Sunday, May 31, 2009

Swim Preparation

6 days until MIMS

59 days until EC tide opens

Loop around Columbia Lake with Marty McMahon, glad he had my cap, goggles and nose clip that he lifted last week.

Saw my friend, Ginger, a cute boxer, as we rounded one of the corners. She was so happy to have a drink of lake water. 30 secind break and we were back swimming. A glass surface at 7am with plenty of pollen from the trees. As we finished the 2 hours, the wind picks up, happy to be have the cool swim over with and on with the days events.

Swim Preparation

Time to get organized for this Saturday's swim around Manhattan.

Swim Suit, Cap, Goggles and nose Clip.

OK, I'm ready... not.

Cooler, Thermos
Maxim, Sweetened Green Tea
Sweet Potatoes
Water Bottles, Mixing Bottle
Liquid Ibuprofen (for pain), Tums
Sun Lotion 45, Grease (A&D Ointment)

Sweats and Towels

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hammonasset State Park

7 days until Manhattan
60 days until EC tide opening
It's good to be back, even though at 57 degrees, it wasn't too pleasant.

Dr. Morris Finkelstien (English Channel, 2003) and Margaret Peterson met me at Hammonasset State Park for our 1st dip in Long Island Sound.

Margaret did GREAT, qualifying for her English Channel Relay, with a 2 hour swim in 60 degree water.

Thank goodness, no jellyfish yet, Last year was horrible, we deserve a good year.

I've decided after today's swim, not to worry about my weight, a few extra pounds will keep me more comfortable.... I forgot how cold 57 can be.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fun Friday Intervals

Top: Fulcrum
Right: Buoy, Tube, Paddles
Here's a practice that was short (for me) but challenging. The intervals of 100's were short but tried to swim hard and consistent.

The clincher were the pull up's after every set. I did a large set on the gutter and a small set at the end of the pool, a higher pull up. You can do the pull up's on a diving block also.

Tube: 500... alternate breathing pattern per 50
Swim: 4 x 100 on 1:30
Fulcrum: 100: *modified catch-up with 40 pull ups at deep end. (split by 30 low p.u., 10 tall p.u)
Rev. Paddles (Hans): 500
Swim: 4 x 100 (1:30)
Fulcrum: 100 * (31:9 pull-ups)
Big Paddles: 500
Swim: 4 x 100
Fulcrum: 100 * (34:6 pull-ups)

Paddles (Hans): 500
Swim: 4 x 100
Fulcrum: 100 * (37:3 pull-ups)

Buoy: 500
Swim: 4 x 100
Fulcrum: 100 * (40)
5,000 fun yards

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Total Training Distances

9 days until MIMS
Back in the water, 10000 yards, feeling fine and looking forward to the open water this weekend.

45 minutes at the gym at noon time.

One nice thing about training hard, there's not as much guilt when I enjoy some ice cream, sometimes I actually HAVE to take in the calories to keep the weight on that will keep me warm in the cold water.

News today from Morty Berger, the Manhattan Meet Director, this year another documentary will be recorded. The last time, in 1993, I happen to debut my long distance career in that swim documentary. It was a Blast, this year will be different, I'm 16 years older and don't care too much about my speed. It should be fun.

Total Training Distances

I train a lot, usually 50,000 yds per week... but that is for my channel swims.

Consistency is the key. Your body and muscles will remember all the training and the race/swim will go easier.

If you are training for a mile swim, I suggest to train 2 mile at least 3 time per week. When you get to the Mile race, the distance will seem like a piece of cake.

So, swim 4 x 800, or 8 x 400. I'm sorry but most kicking sets do not count to your total.

Interval training will help with speed, I went over that yesterday.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Interval Training

Dover Harbor on an upset day.
I'm not slacking off, just enjoying a few extra ZZZ's this morning.

Gilad's 'Power & Grace" and "Cuts & Curves". Good weight training, some cardio and stamina building.

I haven't figured what to write about. I'll dream about it.
Interval Training
Break up your work out with some intervals. Instead of swiming a straight 1000, do 10 x 100 on a certain time, such as 1minute 30 seconds. Swim a 100, check your time, leave for next 100 every 1:30.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Elbow Tendonitis

Day off from everything, too much yard work and my back is screaming at me.

... then there's the Poison Ivy. Tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always tomorrow.

Injury: Elbow Tendonitis

Some swimmers start to have tender, painful elbows (1 or both), especially when they add more yardage. This could be an over-use syndrome or a technique problem.

Yardage should not be added on a LARGE scale over a short time, just like a marathon runner should not add too many miles to their program, or stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and other -itis' can occur.

Same principle with us swimmers. The elbows can be very fragile joints.

Technique is important, having too much stress on the the joint, stresses the ligaments and tendons. Too much stretch... too much stress.

If the pull is too far away from the mid line of the body can produce this syndrome.

Work on keeping the pull under the body column.

Monday, May 25, 2009


12 days to MIMS
66 days to EC tide opening

I've been away from the computer for the Memorial Day Holiday, but not out of the water.

Saturday, I finished the week with 8,500 yards to total 50,000 yards (25 Nautical miles).

Sunday, I took off from swimming, but I seem to have worked out by boxing on Wii Game, wow.

Today, Memorial Day, I met Marty McMahon (1985 Channel Swimmer from CT) for a loop around Columbia Lake, 2 hours in the water, Rounding off the day at 8,000 yards.

The lake wasn't as cold as we had hoped but it was nice to out of the pool.


I use a Pull Tube and a Pull Buoy to increase my upper body strength and my lung capacity.

