of money.”

A challenge went out for a marathon swimmer to cross Lake Ontario — from Youngstown, NY to the shore in Toronto. American swimmer Florence Chadwick had been offered a $10,000 prize from the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to cross the lake. Chadwick was the favorite, because she was the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1950.

Secretly, Gus Ryder started grooming Marilyn Bell to make that swim. But first she needed to prove herself. The Youngstown-to-Toronto route is 32 miles.

“The furthest I think I’d ever swum was 7, 8 miles tops,” she said. Her coach made her train by swimming for 10 hours straight, to prove she could do it. She did.

He signed her up for a 26-mile race around Absecon Island in Atlantic City, NJ. That one race had a huge impact on Marilyn’s personal life. Maybe as much as the Lake Ontario swim, it changed her life.

“The best part about that was that was where I met my future husband. He was a lifeguard on the beach where we were training,” she said.

In Atlantic City, there were 39 swimmers — of which only seven survived the brutal marathon around the island. Marilyn placed seventh overall, but she was the only woman across the finish line. “That was pretty exciting.”

The big lake

For Canadians, that CNE didn’t sponsor a native swimming champion, but instead the American Florence Chadwick created a lot of controversy. As a long shot competitor, considered too young to pose a serious threat, Bell stayed away from the heat.

“I was not one to be a part of controversy. And it was a very controversial issue, of course. And there were other Canadian women that could have easily challenged her,” she explained.

Winnie Roach Leuszler — a famous Canadian swimmer and a mentor and hero to Bell — also threw her hat in and challenged Chadwick. The three women would all set off from Youngstown on Sept. 8, 1954.

Bell Di Lascio still credits a lot of her success to circumstance. “When I think back, it was just I think being in the right place at the right time and having a coach who was patient — and who knew how I ticked.”

Unusual for an open water marathon swim today, the whole event was done with subterfuge.

“It was cloaked in secrecy, first of all, because the Canadian National Exhibition — which was the sponsoring organization — had made this bona fide contract with Florence Chadwick,” she said. “She came into this controversial situation. There were two newspapers, the Toronto Star and The Toronto Telegram. They were always at war with each one another.”

Bell’s coach pitched the papers her story to gain sponsorship and publicity on the race — without her knowledge. But they also needed transportation, which the media — hungry for pictures of the action — promised to provide.

Marilyn Bell and her coach, Gus Ryder.

Marilyn Bell and her coach, Gus Ryder.

“It turned out the Toronto Star took the bait,” she said. “My coach pitched it to

them. He knew that he needed backing for his swimmer — one way or another. The Telegram turned it down, and the Star said yes. So they provided a boat and a horde of newspapers, reporters and photographers.”

Canadian journalism students still study the race — mostly because of how it reflects on the media. The 1950s were such a cut-throat, blatantly competitive period in Toronto that reporters sabotaged their competition’s cars during the swim.

Recovering in the ambulance after the swim, Bell later learned the woman she thought was a nurse was a Telegram reporter. Her private conversation with her friend, during the ambulance ride, ended up on the front page verbatim.

At Youngstown, at the mouth of the Niagara River, Bell prepared to get into the water. The weather looked iffy on Sept. 6 — the original night of the swim.

“We had high winds and cold water, and I guess a cold front moving through on the lake. And Lake Ontario is no place you want to be in bad weather,” she said. “Florence had put in her contract that she would decide when to go.”

They delayed two days. On Sept. 8, the weather was still bad, but it was breaking. Chadwick entered the water at the Coast Guard station at about 11 p.m., but the news the race had started wasn’t immediately transferred to Bell or Roach.

“We had maybe an hour to prepare. Unfortunately, my dad and my coach went for a walk,” she explained. “We were all living on this little boat. It was very tense — really close quarters. It was a beautiful yacht, but it wasn’t designed to have hordes of people.”

After a mad dash to get her dad and coach to the yacht, they took a risk to get the 16-year-old swimmer on the lake sooner. They hitched a ride with a stranger, took her by car to the Coast Guard station, telling her to dive in the river, swim out into the lake — until the escort boat could meet her.

“It was 11 o’clock at night. No moon. I mean, it was a stormy night. And there were all kind of floodlights at the Coast Guard station. So Florence came down. She dove in. She took off,” Bell Di Lascio said. “So I was standing there looking out at the dark. I’d never swum at night before. I was petrified of night swimming.”

Her coach convinced her that the dark wouldn’t matter once she got swimming.

DVD“The last thing he said to me before they transported me to the start was, ‘When you dive in, just swim out of the river … Just swim straight out and we’ll find you. I’ll find you.’ Which, in retrospect, was like this crazy, crazy thing. Why, number one, was he so sure that he would find me? And why did I believe him?

“It was the coach and the swimmer. I had so much faith and trust in him.”

With Chadwick, the favorite, gone, those big floodlights turned off. Surrounded by black on all sides, she remembers crying as she swam — unsure if she’d find her coach or her escort crew.

“I couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky started,” she said. “It seemed endless.”

After a while, she saw dim lights in the distance. She kept going. “Finally, I heard Gus’s voice. He was calling me. ‘Marilyn. Marilyn.’ He had a big powered flashlight. So I swam to the light and we were on our way.”

Winnie Roach had to give up because she never found her escort boat. “She swam for several hours and finally a fishing boat picked her up and brought her back to shore.”

Marathon swimming doesn’t necessarily lend itself to knowing what the competition is up to. Bell remembers not really being aware of Roach’s fate or really what Chadwick was doing.

“My goal as I started was I just wanted to swim further than Florence Chadwick did, because I didn’t believe she could do it. I never told anybody that. Years later I told my coach after I stopped swimming,” she said. “I wanted to prove that a Canadian could swim farther than the American. For me, that’s what it was about.”

She swam through the night. The lights shining on her swim attracted disgusting lamprey eels — a leech-like bloodsucking invasive species that plagues the Great Lakes.

“At night, you have no warning. They’re just wrapping around your leg. But I hit them,” she said. “We were trained to try to hit them in the head with your fist — and then they lose that suction.”

NOTL to Toronto (Marilyn Bell Park)

NOTL to Toronto (Marilyn Bell Park)

Toronto, off in the distance, never seemed to get any closer. She swam through the whole next day, her coach Gus Ryder passing food to her from the boat. She even fell asleep a few times, getting jostled back to consciousness by her coach yelling at her or the crew banging on the boat.

To keep her motivated, her friend Joan Cooke — another swimmer — skipped work and took a water taxi out to meet the escort boat. Near the end, she jumped in the water to keep Bell motivated and swam next to her.

It was about 8 p.m. the following evening, Sept. 9, 1954, when she made it to the shore in Toronto — nearly 21 hours later. Bell was in a daze.

“By the time I finished, I didn’t actually know I was finished. I didn’t know I had completed the swim. I actually fought people who were trying to touch me and pull me out. I kept fighting and swimming away,” she said. “I don’t remember touching the break wall.”

Bell-swims-lakePeople on the water had gathered in boats, which confused Bell, who was addled by exhaustion. She remembered thinking she dreamed about ghostly figures floating on the water at the end of the race.

“I remember seeing faces. They were like dismembered bodies; heads and shoulders. I didn’t see the full bodies, because it was dark.” Only later did she figure out they were real people on boats.

Everywhere on shore, a huge cheer erupted. Throughout the day — as it became clear Bell was the only one left in the water — bitter rivalries ended and people rallied around the one swimmer with a chance. The radio and papers covered her every move. People knew she was struggling in the swim’s final hour. When she got to land, everyone knew her name.

“They’d been broadcasting all day long,” she said. “Nobody expected me to be the one left, but they were so invested in what I was trying to do it that suddenly it was like they were all on the same team.”


After the race

Fame was immediate for Marilyn Bell, who became an emblem of national pride in Canada during an era where it seemed like the U.S. always won. “I was like I was everyone’s kid,” she explained.

After the win, she toured schools giving motivational speeches to kids and ran the publicity circuit. She flew around Canada and the States appearing on TV shows or radio. She got a ticker-tape parade. During that time, she appeared as a guest on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“Compared to the aftermath, the swim was easy,” she explained.

Bell had been attending a small Catholic convent school before she made the swim. Touring to talk about her accomplishment — and avoiding the glare of the press — meant that life would never be the same.

“It was hard on me,” she said. “For several weeks after the swim, I couldn’t go back to school. I was devastated.”

Her family also lived in a hotel after she became the first person to swim Lake Ontario, since reporters had her childhood home totally staked out.

Despite their contract with Florence Chadwick, who didn’t finish, CNE awarded the $10,000 prize money to Bell. She continued to swim, but now everyone in Canada and abroad had their eyes trained on her performances.

At age 17 she swam the English Channel. And at age 18, she attempted to swim the Strait of Juan de Fuca — between the Washington State and Victoria, British Columbia. Her first attempt in 1956 ended in failure.

“There was no expectation that I was going to fail,” she remembered. “When I tried it, no woman had successfully done it.”

During her first attempt, there was perfect weather. Still she only made it three-fourths of the way. “The water didn’t beat me. I beat myself,” she said.

On Aug. 26, 1956, during bad weather, she made another attempt — at first intending it as a practice swim. After 10 hours and 38 minutes, she made it to the other side.

“That was, for me, my crowning achievement,” she said. “I went back and did it, because I had to try.”

After Juan de Fuca, she officially retired from professional swimming. She’d stayed in touch with that lifeguard from Atlantic City, one Joe Di Lascio and they were in love. They knew they were going to get married soon.

She didn’t look back. She didn’t rethink her decision. “I was in love. I wanted to get married. I wanted to have a family.”

Her husband’s family lived in New Jersey and she decided to move to the States. Her wedding day also was an event in Canada. The media covered it from afar, but it was a small, intimate ceremony with about 60 people.

“The day we were married was the day I left Canada,” she said.


A public legacy, a private life

In America, Bell Di Lascio became a teacher, in part, because of the influence of her coach Gus Ryder. Before retiring, she taught for 20 years, teaching preschool, second and third grades — along with some special education classes.

Back in Toronto, and Canada in general, they continue to celebrate Marilyn Bell as a hero. The park where she landed was renamed the Marilyn Bell Park. She’s had two books written about her, two movies made about her life — one a documentary, another a TV mini-series — countless accolades and a ferry boat named in her honor.

Although living in the U.S. has meant some anonymity, fans still find her whenever a new edition of a Canadian textbook mentions her name — or when someone writes about her old feats in a sports journal. After the 1990s, Internet articles also kept her name fresh in people’s minds.

“It’s amazing how people would find me,” she said. “It’s never dried up.”

Bell Di Lascio added: “I still get, surprisingly, a lot of contacts from school kids.”

Later this year, on Sept. 8-9, it will be the 60th anniversary of her famous Lake Ontario crossing. In the past, anniversaries of the swim have led to huge celebrations. Di Lascio didn’t know if Toronto has something cooked up for 2014, however.

What she accomplished on the lake still has reverberations. According to The Globe and Mail, only 56 other swimmers have crossed the lake since Marilyn’s first success. Most of them have been women, including the youngest of them — a 14-year-old girl in 2012.

It didn’t really occur to her back then, but Marilyn Bell Di Lascio also sparked and pushed forward the feminist movement in her country.

“It was an awakening, and parents picked up on that. The media picked up on that too,” she said. “The most interesting thing is that I didn’t pick up on that until years later.

“My husband had always said to me when the feminist movement was really getting going, he said, ‘I know you don’t believe this. I know you don’t see yourself in that picture, but you were a catalyst’.”

She and her late husband ended up having four kids. Di Lascio lives in New Paltz now at the retirement community Woodland Pond to be closer to her kids and grandkids, who live in the area.

At the retirement home, people were surprised to learn who Bell Di Lascio was, but they’re taking it in stride. Whenever Woodland Pond gets a Canadian visitor, they’re usually pretty excited to learn that Bell is in the house.

Bell recently gave a talk entitled “Evening with a Champion” to other seniors about her swimming career.

Even after years of motivational speaking, teaching and touring the world, she still has some more wisdom to impart.

“It’s so important when we fail at something that we don’t give up on ourselves. Perhaps we’re trying to do something we don’t have the skills for, or the timing isn’t right,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t keep trying. You may have to reset your direction or change your goal.

“It’s so important, especially for young people, to know that it’s okay to fail. The worst thing to do is to be so afraid of failing that you don’t give it your best shot.”

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Swimmers raise $25,000 for public health facility in Barbados

Hi all,

I just got an email from our swimming buddies in Barbados about a great marathon swim they just did there!  Have a read, sounds awesome, especially this time of year!  Congrats!

PS. Thanks Simon for publishing the story in H2Open magazine too!



Simon Griffiths | H2Open Editor | Monday 27 January 2014

Open water swimming is becoming ever more popular in Barbados. Last year saw the creation of an open water festival and this was followed on 21 January this year by the Summit Charity Challenge Swim, which raised in excess of $25,000.John Howard, a UK born Barbadian resident and avid swimmer, developed the casual idea into a swim for charity and training began in earnest in November 2013. Others involved include Peter Gibbs, a veteran swimmer, triathlete, runner and Lake Ontario Swimmer; John Mike Peterkin; Geoff Farmer; Zary Evelyn and others. Adam Cripwell, a South African “Iron man” currently on a work contract in Barbados also joined in.

The charity arm of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA charity) stepped up to the plate to sponsor the swim and from there followed Howard’s employer, Summit International Bank, and numerous other companies and individuals.

At four in the morning, in total darkness, on 21 January, a public holiday in Barbados, John Mike Peterkin (60) and Peter Gibbs (66), started swimming near South Point lighthouse close to the most southern tip of the island of Barbados.  They swam 7km to St Lawrence Gap where John Howard, Adam Cripwell, Zary Evelyn and others jumped in to start a swim trek up the west coast of the island. Swimmers achieved varying distances, from 5 km to 33km, the latter taking two swimmers to the north of the island.

“The west coast of Barbados, often referred to as the platinum coast, provides wonderful swimming conditions with placid waters, beautiful reefs and endless sea life,” says Kristina Evelyn, one of the organisers of the Barbados Open Water Festival. “The swimmers swam around the island’s capital city, the Deep Water Harbour, through two marine parks, past the world famous Sandy Lane Hotel and historic Holetown towards the final destination at the upscale marina development of Port St Charles. Family, friends, swimmers and trustees from the charity gathered at Port St Charles to welcome the two who swam nonstop from the south coast to the north: John Howard (25km) and John Mike Peterkin (33km).  The two arrived at 6:15pm, having spent 12 and 14 hours in the water respectively.  It was an amazing personal achievement for them and has resulted in funds raised to purchase much needed equipment for one of the island’s ‘free’ clinics.”

Find out more about open water swimming options in Barbados:

- See more at:

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The Bahamas Marathon… and our 25th Anniversary!

atlantis-hotel-8Well this sucks.  I knew we shouldn’t have come back.  A day ago I was laying on the warm sandy beach at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas.  And guess what?  It was a lot warmer than the -22C it is here today!… it was about 25C when we left… or about 47C degrees warmer!!!

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Atlantis-DolphinThis was actually a multi-porpoise (little pun there) get away.  You see a couple of months ago I came across an email ad for the Bahamas Marathon, and frankly any trip down south in the middle of Canadian winter is pretty tempting, but not always do-able.  But then I noticed something about the date… January 19… it rung a bell… for some reason… oh ya!… it is our anniversary!  Oh ya… it is our 25th wedding anniversary!!!  Now if that isn’t a good reason to get away then I don’t know what is!

P1190021Funny thing is, it all seemed to perfect to pass up.  You see 25 years ago, Joanne and I eloped to a little Caribbean island (San Andres, a tiny Colombian island off the coast of Nicaragua!), so going back to a Caribbean island for our anniversary had some symmetry to it… as did running a marathon on the exact date of our anniversary, given that training and racing have been such a big part of our lives over the past 25 years!  Oh, and it was a helluva lot warmer than it was here… so that made a lot of sense too!  Seems to me that’s probably part of why we eloped all those years ago too!

So it all made great sense… at least to us.  Mind you, I had to laugh when my parents told me that they had told some friends that we were going to the Bahamas for our 25th anniversary… and they thought that was pretty cool… and that we were running a marathon for our anniversary… and they all thought that was pretty crazy!  I guess crazy is relative.

Faking the warmth... like a true Canadian!

Faking the warmth… like a true Canadian!

Anyway, when we got there it was kind of chilly, only about 70F/21C or so ( I know “boo hoo”), but it warmed up each day that we were there.  But on the first day, we definitely looked like those weird Canadians, sitting on the beach, faking it in T-shirt and shorts… but, by god we were going to get some sun!

On the Saturday before the race we did exactly what you aren’t supposed to do the day before a marathon… we wandered around Atlantis and the race expo for hours and hours… and laid out in the sun, trying to get at least a bit of color! (ie: sunburn).

Ready to go... at 5:00 am!

Ready to go… at 5:00 am!  (I wanted the follow the guy with the beer strapped to his back… but it was 5:00 am!)

Then along came race morning.  Which started at 4:00 am.  Early.  Really freakin’ early.  But the race started at 6:00 am to avoid the heat, so we had to be up and at it.  Funny thing was, it was barely warm enough to lay on the beach… but a fair bit warmer than one would want it to be to run a marathon.  At 6:00 am it was about 65F/18C… and by the time the race was over it was 75F/24C, and probably hotter in the direct sunlight, as the clouds had finally all disappeared!

2 seriously steep bridges!!!  Let me tell you, they didn't look nearly as attractive at the time as they do in this picture!

2 seriously steep bridges!!! Let me tell you, they didn’t look nearly as attractive  as they do in this picture!

The course itself is beautiful.  90% of it is an out-and-back along the coast!  The 10% is through downtown Nassau, which wasn’t bad… about the only bad part was going over the bridges and back to Paradise Island!  The are 2 crazy steep bridges!  In a very short span you have to gain the height for a cruise ship to go underneath!  Yikes!  The only good part about this was that at least the 2 bridges were in the first 3 miles or so… it shudder to think what I would have looked like if they had been in the last 3 miles!

The ying and yang of this winter marathon was… it was the perfect winter to get the hell out of town, because it has been so cold… but it was also about the worst winter I can remember for training for a winter marathon!  (in fact, just before Christmas, Jo conceded… and dropped down from the full to the half marathon… what a “normal” person would do!)

The finish line... at last!

The finish line… at last!

I tried something different and joined an on-line training program (Runners Connect, pretty good program too!) after a disastrous Marine Corp Marathon in October (ie 3:59!)… my goal then was a Boston Qualifying time of 3:30… and apparently I hadn’t put the work in!  So I wanted this to be a bit different experience.  I was putting in 100k weeks for about 6 weeks… but with the crappy footing and conditions, it wasn’t quite the quality I was hoping for, but I was still hoping!

okay... it was pretty hot by the end of the race!  (that's my excuse... and I'm sticking to it!)

okay… it was pretty hot by the end of the race! (and that’s my excuse… and I’m sticking to it!)

Well… this went much like Marine Corps… but not quite as bad.  On pace at the 10k… on pace at the half… on pace at the 30k… and then started going backwards… I needed to hold 5 minute/km… I ended up holding 5:15′s… not bad, but it all came in the last 10k or so.  As usual.  I ended up doing a 3:42.  17 minutes faster than Marine Corps, but still 12 off of Boston.

Joanne, being the smarter one in the crowd, did the half and finished with a respectable 1:53… and a smile (as opposed to my 3:42 and a grimace!).  Cool thing is… she won her age group!  1st out of 31 people in her age group!  Not too shabby!  Having said that, I actually place too!  3rd in my age group and 14th overall in the full marathon!

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall... and 1st in Joanne's age group for the half!  (yes... it was a tiny marathon!)

3rd in my age group for the full and 14th overall… and 1st in Joanne’s age group for the half! (yes… it was a tiny marathon!)

Um… did I mention the full was pretty small?  Ya.  6 people in my age group!  (about 150 in the full and 1000 in the half… or about 40,000 fewer people than Marine Corps Marathon!).  But I’m not proud, I’ll take the bronze medal!  (actually a bronze cow bell?!… but still, I’ll take it!).

first stop, post-race... the best quarter-pounder ever!

first stop after the race… McDonalds!  For the best quarter-pounder ever!

And here is the 25th anniversary part of it… after the marathon we went to Atlantis for the full couples spa treatment and massage… and then a ride on the lazy river in the nice hot sun!  Nice.  (actually we stopped at McDonald’s after the marathon for some nutritious post-race refueling and the best quarter-pounder ever… then we went to the spa!)

All in all… a pretty great 25th anniversary/marathon/warm-weather-get-away trip!

Happy Anniversary, Joanne!  (hard to believe she's put up with me for 25 years!)

Happy Anniversary, Joanne!        (hard to believe she’s put up with me for 25 years!)

Happy Anniversary Joey!






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wow… that’s a pretty moving story…

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Build your own Triathlon Training program!

Hi all,

So I just got an email from our LOSTie friend, Beth Primrose, who has taught swimming lessons and coached several LOSTies… and is a long-time professional triathlete!  Beth sent me information about designing your own tri training program… looks like a great idea if you are doing a triathlon this summer!

Have a look and contact her husband, David, at the phone or email below in you think this is something you could use!

Cheers,Ironman Championship Triathlon



Sunday January 19 or Sunday January 26, 2014

2443 Montagne Avenue, Oakville

(just east of Bronte between Upper Middle and Dundas)

with David Carmichael


Design Your Training Plan – 11am to 1pm

By the end of this workshop, triathletes will have an individualized training plan based on principles of periodization that will guide them toward achieving their 2- to 6-week training phase (macrocycle) goals and 2014 performance objectives.

Lunch – 1 to 1:30pm

Designing Your Weekly Workouts – 1:30 to 3:30pm

Triathletes will leave this workshop with 3 weekly (microcycle) programs and will understand how to monitor/adjust training volume, intensity and recovery to achieve their 2014 performance objectives, including how to peak for their highest priority triathlon(s) of the season.


$110 for both workshops (includes lunch)

$60 for one workshop

David Carmichael was the course conductor for “Theory and Methodology and Training” at York University when Dr. Tudor Bompa, known internationally as the “father of periodization”, was on sabbatical. He is also a former course conductor on planning and periodization for National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) Level 4/5 coaches at the National Coaching Institute Ontario and for the Coaching Association of Canada. David has delivered presentations on “Planning for Peak Performance” and “Long Term Development of the Athlete” at coaching conferences in Canada, Australia and Argentina. He holds a masters degree in physical education with a specialization in the physiology and psychology of coaching.

To register in one or both workshops on January 19 or 26, please

contact David at (905) 847-9368 or

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Jumping into 2014!!!

The 2014 LOST Polar Bear Dip and Dashers!

The 2014 LOST Polar Bear Dip and Dashers!

Well that was cool!  Actually it wasn’t just cool… it was freakin’ freezing!  But we got the 4th Annual LOST Polar Bear Dip done anyway!  But that was easily the toughest one ever!

This has been an unusual winter already, and it’s only just begun… and by unusual, I mean snowy and cold!  Ice storms, snow storms and temperatures that… well, let’s just say, temperatures that don’t make you want to jump in the lake!

Maisey said that was a grin... but I think it was a grimace... or her face just froze like that!

Maisey said that was a grin… but I think it was a grimace… or her face just froze like that!

Joanne and I did a little New Year’s Day run in the morning and went by the lake to check it out.  And honestly, someone or anyone could have talked me out of going for a dip in the Lake very easily at that point.  Fortunately (or not) it looked like we’d be able to get in and out okay.  So it was on.

Only about an hour or so later we were back to the same spot… and I was already cold.  The air temperature about -10C/14F… plus a bit of wind made it even colder.  But that wasn’t the worst of it… the water was below freezing!  The trusty “Rob Kent thermometer” that usually rounds up in the summer, was rounding up today too… to zero degrees!  Dwayne brought his thermometer down and it said 28F… which is -2.2C!!!  Obviously this begs the question “how can that be?”  The water was still open, even though it was colder than freezing… for the simple reason that there was a bit of a current there that kept the water moving.  You could see it as small pieces of ice floated by… or you could just look on the other side of the pier and see that the creek had several inches of ice on it!!!

did you ever go to a party and feel like you were a little under-dressed?

did you ever go to a party and feel like you were a little under-dressed?

We’ve never had water temps that cold, I believe it is usually around 1 or 2C… and this was the coldest air temp we’ve ever had as well!

Anyway, somewhere around 50 people showed up just before noon.  I barked out the orders, as this was going to have to be quick!  So this was the strategy: we were going in at the stroke of noon… so at 11:59 we all quickly got undressed… (except for Brian and Scott that had shown up in their bathrobes already!).  Until that point it was hard to tell who was going in and who wasn’t, because no one was getting undressed early!  So we all got down to our speedo’s and bikini’s really quick!  Then the quick photo op for the other half that were there just to take pictures, laugh and assist in re-dressing those with numb digits after.  Then the count down… 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1… and all hell broke loose!P1010134P1010135DSC_0866

I believe the total number was 25 crazy LOSTies that plunged into Lake O!  The youngest being Serena Hardy at 6 years old… doing her second polar bear dip in her life, no less!… and she made it with a big ol’ smile to boot!

