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Great Chesapeake Bay Swim - SwimOther


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Annapolis, Maryland
United States
Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, Inc
80F / 27C
Sunny
Total Time = 2h 23m 53s
Overall Rank = 269/547
Age Group = M40-45
Age Group Rank = 35/73
Swim
  • 2h 23m 53s
  • 7744 yards
  • 01m 52s / 100 yards
Comments:

Pre-race briefing told us that we'd face a diminishing flood (S->N) current of 0.5kt in the 1st half of the race, though balanced by a NNE wind. Second half of the race we were told to expect an increasing ebb (N->S) current, somewhat amplified by the NNE winds/waves. So my tactical strategy was to get dead center between the 2 spans and work to hold that position. This is a departure from my typical strategy, which is to hug close to the north span of the bridge for the 1st half of the race and gradually move to the south span for the second half. Tactics worked out, we headed to the starting line.

I lined up for the start on the far right, close to the stone jetty that we have to clear before we can turn right to get under the bridge spans. This gives the shortest line to the buoys that mark the turn. At the start I got in front of most of my wave and had clear water almost immediately. Under the bridge I lined up in the center, drafted of a couple people for a while, and found my rhythm.

Mile 1 is typically the easiest of the swim and my tendency is to go out hard. In the past this left me too tired to effectively battle currents that hit during Miles 2 and 3, so my plan was to start out conservatively. I forced myself into an easy, steady, long stroke and relaxed into the swim. Once into the water, waves from the North rolled in, they were long and consistent rollers, not choppy, and at first they made a long body position hard to hold. Once I adjusted to the waves' frequency and prevented over-rolling they weren't much of a problem.

After passing the 1 mile mark the chop increased and the waves became more irregular. The S->N push of the current caused me to make several adjustments to my line and I started sighting on the south span supports. However, the current was never enough of a problem to wear me out and I had little trouble holding my course. The Mile 2 buoy was dead center of the course and I literally swim into it, hitting it with my hand as I went by. Brief stop at the banana boat, ate a gel pack, and attacked the 3rd mile.

I expected Mile 3 to be the hardest, but having started slowly and finding only weak currents I had energy to spend, so I went into a heads down hard pace and tried to make up some time. Somewhere in this mile the current started pushing me southward and I had to make corrections to stay in my center position. Occasional chop came and went but I felt like I was swimming in the pool for a while. To counter the N-S push I started sighting on the North Span bridge supports and I set the goal to pass the Mile 3 marker to the left (North) - and had no problem countering the current to do so. A quick stop at the 2nd boat for some water and on to mile 4.

Mile 4 just seems forever; you can see the end of the bridge clearly but it seems like it gets farther away the more you swim toward it. The water was mildly choppy and gently pushing southward, concentrating all the swimmers into a line right along the south span's support columns. I actually had more kicks, hits, and bumps in this mile than in the start. I also had more drafting opportunities, which I took, leap frogging from one swimmer to another. Finally we passed Mile 4, turned right and got out from under the bridge.

The last part of the swim is the 0.4 miles straight into the finish line. I fell into a nice long, hard pace, sighting every 12 breaths (36 strokes) and taking advantage of the smooth water to finish strong. I swam until my hands hit the bottom then walked the last few feet to the timing mats and was done.
What would you do differently?:

Not much. If I had known beforehand that the currents/wave/chop were more mild than in years past I would have gone out harder in Miles 1 and 2. And I would have remembered to secure the silly pull strap on my wetsuit, which kept getting in my way the entire swim.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

I trained less for this swim than in any year previous. Amazingly it is not my worst time, luckily conditions were favorable this year.

Event comments:

This is an epic event, well organized and well supported by volunteers, coast guard, NOAA, etc. There's nothing like it anywhere else in the country.


Profile Album


Last updated: 2009-05-13 12:00 AM
Swimming
02:23:53 | 7744 yards | 01m 52s / 100yards
Age Group: 35/73
Overall: 269/547
Performance: Good
Suit: Sleeveless
Course: 4.4 Miles across the Chesapeake Bay, starting on the beach at Sandy Point St Park. Swim about 100 yards, turn right to get between the twin spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Swimmers must stay between the 2 spans or they will be disqualified for leaving the official course. At the end of the bridge swimmers turn right (at mile 4) and finish the last 0.4 miles into the beach at Harrison's.
Start type: Wade Plus: Waves
Water temp: 74F / 23C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Good
Waves: Good Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Evaluation
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

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2009-06-15 10:40 AM

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Expert
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Subject: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim


2009-06-15 5:18 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Master
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Canton, Michigan
Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

Great job!  I hope to do this in the future.  Did you have anything to fuel up with during your time on the water?  That's my biggest concern fueling.

