Swim Defiance 2017

Cold water swimming is not something one should jump into lightly. Acclimatization to cold water is the biggest secret I can share. Spending time in progressively colder water goes a long way to preparing for a Puget Sound swim. Also never attempt to swim alone, especially in cold water. Even having someone the beach walking up and down the beach while you swim to call 911 in case of a water emergency may just save your life, of course with your swim safer buoy you will be easier to spot in the water. There are some relaxed escorted swims locally you can also benefit from with tips from the organizer and other experienced swimmers, see below for examples.

There many online guides and books available providing advice and tips on both open water and cold water swimming. The search on the Unites States Master Swimming website results in several nice article dealing with several aspects of cold water swimming http://www.usms.org/search.php?q=cold+water+swimming#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=cold%20water%20swimming&gsc.page=1 . Almost everyone can acclimate to cold water to some degree. It takes the discipline of actually getting into cold water over a series of swims. The unpleasant part of acclimation is that you actually have to continue to get into water that is below your “comfortable temperature.” Cold water baths and showers help some people. A lot of cold water acclimation is mental. Training your mind not to respond to the cold is part of the process. Talk yourself through it. Convince yourself it’s not all that bad. “I can take 10/100/etc. more strokes.” This actually works.

Swim Defiance will occur in Commencement Bay across Dalco Passage. The water temperature usually stays between 56-60º F year around. For comparison, the pool water for swim meets at the King County Aquatic Center is usually kept around 77-78º F. Other than cold water, the trip across the passage will also require you to navigate currents. However, the swim is strategically timed to coincide with the least amount of current at the peak of slack high tide at 9:34AM. This page will provide you with some Cold Water Swimming and Navigation TIPS for a successful swim.

COLD WATER SWIMMING:

One good thing about acclimation described above is that it stays with you. Once you've acclimated, you develop a durability and permanence, resulting in the fact that you never really go back to the point where you can't handle cold anymore. From year to year when you are actively acclimating, you often take 2 steps forward by the end of the season and only a 1/2 step backwards at the beginning of the next. Be aware that there are some people who, due to their own body chemistry, are unable to acclimate to racing longer than a mile in water under 65 degrees, be sure to know if that is you before attempting longer distances.

No cold water information is complete without a discussion of hypothermia. The normal body temperature is 98.6º F (37ºC). Hypothermia develops when the body temperature falls below about 95ºF (35ºC). Moderate hypothermia can usually be reversed, and a complete recovery made if it is recognized and treated quickly. For the quickest relief, combine drinking warm liquids with taking a warm shower, removing your wet bathing suit, and putting on dry clothing, sitting in a warm environment (a.k.a. a warming tent). In most cases, drinking warm liquids appear to expedite recovery. To help avoid this heat deficit in the first place, I can’t stress enough the importance of EATING before cold water swimming. A meal of slow burning fuel like oatmeal w/fruit or pancakes with nuts is an example.

If your body temperature falls much lower than 95ºF (35ºC) and you exhibit two or more of the symptoms of hypothermia as listed, YOU WILL BE PULLED- PLEASE don’t fight us on this---it is for your own good! We have a well-organized and USMS approved rescue plan organized for this instance. The weather conditions of the day will also play a part in the onset of hypothermia. Obviously, warm sunny skies will keep a swimmer warmer than a cold, overcast/drizzling day.

Symptoms of hypothermia:

  1. Uncontrollable shivering
  2. Disorientation
  3. Irrational behavior (The supporter says go left and the swimmer goes right)
  4. Blue lips (very obvious)
  5. Inability to concentrate or respond to simple requests or questions (“What day is it today?)
  6. Slurred or uncoordinated speech
  7. Ashen or gray skin color
  8. Lucidity tests (“What town do you live in?” “How many fingers am I holding up?”, etc.)

Cold Water Swims

Cold water training for Swim Defiance is FREE for current BWAQ members, swimmers with a USMS membership (please contact Zena before coming to the training) and swimmers who have registered for the race.

If you are planning to attend swim, confirm with Zena: in person, email: swimdefiance@bluewave-aquatics.com, OR phone 206-651-0823 so we don't start the swim without you.

  • May 7 / Sun,10AM (10:11AM Low tide) at Owens Beach, Tacoma
  • May 9 / Tues,7PM (6:00PM High tide) park at Normandy Park Cove, Seattle (http://www.npcove.org/)/ if questioned, you are a guest of Terry Mutter (still OK Terry?)
  • May 17 / W, 7 PM (Low tide at 4:02PM) at Redondo beach, Des Moines
  • May 18 / TH, 7 PM (Low tide at 4:56PM) at Owens Beach, Tacoma
  • May 25 / TH, 7PM (6:12PM High tide) park at Normandy Park Cove, Seattle
  • May 29 / M/Memorial Day 7:30AM (7:29AM High tide) at Owens Beach, Tacoma
  • And every Sat there is a swim in Alki Beach in West Seattle at 9AM that I will attend in May, swimming or kayaking..which ever is needed. These swims are not associated with Swim Defiance or Blue Wave Aquatics.
    May 6, 13, 20, 27.