The youngest dipper... Serena with a big ol' grin on!

The youngest dipper… Serena with a big ol’ grin on!

Darren "the Neoprene Kid"... in Lake O drag!  Hard to believe he was the smart one out there today!

Darren “the Neoprene Kid”… in Lake O drag! Hard to believe he was the smart one out there today!

Miguel even planned a “Dip or Dash”, the dip was what most people did (in and out as fast as you possibly could)… and a few did the Dash instead!  Which entailed swimming out and back to Darren”the Neoprene Kid” Osborne, who manning a buoy in his 7mm wetsuit (and a pink dance outfit from his Jane Fonda workouts back in the 70′s!)  It was supposed to be 25m out and 25m back… but I think Darren was being kind with his measurements… either that or I set a new record for 50m breaststroke with a goofy looking hat on!

DSC_0897I must say, we LOSTies are pretty easy to please… because the best part was the fact that Darren had brought some heavy rubber mats that went in the water and Miguel had some carpet that ran down to the beach… both of which were awesome!  Beats the hell out of having your feet stick to the rocks like a third-grader’s tongue to a metal post!

Maisey, Eileen and Madhu (a noteable non-dipper!) with big ol' grins on... and toasty warm at the coffee shop!

Maisey, Eileen and Madhu (a noteable non-dipper!) with big ol’ grins on… and toasty warm at the coffee shop!

Anyway, good fun was had by all and Brett and Lambrina even opened up the coffee shop so we could all get some warm liquids in our bodies and have a mid-winter catch up with all of our LOSTie friends!

Special thanks to Darren and Miguel for the mats and carpet… and to a tip of the hat to Chris who showed up late, but went in anyway! (under Darren’s neoprene supervision!)… and to our young Ukrainian LOSTies, who swam out to the buoy and back… and then just hung around on the beach visiting… in their speedo’s!  And a special good luck wish to Colleen for 2014… as she is going to be attempting her 3rd successful Lake O Crossing… when things warm up a little that is!

Anyway, all the best to all you LOSTies out there that made it down for the dip… and to all those that couldn’t make it… or had the brains to stay inside!  See you all soon, back at LOST Beach… when it warms up a little!






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The LOST Polar Bear Dip, 2014!!!

Hi all,

So the first LOST swim of 2014 is almost upon us!

Come and join us for a LOST Polar Bear Dip at LOST Beach… or a 50m sprint… or just to come and laugh at those doing the former!  Either way it should be fun… and quick!

Splash down is at 12:00 noon sharp… see you there!



polar bear dip, 2014



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Miguel… and our Youth Olympic Games Team… for Modern Pentathlon!

ModernPentathlon 2ModernPentathlon 2ModernPentathlon 2ModernPentathlon 2Here is an email I got from our new LOST “Team Manager”, Miguel Vadillo… who also happens to be the National Team coach for Modern Pentathlon! 

ModernPentathlon 2We do have an amazing assortment of athletes and sports involved in LOST!!!

Good work Miguel… and all our best to your athletes in Mexico!

(… and because I know you want to look this up… here’s the link! )

ModernPentathlon_1958705bHi Rob,

I am in Mexico on this qualifier for the youth Olympic Games in China next year for Pentathlon and the Canadian girls did very well. Two of them did not get their direct pass this time but had an awesome performance and got points that make very possible for them to make the Canadian team and I am very proud of them. I have been coaching them just for the last two months and they have done quite impressive things.

I know MP will not be for much longer in the olympic program as it is a sport that for many reasons is in danger of extinction but for now it is a big deal for the kids I am coaching and these kids did great with literally no resources and not much experience!

fencing 2 fencing shooting us and canKali Sayers from Alberta was the best canadian today with a fantastic fencing (she was second) a good swim and a really great combined event (shooting and running) that granted her a 4th place at this Open Pan American invitational championship where Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, USA, Canada, Costa Rica and an european guest, Hungary were represented. 

Hillary Elliott  was the second best canadian 6th place overall with very solid performances in all events. Being only 15 years old she is competing amongst the big shots in the sport at this level.  

Beatrice Cigagna didn’t have the day we were expecting, yet this is only her second major international event and the learning experience has been huge for her.



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Hamilton Marathon CPR follow up!!!

So I got the email below out of the blue last weekend… from the guy that I (and several other people) did CPR on during the Hamilton Marathon!!!  What a great surprise!!!

Apparently he stumbled across the website and saw my post about the marathon and “our shared experience”.  Sounds like he’s doing well… and is an amazing athlete!  I’ve chatted with him a few times after his initial email, seems like a nice guy too… and I look forward to meeting him!

Glad to hear you are back with us Ted!!!

Check it out below…!!!  (the original post about what happened is below, posted on Nov 11, titled “Fall Marathons… and some perspective!”)



Hey Rob
I’m the “trim, fit looking runner with a Boston Marathon shirt” who had a sudden cardiac arrest in front of you as you watched the Hamilton Marathon. I just want to let you know that I’m home, getting better and incredibly thankful you decided not to run the marathon that day.
I stumbled upon your November 11th LOST Swimming blog: “Fall marathons… and some perspective…” this morning. I’m glad I did. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to identify and thank many of the first responders who played a part in helping save my life. You’re aware of the bleak statistics regarding the likelihood of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest. With your help and that of others on the scene – runners, spectators, St John’s Ambulance volunteers, members of the race medical team, Hamilton EMS and the cardiac team at Hamilton General – I beat those odds and survived. In the words of a cardiologist friend of my sister, I ran to the best place to have a cardiac arrest (i.e., close to the medical tent, among and in front of people with a strong sense of community, and in a city with one of the best cardiac hospitals in Ontario. I feel incredibly fortunate.
On November 3rd, I was running the half marathon with my daughter, who was well ahead of me. Five weeks before, I’d cycled to the summit of Mont Ventoux in France and three weeks before that had completed the 140 kilometre GTA Gran Fondo with an average speed of 29.7 kph. Based on my running-training, I was targeting a 1:45 or so half marathon in Hamilton and had accepted I’d finish behind my daughter. It had been a fun, easy-going and uneventful race, up to that point about 300 metres from the finish. I was running in the flow, mindful only of my pace, the beautiful sunshine on my face and the runners running toward me who were heading for the turn-around behind me. And then I awoke two days later in Hamilton General Hospital. I’ve run 26 marathons, including 5 Boston Marathons, and innumerable shorter-distance races – this was my first-ever DNF.
After the ambulance took me away from you and the others who courageously jumped in to help me, I was rushed to Hamilton General and put into a chemically-induced coma, my body temperature lowered to 33 degrees to preserve brain function and allow for better recovery. By the following Friday, I was in surgery and had a minimally invasive coronary artery bypass to restore unimpeded blood-flow to the front left of my heart. I was discharged on Remembrance Day. I won’t forget how happy I was to be going home.
Next to my family, running and cycling are my life. Running and cycling are what I work to do and love doing. What I learned in Hamilton on November 3rd was about the selflessness, caring and courage of people – individuals like you who recognized I was in serious trouble and took it upon themselves to help try to turn that around. It’s all too easy to adopt a jaded and cynical perspective of human nature. My recovery weeks at home spent watching Jerry Springer, listening to Rob Ford’s defensive and offensive comments, and witnessing the Senate scandal have been tempered by the actions of a handful of people in Hamilton. My belief in the goodness of people is stronger now than ever. I’d like to thank you for that, as well as for helping save my life.
All the best with your swimming and running, and qualifying for Boston!
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Do you really want to swim an Ice Mile?

Hi all,

Here is a good one from Simon Griffiths of H2Open magazine (thanks Simon!)… a bit of a switch from the previous post in Barbados!  But something on a lot of people’s minds… okay, maybe not “a lot”… how about a “twisted few”.  Yes… it’s crossed my mind too!



Simon Griffiths | H2Open Editor | Tuesday 26 November 2013

From an open water swimming perspective, this winter feels different. Previously, except for a few determined individuals, the ‘season’ effectively finished at the end of September. This year, a lot more people seem interested in continuing swimming outside for as long as possible.

Colin Hill, by setting up Chill Swim and the Big Chill swimming event in Windermere in February this year, is partially responsible for this (as he is also partially responsible for the growth in open water swimming generally through his time with Great Swim). Next year’s Chill Swim is already sold out with over 500 entries. That’s a lot of people prepared to travel great distances to immerse themselves in water of possibly less than 5 degrees Celsius. But some people want to go a lot further than the 60m sprints and 450m endurance challenge on offer next February.

Colin didn’t invent the concept of an Ice Mile (that was Ram Barkai and his pals at the International Ice Swimming Association) but he was one of the first to do one in the UK. An Ice Mile is defined as swimming a mile in water temperatures of 5 degrees or less. If you spend any time hanging around open water swimmers (either in person or virtually) you’ll almost certainly hear of people hoping to swim an Ice Mile this winter and talking joyfully of the distances they’ve swum at various low temperatures. As a result there is a danger of people under-estimating the risks involved in cold water swimming and trivialising a potentially deadly challenge.

Louis Pugh, one of the cold water greats,  swimming in Antarctica!

Louis Pugh, one of the cold water greats, swimming in Antarctica!

On his Facebook page this week Colin posted a timely reminder that received a lot of positive feedback and support.

“When I swam my official Ice Mile, one mile in under 5 degrees (after ECG test and with medic and support team), I trained for two winters, competed in endurance 450m swims in under 5 degrees and kept quiet about it until I had done it, so there was no extra pressure on me to ‘have’ to do it. There are a lot of people now announcing on Facebook that they will do one and also egging other people on. Remember swimming one mile in less than 5 degrees is very different from swimming in 5 to 10 degrees. It shouldn’t just be the next thing to tick off. Please try out some shorter sub 5 degree swims first. Ask Jackie Cobell or other Ice Mile swimmers for advice, look on the Ice Swimming Association website and get experience under your belt first so you don’t rush into it.”

It’s worth searching out Colin’s Facebook page and reading through the many comments this post received.

In our blog we sometimes encourage people to try cold water swimming (see last week’s post for example). It is a very rewarding experience if done sensibly. But it can be very dangerous. The longer you stay in the water and the colder it is, the more dangerous it gets and the more precautions you need to take. The promoters of the Ice Mile concept recognise this and therefore insist on stringent precautions (including an ECG) being put in place before they will officially sanction an Ice Mile.

Last year at the Big Chill four swimmers attempted to swim a mile in 5.1 degrees. It didn’t qualify as an Ice Mile, but it was close. Three of the swimmers completed the mile but for those of us watching it was very painful to see Jack Bright, an experienced cold water swimmer, gradually slowing down, sinking ever lower in the water and eventually abandoning the attempt just 200m short of the total distance.

ice swimmingThe swim was closely supervised. Jack was helped from the water by a dry-suited lifeguard and stretchered into a heated emergency tent where he was looked after by a well-prepared and experienced medical team. Within a few hours he had made a full recovery but he was definitely shaken by his experience and had only a hazy memory of the end of the swim. You don’t want this to happen to you.

At H2Open we want people to enjoy open water swimming in all its forms, including experiencing cold water. But we also want all our readers to stay safe. By all means set yourself a goal of swimming an Ice Mile, but take Colin’s advice, take your time to build experience and make sure you follow all the safety guidelines.

Picture shows Colin Hill swimming in Austria

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Fun in the Island in the Sun…

Hi all,

Here are a couple of great stories from H2O magazine (thanks Simon! about the new races that Zary Evelyn and the gang have been putting on in Barbados this year!  Sounds awesome… I think this might make a great road trip for some adventurous LOSTies in the next year!!!

PS.  Congrats to my old friend Erica Moffett, I bet the weather was a bit nicer than the time we spent in Dover waiting to cross!… she won the women’s race!!!



Barbados Swim FestivalsFrom Beginner to Barbados in one season

Jim Egan | Guest Writer | H2Open | Thursday 31 October 2013

I only took up open water swimming this year because I just can’t face the idea of playing golf. Not yet anyway. But it was clear back in January that a knee injury from cycling was going to keep me off the bike and away from running all season, so I had to find something new. Had the time really come to resign myself to the golf course?

a nice water start!

a nice water start!

The ever reliable motivation of peer pressure came to my aid in February when a friend goaded me into entering the Jubilee River Swim on the Thames in June. I had mildly expressed interest in doing a 2.5km relay leg if we could find another couple of team members – he swiftly upped the stakes to us both doing the individual 10km. 10km?! Swimming?! Unthinkable. But thanks to the open air oasis of the recently re-opened and renovated Charlton Lido in south east London it only took a couple of months steadily increasing training in the early spring for the prospect of completing the 10km to shift from being ridiculous and fanciful to something that might be just about doable. The day of the Jubilee River swim came in the first weekend of June. I loved it.

They're off... across the Bay!

They’re off… across the Bay!

Up next, the 14km Henley to Marlow Bridge to Bridge. Now that was hard. Spectacular, but very hard. Hitting ‘the wall’ while swimming isn’t all that nice. But, as is the way with these things, Sunday evening’s “never again” somehow turned into Monday morning’s “what next?” And then one of life’s magical little coincidences came along in the form of a fortnightly newsletter from H2Open offering free entry to the Barbados Swim Festival in October. Magical because we had only just booked a dream family holiday to Barbados and would be on the island for the day of the race. One email later to the organisers in Bridgetown and I was signed up for the 5km.

So as summer gave way to those darker, chillier mornings there was little hardship in continuing to get up for my now regular pre-work lido swims – staying fit through the autumn for a race in the Caribbean needs no further motivation. And the Swim The Bay race in Barbados itself? Think pinch yourself perfect conditions. Crystal clear waters, sandy seabed studded with starfish, dazzling groups of tropical fish darting around in front of us and at least half a dozen turtles looking up from below, bemused by our ungainly thrashing about in comparison to their effortless grace. Henley and Marlow both have their undeniable charms, but this was something else. Back on dry land, the morning’s racing was quickly giving way to a full-on Caribbean beach party and we were given a warm, genuine welcome – as long as one didn’t mind too much the locals bragging about how they get to swim the same bay every weekend. It was an incredible end to a first season of open-water swimming – thanks to H2Open for promoting the event and thanks to Zary & Kristina for a truly unforgettable day.   

- See more at:

Racing with turtles in Barbados

Simon Griffiths | H2Open Editor | Thursday 31 October 2013

Congrats Erica Moffett and Mr Williams!

Congrats Erica Moffett and Mr Williams!

The Barbados open water festival, which took place last weekend in Carlisle Bay, featured a 1.5k and a 5k swimming race as well as stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. While there was some competitive racing at the sharp end of the field, many of the swimmers took their time to enjoy the surroundings.

“Trying to race but being surrounded by the turtles and fish was just incredible but also very distracting,” said one swimmer.

Conditions were relatively good in the spectacular Carlisle Bay considering the severe weather conditions experienced two days before the event although currents were slightly stronger than normal in the usually placid Bay. Swimmers attended from across the US as well as the UK, Columbia, Canada, Venezuela, Finland and Trinidad. 150 swimmers, varying in age from 6 years old to 83 years old, lined up for the start in brilliant sunshine at 9 am in front of the Copacabana Beach Bar.  They then swam a loop between the Boatyard Pier and Esplanade. 

I could see me sitting on that beach... oh, and maybe swimming too!

I could see me sitting on that beach… oh, and maybe swimming too!

The top performers were Christian Marsden of Trinidad, Barbadian Alexis Clarke, Ryan Williams of the US and Erica Moffett, also of the US. These four swimmers claimed victory in the 5k men’s and women’s and the 1.5k men’s and women’s races.

Swimmers taking on the 1.5k challenge could choose to swim “just for fun”, in which case swim aids (such as flippers) were allowed and no times recorded.

Special mention must be made of the charismatic and energetic Robert Beach, 83 years old, hailing from St Petersburg, Florida who completed the 1.5km swim in 36 minutes and 40 seconds. This was Beach’s third open water event in October, each one in a different country. In contrast, Maya Cummins, only six years old, completed the 1.5 k swim in 1:42:14 while swimming alongside her father.  After the race she told her mum, “I am just so proud of me.”

The next “Swim the Bay” and “Barbados Open Water Festival” is scheduled for November 2014. Find out more at

- See more at:

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Ray Zahab!

So local running expert and chiropractor, Steve Connor, often gets famous or interesting people in to speak to “Connor’s Runners”.  And a week or so ago he brought a buddy of mine, Ray Zahab.

Steve, Ray and Rob... as Ray said "nice pic... I look like a litte green leprechaun between you two!"  :)

Steve, Ray and Rob… as Ray said “nice pic… I look like a little green leprechaun between you two!”  :)

Now I know I’ve said this before, but in case you missed it, Ray has a very cool story, going from zero to hero.  He was a big drinking, big smoking, hard partying guy… going no where… and turned it all around… he got into running.  Which is a pretty cool story.  Except he really go into it.  He became one of the greatest and most accomplished ultra marathoners in the world.  Even cooler story.

I won’t steal Ray’s thunder, you can come out and see him next time he’s in town because he is also a very humble and high energy guy… which makes for a very entertaining guy to listen to.

Just wanted to say thanks for coming Ray… and thanks for bringing him in, Steve!

Check out some stuff on Ray and the amazing work he does with “Impossible to Possible!!!”



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Fall marathons… and some perspective…

… so you’ll have to read this whole thing to get it.

Dylan and Rob, Marine Corps MarathonFirst of all, congrats to everyone doing all the fall marathons!  Yes, we are predominantly an open water swim team… but we have lots of triathletes too… and therefore lots of marathon runners too.  Myself included (on a good day, at least!)

I like to go through the results and see how everyone did and put up the results, but got a bit busy (and probably lazy too!)… so that has boat sailed.  But congrats to all the LOSTies and other friends that did: the Toronto Scotia Waterfront Marathon, Corning Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Hamilton Marathon (just got back from cheering Joanne in on the 1/2 there!… but more on that later) and the New York Marathon… which Brian, Scott and are running as I type this!  A tip of the hat to Scott who also ran Chicago and almost did a lifetime PB on his 55th birthday… by running a 3:16!  Also a big shout out to Michael Parker, who finished one of my favorite Ironman tri’s, the Florida Ironman.  LOSTie, Darla, also finished Ironman Florida, her first.  But the real thing to note here is that she attempted Ironman Florida, I believe it was 3 years ago, but didn’t finish.  She was hit by a car during the race!  To make a long story short, she was very, very badly injured… and yet came back and conquered the same race.  Wow.  That is really amazing.

PA260033I was planning on running a smokin’ fast marathon this fall too… and by the way I phrased that, you can probably deduce how that turned out!  Last spring, my son Dylan, graduated from the University of Maryland and 4 years of NCAA Div 1 swimming… but within about a week of graduating and finishing his swimming career he was on to the next thing!  (insert something about an apple not falling from a tree here!)  He signed up for his first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon… so I signed up too!  Thought that would be pretty cool… kind of my Gordie Howe moment… remember when Gordie got to play for the Detroit Red Wings with his two sons, Mark and Marty… every dad’s dream.  (Actually this would be my second “Gordie Howe moment”… the first being when I swam across Lake O last summer and had all three of my kids and my wife pace me… that was cool!).

PA260027The thing is… he was in really good cardiovascular shape… and zero running shape… which equals injury.  Within 3 weeks his cardio was able to get him up to 35k!… but he has swimmer legs… ie) sea gull legs!  And not surprisingly the muscles couldn’t keep up.  He ended up injuring his achilles quite badly and waited until the last minute to decide… and elected not to run… blowing out your achilles is not an injury to take lightly.  Disappointing,  to be sure, but the smart choice.

Lincoln MemorialWell, the day finally rolled around and he and I still met in Washington DC for the race… me to get my Boston Qualifying time of 3:30 and him to cheer me in!

I had done a PB half only a month earlier of 1:36, so I was feeling pretty good… double it and add 10 minutes has me at about a 3:22, lots of room to get under a 3:30!

Yes.  That was the plan.  And as all of us endurance athletes know… things don’t always go according to plan.  ie) this race.

Paratroopers with giant US flags at the start!!!

Paratroopers with giant US flags at the start!!!

The interesting thing about doing a long race, is if and when the wheels fall off, at least you have a lot of time to think about it on your way to the finish!  I was oh so typical of a marathon runner in this race… everything going according to plan at the 10k… 21k, you bet… 30k, still pretty good… 32k, not so much… 35k, that’s it, the lights are out, the party’s over… 40k, okay, let’s just finish this sucker… and at 42k you are amazed how much time you can give back in the last 3 or 4 km!

PA270035The thing that bothered me was I really didn’t know why.  I mean I’ve run plenty of marathons where I’ve blown up, but usually it was from a lack of training… one tends to get what one deserves.  However, this time I honestly thought I was in good enough shape to be under 3:30… I was 3:59!!!

But as I said, when the wheels fall off, at least you have plenty of alone time to think about your transgretions that have lead to this circumstance.  Which is about when it occurred to me… hmm… I guess surgery 2 weeks ago took more out of me than I thought!

You see 2 weeks earlier I had my ear drum replaced.  An old swimming injury.  And the thing is, they don’t give you a local anesetic for that!  You are out… and in the hospital for a few days on morphine and the whole bit.  So as much as I was telling myself that a week off was no big deal and that I don’t run with my ears anyway… apparently that does take more of a toll on your body than one expects.  Oh well, lesson learned.

So then a week later was the Hamilton Marathon.  Tempting to run that and try and redeem myself, but as dumb as I can be about taking on too many things, common sense got the better of me and I decided not to run… and just go and cheer Joanne in on the Half Marathon.

Now here’s the perspective part.

So I went and cheered Joanne in.  I walked a ways up from the finish line to try and spot her.  I found a nice quiet spot by myself and cheered all the runners in while waiting for her.

Cousin Al had a "disappointing" 3:08!  It's all relative.  Jo had a solid 1:52 half!

Cousin Al had a “disappointing” 3:08! It’s all relative. Jo had a solid 1:52 half!

But then a trim, fit looking runner with a Boston Marathon shirt kind of fell in front of me.  He kind of stumbled and collapsed… only about 200m from the finish line.  I ran over to see if he was hurt.  He was lying face down, still breathing, but not answering me when I asked him if he was okay or what his name was.  Then he appeared to stop breathing.  So a woman joined me and we rolled him over and checked for a pulse.  He didn’t have one.  So I yelled for someone to get an ambulance.  And we started CPR.  Several other qualified people stopped their races to help and the ambulance came.  We shocked him with the AED twice.  We did CPR on him for 15 minutes.  And we finally got a pulse!  The ambulance then scooped him up and took him to the hospital.

I heard on the news the next day that he was alive but still in serious condition.

Remember the long story I just told you about my trials and tribulations about running a crappy marathon… ya, who cares.  Every once in a while things like this happen and you realize what has real meaning and what doesn’t.  I can’t think of any pithy line that sums this all up… I suppose there shouldn’t be one either.  Just a good time to reflect on what is important.

Family and friends and doing the things you like to do, I guess.  Which ironically brings me back the marathon and cheering Joanne in.  I guess I was doing what I should be doing.  Spending time with my family and friends and running and swimming (and biking, I suppose) and doing things I like to do.  Probably didn’t hurt to be in that place, at that time to help out the runner either.

I guess it is just good to sit back and appreciate what we have and enjoy it… and don’t take you family and friends for granted.  Enjoy them.  And enjoy the things you do.  Really enjoy them.

You know all those things you were going to do… do them.

And get certified at CPR.  (call me and we can go together… I need to get re-certified!).

AED graph



aed pic

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Hi all,

I just wanted to make you aware of a cool event that our LOSTie friend, Todd Cameron, is doing to raise awareness for sharks.  He’s swimming about 2300 km over 2 years and finishing with a swim with the sharks in the Bahamas!  And you can join him if you want!  Pretty cool.  Have a read…



Swim with the Sharks, banner
As part of my project SWIMMING FAST – FOR THE SHARKS! I am swimming a
total of 2300km (2.3 million meters) to raise awareness for sharks.
This is the same distance as the length of the Great Barrier Reef, or
like swimming from Toronto to Miami. I have been adding my swim
training and open water race distances over 1.5 years to do this. I am
currently 1555km in. I am planning to finish the 2300km Swim Distance
Challenge for Sharks in April 2014 with EPIC DIVING in Cat Island,
Bahamas; we are shooting a PSA shark awareness video to conclude the
swim with a 5km swim and a week with the incredible, rare,
and beautiful Oceanic Whitetip sharks. Oceanics are unfortunately
highly prized on the Asian markets for their large, long round fins.
Also a huge thank you to ARENA Swimwear for sponsoring me on this
project with the Powerskin R-EVO open water suit and gear!

swim with the sharks (diver and shark)Sharks are one of the most important species on our blue planet, the top predator in our largest ecosystem and they have been around for hundreds of millions of years. In reality they are far from the monsters we see in movies and media. Sharks on average kill less than 10 people a year globally, yet humans slaughter more than 100 million sharks a year, a large percentage in a horrible and barbaric act known
as ‘shark finning’ in which the sharks are caught on hooked long lines, hauled aboard to have their fins sliced off while they are still alive and then dumped back overboard to drown. Shark fin soup is a nutritionless, poisonous (it is loaded with mercury), highly overpriced dish in the Asian culture (a bowl in Toronto can go for $100) and is very likely the pinnacle of waste, ignorance, and
absolute environmental destruction in how we blindly abuse and mass
commodify animals as a food source. The fight against shark finning is
not an issue against tradition, but an issue against animal cruelty,
extinction, and ultimately for our own survival.

