~By Judi Rich, Dynoswimmer
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." ~ C.S. Lewis
I remember when Dean first mentioned the 24H relay back in June of 2006. My immediate reaction was "I'm in!" I didn't give it much thought. I didn't think of the preparations involved or how I would break the news to my family. It was something so off-the-wall, a little crazy, if you will, and it immediately sparked my interest. I had always been an extremely spontaneous individual who, once I set my mind to something, there was absolutely no stopping me. No obstacle could stand in my way. The more challenging and crazier, the better!
Several people asked, "Why are you going to do it again? Swim for 24 hours! Are you insane? Why?" My reply, "Why not?"
When we're young we feel invincible. We feel that we can do anything and that life will last forever. Lets face it, we're young and we believe we'll stay that way. Nothing can get in the way of our dreams. Then things begin to change. We finish school, begin our careers, take on more responsibilities and, for some, start a family. We're not as free as we once were. Time seems to fly by. Slowly our dreams begin to fade. The sad part is that most of us don't even realize it's happening. We allow obstacles to hold us back, people to influence our decisions, and we begin to doubt our true capabilities. So many of us lose our individuality and forget the very things that shaped us. We sacrifice so much of ourselves to our other commitments that we sometimes forget to leave time for us - ourselves. Don't get me wrong, having a successful career, a family, and children are all wonderful and fulfilling in their own ways as long as we also hold on to who we are - our individuality, and our dreams. And for me, doing something as off-the-wall and challenging as a 24H relay was my way of setting new goals, a new dream and holding on to something so vitally important in my life - that shaped me into the person I am today, swimming. (And an offbeat race.)
So here I was back in Liechtenstein for another 24H race. I felt more comfortable since I had swum this race two years prior and was familiar with the facility and the structure of the race. I had also met several of our teammates from Germany and was looking forward to seeing them again. As I walked into the pool area and studied the other swimmers, I began wondering if I was prepared. They seemed so young, so fit. At this point, it was too late to worry about my training - or lack thereof. It was time to stay positive knowing that I felt great, trained hard, the best I could, and now it was time to swim - and swim well.
One thing I did differently this year was strength training. Back in 2006, I was struggling with a shoulder injury that even after physical therapy and a six-week break from swimming would continued to haunt me. At the gym my personal trainer, Mike, recommended that I focus on strengthening my shoulder (and my entire body) along with my swim training and endurance building. I figured that not only would this help my swimming, but also my dives, turns and pulling myself up out of the pool. Getting out of the pool was almost as exhausting as the swim itself. After a few months of strength training, I realized my shoulder wouldn't fatigue as quickly at practice. This was progress. However the real test would be if I could complete the relay without shoulder pain and over the next 24-hours I would know.
The countdown began and the race started. Dean was first up, Sharon second, and I was third. For the first hour every team member (all eight swimmers) would swim. Then we split into groups of three. Five swimmers resting alternating one at a time every 10, 15, 20 or 40 minutes with shifts getting longer into the night giving those on break more time to sleep. The relay order was: Dean, Sharon, me, Benny, Karsten, Lars, Hans-Joerg and Thorsten. My first shift was two hours and I was getting a little anxious to take my first break. I felt strong and was incredibly happy I had improved my technique, streamlines, and dives. However, there is always room for improvement. And in this race, the better your starts and turns, the less swimming overall. 24-hours is a lot of swimming.
As the day progressed you got to know each swimmer's strengths and weaknesses. You could quickly distinguish between the lifelong swimmers from the triathletes, masters, and lifeguards from the beginners. When you swam against someone your own speed, it motivated you to swim stronger to try and overtake him or her, which would quickly get tiresome. Yes, it's a race but you also don't want to burn yourself out too soon. You had to find your rhythm and stick with it. Long and strong. The challenge was finding that rhythm in such a short distance. Swimming 50s isn't the same as finding your rhythm in a longer swim event such as a 5K or more. You needed to find the strategy that worked best for you.
