Oceans Seven......Pat's Adventure of a Lifetime

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Planning a North Channel swim

If you are a marathon swimmer, I would highly recommend the North Channel, a 21 mile swim across the Irish Sea from Ireland to Scotland.  It is well known as one of toughest marathon swims in the world due to its very cold water temperatures, strong tidal flow, and proliferation of jellyfish.  Many swimmers consider the North Channel as the most difficult swim of the Ocean's  Seven Challenge.  This 3 minute video shows the viewer a glimpse of Donaghadee Harbor in Ireland.  My boat pilot Quinton Nelson moors his boat there.  I would highly recommend staying at Pier 36 and having Quinton as your boat pilot.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Swim cancelled for today

My crew and I met with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson a few minutes ago. He decided to cancel today's swim due to windy conditions. I appreciate his honesty and wise decision to postpone swim for another day. Tomorrow's forecast is rain and wind. I will meet with Quinton on Sunday evening for a possible swim on Monday. I will update my blog tomorrow night. Many thanks to everyone for sending me words of encouragement and support.....I greatly appreciate it.

Friday, July 24, 2015

It's a Go! Maybe....

I met with my boat pilot a few minutes ago. He's concerned with increasing winds expected later tonight. He recommended that we meet at boat dock at 5:30 a.m. (Ireland time zone) Saturday morning, July 25. Eastern Time Zone in Maine would be 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning.He will make his decision at that time.  If the swim starts, my crew member Jeannie will send text messages to my daughter. However, we have had many problems with sending text messages. Some messages are delivered 24 hours later. If text messaging becomes a problem, I will update my blog after the swim is complete. Keeping my fingers crossed for great conditions.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Possibility of Saturday swim

This morning I met with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson and he said that Saturday is a possibility for a swim.   He will make his decision Friday evening after reviewing weather reports. Everything depends on wind direction.  Water temperature continues to fluctuate between 54 and 56 in the harbor. In the North Channel,  water temperature will most likely be colder. I'm hoping for a day of sunshine to help with warmer air and surface water temperatures. Otherwise, my crew and I are having a great time in Donaghadee. I will update my blog tomorrow.....keeping my fingers crossed for a Saturday crossing.

Monday, July 20, 2015

North Channel swim update

I met with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson last evening and he believes conditions will improve for a swim later this week.  There has been overcast skies and rain for the past few days.  On occasion there has been some sunshine for a couple of hours.  Water temperature has been very cold....this morning water temp fluctuated between 53 and 54 degrees.   My crew and I are well prepared for the effects of hypothermia....two years ago I swam across the North Channel in 59 degree water. I started to feel the effects of hypothermia after 16 hours of swimming. With water temperature being much colder this year, we have gone to Plan B....it consist of feeds every hour instead of every 30 to 45 minutes.  After episodes of vomiting (smell of diesel causes severe nausea), I used to have a small amount of concentrated carbohydrate every 20 minutes until I felt better. That plan has changed to consuming a small amount of ginger then next stop is in one hour. To have a successful swim in very cold water temps, I need to cross the channel as quickly as I can.  Being a very slow swimmer,  making adjustments is necessary. I wish I was as speedy as some of my talented friends but I'm not.  At the age of 64, I feel that I still have very good endurance.  I hope Mother Nature provides an increase in water temp and winds pushing me to Scotland. Keeping my fingers crossed and saying lots of prayers for improved conditions.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

2015 North Channel or Bust

I will be leaving Maine on Friday, July 17th with my crew ( my brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie).  I am extremely fortunate to have them crew for me again. Their knowledge of marathon swimming is undeniably the very best.  My husband, son, and daughter will be cheering for me from home.  I will post updates on my blog when my boat pilot Quinton Nelson will allow my swim to commence. Quinton will monitor the weather and tide charts  Once the swim begins my crew will send updates to my daughter and she will post on my blog and Facebook.  After the swim is complete, I will post more details about my swim within twenty-four hours.  Again, the North Channel is known for its unpredictable weather. Today, Mother Nature reared her ugly head and provided unexpected strong currents pulling a relay team off course. The swim was stopped two miles from the finish.  All swimmers were veteran open water swimmers and proved their open water competency.  In marathon swimming, swimmers understand that Mother Nature plays a vitally important role in the outcome of a swim.  After eighteen years of open water swimming, I have accepted the fact that Mother Nature can surprise a swimmer with near perfect conditions or send the harshest weather possible.  I hope and pray that she will be kind to me on my second attempt of the North Channel.  However, if Mother Nature provides  unsettling conditions , I will accept it and move on to the next swim adventure.  North Channel here I come.....prepared to face one of the most grueling and challenging  swims in the world.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Peak training season for the North Channel swim

In two months I will be in Ireland to swim the twenty-one mile North Channel. My last two months of training before this grueling swim will be intense.  I plan to train six days per week until I board the plane to Ireland. The days that I work as a nurse and care for my young grandchildren (ages 7, 4, and 3), I will cross train after I have tucked them in bed.  I believe family always comes first.... So, I will enjoy every moment caring for my grandchildren. After they have fallen to sleep, I will workout on a stationary bike and treadmill for a couple of hours.  On my days off from work and babysitting, I plan to have long endurance swims and cross train.  I will take one day off as a rest day.  From past experience, I know that mental preparation is crucial. I have prepared myself for all the challenges that I will face during one of the most difficult swims in the world. Let the countdown begin... 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