I have been fortunate to layer my passion for swimming and sharks to
help raise awareness and elicit some much needed change for sharks any
way I can. I train and race open water as a vegan athlete on a 100%
plant-based diet and also coach the sport as well. My goal (if an
injury permits) is to race the 10k event at the professional level.
You can find more info on my project and follow updates on the 2300km
Swim Distance Challenge progress on the website and Facebook Page.
swim with the sharks (poster)
Always keep your FINS UP!
Todd Cameron

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Tough break for Steve… the English Channel said… no…

This just in from Steve Faulkner… it’s a no go… again. A heart breaker. But… that is the Channel, isn’t it. Tough break Steve. Another day. I know how you feel!



Hey Rob,
My crew arrived from London, I had slept well just prior, we were all ready and out front of the hotel at 2:30am with all the gear and then my boat pilot arrived to advise the swim is cancelled. Gulp! Really?!?! That quick?! The conditions got bad as the wind picked back up. It was wild Thursday and Friday morning but it had calmed right down Friday afternoon. No….. its still awful out in the channel and getting worse, he said. This entire weekend until Tues is not good. Arrgghhh again.
So, (a big sigh goes here) its over.
But, I learned a lot about the English Channel.
Ok, I’ll write more, maybe about the Catalina Channel swim and pictures once I get home too. Maybe someone will learn from something from that.
Still, open water swimming is a great sport with lots of challenges without any guarantees. This isn’t the pool….. : )

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Steve Faulkner’s swim goes tonight!!!… finally!!! Good luck STEVE!!!

That’s a picture of Steve’s boat and pilot… but that’s not Steve!  But he’ll be there soon…

Hi Rob,
Just to mention my English Channel swim will start soon.
I have now received word from my boat pilot that we plan to leave Folkestone Harbour at about 2:45a.m. local (London, England) time on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013. I will enter the water approximately 3:00a.m. if things stay on track.
Some have asked so if you wish to follow portions of the swim on-line, tracking is available on either of the two channel swimming association websites. Note the name of the boat following me is called “MASTERPIECE”. The tracking device is attached to the boat, not me.
CSA (Channel Swimming Association) boat tracking:
Click on the Masterpiece boat symbol and a box will pop up. Then click where indicated for additional tracking information. A series of black arrows will then appear to show the path of my pilot boat.
CS&PF (Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation) boat tracking:
*Note: I am swimming under the CSA. If you happen to use the CS&PR website, please note you will not see “Masterpiece” as one of their listed boat pilot’s boats. However, they still track them via a grey coloured arrow. Touch the arrow with your computer mouse and it will cause an information box to automatically pop up. The tracking is something you can then click on to see. The CS&PF website will log the swim slightly different, with blue pin-points of progress every few minutes.
I’ll let you know how it goes afterwards… perhaps after the recovery rest. : )
Thanks for your interest and well wishes on this swim. :)
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Another great deal from Xterra!!!

Hey Rob,

I hope your week is going well!

Today we are offering a very important sale for just one week only! Our top selling Vortex Fullsuit will be on sale at an additional discounted rate of $149.00! Just use your exclusive sponsorship code at checkout to receive that discount.

In addition, we are running a sale on the XTERRA SUP Package. Here are the details:

xterra promo, oct 9, 2013Vortex Fullsuit:
- The best selling triathlon wetsuit in the U.S. and Canada since 2010
-All-around wetsuit for training and racing
-Regularly $400. On sale for $149

-10′ Inflateable Stand Up Paddleboard
-Carrying bag
-Pump, Paddle, Repair Kit. and other extras
-Regularly $1,100. On sale for $698

Like I said – this is a very limited time offer. It will be ending at midnight on Monday, October 14th.

Don’t hesitate to contact me with any additional questions or concerns.


Austin Kirkland
West Coast Regional Executive
XTERRA Wetsuits
610 Gateway Center Way
Suite J
San Diego, CA 92102
858-565-9500 x105

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Women Triathletes Get Chance at Varsity Status Under NCAA Plan…

By Michael Buteau national collegiate champs

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) — Dede Griesbauer said she might have
bypassed her eight-year career as a Wall Street trader if
Stanford University offered a taste of her current profession –
The sport wasn’t available at Stanford when Griesebauer was
a student there 20 years ago. That might change as the National
Collegiate Athletic Association considers a proposal to start
the swim-cycle-run competition on the path to becoming an
accepted intercollegiate sport.
Adding women’s triathlon would create as many as 10 spots
for female athletes at each college that fields a team. The
addition would help schools meet Title IX standards requiring
women to be offered the same opportunities as men. It also could
have a far-reaching effect on the sport in the U.S., college
coaches, USA Triathlon officials and triathletes said.
“It brings focused, disciplined, mature young adults to
our campus who are goal-oriented, which helps in the classroom
and everywhere else,” Debbie Warren, athletic director for
Arlington, Virginia-based Marymount University, said in a
telephone interview.
Marymount is the only school currently offering triathlon
as a varsity sport. Warren said she decided to add it this year
at the Division III level, even though there is no championship
or other varsity programs. The school competes against so-called
club teams, which get no financial support from their
“How often does a school get a chance to be the grass-
roots leader of something that I think is going to be really
great,” she said. “This must be what they felt like when they
started basketball.”

Annual Budget

Warren said her annual budget for triathlon is about
$54,000, which covers uniforms, travel and race entry fees. The
school spends about $100,000 each on its baseball and lacrosse
The NCAA Legislative Committees for Divisions I, II and III
will vote at its annual convention in Indianapolis in January on
a proposal to make triathlon a so-called emerging sport, a
designation only given to women’s athletic programs.
An emerging sport gains full varsity status if 40 schools
add it within 10 years. Other current women’s sports that have
followed that route to varsity status include ice hockey, water
polo and rowing.
“There’s a lot of interest out there in triathlon,”
Marilyn Moniz-Kaho‘ohanohano, chairwoman of the NCAA Committee
on Women’s Athletics, said in a telephone interview. “Wherever
there’s opportunities for women to go to college and get
scholarships and have that dream met, we’re all for it. That’s
why we’re here.”

Supporting SchoolsIronman Championship Triathlon

Stanford, along with Arizona, the U.S. Air Force Academy,
Denver, Drake, Monmouth, North Carolina-Asheville and Northern
Iowa have submitted letters to the NCAA in support of adding
Division I women’s triathlon teams. Adams State and Colorado at
Colorado Springs are seeking Division II teams, while Maine-
Farmington has joined Marymount with support for a Division III
Men’s triathlon isn’t part of the proposal. If the sport is
added for women, men’s programs will likely follow, Warren of
Marymount said.
About 150 schools have club programs in triathlon and about
400 women competed in the 2013 collegiate national championship
in Tempe, Arizona. The event, staged by USA Triathlon, isn’t an
official NCAA championship.

Wall Street

Griesbauer, a 42-year-old Short Hills, New Jersey, native,
stuck to swimming at Stanford and earned a Master’s degree from
the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She
worked most recently on Wall Street for Boston-based MFS
Investment Management, before returning to the sport and joining
the professional ranks in 2005. She has won two Ironman
triathlons and was the top U.S. woman finisher in the Ironman
World Championship in Hawaii in 2007 and 2009.
She said she wonders what her athletic career might have
been like if she had competed in triathlon in college.
“One of the greatest things in my life was the four years
I spent at Stanford as a student athlete,” said the 10-time
All-American swimmer and captain of the Cardinal’s 1992 national
championship team. “In the U.S., as good as our swimmers are,
and as good as our runners are, we lag at triathlon. Making it a
collegiate sport will help progress the U.S. in terms of being
more competitive on the world stage.”

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The latest from Steve Faulkner… still waiting in the English Channel!

Another average day in the Dover Harbour!  Crappy.

Another average day in Dover Harbour! Crappy.  Note the chop… frothy break on shore… sailboat hiked over… and that doesn’t even show the strong tide or water temp!… and that’s inside the harbor walls… it’s much rougher out in the Channel!

From: Steve Faulkner <>
Date: 03/10/2013 08:47 AM
Subject: New EC dates Oct 12-15
Hi Rob !
  First, congratulations to Joanne for getting a slot in the triathlon World Championships in London and recently competing!  Good show!
  I’ve not had updated news re my English Channel swim date until last night when I received calls from both my boat pilot and my swim coach.  Pilot Fred knows the Channel well having spent most of his life on it and escorting swimmers across for decades (including Canada’s Cindy Nicolas on a few of her 1981 crossings… 32 yrs ago!).  Tim makes swimming his life as a London based swimming coach whom also works with many Channel swimmers.  Its very helpful and a pleasure to have both of them looking out for my best interest.   So when they offer their guidance I’m best to listen.  Based on what they both suggested my newest swim date window is Oct 12th to 15th.  There is a risk of not getting the weather, but I will get a much better tide.  And tide is apparently very important.  The success of a channel crossing is based on many things…. one’s ability and speed and then all the other things out of their control like water and air temps, weather conditions, tides and currents.  Oh, and sea life (that’s another story involving my swimming friend, Bridgette, and a tangle with jellyfish in July  :(  not good)  Actually, I should maybe include tide as something within the swimmers control as the tides are predictable so there is a decision that can be made around them.   The issue right now is that after a streak of bad conditions hitting the past two prime Neap Tides (low tides that are best for swimming), the weather improved and waters calmed but on the Spring Tides (high tides).  Thank the alignment of the moon in relation to the earth and sun for the gravitational pull to make all of that happen.  The tide is a huge part of what happens over here as evidenced with the boats in the harbour across the street transitioning twice per day from floating in what appears to be 6m of water to sitting on sand.  Anyway, Fred and Tim both explained that not only are we in a Spring Tide right now but its a massive one.  Spring tides alternate from a strong Spring to a weaker Spring.  This week is the strong one.  :(   Basically there is a very good chance I would get near France and not be able to get to shore.   Many swimmers have run into this issue where France can be 1 or 3 km away and then the flood tide starts and it pushes them sideways and even backwards and after a couple hours of having the stuffing knocked out of them the swim ends.  They recommend the next Neap Tide, hense Oct 12-15. 
  I’ve certainly learned that one cannot stand on the beach in Dover on a windless, sunny day looking at flat-as-glass water in the Channel and think that would be a good swim day.  That’s exactly what Fred and Tim expect I will see this weekend yet still say no, don’t go.  Wait.  And so that I will do….. while pretending I don’t notice everyone starting to wear winter coats : ).  
  I’ll write once I receive the call on when I’m about to “go”.  In the meantime I continue to train in Dover Harbour with the resident seal and here in Folkestone at the beach with two white swans.  Where are the swimmers?!  You will be happy to know my Dover Beach pebble collection is growing as I keep spotting “keepers”!  Even a couple spheres in white!  I still want at least one from France though : )
cheers  : )


Hey Steve,

Great to hear from you!  Glad to hear you are alive and kickin’… and still sane after all the waiting!  I know how hard that can be.  But when you look back on your whole adventure the wait will only be a small part of the story, and it will all be worth it!

Quite true about the tides.  I used to wonder why the tides made any difference, given that they just push you side to side… but, like you, I learned a lot about tides in the English Channel!… and you are quite right… it’s the last few km’s where it makes a difference and can hold you up for hours or even push you back.  Nothing to do but wait.

As frustrating as all this is… and as hard as the actual swim will be… and it will be hard… I’d love to be over there with you!  It’s all part of the adventure, like waiting at Camp 5 on Everest to make your final assault!!!  Make sure you sop it all up… you are swimming the English Channel… how cool is that!  Not many people will ever experience what you are experiencing right now… and will be experiencing soon!  I didn’t make it and it was still one of the best adventures of my life!  Enjoy it all.

There is a lot I don’t remember in the hours and hours of swimming on my way to France… but I remember 2 specific things… I remember Allison Streeter saying “enjoy it… and don’t stop until you run out of water… and don’t have any doubt in your mind when you start, you can do it!”… and I remember specifically thinking at some random point during my crossing “wow… this is pretty cool… I’m swimming the English Channel…”  (of course, the other quote from my thoughts at the time was “I sure hope to hell I make it… because I don’t want to have to do this again!  haha… but I guess I will!).

I know the water is always cold, but I also noticed that you didn’t say anything about it… so I’m guessing you are doing okay with that… one less thing to worry about.  One nice thing about the delay I had was that it just gave me more time to acclimatize to the chilly water… which I’m sure you are doing too!

Also… that’s very cool about your Pilot Fred having escorted the great Cindy Nicholas on some of her 19 crossings… pass on a “hi” to Fred from Cindy… I’ll post this on the LOST site… and Cindy gets the LOST updates too!

Thanks for the update and keep in touch… good luck, buddy!… you can do it!  You can be the first Canadian to have the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming!!! (*EC, MIMS and Catalina).  Nobody deserves it more than you!  Go get’em champ! 

Good luck from all the LOSTies!!!



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LOST in the Quarry!

LOST in the QuarryWell that was fun!  On Saturday we held a LOST Race in the Quarry!

In fact, I wasn’t even really involved in the organizing of it… which was awesome!  Let me tell you, it’s a lot more fun and easier to participate than it is to organize!  So with that, I have to thank Barrie Shepley, Miguel Vadillo and C3!!! (Canadian Cross-training Club).

For those of you who don’t know Barrie Shepley, he is pretty much the most credible, accomplished and well established person in triathlon in Canada!!!  He runs his own personal coaching ( and coaches the elite group at C3 in Mississauga ( )… here is a little bio I got off his coaching website, :

Barrie“Personal Best President and co-founder Barrie Shepley has been Canada’s National Triathlon Team coach since 1991 (the year that the company was formed). In that time Barrie has coached over 500 people to national championship titles, Pan American Games medals, World Championship medals as well as successful completion of the Hawaii Ironman and the Boston Marathon. Barrie was selected to go to the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Triathlon made its debut as a full medal sport. Canada’s Simon Whitfield won the gold medal in the men’s event, a performance no one will ever forget.”

Anyway, this particular race was our first “joint-venture” with C3… kind of like the race we do with the tri club on the other side of us, TCOB and the annual Pier to Pier race we do with them!  Nice to have a couple of great tri clubs on either side of us!

Miguel VadilloInterestingly, Barrie and Miguel know each other because Barrie was key in helping Miguel with his Lake O Crossing 3 years ago, which is when I first met Barrie too!  Anyway, triathlon and open water swimming is a pretty small world in southern Ontario… and it’s pretty cool that we all seem to work together and there are such good people involved… a nice culture and community.

And as an fyi… I’m bringing Miguel more into LOST to A) take a bit of the load off me, much like I did this year by introducing our great LOST Board… and B) because he will not only be able to help with the existing LOST swims, LOST Race and the running of LOST, but we are planning on bringing in a few new things like this swim into the fold!  So expect to see more of Miguel and watch for more new swim things to come!!!

Great hosts... Barrie Shepley, Miguel and C3!

Great hosts… Barrie Shepley, Miguel and C3!

Back to the race.  After getting lost on my way to the Quarry… yes, I know it was supposed to be “LOST in the Quarry”, not “LOST on the way to the Quarry”… but I just couldn’t resist the double entendre… but I finally made it anyway (after getting an email from Claudia who got lost too… a true LOSTie!)

(fyi… it is about an hour drive from Oakville to Caledon… a bit longer if you blow right through Caledon and don’t admit you are lost until you get to Orangeville!… but the Quarry is about 100m south of Caledon on the east side… by a large fleet of cement trucks!  Easy to find after you’ve been there once… and good to car pool to!)

I got there to find about 30 swimmers ready to go… about half LOSTies and half C3.

I had to laugh though… we LOSTies are pretty tough… even in the world of triathlon.  I got there and heard Barrie saying on the PA system that the water was 13C… very cold!  First of all, every LOSTie knows only my “special” LOST thermometer gives the “proper” LOST temperature.  It was 62F… which is 16C.  Mmmm… toasty. 

Gary... the wiley old vet of open water swimming... he's sneaky fast!

Gary… the wiley old vet of open water swimming… he’s sneaky fast!

But I was even a bit worried that it really might be cold.  The overcast and chilly air temp didn’t help any either mind you.  The air temp was only about 15C.  Everyone, even most of the LOSTies were getting a bit psyched out.  But once we all got in the water… it was fine.  Definitely 62F.  No problem.  Really.

The Quarry was pretty cool.  C3 has a pretty sweet set up there.  They have a group of buoys set up all summer… and more importantly… the water was great.  Crystal clear and flat.  It’s not quite a scenic as where we swim in Lake O… but the water is fed by a spring and great all summer long!  I’d take it over Gulliver’s or Kelso any day!  Apparently they had over 1000 organized swims there this summer!

Laughing off getting chick'd by Tara again!

Laughing off getting chick’d by Tara again!

So off we went.  I decided to try and draft off of Lisa (fresh off her O Till O conquest!)… Tara Norton (former pro Ironman!)… and Natalie (former varsity swim star!)… much like I tried to draft off of the same three girls at Steve’s Toronto Island Lake Swim.  Similar result too… they dropped me after one lap (which is about 1km).  I felt pretty good, but gradually had the privelage of being passed by the very unassumingly fast, veteran open water swimmer, Gary Lebine… and then by the 20 year pro triathlete Beth Primrose!  Interestingly, it was the first 4k race Beth had ever done… she was an Olympic Distance pro!  Long and short of it was I ended up with a pleasant 1:02, 4k swim.  Given my training, or lack thereof… I’ll take it.

DSC_0438More importantly, it was good fun and great to meet a whole new group of swimmers at C3… and find a nice, new swimmin’ hole!

Thanks Barrie, Miguel and C3!!!  Looking forward to doing more with you guys next year too!



 PS.  thanks for the pics Daniel!

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The latest from Steve Faulkner in the English Channel…

Steve’s sister, Nancy, sent me this:

From: Steve Faulkner
Sent: October-01-13 9:39:29 AM
Hi Nancy,
   Just to let you know that I am NOT swimming today.  (it was a possibility, but that changed with strong wind).   Its now looking like late Friday night (11pm my time, 6pm your time) OR maybe 11am Saturday my time (or 6am your time).
  This is only MAYBE…..
The boat pilot watches what is actually happening the night before, day of… and then advises.  The wind is only getting somewhat stronger until Friday afternoon, so I’m not expecting any news of going prior to Friday night at the earliest. 
 Basically just know that I’d let you know by email anyway once I get word of when I’m going out. 
The weather is otherwise fine here… its just the wind and too wavy to swim.  They haven’t had any swimmer out there since last Thursday.

Well that sucks.  But it is what it is.  That’s open water swimming… and even more so… that’s swimming in the English Channel for you!  As I said earlier, I was in exactly the same situation… waited for 2 weeks for decent weather… then had to go because my flight home went the next day… 7 of us tried to go on that day… no one made it… the next day it was flat as glass… 4 people went… and everyone made it.

And the lesson there is, Steve… you’ve waited this long and worked this hard… might as well wait a little longer and get the weather you need!  Patience is a virtue!

Good luck from all the LOSTies, Steve!!!



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Annaleise in the new “Open Water Swimming” magazine!

Here is a nice article about LOSTie, Annaleise Carr, in Steve Munotones’ new Open Water Swimming magazine!  (okay, the pic is nice too… despite the two mugs on either side of her!)

(click pic below to enlarge… or click here: “Open Water Swimming” magazine )

Open Water Swimming magazine (Sept, 2013)



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The latest from Steve… still waiting for better weather in Dover!

September-27-13 5:59:00 AM
  Hope all is well your way.
  I know I’m not going today (Friday) or tomorrow (Sat).
  Awaiting word, pateniently.
  Weather is not getting better and better per say… its more looking for a window of when things seem best.  My coach, Tim, is involved with deciding as he has access to weather and channel conditions forecasts.
 I’ll keep you posted when I know more.
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Update on Steve Faulkner in the English Channel…

… and the update is… there is nothing to update!  The poor guy is just sitting there waiting for the Channel to calm down.  He was hoping to get going on Friday or Saturday… but that’s not happening!  Hoping for Sunday.

I feel for the guy… I recall sitting in those same coffee shops and pubs (Dover and Folkestone aren’t that big!)… just waiting… for 2 weeks… and then just going anyway because our flight was the next day.  Hope he has better luck!

Keep Calm and Swim On, Steve!!!

Thanks for the update, Jane!



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Xterra wetsuit promo for LOSTies… but just until Sep 30!!!

As many of you know, we have a great relationship with Xterra… as many of us (myself included!) have got a great deal on a wetsuit through them… well we are getting a special deal to close out the season… but just until Sep 30!

The sale brings the price of a Vortex Sleeveless down from $300 to only $96. Thats 68% off!

So if you need a wetsuit… or a new wetsuit… or wanted to get a sleeveless… now’s your chance!  Drop me an email for the code!  (

 xterra promo, sep 26



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Dan’s Ironman Mt Tremblant adventure…

You probably know Dan… he’s one of the regulars at LOST Swimming (you surely know his wife Elizabeth… she’s the one that makes sure you sign in and out!)… well Dan did his first Ironman this year at Mt Tremblant… but he had a slight disadvantage!  Dan’s too modest to tell you all about it… but here is the newspaper account… gives me goose-bumps.

Have a read… (click the pic below to enlargeor click: Dan Gieruszak, IM Tremblant to see the pdf version)…

Dan Gieruszak, IM Tremblant



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Races for next year…

… I’m just throwing this out there to see if anyone else wants to join me/us!

Like a lot of you, I tend to have a big race or two each year that I try and focus on.  This was an odd year because I didn’t have one key race, just a bunch of smaller ones, which was a nice break and it was nice to have the flexibility to be a bit more spontaneous.  Although I’m doing the Marine Corps Marathon with my son, Dylan, in a month… which will be his first… so that will be a pretty cool one!

Next year, however, I’m lining up a couple of things:

death race logo1) A few of us are doing “The Canadian Death Race”… check that one out… you might want to join us… and the good news is you have until January to decide because that’s when registration opens up for the race which is in early August.


eagleman logo2) The other one that we’ve decided we are going to do is The Eagleman 70.3… check that one out too!  Dylan and a few buddies from university are signing up for that one… so Joanne and I have decided to join them!  This is a cool race too… it is one of the original Half Ironman tri’s out there and has a lot of history in its 18 years!  It is driveable (in Cambridge, Maryland… near Washington DC)… early… June 8… which has pros and cons… but the nice thing is that it would be a great early season tune up for all those that have signed up for IM Lake Placid, IM Wisconsin, etc… and for those who want to try to get a Kona spot… it is one of the few Half’s out there where you can qualify for the big show in Kona!  (Jackie Smalec made it this way a few years ago!… Brett, Helene, Margaret!?!).  The catch with this one is… you have to decide by Tuesday!  It opens up on Oct 1!

PS… we’re in! (me, Dylan, Joanne, Pat, Todd, Margaret… still room for more… as of Oct 2 at least!)

Hope you can make it!



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LOSTie in the English Channel!!!

This just in… I just got an email from LOSTie, Steve Faulkner… and he’s waiting to swim the English Channel as I type this!!! 

He actually snuck off earlier this summer and did the Catalina Channel Crossing… to add to his Manhattan Island Marathon Swim… and his Ederle Swim!  He is very quietly becoming one of the all time most accomplished Canadian Marathon Swimmers of all time!!!  Amazing!!!

Here is the email he just sent… I’ll keep you posted!!!  Check the LOST Swimming Facebook page too!

GO STEVE GO!!!  All the LOSTies are cheering for you!!!



PS. Steve, send us some pics of CC and EC!!!… and say “Hi” to “Freda the Channel General” for me!

Hi Rob !
  Thx for the email and the congrats on Catalina.  That was a great swim : )   I have some pictures from crew now, as they didn’t use my camera.
  Sorry I didn’t get back to you but I’m catching up with some emails here.  I’m in Folkestone and now have access to email (and a Canadian style electrical plug!)
 My boat pilot is Fred Mardle (CSA), boat called MASTERPIECE, and he is based in Folkestone so I’m here for ease of boat loading etc for swim day.  The hotel is on the beach which is handy to get into the EC.  : )
  I’m awaiting news still on when to go.  As of today, I’m told I will not go tomorrow (Wed) or Thurs…. there is another swimmer they need to get done.  (There was bad weather 12 days ago for a week and a lot of them missed their swims and now they are playing catch up I think trying to get them out on this recent Spring tide).  There is a very low chance I will go Fri or Sat based on current weather forecasts, but I’m to be ready.  I am ready… and waiting… patiently : )   You might know a thing or two about that : ) !
  I’m getting the idea I MAY go Sunday or early next week.
  Send some sun this way : )  (but no wind !) 
 Ok, I’ll keep you in the loop. 
 I’m very excited !
 Hope all is well your way. 
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Olympic Distance Triathlon World Championships!!!

