Rewind: Swimming

Our roundup of the hardest open water swims mentioned that the 100-mile plus swim between Cuba and Florida is nearly impossible, the only successful attempt having been made by a swimmer inside a shark cage. About that.

Our roundup of the hardest open water swims mentioned that the 100-mile plus swim between Cuba and Florida is nearly impossible, the only successful attempt having been made by a swimmer inside a shark cage. About that. 64-year-old Diana Nyad, one of endurance swimming’s greats, completed the epic slog on September 2 — and it took a solid 53 hours of continuous swimming, not all of which was pleasant.

“The 13 hours of Saturday night I swallowed tremendous volumes of sea water”, Nyad said during a press conference. “Then I started vomiting constantly. As soon as that happens, and you can’t replace the food, protein, electrolytes. You’re in a bad place. That night was hell on earth.”

People like Nyad are the inspiration for Limits. In the coming years, we’ll see an increasing part of the endurance conversation dedicated to the science and technology that allows for greater human achievement, but in this case it was pure grit, hard work and a sense of purpose that lighted the way. “The thing about aging is that the clock seems to be ticking faster as you get older”, Nyad said. “I wanted the swim, this endeavor, not to just be the athletic record. I wanted it to be a lesson to my life that says, ‘Be fully engaged. Be awake and alert and alive every minute of every day.'” How’s that for inspiration? – Jeremy Berger

SEARCH THE GP ARCHIVES: Rewind: Patina | Rewind: Month of Beef | Rewind: Fly Fishing


Kit: Swim Practice
Tell people you begin the day with a swim and they’re bound to reply with a look that’s equal parts envy, bewilderment and awe. Who swims, for exercise, in the morning? Who risks certain athlete’s foot and doesn’t mind going to work with goggle eyes? How many people pee in the pool? Old people and triathletes, that’s who. And everyone. But the reality is that swimming is the perfect impact-free sport for long-term fitness and short-term ripped abs, and while you can do it with nothing but a pair of Speedos and a smile, having a stocked duffel can make the experience more fulfilling than a philosophical conversation with Ryan Lochte — much more. See the Kit »

Tested: Total Immersion Swimming
It made me angry that the obese woman could swim faster than me. In my bubble of intense training for my first triathlon I’d fashioned an idea of justice that allowed fit people to just naturally be better than other people at everything. I raked and windmilled my arms through the water in the windowless, basement-level pool at the local YMCA. 5:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. By 5:45 a.m. I’d be winded, exhausted. Have a Gu. Adjust my goggles. Stretch the lats out. Out at 6:00 a.m., even more angry. There had to be a better way to learn how to swim. Read the Story »

Escaping from Alcatraz: Making the Swim
Bobbing in the middle of San Francisco Bay I panted as I treaded water. My arms were turning to rubber and the wetsuit was chafing my neck. I needed to stop for a rest. My friend and kayak pilot, Kevin, paddled over and said, “Good job, you’re almost a third of the way done.” Really? Only a third? From my water-level view, the marina looked at least as close ahead of me as The Rock did behind me. A chill colder than the 58-degree water ran up my spine and that’s when I felt that I might not be able to make it.
Read the Story »

10 Most Challenging Open Water Swims
Swimming as a sport received quite the boost in recent years thanks to Olympic performances by Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, not to mention the accompanying stories about their insane workout routines and diets, respectively. Yet beyond sprints and relays there remains another side to the sport, popular mostly with triathletes, endurance junkies, and the occasional band of prisoners: open water swimming. You thought a long-distance run was tough? Try swimming 20 miles, in cold water, with ocean swells, strong currents and sharks. Here are 10 of the most challenging open water swims. Some are races, some are destination swims, and some are nearly impossible. See the List »

30 Minutes With: Terry Laughlin
We know: you have a recurring dream where you fall off a yacht and can’t swim back to shore. First, drop the extra Champagne. Second, remember Terry Laughlin. The former West Point swim coach and founder of Total Immersion Swimming writes books, publishes DVDs and teaches seminars, all on how to swim more like a fish. We caught up with him for a few words. Read the Interview »

72 Hours On South Manitou Island
The wreck of the Francisco Morazan lies 300 yards off the southeast coast of Michigan’s South Manitou Island. Most of her torn bulk rises out of Lake Michigan, home to a loud and smelly community of gulls and cormorants. From the beach, the wreck looks tantalizingly close until your bare feet touch the icy water and you see the waves pummeling her seaward side. On a calm day, the swim takes only a few minutes, but to get here requires a bit more — a 90 minute ferry ride from the mainland, another hour of hiking across the uninhabited island and a scramble down a steep, sandy slope. Read the Story »
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