Safety Buoys

Swim safety buoys are MANDATORY for this race. More information about the Swim safety buoys is available on the SAFETY page.

Safer Swimmer Buoy is Mandatory for Swim Defiance

SwimOutlet.com sells Safer Swimmer Buoys. Check out our recommended items for Swim Defiance swimmers.

Buy your Safer Swimmer at Swim Outlet

Cold shock response is an entirely different thing to hypothermia, it’s the body’s response to sudden cold, with gasping reflex, hyperventilation and possible acute pain in hands, feet, face and head, and even cardiac events. The biggest danger in immersion is uncontrolled hyperventilation leading to sudden aspiration of water. If you gasp and breathe water into your lungs, you could drown. DON’T DO THIS!

I will be providing several weekday evening kayak escorted swims at Owen Beach starting 2-3 weeks before the event to help with interested participant’s acclimatization. It is important that you have done some previous swimming training and that you have your wetsuit for this practice (I do have several of my women sized wetsuits I can loan out if needed). Please sign up for Swim Defiance before the practice swims to be sure you’re covered by the USMS secondary insurance. The times will be posted on the web page as soon as they are established. As always, I am available for questions and extra swims if someone has a very challenging schedule and not able to make the ones posted. My phone is 206-651-0823.

NAVIGATION TIPS: On June 3rd, there will be an approximate 6 hour transition from high to low tide from 1:20 AM - 8:14 AM where the water closest to the shore at Point Defiance and Vashon Island will usuallytravel from East to West, (toward to Gig Harbor) while the water in the center of the channel (per published tide predictions) will travel in the opposite direction, West to East (toward the Port of Tacoma). In 2016 everyone was swept toward Gig Harbor (East to West) most of the entire race, so you can never be certain. The closer to low or high tide, the weaker the differences in the flows are expected to be.

5K COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

What this means for the 5K swim is that with a 7:10 AM start, you will need to angle your swim EAST- to your right (toward the Port of Tacoma and/or Tahlequah ferry dock). You will start toward Vashion 36 minutes before the peak of slack low tide at 8:14 AM so currents should be slow (but pushing East toward the ferry terminal). On the Vashon side of the Passage closest to the shore, the current may switch toward Gig Harbor. All the way back to the large yellow inflatable finish arch at Point Defiance, Owen Beach the current is expected to flow toward Gig Harbor. If you are a bit slower (1 hour, 15 minutes for the halfway point of the slowest swimmer last year) by the time you reach the halfway point near Vason Island, it will be the peak of low tide so the water near Vashon Island is expected to be moving toward Tacoma and taking you to both turn around buoys. The slower swimmers, on the way back, will now notice the current in the middle of the channel moving faster eastward toward the Port of Tacoma / Ferry Terminal, but the closer the swimmers get to the shore, about 200 yeards from the large yellow inflatable finish arch at Point Defiance, the current will sweep you back west / to your right toward Gig Harbor, and away from the huge sheltered shore seawall that stretches East (toward the Port of Tacoma). Swim with the current, angling your exit to the beach where / when you can, and walk to the finish. Be sure to check in with the finish line officials and turn in your ankle chip.

3K COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

During the approximate 5 hour transition from low to high tide from 8:14 AM - 2:06 PM the water closest to the shore at Point Defiance and Vashon Island will start to travel from East to West (toward Gig Harbor), while the water in the center of the channel will typically travel in the opposite direction, West to East (toward the Port of Tacoma). What this means for the 3K swim is that with a 8:00 AM start, you should notice an eastward current during your crossing. The cut off time for the 3K swim is 2 hours, so at one hour at the middle of the channel, the slowest swimmers should expect the current in the middle of the channel taking them in the east direction, toward the Port of Tacoma / Ferry Terminal so aim for the cement boat launch to the left of the finish area. The closer the swimmers get to the shore (about 200 yards from the finish) and the large yellow inflatable finish arch at Point Defiance, the more the current will sweep you back west / to your right (about 1:15 into your 3k swim), toward Gig Harbor, and away from the huge sheltered shore seawall that stretches East (toward the Port of Tacoma). Swim with the current, angeling your exit to the beach where / when you can, and walk to the finish. Be sure to check in with the finish line official and turn in your ankle chip.

Yes to Life Swims provides trained kayak, etc. escorts and food to refuel upon exiting http://say-yes-to-life-swims.com.

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