So my wife, Joanne, qualified last year in Muskoka for the ITU Olympic Distance World Championships in London, England this year!

The Canadian Triathlon World Championship Team!

The Canadian Triathlon World Championship Team!

A long time to wait though… over a year… but more time to train, I guess!  Anyway, after a year of hard training with her buddies at TCOB and Oakville Masters… the day finally arrived!  Claudia, Helene, Margaret also qualified, but Margaret also qualified for Ironman World Championships in Kona this fall… so

Joanne, Claudia and Tory... enjoying "High Tea"... I was okay missing that one!

Joanne, Claudia and Tory… enjoying “High Tea”… I was okay missing that one!

she skipped the Olympic Distance World Champs to do Kona… coming up soon!  Turns out there were a few other LOSTies and TCOB friends that made it to World Champs too!  Michael Parker made it in the sprint… Emilie Heath, Lori Stewart made it in the Olympic Distance and Allan Crowe made it in both!  And unfortunately I didn’t realize until after, but the wife of my my swim-master for my Lake Ontario Crossing last year was there too… Allison Chisholm!

... and up in the "London Eye"...

… and up in the “London Eye”…

Now people keep asking me “so, how did she do?!”  Which is always kind of a tough one to answer… I mean, she didn’t win… but she wasn’t expecting to… but she had a “good race”.  I mean different races have different focus (which already sounds like I’m making excuses… but I’m not!).  Some races you are going for a specific time (Boston Marathon Qualifying time, for example)… or a specific placing (placing in the top 3… or placing high enough to qualify for a race… like they all did to get to this race!)… and sometimes you are just there to take it all in and enjoy the experience (my first Boston was like that… I had just finished Marathon des

... at Picadilly Circus...

… at Picadilly Circus…

Sables a week earlier… I had needed a 3:20 to qualify… and was quite happy doing a 4:39 in the actual race… qualifying was the challenge… running Boston was the reward!)… and some races are a bit of both.  This one was a bit of both.

Joanne said from the beginning that she wanted to race hard and was in good shape to do it… but she also had never been to London before.  When I swam the English Channel (or attempted it!)we spent all of our time in Dover, so London was new for her (I’d been for work a few times).  So she was all keen to get over there a week early… to acclimatize… which meant shopping and sightseeing.  I

At the Tower Bridge...

At the Tower Bridge…

came over a few days later… and we did more sight seeing than I have ever done in my life… I was a mess by the end of each day… and quite happy to try out as many pubs as possible!  I could have easily run the distances that we walked… and would have much preferred to do that… but we walked… and that just kills my calves and back.  I was amazed she did as well as she did, because I sure as hell couldn’t have raced when Sunday rolled around!  But like I said… she had two goals for this race… to race as hard as she could… and to see London!  Fortunately it’s easier to do both when the race is 3 hours… than when it’s 13 hours!

... and at Parliament...

… and at Parliament…

So if it looks like I’ve included more touristy pictures than race pictures… well that’s why… that was half the point of the trip and race!

As for the race… actually races… it was kind of weird… it had the feeling of an Ironman, but it wasn’t.  It had all the pomp and ceremony of an Ironman… but it was weird/cool to see everyone there representing their countries!  And it was weird that there wasn’t one big race… there was a whole bunch of short races.  There was the World Championships in Aquathlon, The Sprint Distance, The Olympic Distance… and within each there was the Elite Division (ie the Pros and Olympians!), the top Male and Female AgeGroupers in the world and the Paralympians and there was even an Open Division… meaning anyone could pay up and enter… which I could have done, but I was quite content to just tag along a sherpa/bike mechanic/pub tester!!!  There was always a ton of races going on… for 4 days! 

And... they're off!!!

And… they’re off!!!  (note the very rare blue sky!  They had well located horseshoes!

The race itself was set up really well and was the same course as they had used for the Olympic Distance Triathlon in the London Olympics a year earlier (more or less).  They swam in the “the Serpentine” in Hyde Park (think: a large lake in Central Park, by comparison)… then rode throughout the Park and downtown London!  Past Buckingham Palace (Jo confessed she did slow down a bit to take that all in!)… along the Thames… and the turnaround was at the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge!  About as spectacular of a course as you are likely to see anywhere!  It would have been a cool course to be wearing a “Go Pro” on your helmet!

Jo and Helene... oh they were so cute... all nervous and everything!

Jo and Helene… oh they were so cute… all nervous and everything!

P9140238There was, of course, at catch.  It was London… in September… which means rain.  Torrential rain.  For days on end.  The Sprint went on the Friday… and it poured.  There were more crashes on the bike than I’d ever heard of.  Michael and Allan were both in this race.  Michael is a wiley old vet (and very fast!) and he said it was really scary… the cobblestone roads and speed bumps and rough patches didn’t help any either.  Michael said he overheard, and agreed with, one guy who commented “I’ve got to go to work on Monday!”  Apparently right near the end of the race, the 4 leaders went down all on the same corner, and not even in a pack… just the same slippery spot!  Yikes.

Jo on the run...

Jo on the run…

This didn’t instill a lot of confidence in anyone for their race on Sunday.  Helene, who most of you know is an awesome rider, was very nervous.  Joanne, who usually chick’s me on the bike, is a big chicken to begin with… and she was terrified.  There was a lot of talk of people pulling out.

... and Claudia in the zone too!

… and Claudia in the zone too!

So we continued to sight-see… and hope for the best.  And drink beer.

But Sunday finally came.  And Jo and I were walking across the muddy park before the sun had come up… when Jo looked up and noticed… she could see the stars!  It was true… the sun eventually came up and there was not a cloud in the sky!  (well, at least until they got to the run, when it started raining again… but everyone was more than thankful for that!).

... a happy girl and her medal!

… a happy girl and her medal!

The funny thing is… after all the worry about the bike… it was the swim that ended up being a problem.  The water temp was apparently about 14C / 57F and the air temp was about the same… so between the two

Helene and Joanne... nothing like a bit of pole dancing to unwind after a race!

Helene and Joanne… nothing like a bit of pole dancing to unwind after a race!

temps, they decided to cut the 1.5 km swim in half!  Only 750 m!  That kinda sucked… and given that Helene and Jo had been swimming in Lake O lots this summer they were fine with the temp, so it didn’t really work to their advantage… but tri’s aren’t generally skewed in favor of swimmers anyway!  Funny thing is Jo and I went in for a “warm up” dip the day before and it wasn’t that cold… although I was clearly the only one in the water with no wetsuit… judging by all the crazy looks I was getting!  It was fine.

We were supposed to be posing like the giant fibreglass swimmer in the background!

We were supposed to be posing like the giant fibreglass swimmer in the background!

In the end, the race went off without a hitch… everyone seemed to have a pretty good race… no injuries or blow ups!  Because of the course being shortened and a bit of an unusual course, it was kind of hard to compare times, but I’ll just leave it as… a good time was had by all!

Congrats you World Champions!!!

Here are the actual results:

Olympic Distance World Champs, London, 2013, results



One nice thing was the route was a lot of back and forth and I had no idea where people where going… but they passed by me frequently… so I got to see, and cheer for everyone, several times!  In fact, I found a spot with not many people, where I could get up close and made a point of cheering each and every Canadian that came by!  Lots of fun!


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The Oakville Half Marathon…

I tell ya… I’m hangin’ with the wrong crowd.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  So now that open water swimming is (almost) done (LOST in the Quarry next weekend!… see post below)… lots of the crowd are back in the pool… and some of the tri guys and runners are out playing in the road… fall marathon season is upon us!  I’m in the latter group this year, although I’m going to try and keep a modicum of swimming in my repertoire this this, so it isn’t too hard to get back into it next year.

2013 Oakville Half Marathon... Ron, Rob, Patrick, Peter, Scott... and Jaslyn, Sorenna and Ethan!

2013 Oakville Half Marathon… Ron, Rob, Patrick, Peter, Scott… and Jaslyn, Serenna and Ethan!

Anyway… today was the Oakville Half Marathon.  And on Thursday I decided I’d enter it.  A good tune up race for the Marine Corps Marathon I’m doing with my son, Dylan, on Oct 27… his first.

Interestingly, Dylan did almost the exact same thing as I did when my swimming career ended… he got into running.  Problem is… he got into it with a bit too much gusto… (not that I’ve ever over-done anything!) and within a few weeks he had his long run up to 36k… coming from pretty much nothing.  Which got me kinda worried… not that he’d get injured by ramping up that fast… but that he’d be kicking my butt in Washington.  I needn’t have gotten worried… he got injured.  Nice to see that not just the old guys get injured… the young and inexperienced can too.  Well that was a load off my mind… now I wouldn’t have to bear the humiliation of him beating me on his first marathon (watch, I just jinxed myself!).  I can prolong the Kent family ribbing… at least until his second one!  Probably sounds a little harsh… oh well… he’s almost back in the game now!  ;)

Okay, it was only 8:00 am in South Beach... but it was 5 o'clock somewhere!

Okay, it was only 8:00 am in South Beach… but it was 5 o’clock somewhere!

As for me, well I didn’t have much planned this year… a few races wherever they happen to land… a couple of Half Marathons early this year… a couple of Half Ironman… and Marine Corp.  I was pretty happy last spring when I did a lifetime PB of 1:38 in the Miami Beach Half Marathon… only problem with doing a PB already this year is… it didn’t leave a lot of room to do a PB today.

Anyway… it poured rain yesterday… cats and dogs… torrential.  I feel for the guys who did the 10k Toronto Zoo run… with part of it on trails too… but we got lucky.  The rain ended and the weather was just about as perfect as you get for a fall run.  About 10C… and a nice flat track… and home town race.  Nice when you can sleep at home before the race and be sitting at the kitchen table 50 minutes before the race and get there with still lots of time to spare.

The last time I ran Marine Corps Marathon... in 2001! (Rob, Brad, Sandra & Mary!)

The last time I ran Marine Corps Marathon… in 2001!
(Rob, Brad, Sandra, Mary & Andrew!)

As for the race… like I said, it was flat, fast and homey!  (Nice to see Brett and Lamb out on the course cheering us on at about 8 different spots… I remember thinking “wow, they are everywhere… this will really be depressing if I find out they ran everywhere!).  I had no pacing plan or anything and just wanted to go out and run it and see what happened… anything under my 1:38 PB would be awesome.

At the start I ran into Pete being the 1:35 Pace Bunny… and Patrick was going with him… so I thought I’d join in.  Bad idea… I kept with them for about 3k… then realized that was a little rich for my blood… and let them go.  But I ended up hooking up with a woman and we ran elbow to elbow… until the 13k mark… and I fell off pace again.  It’s so nice when you find someone that is exactly your pace to run with and nothing is said but you both realize that you’ve got a good thing going… until you fall off that is.  That hurts psychologically… and it’s hard not to beat yourself up… pack it in then.  The nice thing about this race was I just fell off… but I didn’t die completely.

I was able to hold a decent pace in fact… and only about 4 or 5 people passed me for the rest of the way… which given my history of going out too fast and dying at the end… was pretty good.  The last person to have the honor of blowing by me was a girl who caught me with about 500m left… nobody likes to get beat with 500m left… but there was nothing to be done about it… I couldn’t catch her.  Now if you are wondering how all of this running ties into open water swimming… here it is… they announced her name as she crossed the finish line 10m ahead of me… Dominique Von Richter!… for those of you remember… it was her husband (and former Olympian) who won the LOST Race this year!  At least I got chick’d by a fast runner!

Which leads me to my complaint.

I actually had a great race… I pulled off a PB by 2 minutes… 1:36!… couldn’t be happier.  But man, I’m hangin’ with the wrong crowd.  All the other LOSTies kicked my butt!  Take a look at these Half Marathon and 10k times!!!  Good job guys!!!

  • Ron Merek – 1:23 – 20th overall… out of 811!!!  Damn… that’s fast.
  • Darren Osborne – 1:25 – missed his NYC qualifying time by 50 seconds!  But still smokin’ fast… 26th overall and 6/144 in his age group!!!
  • Scott Gay – 1:30 – 56th overall… and 5/78 in his age group!!!
  • Patrick Hardy – 1:32 – 84/811… and 27/144 in his age group!!!
  • Peter von Euw – 1:35 – bang on as usual… the best Pace Bunny in the business… I was surprised I was only a minute behind, I never saw him again after the 3k mark!
  • Freddie So – 38:41 – for the 10k… first Master and 7th overall!!!
  • Mike Riley – 40:53 – for the 10k… first in his age group and 13th overall!!!
  • Rob Kent – 1:36 – the slowest fast guy out there!  110/811 overall & 35/144 in my age group… but not bad for a swimmer!

(Results… in case I missed anyone else! )

Great race, great day and lotsa fun!



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3 new races!!!

Okay, the open water swim season isn’t over quite yet!  Here are 3 races/swims you can still do this fall… it just depends on how far you want to travel!!!

1) Caledon!… LOST in the Quarry!!!  Miguel is running with this one… this should be great!  Miguel and I have been talking and we are going to try and expand LOST Swimming for next year… to include some swims in the Quarry (details still to come!)… but here is a FREE taster!  You should do this one!!!  Register/info by emailing Miguel at:

LOST in the Quarry


2) Vermont!… swim from Vermont to Quebec!  Pretty cool… but you better put your passport in a ziplock bag!   Georgeville or Bust

3) Barbados!… second one of the season and a new up and coming series… in an awesome location!  We have at least one LOSTie making the trip down… good luck Paul!!! (let us know how it goes… and happy birthday!!!)  Oct 27… check out the older post below or see:

Barbados swim



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How to Train for Colder Marathon Swims

By Scott Zornig


If you are a marathon swimmer, chances are you have had to do a swim in water uncomfortably cold. I know many marathon swimmers who did not properly prepare for their marathon swim and became hypothermic. Some of these swimmers ended up being  ulled from the water and a few ended up in the hospital. These people obviously did not enjoy their marathon adventure. Let’s face it….it is not a lot of fun when you are cold and miserable. The good news is that anyone can learn to swim in cold water. Swimmers of all weights, heights, shapes and sizes can teach their body to acclimate. Yes, it is true that swimmers who carry a few extra pounds have a “built in” advantage, but anyone can learn to swim in and even enjoy the coldest of waters…..even a swimmer weighing only 105lbs. Proper preparation gives you the best chance of success in a marathon swim.

Here are some tips for preparing for extreme temperatures. The below recommendations come from personal experiences and the training techniques used by others.
  1. Train in the open water year round. The fall season is a perfect time to start cold water acclimation training for a swim the following summer because the water temperature starts off warmer and cools down gradually. This allows your body to ease into cold water swimming.
  2. Do not ever swim in a wetsuit. There is nothing good that comes out of donning a wetsuit when training for a marathon swim.
  3. Avoid training in a heated swimming pool….especially as you get closer to your event. Try to do most of your training in open water which has temperatures similar to your upcoming endeavor. I recommend at least three or four open water swims each week, gradually extending the time that you stay in the water.
  4. Train without a cap. This is one of my preferred methods for cold water training. Save the swim cap for the day of your event.
  5. Train without ear plugs. Once again, save the ear plugs for your marathon swim. 
  6. Take cold showers and baths. For the ice baths, try sitting in the tub for 20 minute intervals. Work towards three, 20 minute immersions in an evening. This will get you ready.
  7. Wear light clothing in cooler weather.
  8. Sleep without pajamas and night gowns. Do not use blankets or sheets to cover you. If you really want to be hard core, direct a fan on you as you sleep. It will be difficult at first, but you will eventually get used to it and sleep well.
  9. Do a series of one mile training swims where you exit the water for 15 minutes (and dry off) between each swim. You will understand why this works when you start your 4th or 5th one mile swim.
  10. Find and train in water even colder than the anticipated temperatures of your marathon swim. You should always swim with a thermometer so you know the temperature of the water you are training in.
Unfortunately, not all of us have access to a cold ocean. For example, the SBCSA has had past swimmers from Latin America where the ocean temperature is in the low to mid 80’s Fahrenheit. Swimmers in countries without access to a cold ocean are at a disadvantage when swimming in 50, 60 and 70 degree water. However, they still can execute many of the techniques above. Furthermore, every country has a high elevation lake or a spring fed river which can be used for training. Granted, this may not be as convenient or ideal, but it is an option. 
If you prepare properly for your marathon swim, you still need to swim smart on event day. Here are some ways to stay warm during your marathon swim. 
  1. Raise your body temperature before starting the swim: My favorite trick is to drink something warm, blast the heat in the car and pile on clothing until I’m uncomfortably hot. This has a short term effect, but can help with the initial minutes of the swim and provide confidence.
  2. Keep moving: Once you start your swim, don’t stop except for fueling your body.
  3. Feedings should be at intervals of 20 or 30 minutes and kept as short as possible.  You should be able to complete a feeding in 20 seconds or less. 
  4. Do not skip a feeding. Your body needs the fuel. If you miss a feeding, you increase your chances of becoming hypothermic. 
  5. Reward yourself by consuming warmed liquids periodically during your swim. I know many swimmers who prefer their energy drinks served warm.
  6. Wear a silicone swim cap and ear plugs if the governing association permits it.
  7. Think warm thoughts. The mind is powerful. Use it to your advantage.
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Barbados Open Water Festival… Oct 27!!!

Hi all,

So here is one perk for being a LOSTie… you now have an open invitation from my buddy, Zary Evelyn, in Barbados, to stop by for a swim… or a beer or rum!  Check out the email he sent below… oh ya… and he’s promoting the second “Barbados Open Water Festival” on Oct 27!  Tempting as always… and one of these days I’ll be taking him up on it.  The rum for sure… and maybe a dip too!  Thanks Zary!



Barbados Swim Festival, Oct 27, 2013

Hi Rob and all LOST members,

The Open Water Swimmers in Barbados have really been inspired by your group. I developed the ‘Barbados Open Water Festival’ to bring some of the excitement to Barbados.

I hope to one day welcome some of you to Barbados to participate in our event, the next one is October 27th (see attached flyer) and we will have one annually from 2014, probably in November.

This is an open invitation to all LOST members to contact me if you are ever in Barbados and wish to swim with us in our warm ocean. Groups of us swim almost daily, year round. If not a swim maybe a couple of beers or a rum.

More info. on our website

Peace & Love,


Zary Evelyn 
Tel: 1-246-437-2121
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Funny, I just read the story about Lionel Sanders in the Spec… kinda cool that he crushed the very tough Muskoka 70.3 and won it… but that’s not that big of a deal… I mean someone wins every race, right? (I mean it IS a big deal, because I sure as hell couldn’t win it… but, you know what I mean)… however the background story about his is more than a little amazing.  Never met the guy… but I like him. 

As somone that trained to try and make the Olympic team many years ago, I can tell you that you never know what will happen on that fateful day at Olympic Trials… but having said that… I’d be more surprised if he didn’t make the team, than if he did.  And even if he doesn’t make the team… I really like this guy.

Here is the link to the story in the Spec and a comment from TriRudy that his coach, Barry Shepley (also 2 time Olympic medalist, Simon Whitfield’s coach) wrote about his race in Muskoka.  Congrats Lionel.




  by barrie shepley   That question has been asked a lot over the past few days since the McMaster University student put together one of the greatest 70.3 races in Canadian history. While it may sound a bit like an extra hype, when you understand his journey, I am sure you will agree. As a young high school student in Harrow Ontario (southern Ontario) Lionel showed world-class cross country & 3k running capacity. Fast forward to post-high school and he got himself into trouble with drugs and depression and at one point was on a step ladder ready to end his disappointing life. Fortunately he stepped down off that ladder and took the chain off his neck and decided to give sport another try. Four years later, Lionel is a university student at Mcmaster with top grades, one of the top runners in the country and has found his true calling in the sport of triathlon. Through the help of C3 Canadian Cross Training Club and our sponsors (Gears BIke Shop, Specialized, Nineteen Wetsuits, Benson Steel, Royal Containers and Kinetico) and Lionel’s team-mates and coaches he has had a virtually undefeated summer winning the Toronto Triathlon Festival event by nearly 5 minutes. His entire summer was focused on Muskoka 70.3 and on Sunday he showed that his previously weak swim is improving by coming out of the water just 3 min behind the top Kiwi Swimmer Tom Davison. Lionel then powered his Specialized Shiv faster then anyone on the day and moved from 7th to 2nd off the bike. Within 2 miles he was in the lead with some of the best in the world from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most importantly Andreas Raelert (Germany Kona medalist) chasing him down. Nobody got a whiff of Lionel as he ran a 1hr 10 minute (yes 1:10) for the hard (new and likely harder 13.1 mile run course) to win the race by nearly 6.5 minutes. An elated Sanders was also at the finishing line when his mother got their (she was the one that inspired him to get off the ladder and save his life some 4 years ago). A truly spectacular guy, he is a full time university student (including a full summer course load), he volunteers with kids programs in Hamilton and has the heart, desire and passion to become one of the great endurance athletes Canada has ever produced. Both Lionel and I know he has a lot of work to do before he will be anywhere near what he wants to get to, but his 4hr 01 minute victory in Muskoka on Sunday, after an undefeated Ontario summer, indicates that many people are going to know and start to remember Lionel Sander’s name. All of Lionel’s team-mates, sponsors, friends, coaches and supporters couldn’t be happier for him and we hope one day soon his name will fall of the tongue’s of Canadian triathlon fans when they mention some of the all time greats who have worn the Maple Leaf around the world.

barrie shepley
Barrie Shepley from
Personal Best Health & Performance Inc.

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In Search of Memphre!

Hi all,

This just in from Phil White, the race director for the very challenging “In Search of Memphre” swim.  An amazing swim that goes the length of Lake Memprémagog between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Québec… 25 miles / 40k! 

Having said that… Sarah Thomas, who I had the pleasure to have kick my butt in the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim last year, decided that was to easy… so she did a double crossing!!!  She’s a pretty decent swimmer though… swam NCAA for UCONN… crossed the English Channel, Catalina Channel, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and Lake Tahoe… amongst others!

A great marathon swim to put on your list!

Congrats Sarah and Bethany!!!




Thomas staring down the wind at the start of her historic 50 mile swim


Thomas and Bosch Triumphant

Sarah Thomas, 31 of Conifer, CO, stepped into the water in Magog, Quebec at 12:22 pm on Friday, September 6, 2013, facing 20+ MPH winds and waves coming directly at her from the south west.  Sarah was attempting to be the first person to complete an international 50 mile double crossing of Lake Memphremagog between Magog, Quebec and Newport, Vermont.  She was participating as part of the Third Annual, In Search of Memphre with the plan to join up at midnight with three other ultra marathon swimmers attempting a 25 mile one way crossing, from Newport to Magog – Humphrey Bohan, 38, of Medford Lakes, NJ, Bob Fernald, 46, of North Hampton, MA, and Bethany Bosch, 29, of Wallingford, VT who would all be departing from Newport VT at midnight and swimming throughout the night and day of September 7th.







(photo is of Bosch as she exited the water in Magog)

Weather forecast had been for light and favorable winds from the north for the first leg of Sarah’s swim.  Sarah didn’t flinch in the face of the fierce south wind that greeted her.  Over the course of the next 30 hours, Memphre threw some serious surprises in there with windy and wavy conditions throughout most of the swim.   Sarah just ate her alive, one powerful stroke after another and triumphed.  As did Swimmer Scout Bethany Bosch, completing her 25 mile one way swim under windy conditions.  Epic and historic swims, both. Humphrey Bohan and Bob Fernald were valiant in the face of these wily and unpredicted conditions before they were forced to pull with injuries, including Bob’s broken rib.

Thomas’s swim came right on the heels of her successful 44 mile crossing of Lake Tahoe earlier this summer.  Bosch is known for her swimming buddy, 3 year old chocolate lab, Guri Bosch, who was the first dog to make the 5 mile swim the length of Lake Willoughby. 

Sarah Thomas enters the water in Magog, QC to start her historic double crossing of Lake Memphremagog

Some wonderful cooperation from the folks in Magog and Newport.  Newport’s Department of Parks and Recreation provided The Gateway Center and city docks as an excellent staging area.  The police from Magog were out on the lake protecting the swimmers from boat traffic.  An EMT from Magog was there to greet and check out our swimmers when they landed.  Thanks to Alec van Zuiden, Mayor of Ayer’s Cliff and pilot of Boat #6, for organizing this support on the Canadian side. Thanks to the border officials on both sides of the border for their enthusiastic support of this international swim.  And thanks to the General Store in Georgeville for providing us with carafes of coffee and warm water and some excellent pastries along the way.

And to the 22 pilots and crew members who were out on the lake supporting these inspiring swimmers.  Huge, huge thanks for the support that made this possible.

Thomas triumphant after 30 hours in the water.  Even finished upright and smiling!