2009-06-15 10:43 PM
in reply to: #2219571

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
The race is typically a mid-day start (depends on the tides/currents) so this year it began at 11:30. Thus I had a nice breakfast around 8 am (cereal) and ate a banana and yogurt around 10 am to pre-load with fuel. I consumed a single gel pack about 20 mins before the race start, and sipped water and gatorade waiting for the race to begin.

I tucked a single gel pack into my wetsuit (in the chest). Right at the mile 2 marker there is the first 'banana' boat. You can stop, grab on to the boat, and get food/drink (water and banana pieces). I stopped at this boat to consume my gel pack and drink some fresh water (I swallowed PLENTY of bay water, yech).

At mile 3 there is a second food/water boat. I grabbed about 1/2 banana and more water here.

That was plenty of fuel for me for a 2 hour 23 min swim.

The trick is actually seeing the food/water boats during the swim. They can be hard to spot, even though they are decorated with large balloons, and they are the only boats other than kayaks in the swim lane between the bridges.

I highly encourage you to sign up for the race lottery next year, just make sure you don't take my spot! This race is one of a kind and is really something to experience.

Good luck@!

2009-06-16 12:00 AM
in reply to: #2218292

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Extreme Veteran
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Maryland
Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

x2 on this being a great race.  I did it last year and I would love to do it again, I just got sucked into Eagleman this year by friends.  Good job on your race!  How do you compare it to last year's water?

Hopefully I can do it again next year and pay more attention to a strategy other than just getting to the other side.  I didn't get to any of the aid stations last year.  They were always too far away from me to be worth the effort.

2009-06-16 5:00 AM
in reply to: #2218292

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Expert
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Canonsburg
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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
Great job! I did this last year, and it's one of my favorites. Sounds like you had a great day with currents and weather.
2009-06-16 1:10 PM
in reply to: #2220295

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
kalalau - 2009-06-16 12:00 AM

... How do you compare it to last year's water?



I didn't swim this race in either 08 or 07 so I can't compare based on my own experience.

The first year I did it was 2004 and we were 1 kt wind speed from a small craft advisory. That was a tough year. In 2005 it was easier and I was 15 minutes faster. Then in 2006 the current was N->S and strong, and another tough year.

I thought this year was pretty easy, but as I talk with other swimmers I'm finding out that I'm in the minority on that opinion. I had very little problem with currents and I found the chop to be less than problematic. Perhaps my strategy of conserving my energy in the first 2 miles paid off in the deep channel, I'm not sure. Overall, my training was way off this year.

There were over 100 people pulled out of the water this year - that's unusually high, I think. That means 1 out of every 6 swimmers DNF'd!

The one consistent thing about this race is that nothing is ever the same from year to year - that's what makes it fun!

Either way, sign up next year (but don't take my lottery spot!


2009-06-16 1:25 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Extreme Veteran
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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

Hah yeah that is unusual in recent years.  Crazy!  And no jellyfish?  We had jellyfish at Eagleman not far away.

Did you see that BJ Surhoff's wife came in 2nd female?  Pretty cool!



Edited by kalalau 2009-06-16 1:26 PM
2009-06-16 1:58 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Dallas, TX
Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
Thanks for the detailed report! I started sending emails to the RD yesterday to try to figure out how to get in. Only by lottery... eh? Oh, I HOPE I make it for 2010!!!

Great job on the swim! Congratulations!
2009-06-16 4:05 PM
in reply to: #2221930

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
If you go to the site at http://www.lin-mark.comyou can get information on next year's sign-up procedures. The lottery registration takes place in the late summer/early fall time frame. You sign up for the lottery (no fee) and wait. They begin the lottery on an advertised date and will notify you via email if you are selected. If you are selected you have a couple days to register, then you lose your spot. They do a second, and possibly a third, lottery draw until the event is closed out.

You need to supply documentation that you meet the entrance criteria with registration or they will deny your registration and remove you from the list. Entrance criteria includes doing the 4.4 mile swim in the past 2 years, or proof of an open water swim in an event of 1 mile or more (e.g. a half ironman swim or the Ches Bay 1 mile swim, or the MD Swim for Life), or proof in the form of a letter written by a lifeguard that you completed a 3-mile pool swim in less than 2 hours. Make sure you have this documentation in hand BEFORE the lottery drawing so, if you are selected, you can include it in your registration. They will NOT accept a web site URL to point them to race results, they want a PDF or MS Word Doc sent to them via email, or hard copy faxed/mailed in.

