Monday, September 11, 2017


Before I even start with the blog on this, I want to give credit to the person who helped me cook up an idea as idiotic as this!  Grace Van Der Byl and I though of this together several years ago when I was a guest at her home.  It was mostly a "what if" joke but each year, we would somehow mention it and the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like it could be done.  Well Grace, it is done!  Thanks for the inspiration and guidance during this several years journey.

I will just start with a few days earlier and give a brief recap of the days leading up to this swim.
Thursday the 7th - I met Gordon at his mom's house and we drove to his in-law's family cabin near Bear Lake (BL).  We stayed up late watching TV, catching up, and relaxing.
Friday the 8th - Woke up early in hopes of being tired in the afternoon so I can nap for several hours and then rest for the swim starting at midnight.  Didn't work out that way.  We did get up early, ate breakfast, then went to a secluded spot behind the house and fired off guns for an hour.  They were all Gordon's guns and ammunition so I took it easy on shooting.  I didn't want to spend energy firing guns as much as I wanted to and besides, it was Gordon't ammo so I don't want to be a jerk and use up someone else's ammunition.  Gordon did most of the firing and it was relaxing and FUN!
We then headed into Logan so I could contact my family and then run a few errands.  When lunch came, we went to an all you can eat buffet and I ate quite well.  After that we went to a movie to kill more time.  We then made a quick ice cream stop then back to the cabin.  Nap time...only, I did not nap well.  I forced myself to stay on the bed with my eyes closed for 2 hours but sleep was minimal.  My nerves were starting to get to me.  I finally gave up and watched TV.  Gordon woke up awhile later and we started packing.
We left the house at 2215 and headed to BL to meet up with Joelle.
We met her at 2300 and she got in the front seat and I got in the back to lie down for a short nap.  I woke up and we were at the start.  Time to load up the kayak and grease up.
The air was chilly but we did a water reading and it read 68 degrees.  So much warmer than usual for this time of year.  I was afraid of the cold being a factor for this swim and it turned out to be a complete non-factor.
Quick Selfie 5 min before start.
Gordon counted me down from 1 minute and as midnight hit, I got in.  I tried walking in like a badass but actually slipped on the first rock, fell forward, and nearly busted myself in the first 3 yards!  I recovered and just got on my belly until it was deep enough to start swimming.  I adjusted quickly and off we went.
The BL swim went perfect.  There was a slight current for a few hours but nothing major.  Joelle made small corrections and we stayed on our course target.  My goal was to just swim smooth and not kill myself.  I wanted to finish around 4 hours and we hit land at 6.6 miles at exactly 4 and hours and 1 minute.  Perfect!
We loaded up quickly and dropped Joelle off at her car on the way to Deer Creek (DC).
I fell asleep quickly after drinking some recovery fluids and Gordon woke me up as we were at the boat ramp at DC.  I texted Becky and she was walking down the ramp ready to go.  We got the kayak loaded up and then it was time to grease me.
The weather said partly cloudy but I did not want to take any chances so I put a good layer of Desitin on me.  Yes, that is the baby butt cream but it is 40% zinc so it is an amazing sunscreen.  It is also good grease so that is all I needed.
After taking care of some last minute “business”, we were off.  We started just before 0630.  I knew this was going to be the toughest of the 3 swims so I kept myself motivated and focused on what I was doing.  Becky did an amazing job.  She critiqued my stroke when needed which saved me the most important things, energy and time!

I hit the halfway point quickly and I was feeling strong.  I hit the turnaround point for this swim faster than when I did this a few weeks ago for the SLOW swim event.  We even went farther past the turnaround point.  As we were heading back, the winds picked up and the current did too.  We got to an open spot and Becky told me to pick it up a bit to get to a point nearby where the land formation around the lake will protect us from the wind and make it easier.  I picked up my effort but when we got to the point, Becky looked down and said, “Turns out I lied”!  She didn’t lie to be mean, it was just a bad guess.  I had a chuckle and started back.  This time when I tried to pick up my stroke, I could feel my energy fading a bit.  I asked for my high calorie feed and a buzz bite.  They helped some but I knew I was not going to be coming back anywhere near as fast as going out. 

Heading back

Even the fish are jumping for joy as I finish!
We just plugged away the miles.  Once we hit the main bay that takes almost 3 miles to cover, my GPS watch she was wearing started to act up.  It was still “working” but I am 100% sure it was not being as accurate as before.  We got to where I know the turnaround for the 1 mile event is and the GPS watch said I had over a mile to go.  This made me mad.  I have gone farther in my distance along the shores and where we turn around to head back and yet my distance was not the same.  Becky was patient as I yelled at her about the watch screwing me over.  We got to the boat ramp and I could see Gordon but somehow in her magic coaching ways, convinced me that instead of getting out (even though I knew I had gone over 10 miles), to actually TURN AROUND and swim more.  No idea how she convinced me of that.  We need to keep it so there is NO doubt I did 10 miles.  I swam 5 minutes out and 5 back.  When I could see the boat ramp again, she signaled that 10 was on the GPS watch and she had finished timing.  So 10 *cough 10.5* was done at DC and now on to the Great Salt Lake (GSL).
I don’t even remember trying to get comfortable or even leaving the parking lot of DC.  I just woke up and we were at GSL and I could hear Josh talking.  I slept great for that drive.
I was too tired to even remove my cap!
Now THAT is a true friend!
Did I miss a spot?
I got out and Gordon helped put more Desitin on me and then I added more lanolin/vaseline grease to offset the high level of salt at GSL. 
 I felt good but was tired.  The water was really warm and the marina website read 78 degrees.  Felt even hotter.  I took 2 strokes and my arms were screaming at me.  No tricking myself for this one, my body knew it had already swam 16.5 miles.
I followed Josh out and he navigated me through the first lap.  I will admit that when we hit the first turn around spot, it took a lot longer than expected.  I decided to pick up my pace going back.  I made it back significantly quicker than going out but paid the price.  Heading out on my 2nd lap, Josh paddled in and Patricia took over.  We argued a bit over spotting but kept going anyway.  I was mainly cranky because I wanted to get it over and I knew my energy was dissipating.  We finished the 2nd lap then Josh took over again.  