The official times:

Sarah Thomas: 15:09 from Magog to Newport, 6 minutes out of the water in Newport, Return in 14:46. Total time start to finish 30:01 

Bethany Bosch: Newport to Magog: 17:11

In Search of Memphre is made possible by the underwriting of Jay Peak Resort and North Country Hospital and the sponsorship of The Passumpsic Savings Bank, Northeast Delta Dental, Community Financial Services Group, Town of Derby, City of Newport, Derby Village Store, Wilson & White, PC.  

Special Thanks to Barbara Malloy, Vermont’s First Lady Dracontologist, for her support of In Search of Memphre and for the many decades she has devoted to collecting and archiving over 175 sightings.

Congratulations to all four of this year’s swimmers for joining the legendary ranks of Swimmer Scouts and laying down some epic and historic swims. The Search continues.

Phil White, Director

Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association

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Lisa’s race report from ÖTILLÖ, 2013!!!

Hi all,

So LOSTie extraordinaire, Lisa Neidrauer, just sent me her race report for the ÖTILLÖ 2013… and it is amazing!  She and John Humenik just completed it and are still recovering!  Don’t let Lisa’s diminutive size fool you, she was made for this race!… she’s a very fast and tough swimmer… and a very fast and tough runner… and loves this kind of adventure… (so is John… well maybe not quite as diminutive though! ;) ).  This is one amazing race… and moves up the rank on my bucket list!  Check it out!

PS.  There is another post on their ranking etc in a previous post if you scroll down a bit.




by Lisa Neidrauer

O Till O, 1

Photo credit: Jakob Edholm

I normally don’t write race reports, and I confess I don’t often read them either. But when our team was accepted into ÖTILLÖ, I craved every single account of the event that I could find. Google Translate became my favourite webpage, as I tried to decipher Swedish reports, as well any English ones I could get my hands on. So this is both for friends who have the time and are interested in what happened, and hopefully a source of info for anyone out there considering doing it. It’s a unique race, in every sense of the word. To compare distances, pacing and strategies to other events is futile. So here goes:

John Humenik and I, “Urban Amphibians” were accepted on a merit application to ÖTILLÖ in January. The race is structured so that teams of two complete the entire 65km of running and 10km of swimming together, across a series of islands in the Swedish Archipelago. There are 23 islands to run across, 22 straights to swim through, 44 transitions. In order to have a hope of finishing, it’s virtually required that you swim in your shoes and run in your wetsuit. Wetsuits are also mandatory because of water temperature, which supposedly can get down to 10C (I saw no evidence of this in 2013, but apparently it can happen). We discovered the event when Rob Kent posted it here on the LOST website. We looked at the photos, and all the equipment that everyone was wearing (pullbuoys, paddles, fins!), said meh, and moved on. Then a few weeks later it came up in conversation, and we decided what the hell, we’ll throw in an application. If we get accepted, great. If not, well, there are plenty of other ways to spend one’s summer.

O Till O, 2

Photo credit: Jakob Edholm

There had been a lot of international press for the race in 2012. It was included in a book of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, and CNN highlighted it as such. With all the coverage we weren’t expecting much and were pretty surprised when we got selected. And we were also worried, because now we had to somehow get ready for this thing. The 10km of swimming (shoes, no shoes, cold, hot, whatever) was not going to be an issue for us, and we have done our share of road running races, along with a few trail events, but otherwise we were green.

I immediately went into research mode and spent hours and hours on the internet researching shoes, wetsuits, hydration packs, compression socks. It is a damn good thing I am normally just an open water swimmer who doesn’t have to deal with “gear”, because I would be obsessed. Yet another reason to stay away from triathlon.

By June I had settled on Asics DS Racers, a Xterra wetsuit cutoff at the arms and knees, hand paddles and was experimenting with socks and water bladder options. We spent some time in Florida for some early training, then a week in New Paltz in June, followed by a full week at Kennisis Lake in July, where we put in about 100km of trail running in the Haliburton Forest & Wildlife. Generally speaking I spent the summer swimming 15-19km a week (a light schedule compared to previous years) and between 45-60km of running. Including intervals. Which I hadn’t done in many years. Which were just as painful as I remembered.

O Till O, 3

Urban Amphibians training in Minnewaska State Park, New Paltz

We flew out to Sweden a week ahead of time and spent a great week in Stockholm being tourists, visiting with new friends, the Lanttosisters, Sofie and Lisa (who were also doing the race!) and doing some last minute prep in Eriksdalsbadet and on trails in Södermalm.

O Till O, 4


Race day was Monday, September 2nd, and we got on the chartered ferry Sunday morning with all the other teams, and headed out to Sandhamn, in the archipelago, where the race would begin. Unlike most other events where you pay for the race itself, and the transportation and accommodation are yours to deal with, ÖTILLÖ is a full package. For the roughly $1500 team entry fee, we received: ferry ride to Sandhamn, pre-race dinner, nice hotel room for the night, pre-race breakfast, the race itself, post-race dinner, another night in a different nice hotel in Uto, post-race breakfast, and the ferry ride home. We live in an era of big, corporate sporting events, where the organizers are usually out to make a nice profit for themselves. (WTC comes to mind, anyone?) With ÖTILLÖ, I’m having a hard time believing they could even break even. The race directors, Michael Lemmel and Mats Andersson are hands-on and personally invested in every aspect, and it’s immediately apparent how much care is put into it. The organization is stellar, especially for an event whose logistics are beyond complicated. I can’t say enough about this; it was truly an impressive undertaking, right down to the fact that every racer is personally greeted upon arrival and bid farewell upon leaving.

O Till O, 5

Ferry ride to Sandhamn

So the race started at 5:55am. We had been told it could start anywhere between 5:40 and 6:10am, as we had to wait for the Tallink ferry to pass (for those who have done MIMS, it’s like waiting for the Staten Island ferry to pass before the start. You don’t mess with a ferry boat) The first segment was a 1200m run, with an ATV leading out/holding back the field, so we all hit the water at nearly the same time. There was a strobe on the other shore, which made sighting easy. The water felt warm, there was no pushing, shoving, and though it took me a while to feel warmed up, we had clear water ahead of us for a good portion of the swim.

O Till O, 6

Photo credit: Jakob Edholm

But as soon as we crawled out, it was clear that this day would be treacherous. Slippery, jagged rocks everywhere. The speed I was moving at could not be called running, and we were passed by numerous teams who could indeed manage to run on this stuff. The Swedes are all able to do this! Some even do it tied together with ropes, which seems suicidal to me, but somehow they do it. John was much better at this than I was, though he was relegated to sticking with me. My problems with depth perception and vertigo meant it was slow going. I was happy to get back in the water and after the next swim, we headed toward the first cut-off with plenty of time to spare. I already had bleeding  fingertips by this point and soon after came my only real significant fall, scraping up my arm quite nicely. My paddles saved my hands somewhat!


Photo credit: Nadja Odenhage

Generally speaking, the smaller islands were a combination of highly technical trails and rock scrambling and the larger islands were actual trails and gravel roads. We passed through both seemingly untouched nature reserves and farmed pastures, following instructions to close gates as we passed through them (to keep the cows from escaping!) I felt we were keeping a decent pace on the roads and gravel trails, yet were continually getting passed on the terrain. We would often re-pass teams on the swims, so there was a lot of going back and forth. One island, Kymmendö Bunsön  was only 1450m long, but took us half an hour to traverse. The water temperature varied, but got cooler as we went along. Still, I think there was only one swim where it was truly cold, maybe mid-to-low 50s F (11-12C).

O Till O, 8

Photo credit: Jakob Edholm

Even when it was slow, tough-going, we could take some pleasure in the fact that we were in the midst of some awesome scenery. And many island residents were out, cheering on all the teams. Note: when traversing rural Sweden, and a local asks where you are from, and you say “Toronto”, chances are good they will reply  “Toronto Maple Leafs!” At this point, the appropriate response is a cheery exclamation of “Mats Sundin!” and “Borje Salming!”. This will be very well received.

Every time we hit an aid station, we were greeted by happy faces, ready to give us whatever we wanted. When John wanted coffee, someone got him coffee. I mostly stuck to bananas and several kinds of Enervit drink, though there was often a smorgasbord of cinnamon buns, candy, hot dogs, and soup. The stations were opportunities to assess where we were in the field; rarely were we at one alone.  I also felt that there were an adequate number of them, so that the nutrition we carried (gels) we more of a back-up plan than anything else.


Photo credit: Nadja Odenhage

After nearly losing our shoes in a quicksand-type water exit, running through a reedy swamp, successfully avoiding cow patties, taking several wrong turns, enduring rain that felt suspiciously like hail, sliding down a cliffside on our butts (the spectator boat was strategically located here, I believe so the crowd could watch everyone sliding down a cliffside on their butts!), and generally avoiding killing ourselves, we hit the 4pm cutoff at 2:12pm, and knew we had a cushion going forward. Diving into a short swim, we arrived to face the 20km run on Ornö. This was where everything began to hurt. It’s not that we’d been doing way too much running; it’s that we’d been doing way too much climbing, scaling, crawling, balancing, sliding down cliffs, thrown in with the running. It takes a toll. My abductors were a mess, and within a few minutes of starting out, my left knee was thoroughly unhappy. My left knee! My good, trustworthy, surgery-free knee.  John was feeling better than I, though his knees were not thrilled either. We resorted to walking up the hills and trying to run (jog?) the rest.

I had been carrying two naproxen that I’d been reluctant to take, for fear of triggering stomach issues. Towards the Ornö church energy station at the 11km mark, I gave in and took them, while dumping the tiny waist pack I’d been carrying them in, along with several gels, in a farmhouse garbage bin.

O Till O, 10

Photo credit: Nadja Odenhage

We approached the energy station at Ornö church (Final 15), feeling pretty crappy. I took some candy in with my normal downing of bananas and Enervit, while John asked for and received an entire package of candy to take with him. We had two mixed teams pulling in behind at the same time, teams we hadn’t seen before so I knew we were slowing down. But as we started out on the paved road, my drugs kicked in and we were able to make some real progress, passing at least one mixed team, and a few men’s teams.  Toward the final cutoff, the smoooooth asphalt turned to gravel, then turned off again onto a rough, single track trail. One of the teams we had passed while they were walking the gravel road, suddenly passed us again. How they could walk the easy parts, then have energy to run the tough stuff is something I still don’t quite comprehend.

We hit the final 6pm cutoff, with over 75 minutes to spare. We were now assured of a finish, regardless of how long we took to do it. The final islands were full of more ridiculous terrain, and a couple were small enough that it would have been faster to swim by them than to “run” over them, something I suggested we do more than once.

O Till O, 11

Photo credit: Jakob Edholm

There was a small crowd cheering as we hit Utö and began the 3.3km stretch to the finish. The top of John’s foot was giving him an awful lot of pain, so we resorted to “walking with a purpose”. It was nearly as fast as running anyway.  With about a kilometre left to go, we were passed by a mixed team and so we resolved to run it in. An uphill to the Utö Värdshus brought us under the line in 12 hours and 31 minutes. We had been hoping to finish in 12  hours, but we were happy enough with where we ended up.  We were the 8th mixed team and 59th overall, out of 114 teams that started the day.

O Till O, 12

Photo credit: Nadja Odenhage

For those that are considering the race themselves, here are my thoughts on what worked and what didn’t.

All good:

  1. Bag Balm. I should buy stock in this company. I completed the entire event without once pulling down my wetsuit and emerged without a trace of chafing and nary a blister on my feet. For this, I have to thank this wonderful cow udder balm. I slathered the stuff on and it worked like magic. Highly recommended to anyone doing this event in future years.
  2. My wetsuit/compression sleeve/hand paddles outfit. I used the cutoff legs of the suit under the compression sleeves and appreciated the little bit of extra buoyancy and compression. No calf straining issues, which I had been very worried about. The hand paddles helped mitigate wearing shoes in the water and were useful protectors when getting out onto the rocks. I had written the entire course on the back of them and can’t imagine doing the race without having those course distances on hand… literally.
  3. Nutrition. I carried gels in a tiny waist pack and my friend Julie sewed a pocked into my tri-shirt to hold a 1L water bladder. I finished with over half my liquid left, as we made sure to drink a lot at the aid stations. But having it on hand was useful when we took took gels/pain meds outside the aid station and it was not cumbersome underneath my wetsuit. I only took one salt pill; I believe John took two.
  4. Swim training plan. I started swimming in shoes in February, and by the time the race came along, it felt almost normal. It takes getting used to, so I am glad I started in with them early.

O Till O, 13

Race course

Needs improvement:

  1. My shoes. I wore Asics DS Racers. The plus side of these shoes were that they were light, drained well, due to both the mesh and the holes in the bottom, and were real running shoes. They have an 11mm heel/toe drop, which is something I needed, given that I have calf issues and run with orthotics. On the trails, gravel roads, paved road, they worked great. On the rocks, less so. We had rain, which made the rocks slippery, but I don’t think my shoes had the tread to deal with them properly. I’m not sure which shoe I would have switched to. Many people wore Inov8, but the lack of support/minimalist running style of those shoes would have been a problem for me everywhere but the rocks. I spent a huge amount of time researching shoes and knew it was a compromise.
  2. Run training plan. Generally this worked well, but if I were to do it again, I would drop one of the easier run days and add in weights instead. I think having more leg extra strength on the rocky terrain sections would have been a boost. I also would have spent a good few weeks out in the Georgian Bay archipelago, learning to run better on rocks. We here in Ontario have a near perfect facsimile of the race conditions, and this should be used to full advantage.

Finally, strategies for getting in: This race is going to get tougher to enter every year. A proportion of the slots are based on merit application, a portion on lottery and a few based on placing well in other races (all in Sweden). The merit application is free, while the lottery costs a small sum. A team can enter both. The 120 team breakdown this year was 86 men’s team, 10 women’s teams, 24 mixed teams. Despite the larger number of men’s teams, this category is much harder to get into. Qualifying for Kona IM as an age-grouper will not get you a merit spot on the men’s side. If I were trying to enter again, I would make sure to submit my merit application the very second the entry goes live. Lottery applications can be submitted more leisurely. Even if a team doesn’t get selected through merit, they are ranked according to order of submission. Teams do drop out, right up to the last month. An early submitted merit application, even if unsuccessful during merit selection, has a decent chance of eventually getting a spot. The lottery is just that. But better odds than 6-49!

O Till O, 14

Photo credit Jakob Edholm

It was a wonderful, ridiculous, treacherous, beautiful, exhausting, and amazing experience. It will take some time to fully digest, but I am extremely grateful to have taken part and completed it. All the teams helped each other out (even the leading mens teams, from what I hear) and there was a real camaraderie and sense of sharing a magnificent day, in a stunning environment, together. It’s a unique event for many reasons, but this is perhaps what makes it most special.

To those considering doing ÖTILLÖ in the future, all I can say is “yes!”


PS: Anyone reading this who plans to enter and has further questions, fire away…

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The last LOST swim of 2013!!!

Well that’s a wrap… and this concludes our regularly scheduled programming for LOST Swimming, 2013!

Wrapping it up for 2013!

Wrapping it up for 2013!

The great Lady of the Lake politely asked us to finish up for the season yesterday.  Darren and I were off this week and swam a couple of K each morning on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday… and the Lady was fine with that… Tuesday it was 70F… Wednesday it was 69F… and then… just so we’d know this was the end of the season… Thursday was 57F!

It was fine swimming though, it’s not like the Lady of the Lake was mad or anything… the water was flat and beautiful… she just wanted to let us know it was time to wrap it up!  So yesterday we had our last LOST Swim of 2013… 15 swimmers… 57F / 13C… cool, but still swim-able… most got in 2-4 laps in the 45 minutes or so… mind you, a warm coffee at Brett’s after was well deserved!

So after the 8th season of LOST Swimming, I’m not going to go on about all the fun and accomplishments we all had this summer… although there were lots of them… and lots of fun too… I’m just going to leave it with:  thanks for coming out and enjoying a nice swim in the Lake with me and all the other LOSTies… it wouldn’t be the same without you!… and if you didn’t make it out this year… well, there is always next year!  See you then!

PS.  In fact, I do mean “next year”… as in the Polar Bear Dip on Jan 1, 2014!!!



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A little delinquent…

… no, I’m not talking about when I was a kid… or any of my kids, for that matter… I mean it in the sense that I’ve been running a little behind.  I haven’t posted anything in a while… I’ve been on vacation for the past couple of weeks… and I’m not sure if that gives me more time or less!  Either way, I’ve been a little tardy… so let me catch you up on things… P8230003 P8230005 Anyway, these pics are one’s from Aug 23th… 34 swimmers and 64F degrees.  Then we literally had to jump into the car right after LOST swimming and hit the road… even had to miss LOST Coffee!  And where were we going?… to take Maisey to university! Maisey is in the Honors Program, taking Global Studies at Bryant University in Rhode Island… and is there on a swimming scholarship too!… and she was chomping at the bit to get there! But we decided to make it into a bit of a family road trip… and our first stop was in NYC!  Maisey had only been there once on a recruiting trip with another school (where they kept her out until 3:00 am trying to get her to go there… but Bryant won out anyway!)… and Jill had never been to the Big Apple… so it was going to be fun!

Canoli's for everyone!

Cannoli’s for everyone!

5k / 10k race in Brooklyn!

5k / 10k race in Brooklyn!

However, before we put in the countless hours of shopping and traipsing the streets of Manhattan doing all the touristy stuff, we got to do something dad wanted to do… so I found a race for all 4 or us to go in!  There was a 5k (Maisey & Jill) and 10k (Jo & I) in Brooklyn on Sunday morning.  It was just a small local race with 250 people or so… nice feel to it though… kind of LOST Race-esque!… and it was just a simple out and back on a path along the Hudson overlooking Manhattan… pretty cool.

Jill, Jo and Maisey... at Ground Zero...

Jill, Jo and Maisey… at Ground Zero…

Maisey, Jo and Jill... at Time Square...

Maisey, Jo and Jill… at Time Square…

Maisey and Jo... in Central Park...

Maisey and Jo… in Central Park…

All three of the girls placed in the top 3 in their divisions and I put up a respectable (for me at least) 45 min 10k… not bad for 12 hours of driving the day before… and a 32k long run the day before that… I’ll take it.  Regardless, it was fun.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop by for a swim with the CIBBOWS gang for a swim at Coney Island… we were off to… Canal Street (purses, of course!… although nothing in my style)… Ground Zero… Time Square… Central Park… you get the idea… a bunch of the fun stops in NYC!

Newport, Rhode Island...

Newport, Rhode Island…

Then it was on to Rhode Island… and until Maisey’s recruiting trip, I had never been there, but loved what little I did see on that trip… so did Maisey!  But this time we decided to stop in Newport, RI first… and I’d have to say it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever

Newport mansions!

Dozens of Newport mansions like these…

been!  It was established in 1639!… so a bit of history and gorgeous old cobble-stone streets and buildings… and it is a tucked away sailing community for the very wealthy.  In fact, it used to be home to the wealthiest people in the US and has a street with all the mansions along it… you know how the Hampton’s is the big place for the uber-wealthy New Yorker’s to have their second home now… well back around the turn of the century Newport is where the Vanderbilts (literally) and the


… and a beautiful sailing town!

like had their ocean-side homes.  This was the home of the Great Gatsby and his friends in their day… and the movie was filmed here too!  We have some pretty spectacular homes in south-east Oakville, worth millions… and I’d never seen anything like this neighborhood… my jaw was on the ground.  Spectacular.

Bryant University... a pretty nice campus!

Bryant University… a pretty nice campus!

So naturally we shopped the girls around a bit (not for purses this time… for husbands), but without much luck there, we pressed on to Providence and Bryant University.  An odd set of coincidences had Dylan driving from Baltimore to Boston for a job interview (which P8280097he just landed yesterday, btw!!!… one less on dad’s payroll!… cool thing is that Maisey and Dylan will only be about 45 minutes apart from Boston to Providence now too!), so he stopped in to check out Maisey’s new digs too!    We spent a couple of days moving Maisey in and after a few tears… we were on the road again… this time to the mental hospital.

Find the spooooky girl in this picture!

Find the spooooky girl in this picture!

No, literally.  And no, the trip hadn’t gotten to me, this was for Jill.  Not to check her in (yet)… but her big thing lately is she is into all those two-bit TV docu-dramas about the paranormal and ghosts and such (although I do

A dorm is a dorm... but this Maisey's DORM!!!

A dorm is a dorm… but this Maisey’s DORM!!!

... a few tears from Jill, missing her big sister already!

… a few tears from Jill, missing her big sister already!

like watching reruns of X-files with her!)… so remember I said everyone got something on this trip… I got the race, Maisey got University, Jo got shopping in NYC… and Jill… well, she wanted to see some spooky things on the way!  What can I tell you.  A deal is a deal.  So she found a couple of places to go… and one was an abandoned mental hospital on the ocean in Connecticut that had been closed down for disturbing reasons… seemed like a nice place to stop!  Then we went to Boston (and up to Salem the next day too… but we didn’t see any witches… although apparently there are about 1000 Wicca’s that live there… but that’s another story… interesting story about the witch hunt there though!) And after some fun in Quincy Market in Boston… and dinner at Cheers… we drove home.  Woke up the next morning… and went to LOST Swimming! 28 LOSTie’s and 70F/21C… one of the best swims of the year, incidentally!

... but my girls were back to themselves soon enough...

… but my girls were back to themselves soon enough…

This was about the longest story ever about 2 episodes of LOST Swimming and everything in between… and why I was a little delinquent about posting them… but there you go! Cheers, Rob

at risk of being turned into a newt... no comment...

at risk of being turned into a newt… no comment…

home away from home...

home away from home…

Cheers!... in Quincy Market!

Cheers!… in Quincy Market!


... and back just in time for LOST Swimming... a week later!

… and back just in time for LOST Swimming… a week later!

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Lisa Neidrauer and John Humenik complete the O Till O!!!

“O Till O”… or “Island To Island”… ultra endurance race in Sweden!!!

One of the toughest 1-day races in the worldWay to go Lisa and John!!!  This looks awesome and is definitely on the bucket list!  Check out this new sport of “Swim-Run Racing”…wow, what a race… Congrats!!!  Can’t wait to hear all about it!  A very respectable showing too… over 500 pairs applied… 120 got in… 114 started… and 99 finished… Lisa and John came in 59th… 12:31 hours!!!




ÖTILLÖ is ranked by CNN as one of the toughest endurance challenges in the world.

The total race distance is 75 kilometers over and between 26 islands. 10 km of open-water swimming and 65 km of trail running. The race starts at Sandhamn and finishes at Utö in the Stockholm Archipelago.

On our live page you will find our tv webcast, twitter flow, an interactive map with team positions, images from the race and of course the leaderboard. Welcome to the World Championship of Swimrun racing!

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Diana Nyad Completes Cuba-to-Florida Swim!!!

Andrew Innerarity/Reuters

Spectators surrounded Diana Nyad as she reached the shore of Key West, Fla. on Monday after her 110 mile swim from Cuba.


Published: September 2, 2013

MIAMI — Her speech slurred and her face red and swollen, Diana Nyad conquered the treacherous Florida Straits on Monday and completed a 53-hour, 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West.

Ms. Nyad, a 64-year-old endurance swimmer, now becomes the only person to have succeeded in swimming from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage. With her final stroke into Smathers Beach in Key West, Ms. Nyad proved that perseverance and big dreams can transcend age and injury.

This was Ms. Nyad’s fifth attempt in 35 years to swim without fins or a wet suit from Cuba to Key West, a daunting journey laden with so many encumbrances, including swarms of jellyfish, that until Monday it seemed impossible to overcome.

Her official time was 52 hours 54 minutes 18.6 seconds, according to her Web site.

“I have three messages,” Ms. Nyad, her face scorched and puffy from so many hours in the saltwater, said as she leaned on her best friend. “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport but it takes a team.”

After two nights and two days of being buffeted by ocean waves, she walked on to Smathers Beach on Monday at 1:20 p.m. to the cheers of onlookers and her 35-member support team. Her team had kept a close watch on Ms. Nyad from five boats that trailed her during the swim.

Millions more exhilarated in her age-defying feat from afar, on Twitter and Facebook, viewing it with inspiration and pride.

One of the first to send a message on Twitter was President Obama: “Congratulations to Diana Nyad. Never give up on your dreams.”

The ocean between Florida and Cuba is a notoriously fierce opponent, brimming with sharks, jellyfish, squalls and an uncompromising Gulf Stream current.

Last year, Ms. Nyad was defeated by all three. She was forced back on to the boat after storms knocked her off track, sharks menaced her and she was badly stung by box jellyfish. In 2011, her shoulder injured, she suffered her first asthma attack in the water and began to vomit, a turn of events that forced her to stop.

Each time Ms. Nyad vowed it would be her last. But she could not help herself. The swim across the Straits was her personal quest, one that until Monday seemed Quixotic, at best, and fatuous, at worst.

But this year nature tipped its hat.