Everything was going well. I felt better prepared this year but 3-1/2 hours into the race I began to feel burning in my triceps and shoulders. I broke out the Biofreeze and my tennis ball to use to self-massage my shoulder, arms and lats. I had a foam roller packed but had to leave it behind. Many of the other teams had their own sport therapists, but unfortunately, we didn't have that option. Recovering between sets was totally up to our own doing and sleep was rough. I only napped once for approximately 40 minutes. I may have dozed off every now and then but nothing I could consider sleep. So hot showers followed by a massage by my tennis ball was my way to relax my sore shoulder and hope it was, in fact, muscle and not joint pain.
Swimming during the night wasn't as long as I remembered. The extended breaks made it bearable. I focused on each 50 or small block of time to remain focused. During a 45-minute set, I knew that when Dean went for his break, I had a half hour remaining. After Sharon, 15 minutes remaining and when Lars came walking up smiling, I knew my break was only moments away. After 45 minutes of sprinting with burning arms and shoulders - a break was always something to look forward to. The morning hours, however, seemed to stand still. Every hour felt like two. The breaks passed by quickly. My muscles would begin burning sooner into the swim and all I could think of was, "Did I train hard enough?" and "Will I re-injure my shoulder?" I made it a point to get myself out of the pool by different methods, using the ladder, pulling myself up backwards, forwards then eventually just by hopping out without using my arms at all. The less I used my arm and shoulder muscles getting myself out of the pool, the more energy was reserved for swimming. And every little bit mattered!
Finally, the last 30 minutes and the entire team was swimming together again. We were all worn out. You could tell by everyone's body movements and facial expressions. Little words were spoken at this point. However, the feeling of accomplishment was shared by each of us along with that feeling of total exhaustion. This was truly a team effort. It was another race complete and although I was totally drained and sore - it was well worth every moment. To my surprise, although I was two years older, I recovered much more quickly and didn't have the muscle aches for several days following the race as I did the previous time. But most important, I had fun; met some new lifelong friends and my shoulder sustained the torture. I made it through another 24 Stunden Schwimmen and fulfilled a new dream!
Read more about the 24 H Schwimmen (2008) by visiting Dynoswim's Meets, Open Water, and Other Events category.
You can also see details of the race in action, and tidbits of our post race travels by visiting Dynoswim's YouTube Channel.
During a freestyle swim, the swimmer's head must break the surface at or before 15-meters from the start and from each turn.
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~Anais Nin (1903-1977), author, diarist
Freestyle is not specifically defined the way other strokes are - it is generally thought of as front crawl, but any style could be used, including those not considered competitive strokes.
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined."
~Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862); philosopher, writer, naturalist
Here I'm trying to give you an overview of the swimmers, their race, and Dynoswim's direct competitors in Lane 4, that is until Thorsten snuck up behind me...
Three hours later, eight hours in...
Remember if you want to see all the Dynoswim Liechtenstein videos you can peruse them all at YouTube.
We got into Liechtenstein an hour so before the 12pm race start. Pre-race prep consists of carving some spaces out at the pool, and running to the grocery store for supplies (photo is Thorsten and Sharon on our way back to the pool from the store).
I've uploaded a number of videos at You Tube. In the meantime, check out the Race Start below, there are other clips of pre-race preparation on You Tube, so check those out too!
You have to bear with me on the content of the blogs for the time being. The race ended a few hours ago and we're quite exhausted and in a lot of pain. More on that later...
Here's another photo of Sharon and I (that's Judi in the background), a few minutes before the start.
I need to get to bed. We had a day in Zurich and an evening out in Konstanz for our team dinner.
You can't imagine how exhausted I am and tomorrow's race day. We do what we have to do, Sharon and Judi are asleep as is Thorsten. We left the others in Konstanz and they'll meet us in Liechtenstein tomorrow - slated to be there latest - one hour before race begins. Oh man.
If you'd like to meet the team, check out the video... And again, please wish us luck!
Ever notice when you travel, sometimes the dumbest things make you laugh? I mean travelling is in and of itself a pretty lousy experience. So, we overcome it with a few beers and some nonsense. Like when we ask each other if we're ready? Well who knows, it's not the race that's the worry. It's the recovery that'll be painful. Our poor friends Goesta and Iris decided to stay home and we wonder if the recovery is the reason why (don't worry they're not part of the "8"). I've actually got a strategy for the recovery this time - it's called Ibuprofen before, during, and after the race. Last time I couldn't even manage to get out of bed. After slithering to the floor on my way to the bathroom I stubbed my toe; then I cried. We'll see if the Advil helps.