Read the instructions on the web site carefully, stay on top of the process, and you'll have a very good chance of getting in.
2009-06-16 4:07 PM
in reply to: #2221777

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
The Comb jellies have moved up the bay and into the Severn river - they don't sting but your hand hits them when swimming. The stinging Sea Nettles weren't as far up as the Bay Bridge this past weekend, but they typically follow the comb jellies by a week or two.
2009-06-16 4:08 PM
in reply to: #2222310

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
econway - 2009-06-16 4:05 PM

If you go to the site at http://www.lin-mark.comyou can get information on next year's sign-up procedures. The lottery registration takes place in the late summer/early fall time frame. You sign up for the lottery (no fee) and wait. They begin the lottery on an advertised date and will notify you via email if you are selected. If you are selected you have a couple days to register, then you lose your spot. They do a second, and possibly a third, lottery draw until the event is closed out.

You need to supply documentation that you meet the entrance criteria with registration or they will deny your registration and remove you from the list. Entrance criteria includes doing the 4.4 mile swim in the past 2 years, or proof of an open water swim in an event of 1 mile or more (e.g. a half ironman swim or the Ches Bay 1 mile swim, or the MD Swim for Life), or proof in the form of a letter written by a lifeguard that you completed a 3-mile pool swim in less than 2 hours. Make sure you have this documentation in hand BEFORE the lottery drawing so, if you are selected, you can include it in your registration. They will NOT accept a web site URL to point them to race results, they want a PDF or MS Word Doc sent to them via email, or hard copy faxed/mailed in.

Read the instructions on the web site carefully, stay on top of the process, and you'll have a very good chance of getting in.


Thanks for all those details! I have been in contact with them via email and I will have the proper documentation to be accepted, if I get selected through the lottery registration process.

It's very strict, but that's a good way to ensure that people can handle such a long swim.


2009-06-16 5:28 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
Just for fun, playing around with Google Earth today....

Image of the course:

http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/photos/show-album.asp?albumid=5700&photoid=103845


2009-06-16 5:40 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

Doesn't look so bad when you see it in Google Earth. :-)  That little stretch when you come outside the bridge spans is a killer.  You are pumped about finally making it near land, and you remember that Hemingways is right near the bridge, but it's a lot further than you'd think! :-)  I saw a lot of guys walking that stretch (since you are near land, it is shallow).



Edited by kalalau 2009-06-16 5:40 PM
2009-06-16 5:43 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

I noticed that they have non-wetsuit rankings this year, and a decent amount of people did it.  I would rank way down that list.  Do you think it would've been tolerable without a wetsuit this year?

2009-06-16 6:00 PM
in reply to: #2218292

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
Great job!!  I'd love to do this race at some point.  It doesn't look that bad when you see the course from so far away. 
2009-06-16 7:15 PM
in reply to: #2222548

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
kalalau - 2009-06-16 5:43 PM

I noticed that they have non-wetsuit rankings this year, and a decent amount of people did it.  I would rank way down that list.  Do you think it would've been tolerable without a wetsuit this year?




Temperature wise yes - water was 74 F which is very warm for a wetsuit. I would have been very comfortable without the suit.

With respect to the advantage the wetsuit gives you with buoyancy and speed, it would depend on your conditioning, swimming ability, and mental approach to the swim. For me, this year my training volume was down, and the wetsuit gave me a little more confidence. But, I think I could have finished without it no problem. First timers probably are better off wearing the wetsuit unless they are accomplished swimmers.


2009-06-16 7:17 PM
in reply to: #2222567

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
Artemis - 2009-06-16 6:00 PM

Great job!!  I'd love to do this race at some point.  It doesn't look that bad when you see the course from so far away. 


yeah, plus it's only 1 lap! How hard can that be?

2009-07-17 10:36 AM
in reply to: #2222742

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Subject: RE: Great Chesapeake Bay Swim
econway - 2009-06-16 7:17 PM

Artemis - 2009-06-16 6:00 PM

Great job!!  I'd love to do this race at some point.  It doesn't look that bad when you see the course from so far away. 


yeah, plus it's only 1 lap! How hard can that be?



All right, I was in Maryland last weekend for the Swim for Life... UH, that bay looked WIDE and SCARY! Not sure I'll be tackling this anytime soon.

ESPECIALLY if there are jellyfish around that time of year.

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