Sharks steered clear, the swift current carried her along and storms took the Labor Day weekend off. Even the box jellyfish cooperated, although she was well prepared for their challenge. She wore a jelly protection suit and a mask to protect her face from their poison. Her body was coated with “sting stopper” gel to serve as a barrier from the venom. When she encountered box jellyfish near Key West, Ms. Nyad’s divers swam ahead of her this year to disperse them.

“I think that Mother Nature said: ‘You know what? Let her go,’ ” said Bonnie Stoll, one of her closest friends. “Diana also did her homework.”

To stay focused, Ms. Nyad did what she always does: she hummed her favorite songs in her head. Her strokes were calibrated to the cadence of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” and “Paperback Writer” to name two.

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LOSTies at IRONMAN Mt. Tremblant!

Joanne and I did the Half Ironman at Mt Tremblant this year… and it was awesome!  It’s only in its second year there and it is already a classic!  Perfect venue and all done up the way that only Ironman Corp can do it!  (although I must say, I do have one gripe… I hate the wave start… it was the one small advantage that good swimmers had, but now that’s gone… and that was part of the amazing visual picture to the start to this… and, as we found last night watching the results, you never know where anyone is in the race!  Bring back the MASS START!)… end of rant.

The LOST Boys hit Mt Tremblant! (Peter, Bruce, Brett, Darren, David, Ron)... that's a keeper!

The LOST Boys hit Mt Tremblant! (Peter, Bruce, Brett, Darren, David, Ron)… that’s a keeper!

Having said that… I do recall saying at the end of the Half… “I’m glad I’m not doing the full this year!”  It’s a tough course… I mean all Ironman races are tough… but there is a 9 stepped climb at Mt Tremblant that is as tough as any in the business.  Oh, and they did it twice in the full IM!

Joanne and I were watching the race results come in all day long, checking in throughout the day, watching for Lambrina’s updates… wondering how everyone was doing… hoping Brett would get the right day and make his first Kona… spoiler alert… he had 2 flats and missed it, even with a good race anyway!  And you know part of me was dying to be there… racing with the gang… it kills me not to participate… did I mention that I also wanted to be swimming with Lynn and Stacey across the Northumberland Strait this weekend too!… but with how tough this race was… there was also a part of me that was happy that I was sitting at my desk watching the results roll in… with a beer in my hand!

Well, I don’t know all the stories yet… but I just found one out from Brett… Dan, who was doing his first Ironman… completed this with a broken collarbone!!!  Dan Gieruszak, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!

I guess the rest of the stories will have to wait until our Wednesday night run and beers… and coffee after LOST Swimming on Saturday… and since even I can only B.S. for so long, I’ll pass you on to the results… which tell part of the story at least!

Congrats everyone… great racing!  Way to make the LOSTies proud!

 IM Mt Tremblant results




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The 1st annual Toronto Island Lake Swim!!!

A bit tip of the hat to Steve Hulford and Bill Poole for pulling off a fantastic race!  Especially impressive on their first try!

LOSTies at the Toronto Island Swim!   Jess, Tara, Michelle, Gary, Rob, Claudia, Paul, Lisa and Jane!

LOSTies at the Toronto Island Swim! Jess, Tara, Michelle, Gary, Rob, Claudia, Paul, Lisa and Jane!

Steve contacted me about a year or so ago, out of the blue about starting up a new race.  So we went out for coffee to discuss it.  He and Bill had just been for a swim on this great beach in the Toronto Islands called Ward’s Island.  Beautiful… and no one knows about it.  So he wanted to share it with other people… and a race was a great way to do it.  So we chatted for a while… and then off and on over the winter… I gave him a few tips here and there… but I was pretty amazed when I showed up on Sunday morning to find a first class race about to begin!  Well done boys.

P8180020It’s a pretty cool venue.  You take the ferry over to the island… and then walk across the island and come out of the bushes… and low and behold is this incredible beach!  Beautiful sand, probably 500 m long that rolls out into a nice sandy bottom lake.  It didn’t hurt that it was one of the nicest sunny days of the summer either!  (I must confess, I had a bit of beach envy happening!)

Claudia and her friend... who came all the way from Portugal to watch her swim!

Claudia and her friend… who came all the way from Portugal to watch her swim!

But this is open water swimming… and there is always something.  And, in keeping with this year’s theme, the water temp was the issue on this particular day!  I was talking to Steve prior to the race and he had told me that when they set up the buoys the night before the water temp was 68F / 19C… but naturally that wasn’t what it was the next morning!  It was 60F / 15C!

Kim Lumsdon and Annaliese, presenting the awards!

Kim Lumsdon and Annaliese, presenting the awards!  And Steve giving the play by play!

But like I said, this is open water swimming… and you have to roll with the punches, or with the waves, as the case may be.  And like real pros, Steve and Bill did just that.  They made a few quick adjustments to the timing and placings and told everyone that if they had a choice, they might be more comfortable in a wetsuit!

Now, I for one prefer not to swim in a wetsuit and being a bit of purist I tend to frown on them from that point of view too.  I find 60F is about the border line for “comfortable” and “uncomfortable”… certainly not the border line between “swimmable” and “unswimmable” (which is about 10 degrees lower!).  So I was kind of torn as to go “wetsuit” or “naked”.  I had Lisa, Annaliese, Miguel, Gary and the like calling me out on my whimpy-ness in considering the wetsuit… but the devil on my other shoulder was whispering in my ear that I haven’t been doing any training since I swam across Lake Ontario 370 days ago… cold water or not… the wimp in me won out.  I wore my sleeveless wetsuit.  Which as far as wetsuits go, is a pleasure to swim in.  Full range of motion and not a hint of cold.

The course was very straight forward.  It was out and back along the shore.  There was about 100 people in the 1.5 k race and about 100 in the 3.8 k race, the 1.5 k swimmers just turned around earlier… yes, I did the 3.8 k race… I wasn’t going to be that wimpy!

That's me!  In the upper left, in the sleeveless wetsuit, adjusting my yellow cap!  Cool! (thanks Miguel!)

That’s me! In the upper left, in the sleeveless wetsuit, adjusting my yellow cap! Cool!                                               (these were taken from a kite, flying overhead… thanks Miguel!)

The race itself went off without a hitch.  I ended up trying to catch this “naked” girl in front of me (hey, you find motivation where you can!)… she was only about 10 m ahead… but for the life of me I couldn’t catch her… I chased her for about 3 km and never got any closer or further than 10 m!!!  Then, at the 1.5 k turn around buoy my body and in particular, my arms relized that “oh ya… we haven’t done any training”… and in some kind of magical, Harry Potter way, my arms suddenly turned to cement.  I can sum up the last 750m with two words… slow and painful!  The girl that was only a couple of seconds ahead of me finished exactly a minute ahead… and it was Lisa!  She was 1:01 and I was 1:02!  Turns out Tara, Miguel, Gary, Lisa and myself had all been pretty close together for the whole race.

That's me again!  Trying to draft off of Lisa!  ;)

That’s me again! Trying to draft off of Lisa!  ;-)


Oh, and for those comparing times between this and the LOST Race… well, lets just say that on an out-and-back course, it’s much harder to take advantage of a current than it is if you are going point-to-point!  ;)

And they did squeak past us on the number in the 3.8 km race!  We had 94 swimmers… they had 97!

I’m sure that I and a bunch more LOSTies will be back next year too!

A lot of fun.  Thanks Steve and Bill!

PS.  I had to laugh, Steve and Bill were both very proud of their great little race… but a bit disappointed too… they didn’t get to swim it!  Haha… that’s the life of a race director!  That’s why I was at their race… I didn’t get to swim the LOST Race either… so I told them, they’ll have to do the LOST Race next year instead!



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Lynn and Stacey made it to Prince Edward Island!

So a big congrats to my (and everyone’s) buddies… Lynn and Stacey!  They made it across the Northumberland Strait!  They swam a couple of the fastest times (in wetsuits), getting across the 12.7 km Strait in about 4:45 and 5:00, respectively.  Unfortunately the third member of the group, Melanie Price, wasn’t able to swim with them… she, Bill and the kids had major car issues on the drive out to the Maritime and only got there about when Lynn and Stacey were about to go!  Tough break Mel… maybe I’ll join you when you go back and try it again!

Great work battling the tides, chop, current, jellyfish and images of sharks with human teeth (see pics below!)!

Below is Lynn’s story… and below that is Stacey’s story…



LYNN’s story…

Stacey Van Wart and myself, Lynn Rodgers, completed our swim that we have been training for for months. We crossed the Northumberland Strait, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. We did it to raise awareness for diabetes.Stacey has diabetes and I am in complete awe of her ability to manage this condition, complete the incredible athletic endeavors she sets her sights on, be a mom to three fantastic kids, and be a supportive an amazing friend. I’m so lucky to know this woman.

The swim was not easy, and we both had a different experience. Here is mine.

We met Captain John and Captain Chris early Friday August 16 at their homes in Cape Tormentine, NB. After a quick briefing, we suited up and headed to the boat launch which happens to be the former site of the ferry to the island. Captain Chris used to operate the ferry between NB and PEI until “someone built a bridge.” He then retrained as a paramedic. Stacey and I felt that we were in good hands.

It was chilly in the morning so Stacey and I were doing jumping jacks on the boat launch trying to keep warm. Stacey’s dad, Paul and her husband, Steve, would travel across on the boat.

Captain Chris loaded all of us in his jolly little fishing boat (I’m spoiled after cruising on the Exhale catamaran for Madhu’s Lake O crossing) at around 6:50 am and headed to the base of the bridge. We were informed that the water temp was 68. For most open water swimmers, that temp is not a problem, but when I heard that, my stomach did a little flip… which would be the first of many. But Stacey wins for stomach upset. More on that later.

We were dropped off on the east side of the Confederation Bridge in New Brunswick and we needed to take advantage of the tides. Meaning we had to start swimming immediately! Unfortunately, that is where we ran into our first glitch… none of the kayaks were ready to go. There were 3 kayaks that had to be lifted over a highway guardrail, and lowered down a drop off to the beach… all over giant boulders with no discernible path.

The mosquitoes were bad and the clock was ticking. So as the saying goes, time nor tide waits for no Woman – off we went without kayak support, and with the vague yet obvious instruction to “follow the bridge!” from the boat captain.

Stacey and I set out at about 7:05 am. The waves were crashing around us but the water felt warm. The start was hairy for sure. High waves and a strong current pushing us west. Murky water and imposing bridge pillars to our left. We stuck together with the fishing boat to our right and all the kayaks and kayakers, my husband Kevin, my niece Annelies and her boyfriend Stijn from Belgium and Stacey’s sister, Carrie… on the BEACH. Sigh. There went our feeding and navigation plan out the window from the get go.

We managed to stay together for the first hour, fighting the current and waves and keeping to the right of the bridge pillars. After almost being dashed against a large boulder at the base of a pillar, I finally yelled to the boat captain, do we need to stay on this side? To which he replied, “You really have no control over that.”

All righty then.

So Stacey and I let the current sweep us to the other side of the pillars with still no kayaks in sight. And that is about the same point where we got separated. The fishing boat was now out of sight for me and if I wasn’t so busy trying to sight the bridge and not take in any more salt water, I might have started freaking out.

When Kevin, Stijn and Annelies appeared I was so relieved. Kevin said that they had quite a struggle trying to catch up to us. I was desperately thirsty, and drank a bunch of water before having a gel. It was very difficult to stay put for the kayak and myself, so very little chit chat and off we went. Since the initial navigation plan (boat leading – kayakers sight boat – swimmers sight kayaks) was history, my new navigation plan was to sight the bridge. Which is a good plan if there are no currents. I basically swam at a 45 degree angle towards PEI for the remainder of the swim.

About this time the fishing boat sped up to us and the captain gave us a thumbs up. I asked him if I needed to stay with the bridge, and he said, “Forget the bridge, swim for the island!”
I cannot tell a lie. Our response was, “What #€%£ing island?” But they didn’t hear that and the boat sped off west, where Stacey was swimming. We were so far apart across the strait, we couldn’t even see each others’ kayaks.

My neck and shoulders were really starting to ache at this point, so I asked Kevin to take over navigating and I could just keep to his right. He saw a barn roof in the distance and we stuck to that destination point, still keeping fairly close to the bridge. I was starting to also feel very cold and the shivering started. I found out later that Stacey also started shivering at this point in the swim as well, but she thought she was shivering from lack of nutrition since she had started vomiting after the first hour of the swim. Yes. She had some good, old-fashioned sea-sickness to contend with on top of everything else!! She continued to throw up for the entire duration of the swim. I personally do not think I could have completed the swim if I had to throw up for four hours straight, while attempting this crossing.

Finally, the shore came into view, the water warmed and the tides started to come in. It was still tough, but I reached the island, just to the west of the bridge at around 11:50 am. Stacey landed on the east side of the bridge, about 15 minutes later.

I guess if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Waving… and or swatting mosquitos!

STACEY’s story…

I wanted to just wanted to add my perspective to Lynn’s story.
This swim was a huge learning experience and provided me with many memorable moments. The adventure began when Lynn and her family arrived at my parents cottage Monday evening. It was comforting know that I would be able to share my uneasiness about the swim with someone who was feeling a similar way. It was also a lot of fun to have three families together preparing for one goal. To have some fun.

The morning of the swim there was a wind blowing which I was hoping would go away but it never really did. We all piled into Kevin’s van and began our approach to the bridge. There was some small chatter amongst ourselves but as soon as we began crossing the bridge, heading towards the start of our swim, there was silence until Annelies said “this is a long drive over the bridge”. Everyone was quickly to hushed her but she just said was everyone was thing.

We met our captain and realized we were in good hands because he was very familiar with the water, had medical training and had a good understanding of diabetes because he and his two sons are type 1 diabetics.

We boarded the fishing boat and headed towards our swim start. As we moved closer to the starting point my nerves continue to increase but Lynn continually reassured me that we were only going for a nice long training swim helped me keep it under control.

Once we were at the starting point of our swim and realized the kayakers needed more time, I so realized we may hit some rough patches a long the way. I underestimated how rough that would be. Lynn and i decided we would start and stay close together and near the bridge until our supports arrived. tar e began our swim and struggled to stay close to the bridge and together. It was much harder to do this then I expected. It was like swimming in a washing machine. Eventually I gave up and allowed the tide to push me under and away from the bridge. By this time my sister, Carrie, had arrived a bit flustered but was happy we were finally together. The waves were big and the current was strong which made it challenging for me to test my blood sugars and keep any of my feeds down. After my first feed that nausea began and never left until I set my foot down on the other side of the bridge. Because we had vague navigation instructions, my sister took it upon herself to choose a bearing to follow. Luckily it worked out well. We swam in somewhat of an arc formation which helped us use the tides to our advantage. The waves were relentless and so was the sea sickness. My nutrition consisted of diet ginger ale, ginger chews and ginger gravel. And even that would not stay down. I persevered and kept going. I figured if others can do this so can I.
Being directionally challenged i was terrified to ask if we were 1/2 way yet. Instead I asked if i was going to have enough before time to get to the half way mark before the tide change. That was essential if I was going to be successful in this swim to a easier swim. My sister happily said we were about 300m past the 1/2 way mark. I was relieved to know i made it in good time and concerned if my nausea was going to prevent me from completing the swim. At that time I began to shiver and not sure it is was because i was cold or because I had been so sick. I was happy to know it was due to the cold according to Lynn. It was also at that moment the waters were calm. Carrie said this was our “slack” water which meant the water was still before the tide would shift. I had relief for 15 mins. no waves. Yeh. But they came back in full force and so did the nausea.

As we went along i noticed that the bridge was getting bigger and I could see some land. I knew I was getting close but to afraid to ask how close. On one of my stops Carrie said that my pump was not longer working. It deactivated. Normally i would panic and figure out a plan. Not this time I was to sick to even care.

Finally I could see some rocks and a beach where I could land. It didn’t matter it was on the wrong side of the bridge. All I cared about was putting my feet down in the sand and stop the sea sickness. Eventually I saw the last pillar of the bridge and asked if Carrie if I could touch. Carrie kindly said “not yet sweetheart you are almost there”. I took about 50 more strokes, saw the bottom and put my feet on the mushy sand. I stood up and celebrated that i no longer felt the need to be sick.

It was definitely not an easy swim. It reminded my of all things that can go wrong and right during an open water swim. Without the support of Lynn, Carrie and the rest of our family it would not have been possible.

Lynn, Stacey and the whole gang! With the bridge and Strait lurking in the background!

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LOST Swimming… August 17…

… well, at least it was sunny!

What a cool shot... I love when you can't tell the lake from the sky on the horizon!  (No, I didn't photoshop that!)

What a cool shot… I love when you can’t tell the lake from the sky on the horizon!                                                  (No, I didn’t photoshop that!)

Actually it was a beautiful day and the water was flat as glass… it’s just that this dang Lake isn’t really cooperating this year!  We had a few nice stretches where it got up to 74F – 76F… but then it rolled over, like it should… but then it never heated up again!  I guess we are making up for the unusually warm water we had last year.  Oh well.

All that is to say that the water on Saturday was a whopping, mid-August temp of 57F!  Mike was in the game though… as Bill was away on his adventure out in the Maratimes with Mel… Mike was in charge of setting up the buoys this week… and he cut the loop down a bit!  From 750m to 450m!

Yes, we saw you sneak away Owen and Bud!  Champs last week... Chicken's this week!

Yes, we saw you sneak away Owen and Bud! Champs last week… Chicken’s this week!

But, as is typical of the tough bunch of LOSTies… we all got in (well except Owen and Bud!… yes, I saw you guys sneak away!)… all 42 of us… and swam a loop.  In fact, it was just like I had predicted.  The first loop was the hardest, but by the time you got back to the start, you’d be warmed up and fine.  Most people did 3 or 4 loops.  It ended up being a really nice swim!

Good job everyone… see you next week… and for as long as the Lake will let us!  (maybe mid-Sep?!).



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Group crossing Strait to raise awareness for diabetes

Stacey Van Wart says she will never let diabetes control her life.

The now 40-year-old was diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago in September 2003.However, that diagnosis didn’t stop her from working — as well as competingin two ironman triathlons in 2010 and 2012.Swimmers Stacey Van Wart, left, Lynn Rodgers, support person Carrie Heldman, Courtney Moates Paulk, and Melanie Price while training for a swim crossing the Northumberland Strait later this week. Another swimmer Annelies Vandenborre will also make the crossing while Moates Paulk was training with the group for another swim.

It also won’t stop her and three others from swimming across the Northumberland Strait this week as a way to raise awareness to others living with the disease.

“It’s a challenge for how well I can manage my blood sugars and everything through that (swim),” Van Wart said during an interview with The Guardian. “But it’s also to demonstrate that, regardless of your diabetes, you can still do whatever you want to do.”

Carrie Heldman, Van Wart’s sister and a spokesperson for the group, said the idea for the crossing started with each swimmer having their own personal connection to diabetes, whether through themselves, a family member or friend.

Heldman said once diagnosed, many think “your entire world has to change and that exercise becomes almost difficult to do.”

That’s not the case, she said.

“You can continue to do anything you want. You just have to be aware of everything, your diet, calories and nutrition.”

The swimmers, who all hail from Burlington, Ont., said they want to bring awareness to that mentality when they do the swim.

After nearly a year of training, the exact date of crossing is still undetermined. The group could have begun today, but at press time they said it was more likely they would take to the waters Friday.

The swim, apart from raising awareness, will also raise funds for the I Challenge Diabetes charity.

The national not-for-profit group, which was founded in 2007 by Canadian Olympic rower Chris Jarvis, supports diabetics to live healthy lifestyles.

Van Wart said her main philosophy is that “anything is possible.”

She added that a little while ago when her friend was swimming through the English Channel, her endocrinologist told her, “Don’t even think about doing that.”

Those words stuck with her and partially fueled the desire to do the crossing.

“That was always in the back of my mind. But doing this shows me that I can do (the English Channel) some day if I ever choose to,” she said. “It’s a good experience, to know anything is possible. Even if someone says ‘no’ there is always a way around it.”

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…on to the next big thing!

… which is… Stacey, Lynn and Mel swimming the Northumberland Strait!

For those of you who failed your Grade 8 Geography class… the Northumberland Strait is the body of water between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island… where we built the Confederation Bridge a few years ago… I’m sure it’s all coming back to you now.

Anyway, they are on their way there.  Although I heard from Mel and things weren’t going so smoothly so far.  And they aren’t even there yet.

Mel, “Mel’s husband”, Dalia and “Cadence the cookie-maker” were broken down outside of Montreal last I heard… waiting for car parts.  I think this was the basis for National Lampoon’s Vacation.  Don’t worry Mel… we’ll all laugh about this some day.  (I’m not sure you guys will… but we will!).

And I saw something that I thought would help Lynn.  You see when we did the Swim Around Key West last year she was afraid of sharks.  And sure enough she came nose to nose with one!  Granted it was when she was swimming in about 3 feet of water and it was a baby shark about 18 inches long… but still.

So naturally she was wondering what the probability of there being sharks in the Northumberland Strait… well I heard from numerous people that there “aren’t any”… but given there are no fences in the ocean, that just means they are exceptionally rare.

But then I heard there were sharks there!… but that they just didn’t seem be quite as ferocious looking as sharks in other parts of the world!

sharks with human teethSo just picture these guys when that thought comes into your head Lynn!



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The 6th Annual LOST Race… the whole story!

Well that was pretty cool.  That seemed to go really well and everyone had fun.  What more could you want.

Well maybe the results… so here they are, before we get started: LOST Race results, (2013)

The 6th Annual LOST Race, 2013... every picture tells a story, don't it?!

The 6th Annual LOST Race, 2013… every picture tells a story, don’t it?!

Well, based on last year all we wanted was decent weather!  If you happened to be at the race last year you’ll recall we had quite rough water and stormy weather.  Not ideal by any stretch.  But we got through it and made up for it this year!

Blue skies and sunny.  Flat and… a bit chilly water.  63F, okay… a bit chillier than perfect, but pretty darn close… and significantly nicer than the 57F we had last weekend (but not as nice as the 74F the weekend before… but that’s Lake O for you!).

getting ready!

getting ready!

I have to admit I get much more nervous as a race director than I ever did as a swimmer.  Safety and organization are the two big ones, of course.  Then you just hope everyone has fun… which, if the first two are taken care of, then the fun generally takes care of itself.  I have to brag a bit this year about our safety… the best we’ve ever had and something I felt very comfortable with.  The brag part is more just bragging about having all the great volunteers that made it work like clockwork!

I don't know who the SUP'er is... but that's worth of framing!  Nice shot Mike!

I don’t know who the SUP’er is… but that’s worth of framing! Nice shot Mike!


Joe on the water was key.  He got us 12 kayaks, 4 SUP’s (stand up paddle boards, for those of you not hip to the lingo just yet!), 2 zodiacs, one great pontoon boat that was perfect for the control boat… and Bill set up the course… with about 30 buoys!  Awesome.  Hey if you couldn’t see where you were going on that course you needed to clear your googles! ;-)

Then there was the land logistics and Darren did a great job getting all that in place… I’d like to thank each land volunteer (so thanks!)… but I know you just want to hear about the race!

P1070086They were off like a shot… well more like fireworks actually (a little add on I thought of in the off season… and I think that was a keeper!).  I think everyone was happy to get moving, as the water was chilly… not quite cold… but not balmy… good for racing!

P1070083As you might have seen in the results, we had 94 entrants and with the DNS’s, we had 86 start the race… and 100% finish!  Our second biggest group, next to last year, but to be quite honest, around 100 is a good number to have.  Enough that it’s fun to race for the Toronto Island Swimswimmers… but not so big that it’s a nightmare for the organizers.  If it stayed around this size, I’d be fine with that.  Actually, it will be interesting to see how Steve and his crew do next weekend at the first “Toronto Island Swim”, they have a 1.5k race and a 3.8k race, so we’ll see if they beat our number for the 3.8k!  (I didn’t get to swim our race… so I’ll be swimming his!).

So as soon as the swimmers were gone, we packed up all the tents and equipment and drove as quickly as we could to the finish… and barely had all the things set up when the first swimmer was approaching… about 45 minutes later!

Nice views too... yes... that's a house... hey, they have a kid AND 2 dogs!

Nice views too… yes… that’s a house… hey, they have a kid AND 2 dogs!

As I said in the pre-race meeting, I know Richard’s 3k race in Ottawa, “Bring on the Bay”, has grown like crazy (good work Richard!) and is much bigger than ours (albeit shorter too), but I have to admit we do have a pretty cool crowd in our race too.  We had swimmers who have swum the English Channel, Lake Ontario Crossings, Manhattan Island Marathon Swims, one who Bring on the bayswam the Catalina Channel last week (atta boy, Steve Faulkner!), a former Olympian and Paralympian, some Canadian Varsity swimmers, and some NCAA Div 1 college swimmers from the US, we also had tons of Ironmen and Masters swimmers and we even had a few Aussies out for good measure!  But, as I also said in the meeting, we also have just a lot of regular people who love open water swimming… and ultimately that’s where this whole club started… and thankfully the culture has continued… regardless of speed and accomplishments… just a bunch of friends who think it is pretty cool to swim in the Lake on a nice, sunny Saturday morning!  Pretty grass roots… and that’s alright by me.

