Countdown to the first day we can swim!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

6 Hour Swim = No Problem!

What better way to spend 6 hours than swimming in the wide open Long Island Sound? The water was clear, the sun was shining, and the sky was a brilliant blue with no clouds to be seen. We could not have asked for better weather (or a better support crew in our boat).

One of the best parts of swimming in the Sound is its sheer size. Nothing to run into right? Wrong! I proved that notion false within the first 30 min of the swim when I swam smack into a huge orange buoy. Among the other "obstacles" we encountered include

1. About 10,000 jellyfish. Thankfully they were very small and harmless,but it was still strange to be grabbing something squishy about every 5 strokes
2. Seaweed - this was small and not too much of a pain, although Qing found some still in her ear the morning following the swim.
3. A blue claw crab? Actually neither Qing nor I saw the crab, but the boat crew claims one was chilling near us at one point. I have no idea what a crab was doing swimming near the surface of a 120 ft deep sound, maybe he was in training too?
4. Each other! Who knew swimming could be a contact sport? Qing and I both smacked each other in the face and I elbowed her in the nose, but she retaliated by bouncing a jellyfish off my head...totally uncalled for I know.

Despite such daunting obstacles, we prevailed and finished the 6 hour swim without major incident. We were both nervous going into the swim, especially since we had heard stories from friends that had not managed to finish their qualification swims, so our confidence was greatly boosted by our success. The swim also showed us areas we were unprepared for or need to work on for the August crossing. First and foremost, Ibuprofen or Advil is a must. Qing had some problems with a micro-tear in her shoulder and my left shoulder was screaming at me by 5 hours in. In fact, when we got out of the water I realized my left arm was basically useless. Fortunately my shoulder has returned to normal after a few days, but I know it will be my weakest point. Shoulder exercises and ice here I come! Vaseline will also be an important item as both Qing and I both endured chaffing from our suits. We were adequately prepared with food and drink, and the string attached to my water bottle proved to be an effective method of delivery. The mouth wash Qing brought was a life saver and really cut down on the awkward swollen feeling we got in our mouths after swimming for a few hours. Interestingly Qing and I both encountered a period of nausea a little over an hour and a half into the swim. It was not serious enough to impact our performance, but it was a reminder that throwing up while swimming in the ocean is not uncommon.

On the topic of nausea...thanks to those who helped out on the boat! Especially to our sea-sick passenger who shall not be named :) The biggest thanks of the day goes to Mr. Luchsinger who generously took us out on his boat. My mother and both of Qing's parents also came along to help out which was hugely helpful when providing food, water, mouthwash, and Vaseline. The only complaint I heard from the boat was that they didn't have any beer. Don't worry guys, we will make sure you are well stocked in August :)

Qing, Mr. Luchsinger, and I as we sail out of the marina. Smiling like fools to hide nervousness.

Looking at how close to each other we swam its no wonder there were multiple collisions.

Success! And still smiling at the end!


  1. Congrats you guys!

    Just so you know, you shouldn't use ibuprofen on longer swims. My sports med doctor told me that your kidneys go into a low-flow state during extended exercise, and since ibuprofen is metabolized only through the kidneys, it can build up in your bloodstream and do bad things if you keep taking it. Acetaminophen is processed through the liver, so that's safe. Also, they sell acetaminophen + codeine otc in England.

  2. Addendum to not seeing the crab...I wouldn't have seen anything even if it was a shark coming towards me. Still swim with my eyes closed/squinted.

    ...And yes there are sharks in Long Island Sound but it's only sand sharks who will not bother you if you don't bother them.