Lake Zurich Marathon Swim – Leaving on a jet plane, Tomorrow!!

Marathon-Swim Rapperswil-Zurich 26.4 km

Sonntag, 10. August 2014

The time has come. At long last.
After applying for the lottery for the Lake Zurich Marathon Swim, last Autumn, training through the winter, and second guessing myself a million times, planning and planning and planning, packing, and a million other things, it’s here.

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Switzerland where I will compete in the 26.4 KM swim from Rapperswil to Zurich, family in tow. Or rather, family in kayak making sure I’m okay.

I thought you might like some details before I go.

First, I am a planner by nature.

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Yup. A little precise about my planning and organization. Such is the way of many a distance swimmer. Because you have to be. There are so many variables in this crazy open water thing that you don’t want to miss a beat.

The trip itself required a lot of planning, but then there’s the swim. And that means even more.

What water bottles do I want for what feedings? What thermos should I pack for hot feedings? How many GU packs do I want? How often do I want to feed? Did I feed often enough on my last long swims?

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Usually, I opt for Fuel Belt bottles because they are the perfect size for a quick feed, easy to pack, and if one drifts away during a feed, it’s not a monumental loss.

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Then there’s the other questions. What goggles will I want? How many pairs should I bring? What suit will feel best and which will chafe least? What should I put in my carry-on and what do I trust to checked baggage?

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How will our new cooler work on the kayak after our old one finally died?

How will the jetlag impact my swimming?

Another variable is wondering how my son will do being in the kayak for so long. He’s never been part of the support crew for a swim this long.

After getting some great feedback from folks on the Marathon Swimmers Federation Forum, I’ve opted to designate him “Safety Officer” for the trip. He will time my feedings, monitor my stroke count, and all of the things his dad usually does.

He’s spent a few days prepping the first aid kit he wants to take on the boat.


I have, however, informed my James Bond-loving boy that he will not be permitted to take his spray-painted golden toy gun on the trip with us.

It’s also been reassuring that the race is well-organized and that the communication from organizers has been terrific. A few weeks ago, after doing a 3-hour training swim, I received a phone call from Switzerland letting me know that they would secure a 2-person kayak for us and that they would make arrangements for my son to be dropped at the halfway point if necessary, with the race organizers then providing him with transportation to the finish.

It is much appreciated and tremendously reassuring.

Of course, as always happens the week before I do a big swim, I feel like garbage. My back hurts, I feel creaky, I second guess every part of this decision and question what I can do, or if I can even finish it. My right shoulder feels wonky and I slept wrong last night. And will I finish? Will I finish?!?

Part of it is that dreaded taper word. Before a big swim, I do my best to back off on my swimming. This, of course, causes a crisis of confidence and means the mental craziness goes into hyper-drive for the week. And THAT’S fun for my family, for sure.

Usually, as soon as I hit the water, it all fades. I swim. And I remember that I know how to swim.

Here’s where it will happen. Pretty, isn’t it?

Karte Zürichsee Rappi_Meilen_0Karte Zürichsee Meilen_Zürich_0

My husband maintains that one of the things that gets me through these swims is the fact that my capacity to tolerate discomfort is great. He might be right when it comes to the actual swimming part but right now, the mental piece is what I’m working at overcoming more than anything else.

If you’re curious about what I’ll be doing and when, here’s the plan for the 9th and 10th. Timetable1


Things not included on here?

Warm-up swims. Hoping to meet other participants at the hotel in Rapperswil. Sneaking off to downtown Zurich to see some of the city. Buying endless amounts of water because apparently, things close early on Saturday.

And of course, remembering these important rules.


I will do my best to finish in the allotted time. Let’s hope that training kicks in!

Finally, I send a thank you to Jim Boucher and Suzie Dods who have been terrific sources of information. Both accomplished marathon swimmers, I am tremendously grateful that they, much like the community of marathon swimmers in general, understand the importance of sharing information and helping one another succeed.

Unlike some other sports I’ve participated in, there is no sense that one must hoard information, keeping it to themselves to have a leg up on the competition. Instead, people are open, they share, they applaud one another.

I hope that as I continue to grow in this sport, I have the same spirit of generosity and remember the value of this community.

Looking forward to posting a successful race report when we get back from Europe in a few weeks!

Thanks for all of your support!