The winner! Owen Von Richter, not bad for an Olympian!

The winner! Owen Von Richter, not bad for an Olympian!

Anyway, back to the race.  As we scrambled to get the carpet laid out in time for the first swimmer, he approached the finishing buoy!  And the winner was… Owen Von Richter!  A former Olympian in 400 IM in the Sydney Olympics… and he finished in 44:55… and a new course record!  Beating Dylan’s previous record of 46:05 in 2009.  The fastest naked man was Miguel Nascimento with a time of 53:14… and a Paralympian that was swimming in London this time last year!

All the winners... Mel, Maisey, Gary, Jana, Kelvin, Lisa, Lynn, Bud, Dylan, Owen, Miguel... missing Elissa and Jenn. Just kidding... you're all winners!

All the winners… Mel, Maisey, Gary, Jana, Kelvin, Lisa, Lynn, Bud, Dylan, Owen, Miguel… missing Elissa and Jenn.
Just kidding… you’re all winners!

Interestingly, first, second and third were the only 3 people that have ever won this race… Owen once, Bud last year and Dylan for 4 years!  Fast company.  In fact, this was a fast year, although I didn’t notice there was any current with us… the median time was 1:07… that’s fast for 3.8k.  Certainly faster than the median time in an Ironman… but then again… we’re all swimmers!

Peter Rabbit swims too!

Peter Rabbit swims too!

The winning woman was naked (yes, I know how that sounds… it means non-wetsuit of course, but it’s more fun to say… it never gets old!) was Ellisa Gelleny, in 50:53!  With a new course record too!  Beating Lisa Neidrauer’s time of 58:00 in 2010 (and technically beat the fastest wetsuit woman, Lynn Roger’s record too!  52:09).  Lynn did win the fastest wetsuit woman again though with 51:48 and beat her own record too!

Everybody loves their LOST medal... great swim, Patrick!

Everybody loves their LOST medal… great swim, Patrick! (with his proud coach in green, looking on in the background!)

Behind all the division winners and placers came the rest… and a lot of happy faces… (or at least people who finished with grimaces that looked like smiles!).

Darren is never taking his medal off... and framing this picture too!

Darren is never taking his medal off… and framing this picture too!

And then we had Brett.

So in case you’ve ever thought “ya, but he’s fast” about anyone.  And “it’s easy for him because he’s so talented” about anyone, let me correct you.  Yes, we are all of varying degrees of talent… but everyone pays the piper.  And Brett paid on Saturday.

(not his first tough race!) Brett claims the marks on his face are from his crash... but I think the tattoo artist had to rough him up a bit when he started whining about getting his new tattoo!  Now THAT'S and Ironman tattoo!

(This wasn’t his first tough race!) Brett claims the marks on his face are from his crash… but I think the tattoo artist had to rough him up a bit when he started whining about getting his new tattoo! Now THAT’S and Ironman tattoo!

Brett came dead last.  But I mean that in a good way!  You see he’s more accustomed to coming in first.  What a trooper… that wasn’t easy.  You see Brett is an awesome Ironman… in fact, we all think he’s got a very good chance to get to the Ironman World Championships in Kona this summer… and unlike some of the great triathlete’s who are awesome cyclists and runners… but just fake the swim… Brett’s actually become a very good swimmer (just a smidge behind me, so I have to say he’s fast!).  But he’s not much of a cold water swimmer.  Typical Ironman… he’s got zero % body fat.  And he doesn’t usually train without a wetsuit.  And was curious to see if he could do the distance without a wetsuit, since Kona disallows wetsuits.  The problem with that logic is that Kona disallows wetsuits because the water is too warm… something that wasn’t really an issue yesterday.  It was about 25 degrees colder than Kona would be!

So Brett finished… the hard way.  By shaking pretty hard.  And as I’ve always maintained, hypothermia can be very dangerous (I know from training to become quite hypothermic for various cold water marathon swims and from almost dying from it… twice… but that’s another story)… but the nice thing about hypothermia is that it is pretty easy to treat.  You remove the Brett from the cold… you put the Brett in something warm (like a van with all the windows closed on a hot summer day)… and then you let the Brett spoon with his wife for a half hour.  Then he’s up and at it (with a big ol’ grin) and taking a good hearted ribbing from all his buddies!  Gutsy swim, buddy!… (you wetsuit wimp! ;-) )

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words… so I’ll save myself some typing and you more reading and just let you look at the great pics that I got from: Jill, Patrick, Helene, Mike, Lamb and Lynn!

A bit nicer in the kayak this year Jackie?!

A bit nicer in the kayak this year Jackie?!

The coveted LOST medal!

PS.  A special thanks to: Cadence Price… for hand baking all those cookies (could it get more grass-roots than that!)… Joe for running the water volunteers… Darren for running the land volunteers… Mel for running the registration (and pretty much everything really!)… Frank and his crew for raising money for the Swim for Mental Health and giving us a great raffle with awesome prizes… Mike Howes and his crew from, for coming out on the paddleboards… Stephen Cull and CharterAbility for letting Joe have the most awesome Control Boat on the Lake… Bill for building the buoys (seriously!) and setting the course before the crack of dawn… and Alex on the zodiac too… Margaret Dorio and the Tri Club of Burlington (TCoB) for the tent (which the swimmers loved to use to spot with!)… and all the kayakers (they are key!!!)… and Tyler for not injuring himself on his SUP!… and to Xterra wetsuits who donated all the prizes (which are on their way!)… and Duane for being the most cheerful, under-used, valuable guy out there (he was to pick up anyone in his car who dropped out, but everyone made it this year!)… and Miguel for stepping up and learning how it’s all done… and Loren for taking the unglamourous but important job of bag check… and Mathew and Andrew for being my minions… and to Lamb for having the toughest job out there, spooning with Brett (okay and timing too!)… and Jo, for having the second toughest job out there, putting up with me in the days leading up to the race… oh and for helping Lynn and Mel at registration… and to Mel, for finding Claudia’s car keys!… and a special thanks to all the volunteers that I forgot to mention and will feel bad about forgetting to mention after I put this up.

And thanks to the swimmers… for coming out and enjoy a dip in the Lake!




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6th Annual LOST Race results!!!

Hey everyone… thanks for a great day… and our best LOST Race ever!!!

The LOST Race 2013!

The LOST Race 2013!

I know everyone wants to see the results asap, (Joanne always looks at them after any race the second we walk in the door!)… so I’ve got them done and posted below.

You’ll have to wait a bit for the full race report and all the rest of the great pics… but this should tide everyone over for a while.  The picture and results pretty much sum it up nicely!

(Time for a break… and maybe a beer and a nap in the sun!)

LOST Race results, (2013)

PS.  Mike has posted some great pics on the LOST Swimming Facebook page already!  Check them out!




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Well that was pretty cool!

… well, actually that was “brisk” baby!

P8020091It was a beautiful morning, nice flat, crystal clear water… not a cloud in the sky… oh ya… and “brisk” water!  It was 57F / 14C!  You see, I generally use 60F as a benchmark… 60F is the dividing line between “comfortable” and “cold”.  60F is okay… in the 50′s it’s starting to get cold… and in the 40′s, well that’s “crazy cold”… on the other end 70F is warm and anything warmer than about 75F is too hot.  At least in my twisted little mind.

Of course, I never said if that was in a wetsuit or not.  Funny thing is, that’s how I feel about the water temp without a wetsuit… but that’s after a lot of years of cold water conditioning… so I generally find that most people would agree with my assessment… with the one qualification… that it is IN a wetsuit!  Generally, I’d say a wetsuit gives you about a 10F degree temperature advantage.  Meaning for an experienced cold water marathon swimmer, 70F feels about the same as “naked” as 60F does in a wetsuit… and 60F naked feels about like 50F in a wetsuit!

So the long and short of that convaluted analogy is… 57F was chilly… but very swim-able!  And swim we did!  For many, it was tough getting in… but once you got going it wasn’t too bad.  In fact the vast majority swam from 40 – 60 minutes!!!

P8020094Impressive.  Especially when you consider that there was 61 swimmers out there!  That means that it wasn’t just me and a few of the regular whacko’s that can swim in water that “chilly”… it means that the vast majority of people can… and that the only thing that would stop you from doing it… is those little thoughts in your head… self-doubt.

P8020095But when you see 60 other people doing it… some faster, some slower… some naked, some not… you start to think you can too!  And of course… you can.  And that, my friend is the power of LOST Swimming!  The power of people willing to try something new and to be motivated by everyone else!

Hey, I know it works… because if I had walked down to the water by myself and found it was 57F… I probably would have turned around and crawled back into bed too!  So thanks LOSTies!

Well done everyone!

PS.  Don’t sweat it… I’ve turned up the heat for the LOST Race this weekend… Saturday was just to help you with your cold water conditioning so you’ll have one less thing to worry about at the LOST Race!

Aug 6, 2013 water temp map(Curtis said he was down there swimming yesterday and it had already warmed up significantly!… 66F and rising!!!)



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Crossing the Strait for Diabetes!

Hi all,

So here is the press release (below) for the 5 swimmers that will each be doing a solo swim across the Northumberland Strait on August 16!!!

The cool thing of course is that 3 of the swimmers are LOSTies… and all 3 are really good freinds of mine… and of LOST, for that matter!  Stacey, Lynn and Mel!!!

I don’t know Chris, but he seems pretty well qualified (see his resume below!)… and I do know Annelies, who is an honorary LOSTie, who is from Belgium, but came with the group of LOSTies that did the “Swim Around Key West” last year… nice girl too!

mmm… Key West… that was fun… but I digress.

They are doing this 12.7 km swim from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, parallel to the Confederation Bridge.  It should be a very cool swim… with lots of adventure… and jellyfish, real waves, currents and tides and cold water!

Can’t wait to hear all about it!  (and I wish I was going with them!).

Go Girls Go!!! 




For immediate release

July 29, 2013 

On August 16th, five swimmers will be crossing the Northumberland Strait, in order to challenge any disbelief that diabetes is a roadblock to achieve goals. Chris Jarvis, Stacey Van Wart, Lynn Rodgers, Melanie Price and Annelies Vandenborre, who all have a personal connection to diabetes, will swim the 12.7-km crossing to increase awareness around diabetes and raise funds that will support a youth wanting to attend an I Challenge Diabetes event. 

Approximately 300,000 Canadians live with diabetes and the number of children with type 1 diabetes increases by 3% each year. This amounts to numerous children, youth and teens who struggle to manage their sugars and fit in with their peers.  However, the challenges that come with having diabetes don’t have to stand in the way of achieving any goals, which is what those five swimmers are setting out to prove.

Chris Jarvis was a member of the 2004 Canadian Olympic Rowing Team.  He is a marathon runner, and advocate for exercise and human rights. His athletic achievements include winning the silver medal in Canadian Under-23 National Team, several gold medals at Henley (Canadian) and U.S. Nationals, and double gold medals in his final year of high school. He has won three senior gold medals – one at Wedau Regatta, an international regatta in Germany, and the other two at World Cup events. He is the founder and CEO of the I Challenge Diabetes organization which helps individuals manage their diabetes by participating in fun filled events.  To learn more about his organization, visit:

Lynn and Rob... the fastest two Masters to swim around Key West in 2012!  Both LOSTies and BMSC swimmers too!

Lynn and Rob… the fastest two Masters to swim around Key West in 2012! Both LOSTies and BMSC swimmers too!

Lynn Rodgers is an active member of the Burlington Masters Swim Club for the past eight years, competing more years as a Masters swimmer than as a Club swimmer. She started swimming competitively at the age of 11 with the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts and then with Oakville Aquatic Club. She is a perennial winner in both provincial and national Masters Championships. In May 2013, she won 2 gold medals at the national Masters Championships in Ottawa, taking first place in the 800 and 1,500 metres freestyle events. Rodgers added open water swimming to her competition schedule in 2010, joining the Lake Ontario Swim Team in Oakville. In June 2012, she won the top prize in the Swim Around Key West Female Masters division. She finished the 21-kilometre swim in five hours and 42 minutes, fighting salt water, waves, tides, looming storms and large fish, including sharks. In June 2013, the Burlington mother of two won Burlington Female Masters Athlete of the year.  

The now famous "touching of the rock!"... she made it!!!

The now famous “touching of the rock!”… she made it across Lake O!!!

Melanie Price is also a long time member of the Burlington Master Swim Club and is actively involved in Lake Ontario Swim Team.  Her accomplishments involve completing a 42 km solo swim across LakeOntario in 2011 in just over 18 hours while raising money and awareness for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.  Just months prior to the lake crossing, she completed her first marathon swim, a 20k at the US Masters Swimming Championships.  She began open water swimming in 1995 as part of a relay which successfully swam across LakeOntario while raising money for charity. Price has also competed in numerous Canadian and Provincial Masters Swimming Championships, medaling in an average of 2+ events per Championships.  Melanie has competed in over 30 triathlons and 40 running races including 21 running races which were ½ marathons or longer, 2 full ironman and 7 half ironman, multiple top 3 age group results in both sports, two 2nd place Running Series finishes and the Subaru Sprint Triathlon Series age group title.   

The LOST Travel Team... Key West, 2012!!!

The LOST Travel Team… Key West, 2012!!!

Annelies Vandenborre is a girl who likes to keep calm and swim like Michael Phelps! She recently entered the swimming world last winter while visiting her Aunt Lynn Rodgers. With a little persuasion, Annelies was participating in a polar dip and has been hooked ever since.   She completed the Swim Around Key West on a relay team and has been training for the swim across the Northumberland Strait ever since. She is constantly looking for a new challenge to conquer.

Lynn and Stacey

Lynn and Stacey… LOST buddies!

Stacey Van Wart has been managing her diabetes through fitness for the last 10 years. She has participated in various triathlons included two full ironman and 3 half ironman.  She is an active member of the Burlington Masters Swim Club and Lake Ontario Swim Team.  She also participated in the Great Canadian Death race as a member of a relay team.  Stacey also enjoys running 1/2 and full marathons.  She has completed 5 marathons and 10 half marathons.  

The Northumberland Strait is part of the Atlantic Ocean and runs between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  The crossing is approximately 12.7-km long and will be swum along the ConfederationBridge.

For more information, please contact Stacey Van Wart at (905) 802-2214 or at

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Suck it up, cupcake!!!

… so for those of you that thought Lake O was pretty cold on the latest roll over… think again!  It only got down to 7C / 46F… these blokes are swimming the Bering Strait (naked, I might add!)… in 4C / 39F water!




Barkai and team prepare for the icy Bering Strait relay swim

26 July 2013, by Annie ByrneBering-Strait-Challenge-Kieron-Palframan-Andrew-Chin-Ram-Barkai-Ryan-Stramrood-and-Toks-ViviersWearing only a Speedo costume, cap and goggles, Ryan Stramrood, Kieron Palframan, Toks Viviers, Andrew Chin and Ram Barkai will take part in a world-first relay attempt to cross the Bering Strait, on 1 August – in water temperatures around 4◦C.

The five South Africans will join 50 international swimmers braving the remote and hostile challenge of swimming 110km across the ice sea between Russia and the USA. Even though the route is 82km, the team expect to swim 110km due to currents, and anticipate taking about 48 hours to complete the challenge.

A more common name for the Bering Strait is the ‘ice curtain’ as it’s extremely remote and covered with thick ice most of the year. It defrosts during the Northern Hemisphere summer, allowing for the swim challenge. However, the temperature and condition of the water isn’t the only potential threat, the team will be sharing the ocean with walruses and killer whales.

Barkai, chairman of the International Ice Swimming Association, said apart from the physical test, the logistical, political and bureaucratic challenges involving both the US and Russia were immense. “To date, every expedition to walk, boat or kayak across the Bering Strait has met failure and/or arrest. We hope we are successful.

“We plan to swim 15–20 minutes per interval to allow for recovery before getting back in about 10 hours later and repeating this until we complete the challenge. Exposing the body to such temperatures takes a serious toll and we expect some swimmers to pull out, putting further pressure on the team.” Ryan-Stamrood-Andrew-Chin-Toks-Viviers-Kieron-Palframan-and-Ram-Barkai-in-front

Barkai said the challenge promised to be “an epic adventure and a true test of physical and mental endurance.”

Follow the team on Speedo SA’s Facebook page or at:

Earlier this year, we discussed The Magic of Relay Swimming, that not all relays have to take place in such extreme conditions. 

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… here’s what your missing!

… don’t forget to come out for LOST Coffee after the swim on Saturdays… this is half the fun!  (or all of the fun, if you ask Madhu!).

Plus you may get your picture taken by the Oakville paparazzi… thanks Steve!


... living the dream... at Bean There!

… living the dream… at Bean There!




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On the upside… we did have a good swim on Saturday!

… as you can see from the 2 posts below, there were two heartbreaking swims this weekend… Kim Lumsdon’s attempt at her 3rd Lake O Crossing… and the “Because Girls Can”, 5 girl relay, which was to swim from Kingston to Burlington, but “only” made it as far as Whitby.

Both swims were still exceptional in their attempts though!  I am, and always will be, a HUGE fan of people that have the courage to do something that they aren’t sure if they can do.

I’ve done it several times and been successful (Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, Lake Ontario Crossing, Marathon des Sables)… and I’ve had my failures too (14 tries at qualifying for the Boston Marathon before getting it and coming up about 5k short in swimming the English Channel!).  It’s nice when the “failures” are still worth it though… it truly does make it that much sweeter when you get there… and even if you don’t ever get there… the adventure and life experience of trying something big and falling short, still makes it well worth the effort!

Congrats to Kim… Colleen, Rebekah, Samantha, Nicole and Mona for dreaming big and actually giving it all your best!  Nothing wrong with that!  Well done girls!

Oh yes… and I was going to say a little something about our LOST Swim on Saturday too… it was great!

(don't forget... you can click any picture to enlarge!)

(don’t forget… you can click any picture to enlarge!)

I mean it looked like it was going to a crappy day… recall the last two weeks… 76F two weeks ago… and then 46F last weekend!  And the water temp map was saying that we “might” get 60F… if we were lucky!

Surf's Up!... well at least a few fun rollers to play in!

Surf’s Up!… well at least a few fun rollers to play in!

So when we arrived and we only had air temp of 22C… overcast… and “big” waves breaking on the shore… it didn’t look to good.  But I did my usual thing and carried the kayak down to the water and took the thermometer with me… I walked in and… it was warm!  Really warm!  It was 74F!!!

P7260065Naturally no one believed me.  I mean it just didn’t “look” warm.

P7260062But when all 45 of us got in there wasn’t a “cold water squeal” to be heard!

Frank's swim poster

Madhu and Elizabeth... Madhu actually got wet... above the knee this week... and many thanks to Elizabeth for manning the clipboard!

Madhu and Elizabeth… Madhu actually got wet… above the knee this week… and many thanks to Elizabeth for manning the clipboard!

Big thanks as usual to our regular volunteers (we actually survived without Mel and Bill… phew!)… Mike set up the 700m course and he and Jill manned the kayaks… Elizabeth managed registration… Frank and his posse collected for the Swim for Mental Health raffle (see that one below… great prizes and only for our group, so great odds!).  The long and short of it was a really nice hour or so swim and nice to see a nice big turn out at “Bean There” for coffee after too!

Remember… only 2 weeks until the LOST Race!!!  (still looking for a few Volunteers!)

See you next week!

The LOST Race... getting ready to start!

The LOST Race… getting ready to start!



LOST Race route     (click to enlarge)

LOST Race route (click to enlarge)

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2 Heartbreakers this weekend!!!

Mother Nature can be a real bitch sometimes… if she says it ain’t happening… then it ain’t happening!  And she came into play this weekend for both of the big swims on the Lake… unfortunately.

Just a quick note to let you know that both Kim Lumsdon’s Lake O Crossing was stopped… and the world record attempt at the longest open water relay ever, 305 km from Kingston to Burlington, was also stopped.

I don’t know the details on either just yet, but this is what I got about Kim’s swim from Facebook:

From Kim’s website:
Unfortunately, Kim is being pulled out of the water due to stormy weather and navigation issues. Everyone is safe…
She was over 19 hours and 40 km into the swim. 6.2 km from the Spit and 11.6 km from MBP.
H E A R T B R E A K I N G * * *

From emailing with Colleen on the relay last night:

They were having a hard time with the water temp, Mona was taken to the hospital with hypothermia and dehydration, but is okay.  Everyone was feeling the effects.  They have decided to wrap it up in Whitby at about 2:00 on Saturday.

Not much else to say at this point, except: Congrats to both Kim and the Relay for a couple of very ambitious attempts and incredible efforts!!!



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Whales and Dolphins and Bears… oh my!!!

 Humpback Whales … okay, no bears… but it was just about that crazy!  Don’t worry, neither of these videos were shot in Lake Ontario! ;)  But this is why open water swimming is so cool… not likely to see this in the pool!!!

… just a bit of levity while the Girls are swimming their relay!

Scuba Divers Almost Swallowed by Humpback Whales

A pair of Central California scuba divers experienced the thrill of a lifetime when they  escaped landing in the mouths of two humpback whales at Souza Rock, two miles off Morro Bay this weekend.

This encounter of the two dive instructors was caught on film by crew members who were aboard their diving boat.

The two divers, Shawn Stamback and Francis Antigua, who were a part of the SloDivers charter, spotted the humpback whales feeding about a quarter mile away from them. They had got into the water with their snorkeling gear and cameras to catch some action.

“We were just floating around in the water, hoping to get some shots of the whales in the distance, when all of a sudden the sardines started going crazy. I was right in the middle of the meatball, ” said Stamback one of two divers in the footage.

The video has been edited to reveal the footage from the surface as well as underwater. In the terrifying video that lasts for less than two minutes, it can be seen how numerous sardines pop out of the water that had actually attracted the giant marine animals. Moments later it is seen how the two enormous humback whales break through the surface scaring the divers who were extremely close to being swallowed by them.

Humpback whales weigh up to 40 tons. They are energetic hunters and feed on krill, small schooling fish such as salmons, herrings, pollocks and sardines. They mostly feed in oceans of Antarctica and in southern ocean. There has been a decline in the humpback population due to commercial whaling.

Monica DeAngelis, a mammal expert with the National Marine Fisheries Service could not determine from the video if the pair of divers were violating any laws.

“They certainly are lucky no one got hurt,” she said. “In addition, they were clearly closer than the [100-yard] recommended guidelines.”

Stamback believes that the two humpback whales were aware of his presence along with his friend but intentionally avoided them, because majority of the fish were clustered beneath them.

… and… swimming in a Dolphin Stampede!!!

This is open water swimming greats, Scott Lautman and Marcy MacDonald, swimming together from Catalina Island to Los Angeles!  Crazy stuff!  (but I’d still take it over being swallowed by the whales!)



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This just in from Colleen!!!

Hi Rob
The cold water is getting colder so we are going to finish now at whitby beach by marina tomorrow afternoon. We have lost a swimmer due to dehydration and exhaustion. We have another borderline medical issue and there are only 2 of us who can handle it.

Wanted to keep you updated!


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Mona has been pulled from the relay… due to hypothermia!!!

Hi all,

So here is the latest on the “Because Girls Can Relay”, the LENGTH of Lake Ontario (305 k)!  The roll over we felt last weekend at LOST Swimming is becoming a factor in the relay!  Go Girls!



July 26, 2013 water temp map

This just in from The Star:

To recap: Because Girls Can swimmer Mona Sharari, 18, was pulled put of the water about an hour ago near Newmarket and taken to hospital. The team paramedic noticed she was showing symptoms of hypothermia. Mona is fine, the team spokesman says, it’s not at all a life threatening situation. She was sent to hospital as a precautionary measure. She may well rejoin the team and continue the swim; too early to tell. The swimmers and crew have taken a short break in Newscastle and will continue the swim with or without her.

Looks like this is the best place to get updates:


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Rough waters slow relay team crossing Lake Ontario


 One stroke at a time, five women are swimming their way across the length of Lake Ontario. Zuraidah Alman has more on the journey.


CTV Toronto
Published Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:28PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013 6:40PM EDT

Five women hoping to complete a gruelling non-stop relay swim across the length of Lake Ontario in five days are pushing on, despite falling behind schedule.

The women — ranging in age from 18 to 61 — have been battling 1.5-metre waves since they began their 305-kilometre journey on Tuesday.

By Thursday evening, they were approximately eight hours behind schedule.

Swimming across Lake Ontario

Five women will attempt to swim across Lake Ontario lengthwise starting Tuesday morning, in a gruelling 305-kilometre relay they expect will take five straight days of non-stop swimming.

They plan to arrive in Burlington on Saturday.

“We really prayed and hoped that the waves would come down eventually,” Rebekah Boscariol, one of the five women on the “Because Girls Can” team told CTV Toronto Thursday, around 13 km from shore just west of Presqu’ile.