Today I took the day off from work and swim training to enjoy a wonderful Mother's Day. I taught my young grandchildren to sing "You Raise Me Up" as a special surprise for their mom (my daughter Sarah). It was a very heartfelt moment....many happy tears.  My daughter Sarah is a single mom who works fulltime as a nurse and trains for triathlons. Today she ran a marathon.  And, her three young children greeted her at the finish line by running with her the last 100 feet of her 26.2 mile run. I'm so proud of her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Marine life encounters

 I've been asked on several occasions about my marine life encounters during my 18 year open water swim career. What started off as a fear of the unknown (always wondering if a predator was lurking below me), turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences of my lifetime.  I've had dolphins swim around me in the Catalina Channel, inquisitive sea lions and seals nearby.  I've heard the sounds of whales echoing in the distance while swimming the Strait of Gibraltar and the Pacific Ocean. And moments before the start of my Catalina swim at midnight, my crew and I heard a whale spouting water through its blowhole nearby.  I've had several small curious fish touch my fingertips while swimming Tsugaru Strait in Japan. My encounters with jellyfish has been unique...I was intrigued by swimming among the shoals of Lion's Mane Jellyfish in my 21 mile swim across the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland....I saw thousands and got stung every inch of my body.  I found the stings were minor and well worth the experience of seeing these creatures with their long flowing tentacles.  I was fortunate that I was not affected by severe pain and toxic reactions that many marathon swimmers have experienced.  During my first English Channel swim attempt, I was startled by a long slender toothless fish when it grabbed hold of my forearm during my hand entry in the water off the coast of France and didn't release until my arm recovery out of the water. No injury to fish or myself. My boat captain thought it was a sucker fish. It looked similar to an eel. I continued with my swim. Also, while swimming along the coast of the Atlantic ocean, I had a shark encounter. I immediately stopped my swim due to safety concerns.  But as I watched this majestic creature pass within 15 feet of me. I noticed that it was not interested in me. And this very large predator continued to swim quickly away from me. It never returned.  During my training season here in Maine, I have seen lobsters, crabs, blue fish, mackerel and sand sharks.....each time I was in awe to see them in their environment. I am looking forward to many more years of marine life encounters....no longer in fear of the unknown.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Swim advice from my 4 -year -old granddaughter

My swim training for the North Channel is going very well.   At the age of 64, I decided to make some minor adjustment on my freestyle stroke.  In my past marathon swims, my strength was all upper body and my legs went along for the ride.  It is evident in my swim videos that I have a very weak kick.  Even my four-year-old granddaughter asked me,"Why aren't you kicking?" when she viewed my Catalina swim video. Since I don't have a swim coach, I took her words to heart.  I started viewing many YouTube videos on freestyle kicks....there are thousands of videos to watch.  I particularly enjoy watching the Total Immersion swim videos by Terry Laughlin. Also, there are many great videos produced in Australia by Swim Smooth.  My focus during my freestyle is to use my legs and core to rotate during arm entry.  I immediately noticed that I had better balance in the water and I seemed to glide effortlessly.  Many thanks to my granddaughter for her insight.....my new coach :-) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Peak season for swim training for the North Channel

Whenever I plan a marathon swim, I divide my training schedule into three segments.  I count backwards one year from the target swim date and divide it into three unequal segments.  Early  season is fairly light training, mid-season is longer workouts and cross training, and peak season is the the last five months before my target date (North Channel in July).  I have entered into my peak season of training.  I will train six days per week.  Three of those days will be long endurance swims.  Every two weeks I will add an hour to one of those days.  For example, I swam for three hours today. In two weeks, I will swim for four hours in one day (every week). The other two days of the three long endurance days will be three hour swims each day. The other remaining days of the week will be short swims of an hour and cross training. In four weeks, I will swim 5 hours in one day (each week) and the remainder of the three endurance swim days, I will swim for 3 hours each day and the remaining days of the week will be one hour swims.  As soon as the ocean temperature reaches mid-forties, I will start my transition from pool to ocean.  I will have split day training with long swim at the pool and short swim in the ocean.  With ocean temperature in the mid-forties I will swim no longer than an hour.  As the ocean temp increases, I plan to have longer ocean swims and shorter pool workouts.  During my peak season of training, I will lift weights (light weights) to build upper body strength.  On days that I work as a nurse (Yes, that's right I'm still working at the age of 64) and babysit my grandchildren after I get out of work (ages 6, 4, and 3), I plan to cross train on a stationary bike after I tuck my grandchildren in bed. My goal is to train six days per week in preparation for one the most challenging swims in world.  North Channel...here I come!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

North Channel swim training.....Plan "B"

In July I will attempt to swim the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland. This will be my second try at the 21 mile swim known as one of the most difficult channels in the world.  I've been preparing for this grueling swim for the past several months.  However, sometimes the best-laid plans can go wrong.  Part of marathon swim training is that a swimmer should always be prepared for the unexpected.  A few months ago, I was slammed by a large wave to the ground and landed on my right scapular on my back. Initially, I did not feel any discomfort from being thrown like a rag-doll.  But a few days later I started to develop tendonitis in that area. I felt no pain during my swims but afterwards I felt a dull ache in my scapular. After 18 years of open water swimming, this was my first injury.  I didn't want to jeopardize my swim career so I quickly decided to go to plan "B".  I went to a sports rehabilitation center for treatment. No swimming for three weeks to allow my tendons to heal. The recommended treatment was deep muscle massage and acupuncture. After three weeks of intense therapy, my scapular is pain free. I am very pleased with the outcome.  Taking a few weeks off from swim training helped in my recovery.  Lessons learned in life.....always have a back-up plan.