When we hit the last turn, he told me that from now on, I can flip off each buoy as I passed it because it will be the last time I saw it.  I had to ask him to clarify because when he first started explaining, I could not hear him well and all I saw was a double barrel of the middle finger right in my face!  
I was too tired to flip off the buoys and the sun was now gone as I was a few hundred yards from finishing.  I could hear him yelling for me and also my support on the shore.  My father in law was there with his wife and so were my wife and kids next to Gordon. 

I hit the last buoy and turned into the marina and headed to the boat ramp.  When my fingers hit the bottom, I just kneeled there for a second unsure if I was going to be able to stand.  The cheers from my family and friends helped motivate me to get on my feet.  I slowly walked up the ramp and when I was clear yelled, “We did it!”  This goes back to remembering Jamie Patrick in that no swim like this is done alone.  This event is a team effort.  No exception for this one.  I picked a great team and every person pulled their weight beyond asking and that was the biggest key to my success.
I started to dry off and I felt a bit light headed and wobbled a bit.  Gordon stepped up with a towel and started wrapping me up and holding me up.  I put my arms around him and starting sobbing uncontrollably.  The emotional high of finishing something so grueling and mentally taxing was too much to handle at that moment.  He just held me up and told me how proud he was of me.  He helped walk me over to the dock so I could sit.  I just sat there crying for several minutes.  My girls were genuinely confused as to why “daddy is crying so much”.  It reminded me of finishing the ice mile and having Gordon and Josh helping me out of the water and crying then too!  I cry too much.
We packed our gear and headed home.

BL – 6.6 miles…I’ll say 6.5 in 4:01.00
DC – 10 miles in 6:44.23
GSL – 7 miles in 4:58.49
Driving total - 216 miles
Total time for event - 20 hours and 34 minutes


Not to be funny but I really do want to thank God for this swim.  I prayed a LOT before this swim and even more during the swim that I would make it.  My energy did fall but I never stopped moving forward.  I also truly believe He blessed me with the best weather and water conditions imaginable. 

Joelle – Paddler for Bear Lake.  You guided me through the first step of this journey and were not only happy to be there, but eager to be there.  You have now been on the crew of my 3 most difficult swims I have done.  You are my good luck charm!  Thank you for your help and thank you for your friendship.

Becky – Paddler for Deer Creek.  You were apprehensive about paddling for me but after a training session a month ago, you did great.  You were amazing in your guidance and keeping my spirits up.  Even when the winds and currents turned against us, you still had a smile on your face.  That helped a lot.  Great pics too!  Thanks for being such a good coach and friend to me.  I still do hate you though.  J

Josh – Co-Paddler for Great Salt Lake.  You were always in a good mood and smiling at me.  You kept my spirits up when I was getting at my lowest points.  At one point of the swim, I really felt like just lying there for an hour but you leaned in and yelled encouragement to me.  I asked if you could believe I was going to finish the event.  You said, “I never had to believe it, I always knew it”.  Those words echoed in my head all the through the home stretch. 

Lisa – Training partner for this event.  You had a prior commitment so you were unable to attend and I missed you greatly.  There is no simpler way to put this, without all the miles we logged together at Jordanelle Reservoir, there was no way I would have been prepared to finish this.  No matter what distance I wanted to swim, no matter what unholy hour I wanted to start, your answer was always, “Okay, see you then”.  You were nothing short of spectacular for how you helped me.  We got to the point where a 6 mile swim wasn’t even hard anymore!  We were loose swim buddies before who swam together at random times, now I consider you a solid swim friend that I will respect forever.

Gordon – Driver, cheerleader, grease-applier, and 100 other jobs!  You got me into ultra-marathon swimming and look where it has us now years later.  You took time off work to help me relax and prepare for this swim.  You drove me everywhere and helped me with every single small detail to numerous to count that helped me succeed.  You are one of my best friends and it was the greatest honor to share this whole experience with you.  I love you and you truly are my pal forever.  (Sorry I trashed your van!)

Patricia – Co-Paddler for Great Salt Lake and most important for last.  This whole journey over the past several years could not have happened without your support.  When I told you that this was the year for UTC24, it was nothing but help from you.  I know I ruined every good sleep you had over the summer because you had to listen to the alarm going off as early as 2 in the morning so I could go swimming.  You let me swim whenever I needed and nap daily to help recover.  Everyone else helped tremendously but all pale in comparison to the love and support you have shown me while I trained for this.  You are my greatest love and my eternal companion, thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting up with me and giving me nothing but love.  I promise I’ll “try” to do a smaller swim next year.  J

Thank you also to all the people cheering me along the way.  All posts of encouragement during my swim helped me greatly.  Thanks to Phil Cutti for nutrition advice.  Thanks to Jed and his wife for coming out and cheering for me.  Also thanks to my girls for making posters of encouragement for me.  It was great. 

Thank you everyone who helped me along the way and God bless you all!

23.5 miles OW

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