Swimming with Boscariol, 18, are Colleen Shields, 61, Samantha Whiteside, 23 and Nicole Mallette, 48, all of whom have previously completed 52-km solo swims across Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto. Mona Shariri, 18, the fifth member of the team, successfully crossed the English Channel last year.

In addition to the inclement weather, the women have also been battling fatigue, sea sickness and boredom. “You just daydream (to) keep yourself busy,” Whiteside said.

Despite the hurdles the women have been facing, Mallette said giving up is not an option.

“We’ve got a long way to go still but knowing that we’re coming home is much better,” she said.

A relay swim across the length of Lake Ontario has never been accomplished before. The “traditional” solo swim across Lake Ontario was first successfully completed by 16-year-old Marilyn Bell in 1954.

Since Bell’s swim, the gruelling crossing – which involves an overnight swim through cold and often rough waters – has been completed 56 more times.

The women’s progress is being tracked by four sailboats and three zodiacs. The boats also provide a place to rest and eat when the women are not swimming.

In addition to being the first team to complete a relay swim across Lake Ontario, the women are also attempting to raise $300,000 for Because I Am A Girl, a charity that promotes opportunities for girls in Canada and abroad.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman

Read more:

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LOST Race Volunteers…

So the LOST Race is fast approaching (Saturday, Aug 10, 8:00 am start)… and we are working behind the scenes to make the 6th annual LOST Race happen… (just ordered the medals and prizes from Xterra!)… but we need your help!

Well, that’s not exactly true… if you are racing, then you are off the hook!  But if you have family, friends or relatives that wouldn’t mind helping, we could certainly use the help!

We have 2 areas that we need volunteers, on water and on land. 

The land volunteers are easy… typically you are either just at the start or at the finish and therefore it doesn’t take too long either… but it is very much appreciated!  If you have teens that need volunteer hours for high school, we can do that too.  Darren Osborne is heading up the land volunteers, so you can email him directly if you have someone who would be interested in helping in positions such as:

  • registration
  • body marking
  • handing out medals
  • timing / placing
  • baggage check
  • awards
  • food table
  • etc.

The water volunteers are key to the whole event, so we really appreciate the help here!  Joe Allen is heading up the water volunteers, so you can email him directly if you have someone who would be interested in helping in positions such as:

  • kayaker and/or kayak
  • SUP and paddler
  • boater and/or boat
  • lifeguard
  • etc

Fortunately, we try to keep the whole race simple and grass roots and therefore don’t need too many volunteers… and usually have a great response from volunteers, but we do need a few people to put up their hands!  So please let Darren and/or Joe know if you can help!  Many thanks.




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Unprecedented end-to-end Lake Ontario swim set to start today!!!

So this is amazing… these 5 women will attempt the longest relay swim in history!!!  I believe the second longest was “The Night Train” which just last year swam from San Francisco to LA (approximately)… but this is even further!

On top of that, I have to make a bit of plug for my good friend Colleen Sheilds, who has been a long time LOSTie… and Nicole Mallette who is also a LOSTie this year… you’ve probably seen them both out on Saturdays… little did you know that they will soon be attempting one of the toughest swims in history! 

The cool thing is… they finish right in our neck of the woods (or Lake, as the case may be!)… so keep an eye out and you might be able to come and welcome them in, in Burlington!

Check it out…




On Tuesday, five women will begin their historic attempt to swim the length of Lake Ontario, from Kingston to Burlington, in relays.

Photo by Keith Beaty/Toronto StarFive women to swim length of Lake Ontario in relay.
By:  GTA, Published on Fri Jul 19 2013

Just after 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning, five women will stand barefoot at the edge of a lakeside dock, the land behind them and open water beyond their outstretched arms.

One by one, with the sun high in the sky and a crowd cheering from the park, they will dive into Lake Ontario and kick off a marathon swim that has never been attempted before.

This is the start line as they envision it.

The goal is to cross the lake end to end, from Kingston to Burlington, in an epic 305-kilometre relay that will see them swim against the current and against the wind because they would rather head toward home than away from it. The swim will take at least five days and four nights.

“So many people have said, ‘You guys are nuts. You guys are crazy,’ ” says Nicole Mallette, one of the five swimmers. “We know what we’re up against.”

The traditional way to swim across Lake Ontario is north-south, or south-north, from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto — a roughly 52-kilometre journey accomplished by 47 people in the past six decades.

The 305 kilometre swim will begin Tuesday in Kingston. The five relay swimmers plan to finish Saturday afternoon in Burlington. In an era where there are many records to break but few left to set, this swim is uncharted territory. If the team is successful, they will be the first people ever to cross Lake Ontario lengthwise. Marilyn Bell, of course, was the first to make the south-north solo swim in 1954.

The members of the relay team, ranging in age from 18 to 61, all know the thrill and agony of the long-distance solo swim. Four have crossed Lake Ontario the traditional way and one the English Channel.

The water and the weather have bent and betrayed some of them in the past. This is their chance to make peace with the lake. To have fun. To pull through as a team.

“There is no not making it,” Mallette says. “That is not in our vocabulary.”

Many of them women

When 16-year-old Marilyn Bell proposed a solo swim across Lake Ontario in 1954, few believed it could be done by a human, let alone a woman.

Bell swam from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto in 20 hours and 55 minutes. Her detractors were flabbergasted.

Since then, there have been 57 successful crossings. There are now records for the fastest female, fastest male, oldest female, oldest male, youngest male, youngest female, first two-way and the all-butterfly.

When Annaleise Carr of Walsh, Ont. crossed last year at age 14 — 14 and 158 days, to be precise (the solo swim people keep track) — she became the youngest person ever, male or female. Several swimmers have done it more than once, so there is an unofficial record for the most crossings. Many more have tried and failed.

Most of the successful swimmers have been women, many of them motivated by the Marilyn Bell story. And that is why, when Nicole Mallette and Colleen Shields started talking about putting together a relay team to do a lengthwise swim, they decided it should be an all-female group. They chose to use the swim to raise money — a whopping $300,000 is the goal — for the Because I am a Girl project, a global gender equality, anti-poverty and girls’ rights initiative. They had reached about $5,000 by Friday evening.


The idea of crossing the lake end to end had been floating around in the marathon swimming community for a couple of years, but no one had turned the what-if into a plan. After chatting about it with friends one day, Mallette, a 47-year-old event planner with a go-go-go personality, began to obsess. Once the swim was in her head, she could not get it out. She thought about it for three weeks straight, and then she called Shields.

“What do you think?” Mallette asked her friend.

The pair had known each other for many years; when Mallette crossed Lake Ontario in 1997, Shields was her swim master and coach. She was the one who got Mallette back into swimming after a 10-year hiatus.

Shields was floored. “I’m in,” she said immediately.

At 61, Shields is the most experienced member of the team. She crossed from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto for the first time in 1990 and currently holds the Lake Ontario swim record for oldest female, a title she took after her second crossing in 2006, when she was 54.

“Why anybody wants that record is beyond me,” she says.

Shields has taken more than 15 swimmers across the lake.In marathon swimming lingo, to take someone across the lake means to be their swim master, a certified supervisor of long-distance solo swims.

When it comes to her own swims, Lake Ontario has brought Shields a lot of heartbreak these past few years. She has made four attempts to cross since her successful 2006 swim, but hasn’t made it. A few times, she was pulled out less than five kilometres from the shore owing to bad weather and exhaustion.

“Mother nature hasn’t been very kind to me,” she says.

It’s not a record she’s after this time, though she would break her own “oldest female” title. Shields is just looking for personal closure. “I opened up a can of worms, and now I have to close it. So I will be going again,” she says, wearily. “But not this year.”

This is relay year, which means a break from the gruelling solo journey. It will be tough in its own way, but perhaps a bit of fun.

After they committed to form a team and plan the swim, Mallette and Shields brainstormed and came up with names of three young women they thought might be interested in joining them.

Shields had been a swim master for marathoners Samantha Whiteside, 23, and Rebekah Boscariol, 18, on their successful crossings in 2006 and 2011, respectively, and she admired their technique and spirit. Whiteside was swift and methodical; Boscariol weathered terrible conditions and kept going even when her crew thought she should stop.

Mona Sharari, 18, was a pacer for Boscariol’s crossing.The young women, both students at Dalhousie University, swam together with the Markham Aquatic Club. While Sharari hasn’t done a Lake Ontario solo swim, she is the only member of the team to have crossed the English Channel, a long-time goal the teen checked off her bucket list last September.

Mallette and Shields asked all three young women to be part of the team. The responses were unhesitating: Yes. Yes. Yes.

That was the easy part.

The planning is ‘nuts’

The planning started in October with Mallette at the helm. It has been a challenge, to say the least.

Among the things to worry about: permits, insurance, volunteers, sponsors, media, social media, schedules, timing, meals, drinks, boats, fuel, land crew, lake crew, health and safety, accommodations, first aid, emergency plans.

“I’m a wedding co-ordinator, and I would rather do a wedding for 1,000 people right now than do this again,” Mallette says, laughing. “It’s nuts!”

But she can’t wait to get in the water.

The women will swim the first kilometre of the relay together, from the marina at Confederation Park in Kingston into the open water. All five will wear matching charcoal and pink-strapped swim suits with pink bathing caps that advertise their motto: “Because Girls Can.” They will each swim in two-hour shifts, night and day, and cover about 61 kilometres each.

With them for the journey will be more than 20 crew members, including three coaches, eight volunteers in four sailboats, four volunteers in two or three zodiacs, one kayaker, a paramedic, two photographers and one videographer.

Five of the swimmers’ family members will follow the flotilla by land with extra supplies, including 528 pre-cooked frozen meals prepared for the entire crew and donated by Liaison College Hamilton, which Mallette co-owns with her parents.

The team has chosen to swim in an order based on the year they completed their first long-distance solo swims, which happens to be the same order as their age. Shields, the eldest and most experienced member of the team, will be the first to swim alone.

After Shields’ first two hours have passed, Mallette will dive into the lake behind her friend, spend a few minutes warming up and then tap Shields’ feet and take over. When Mallette’s time is up, Whiteside will dive in, warm up, tap and take over. Then Boscariol, Sharari, and on and on until they reach Burlington.

“I’m excited to be part of something that has never been done before,” Boscariol says.

After each two-hour turn, they will break for eight hours, although “break” does not equal rest.

“Just because we have eight hours off doesn’t mean we get to sleep for eight hours,” Mallette says.

They will have crew duties, such as helping prepare meals and retrieve supplies from the shore. They will be responsible for supporting the other swimmers, night and day. When it is time to rest, they will crawl into sleeping bags on one of the boats, wherever they can find space. The conditions for sleeping won’t be ideal, and within days they could be battling sleep deprivation, as well as mental and physical exhaustion.

There are many things that can jeopardize the success of such a long and complicated swim, but the big killer is weather. It can be the open-water swimmer’s enemy.

“It can change on a dime,” Mallette says. “Mother Nature can be very cruel.”

For their solo swims, they had only to worry about weather and water conditions for a 24-hour period. Now they need five good days.


Strong winds from the southwest can slow them down or make the conditions too dangerous for swimming. Winds from the east can push them in the right direction, but are also signs of an impending storm. Winds from the north can cool the water down, which wreaks havoc on their body temperatures. At this point, though, given Toronto’s recent heat wave, the water temperature looks about right. Even if it does cool down, the swimmers are not allowing themselves words like “cold” or “freezing.”

“It’s balmy,” says Shields.

“Or refreshing,” says Mallette.

If a lightning storm strikes, the swimmers will be pulled out and their exact location marked so they can return to the water when the conditions improve.

So far the long-range forecast is looking good. “Fingers crossed,” Mallette says. They hope to make it to Burlington by Saturday afternoon, July 27. Folks back on land can follow their progress on the group Facebook page or Twitter, where they will post updates in real time.

“The weather will just slow us down,” Mallette says. “It won’t stop us.”

Competitive by nature

A week before the marathon, the team is sitting around a table at a Toronto beach club after a quick lap together in the lake, and the conversation turns to the competitive nature of the swimmer.

Whiteside puts it like this: “You’re swimming along beside somebody, and you just think, the whole time, even if it’s just a practice and it’s just a hundred metres …”

Mallette jumps in, and they finish the sentence together: “I want to beat you!”

They all laugh in that way people do when something is funny because it’s true.

“When you’re in the water,” Mallette says, “it’s game on.”

That competitive nature is a character trait that has driven them all to success and delivered them here, to the edge of this upcoming record-setting journey. But it is also one that can drive them mad.

When Whiteside crossed Lake Ontario in 2006, she made it in an incredible 15 hours and 11 minutes. But that wasn’t good enough for the girl who started swimming competitively when she was 9. She missed her goal of breaking the record for women’s fastest solo swim by 71 seconds and was completely devastated.

Whiteside tried again the next summer, but she wasn’t mentally ready. She pulled herself out after five hours. The next year, she quit swimming to focus on her studies — she is a doctoral candidate in microbiology and immunology at the University of Western Ontario — and only recently decided to take the sport up again for fun.

“This time, I just want to be able to associate something positive with Lake Ontario. I just want to finish,” Whiteside says. “It’s about redemption, I guess.”

They’ve all had similar disappointments. When Mallette missed her shot at the 1984 Canadian Olympic team by three one-hundredths of a second after battling mono three months before trials, she quit swimming for 10 years.

“And for 10 years I was miserable,” she says. “The day I started swimming again I was a completely different person.”

It’s difficult to imagine Mallette miserable these days. The team planner is also the team cheerleader. “When you’re ready to throw in the towel,” says Shields, “Nicole can get you going.”

Each team member has her own concerns about the swim. Shields is worried she will slow down the “young whippersnappers” during their first tandem kilometre.

“I keep telling people, take the ages of the youngest three on the team and it still doesn’t add up to my age,” says Shields, who doesn’t look 61 and doesn’t feel it, but is keenly aware of the number.

When Shields confesses the concern about her potential pokiness at the beach club, the younger women shake their heads. Nuh-uh: they would never leave her behind.

“I get sick!” Mallette confesses. It happens just about every time she’s about to swim long distance or in a race. Before the big start, she has to run to a quiet corner and throw up.

“That’s part of it, that’s just nerves,” she says. “If I didn’t get sick, I’d be worried.”

Sharari jokes that during her English Channel crossing, her main concern was her belly.

“I was just waiting for my next feeding,” says the team’s littlest swimmer.

Among her favourite marathon snacks: chocolate, mint chocolate, chocolate bars.

Sharari’s eyes go wide when Mallette explains how the shift change will work, with one swimmer touching the other’s feet.

“I do not like feet,” she says gravely.

Everyone laughs. Today is the first time the women have all swum together and they are excited about the journey ahead.

For once, the challenge ahead is not about timing or breaking records or pushing their bodies beyond the limit. There will be less pain and more time to joke around, to have fun, to actually enjoy the swim.

They just have to make it to Burlington.

Bells ringing on shore

They haven’t even started yet, but the team can already see the finish line.

It looks like this: Spencer Smith Park in Burlington packed with hundreds of supporters squinting into the afternoon sun, scanning the lake for the five pink bathing caps flanked by a flotilla of zodiacs and sailboats.

The swimmers will finish as they started: together. They will hear the cheering, the honking horns and the ringing bells from a kilometre out, and this will send a surge of adrenalin through their tired bodies.

They will see their families and friends waving and grinning and jumping up and down on the shore.

They will know that $300,000 is sitting in a bank account, their fundraising missionfor Because I am a Girl accomplished.

They will know that they are about to set a record. That they are about to accomplish something, together, that no one else has ever tried to do. And they will swim harder and faster until their feet touch the shore.

“It’s going to be,” Mallette says, “The best. Feeling. Ever.”

The Swimmers

Colleen Shields, 61, Georgetown

  • crossed Lake Ontario south-north in 1990 and 2006

Nicole Mallette, 47, Hamilton

  • crossed Lake Ontario south-north in 1997

Samantha Whiteside, 23, New Hamburg

  • crossed Lake Ontario south-north in 2006

Rebekah Boscariol, 18, Markham

  • crossed Lake Ontario south-north in 2011

Mona Sharari, 18, Richmond Hill

  • crossed the English Channel in 2012
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Toronto Triathlon Festival…

Funny thing was… after our dip in 46F water at LOST Swimming the day before this race, I grimly predicted that they would be changing the Toronto Triathlon Festival to a duathlon!  But I was wrong! (yes, now you’ve seen it in writing!)

P7200034But that’s Lake O for you!  They claimed that it was 65F at the race!  I never did the race, but judging from the description of how cold it was, I’m guessing it was probably in the mid 50′s or so.  But again, typical of Lake O, it was very patchy… with warm and cold pockets!  The nice thing they had going for them was that the race was actually conducted right in among the boats in the marina, (cool venue in Ontario Place, by the way!) where they are totally protected and the water would have a very hard time “rolling over”.

Maisey and her OAK buddy, Sasha, who was racing in the Junior Elite for the National Championship!

Maisey and her OAK buddy, Sasha, who was racing in the Junior Elite for the National Championship!

Keep in mind that the “roll over” is a double edge sword!  Yes, the water obviously gets really cold, really quickly… but remember a week ago when everyone was quite concerned about the bacteria levels in the Lake because it was too warm… well… that’s not an issue now!

P7200042Take a look at the pics from our swim on Saturday… the water is crystal clear and spotless clean!  Nothing grows in water that cold!  This goes back to the comments I put up a couple of posts below about why we have such a great place to swim in Oakville… I wasn’t joking!  We now have some fresh, clear water as crystal clean as glacier water!  It’s aleady warmed back up to the mid 60′s but it’s clean!  (which isn’t true everywhere in the Lake!).

P7200024But back to the tri.  I saw tons of LOST swimmers, Tri Club of Burlington and assorted other friends at the race… local races are always great.  But the weird thing for me was that I was there as a spectator and sherpa!  Joanne always gives me a hard time, that it kills me not to participate (which there is some truth to that) but I have to say it was fun cheering on Joanne… and Maisey in her first adult trialthon!

Great race for Maisey... even though she was feeling it by the end!

Great race for Maisey… even though she was feeling it by the end!

And the cool thing is… Joanne qualified for the Olympic Distance World Championships for 2014… and Maisey qualified for the Sprint Distance World Championship!  Not bad for her first one!

Joanne and Maisey... my World Championship qualifying girls!

Joanne and Maisey… my World Championship qualifying girls!

Joanne (and Sherpa Rob) is already going to London, England for the 2013 Olympic Distance World Championship in September… but now both Jo and Maisey will be going to World Championships next year too!… in Edmonton! (?).  Okay not quite the cache as London, or the place where they were going to be held (San Diego), but still… it’s World Championships!  (Let’s just say, I wouldn’t have qualified in my age group!)

Anyway… Congrats to Joanne, Maisey, Helene, Gail, Claudia and Paul… and a few others that I probably missed!  You’re going to Edmonchuk!



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a bit nippy… or a Polar Bear Dip in July!!!

Okay… it was a bit colder than nippy… it was 46F / 8C!  The huge storm we had last night took down giant trees and the massive thunder storm knocked out the lights and cancelled the Town’s “Midnight Madness”… but more importantly… it rolled the Lake over!

A pretty good turn out... for 46F!!!  Actually about double what is in the picture... half chickened out!  (or were smart?!)

A pretty good turn out… for 46F!!! Actually about double what is in the picture… half chickened out! (or were smart?!)

So we started the season very slowly this year, temperature-wise.  On June 1 it is usually around 60F… but this year because the long, cold spring, it was only 48F for our first swim on June 1.  Then by July 1 weekend the Lake usually has warmed up to the point where we get our first “roll-over”.  But again, because the weather was behind that didn’t happen until last night.

So what’s a “roll-over”?

Well at least Mel and Bill didn't have to put the buoys out today... no one was going more than 100 meters!

Well at least Mel and Bill didn’t have to put the buoys out today… no one was going more than 100 meters!

Well, the first time I experienced it was in 2006 when I was training for the English Channel in Lake Ontario.  My daughter, Maisey, and I went down to the Lake to measure the temp one evening… it was 72F.  About as nice as it gets in Lake O, or in our corner of it at least.  That was great, because I was planning a 5 hour training swim for the next morning, so conditions where ideal.  Only problem was… the next morning Maisey and I showed up again and I told her to go and check the temp again while I got my cap and goggles on.  She walked back towards me and said it was 55F?!  I told her she was crazy and to go do it again, she must have screwed up somehow… although it’s pretty hard to screw that up.  She said she had screwed up… it was 48F!  What?!?!  I walked over… left the thermometer in the water for a while and it was… 46F?!?!?  WTF?!

Priceless... getting in the water... but not getting your hands, feet or head wet!  I don't think that counts!  (he did go in... eventually though!)

Priceless… getting in the water… but not getting your hands, feet or head wet! I don’t think that counts! (he did go in… eventually though!)

Well, what happened then… and last night… was that we got a strong wind (huge storm, in fact last night that took down a bunch of trees in the neighborhood even).  The catch is… the wind was from the North.  And a north wind blows all the warm surface water across the lake… towards Rochester.  Of course the water has to be replaced somehow… so the water creates a circle (a convection current) and as it goes across the top… it pushes the water across the bottom towards Oakville.  The catch being… the water at the bottom of this Lake is very cold!!!

Odd, but the wind is probably the biggest factor in determining the temp of the water here in Oakville.

Michael not only got in... but he was one of two that even went "naked"!!!  Tough guy!

Michael not only got in… but he was one of two that even went “naked”!!! Tough guy!

... mind you, he did get out quickly!

… mind you, he did get out quickly too!

You knew it was bound to happen though, or at least I did.  We’ve had incredible heat here recently… 38C / 100F… plus humidity… taking it to 47C / 116F!!!  Warmed the surface water up nicely… in fact, some of the LOST Boys went for a beautiful sunrise dip on Wednesday morning… the water was unusually warm… about 76F / 24C!!!

So you can imagine everyone’s surprise (except for the wiley ol’ vets who knew better!) this morning when it seemed a bit colder.  I walked in up to my ankles and yelled out to Bill and Mel in the zodiac that I thought it was about 55F… Bill said “umm… I don’t think so”.  After standing in the water to measure the temp for about a minute I knew he was right, even before I checked the thermometer… 46F / 7C!!!  Yikes.

Lots of cheering... from those that realized it takes longer to get into your wetsuit than the swim would be!

Lots of cheering… from those that realized it takes longer to get into your wetsuit than the swim would be!

But… what the hell… we still went in.  We didn’t have official check in this morning… as we knew nobody was going to be in long enough to worry about it.  But there was probably about 60 swimmers (or dippers, as the case may be!).  About half the crowd realized it would take longer to get into their wetsuits than we’d be in the water, so didn’t bother… but stuck around… for a good laugh!

Mel... bringing in a big hot water bottle to try and warm it up a bit!

Mel… bringing in a big hot water bottle to try and warm it up a bit!

We swam maybe 50m out and 50m back.  It was cold.  “Stupid Cold”, as I like to call water in the 40′s.  But there is still something to be gained from swimming in water that cold, believe it or not.  It does give you some confidence, let’s you know you can swim in Stupid Cold water and gives you a base line for what cold water really is.  It also builds up your tolerance and conditions you to the water… both mentally and physically.  And based on the logic of the great Freda Streeter (the “Channel General” of the English Channel swimming in Dover), the best thing is to go in twice.  And of course, she’s right.  Because it again gets you over your fear and shows you what you can do.  It really isn’t as hard the second time.  Which makes you mentally and physically tougher and better conditioned.

Having said that… yes, some of that was bullshit.  We also just felt like seeing if we could do it.  For the fun of it.  And, in a twisted kind of way… yes, it was kinda fun!



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A Great raffle for a Great cause!!!

Hi all,

"the new guy"... 76 year old Frank Zamuner!

“the new guy”… 77 year old Frank Zamuner!

So one of our favorite LOSTie’s, Frank Zamuner, will be doing his 5th annual “Swim for Mental Health” in October (see below)… but we wanted to help him raise some money now!

Now here’s the cool part… the Raffle is awesome… and it’s just for LOSTies and families, so your odds are very good!  They will be selling the tickets at the LOST Beach for the next 3 Saturday’s and at the LOST Race, with the draw after the race. Here’s what we will be raffling off after the LOST Race on August 10th:

Tickets are 1 for $10… or 3 for $20!  So bring some cash down to the beach and support Frank’s Swim!!!

>> $100.00 – Jonathan’s of Oakville
>> $100.00 -Pasquale Restaurant
>> $100.00 – Trattoria Timone
>> $ 50.00 – Metro

Frank's swim poster

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Summer Ocean Mile Swim… in Palm Beach, Florida!

Hi all,

I just got an email from a buddy, Rob Rogerson, who runs a 1 Mile race in Palm Beach, Florida!  Looks like a great race, “The Summer Ocean Mile Swim”!

Unfortunately, you missed it for this year… but a good one to keep in mind for next July!



 Palm Beach Mile

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LOST Swim, July 13, 2013

Hi all,

So guess what… my camera died.  No pics this week… you’ll just have to imagine a very nice swim in 70F water, a beautiful sunny day, that 62 LOSTies got to enjoy!

See you all next week!



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