We made it in this morning after a delay filled lousy flight. I never sleep on those flights anyway.
Once we arrived we rested for a few hours, took a walk, had a few beers, and then had a great dinner. Thorsten began to finalize the race order, hopefully I'l be able to share that with you this time tomorrow.
The first Olympic swimming races were held in the ocean, but have since moved to temperature-controlled 50-meter pools.
Well, we leave tomorrow and get into Zurich on Thursday morning. We've had six months of preparation and tonight is our last practice before the race. We'll get about 4 days of rest, then Sharon, Judi and I will take a week to visit some of my friends and family in Germany. We're really looking forward to the time off. To be honest, a break from the pool might be fitting as well as a break from our professional lives. It's brutal out there in the finance world. So please stay tuned, we'll try to update you with video clips, photos, and news of our adventures. We also have a tentative team dinner scheduled for Friday evening.
In the meantime, please wish us luck and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the last time we did this event:
It Couldn't Be Done
~By Edgar Albert Guest
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;"
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.
~By Dave Petkovsek, Dynoswimmer
2,300 athletes lined up on the beach in Panama City Beach. It was a picture perfect day on the 1st of November, the gulf was flat and clear water temp in the low 70's and air temp about the same. Records would fall today.
I edged twords the front of the swim start and as the cannon went off so did the 2300 swimmers at one time heading out on a 1.2 mile loop to be repeated. I was in the mix with 100's of swimmers and swam most of the 1st full lap in complete contact with other swimmers the whole time. It wasn't until about ½ way through the 2nd lap before I could stretch out and get into any kind of rhythm. The water was so clear that as I exited the water I started to stand thinking I was in two feet of water to find out it was six feet deep.
Out of the water I was into a mayhem of chaos in the changing tent. The IronMan volunteers are incredible. I have never done any other race that is so well organized. An army of volunteers is there to strip you wetsuit and take it away, find your biking gear and get it to you, help you dress and send you off with well wishes.
The bike was flat and fast. 112 miles; at 70 miles I was still averaging 22 mph and feeling good. I backed off a little for the rest and came in with a 21 mph average for a 5:20 bike split. I was thrilled going through transition 2 as I was 20 minutes ahead of goal time 12 hours.
My plan for the run was to run from aid station to aid station walking only to get fluids. I did this successfully for the 1st 13 miles. At the turnaround with 13 miles left I started to fade. This was as much a mental fade as physical. But nonetheless I walked over ½ of the next 6 miles. During this run/walk phase I kept checking the time of the day. My stopwatch had failed and I could only rely on the time of day to give me an indication of where I was. This was difficult because I was not sure exactly what time the race started and how accurate my time was. As I approached 16 miles I realized that the exactness of my time was soon to not matter because I was going too slow to reach that 12 hour goal. At 18 miles I gave up on the goal and decided to be happy with finishing.
As I approached 20 miles it occurred to me that I only had 6.2 miles left, if I were to run the rest of the way, without stopping not even for fluids I had a chance of breaking 12 hours. This seemed very unlikely since I was only able to run / walk the last 6 miles, and I thought, "Why disappoint myself?" Then I realized that if I didn't try I would never forgive myself. So at the 20 mile mark I started running. As I passed through the aid stations I did not stop - just grabbed a coke as I ran by. This was also a time of prayer; God, give me the legs, and if I have the guts not to stop bring me in under 12 hours. That prayer was repeated every mile I am sure.
As the miles passed I knew it would be close and kept pushing through the pain. The pain was really no more than I had experienced previously in races and that surprised me. With about 200 yards to go I still could not see the finish but I heard the announcer call out that it was 11:59 into the race 1 minute to finish under 12 hours. I was thrilled and nervous. I picked up the pace and rounded the curve, saw the finish and cruised in at 11:59:50!
Postscript: This was amazing for me, in fact over the past year I changed many of my passwords to IM 1159. This had been my goal for the last 12 months and I came from behind to do it!
Michael Phelps sister Whitney was a member of the US World Championship team in 2005.
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"Every person in this life has something to teach me -- and as soon as I accept that, I open myself to truly listening."
~Catherine Doucette; author