This is a good way to work on alternate breathing patterns if you don't feel comfortable swimming this way. Knocking the legs out, seem to make alternate breathing easier.

I alternate breathing every 3 strokes for a 50 or 100, then every 4th, 5th ... up to 8 strokes, then work my way down.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Freestyle Head Position

15 days until MIMS

68 days until England

Finally got around to doing 20 x 500 today.... fun, fun, fun.

Freestyle head position

Try to relax your head and neck in a neutral position.

You should be looking slightly forward, but not arching your neck to have your face looking forward.

Do not look directly down, just raise your head slightly to be able to look slightly ahead of yourself.

If you are looking too forward, your neck muscles will be working too much and spasm and pain may result.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Freestyle Breathing

16 days until MIMS
69 days until EC tide opening

10,000 yards, long swims with about 15 seconds rest. Just feeling the water.

Freestyle Breathing

Many will skip over this day, because they have a handle on this, but I bring this important concept up because many novice swimmers tell me they sink in the water.

Most have not learned the proper breathing technique.

An easy way to remember is:

EXHALE slowly when your face is in the water. Empty most of the air from your lungs so when you turn the head and shoulder girdle for a breath, you have plenty of time and room for a good INHALATION.

The breathing pattern becomes a rythmic and controlled pattern.

I like to swim with a breathing pattern of 3 strokes. On the 3rd stroke I take a breath, take 2 strokes, breathe, take 2 strokes, breathe. Then I take another 3 strokes and I am breathing on the other side. 2 strokes, breathe, 2 strokes, breathe.
This is a 3-2-2 pattern.

By alternating to each side, the stroke should be more even.

Some swimmers breathe on the same side every time that side takes a stroke. I used to do this as a youth but finally learned to balance my stroke.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Modified Catch-up Stroke

17 days to MIMS
70 days to E.C. tide opening

Day off from the water but a good dry-land work today.

AM: Gilad's Power and Grace DVD, and Cuts and Curves DVD.
Noon: 45 minutes at the gym working the shoulders and legs.

Modified Catch-up Stroke

I call this a stroke and not a drill because I have incorporated this into my long swims.

This can be done as a drill to focus on a long, deliberate stroke.

I find this relaxes my arms, shoulders and back for a short time, while still moving forward at a descent pace.

The stroke starts in a streamline position, similar to catch-up stroke... but the hesitation out front is slight. As soon as the opposite is entering the water, the arm stretched out begins its pull.

I take 3 pulls in this manner, breathe. Then I take a longer catch-up stroke, breathe on the other side and repeat with 3 more strokes.

I know it sounds confusing but it really is quite comfortable.

The count goes...
1 stroke, 2, 3, breathe and then breathe on the other side. 1,2,3, breathe, breathe.
or Left, Right, Left (breathe), Right (breathe). L, R, L (breathe), R (breathe)

Good luck, I incorporate this into my swims and I feel very refreshed after about 10 cycles.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Feedings during Long Swims

18 days until Manhattan Island Swim.

71 days until tide opens for English Channel

A good day at the pool, 10,300 yards. My last practice for 2 weeks with a swimming partner, John is heading over to Tuscany, I can't wait to retire. I didn't take my Ibuprofen last night, the walls hurt my back more today, but got through the workout.

Feeding during Long Swims

All swimmers have their particular style to taking in nutrients during a long swim. Some use baskets, some use poles to transfer their food.

The swimmers crew is very important in this matter. They are the swimmers lifeline.

I prefer to tether a cup or a water bottle (no top) to a line. My crew leans over the boat and hands the bottle to me while I am treading water. The bottle opening is wide enough for a fast feed but it steady enough not to spill in the water, unless the conditions are rough.

It is important to take in as much of the feed as possible, it is your fuel.

I usually take 30-50 seconds for a feed, and that is not really very fast. Fast swimmers feed in less than 10 seconds, but that is another lesson that I will not be teaching.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hips and Kicking

A GREAT workout today, hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I felt like I could have swam ALL day... I keep telling myself that, time is approaching quickly. Below is the workout I did today, 11000 yds. Feel free to split up the workout or do 1/2 the distances ... what ever works for you.
The interval times in ( ) are my intervals, if you need more rest, adjust accordingly. If you can do them on a faster pace, more power to you.

11,000 Workout

Tube: 1000 (alternate breathing pattern per 50)

Swim: 2 x 500 (7:20) / 1 x 1000 (14:30) / 2 x 500

RP: 4 x 250 (4:00) **Catch-up drill every 5th length
1 minute rest
BP: 5 x 200 (3:15) **
1 minute
P: 10 x 100 (1:35/1:40) **

Swim: 1 x 1000 (15:00) / 2 x 500 (7:30) / 1 x 1000

B: 20 x 50 ( 2 on :45, 3 on :50)

Swim Tip:
Hips and Kicking

I'm not much of a kicker, never was, and I know that is why my sprinting is not strong.

It's not my natural strength. I do kick but I am natural doing the 2 beat- cross over kick, especially in the long swims.
If you can do a 6 beat through out, more power to you, it does take some energy to work those legs.

The kick should be generated from your hips, not the knees.

I feel the hips are one of the most important aspects of the swim stroke. They generate lots of power into the torso, which helps drive power into the shoulder and arm stroke.

Every part works together.

As the hand is passes under the hip, that hip should be rotating up while the other side is driving down.

It is a difficult concept to get your head around, to concentrate on the hips while swimming can be frustrating, but if you can manage the feel, you will see your stroke in total improve.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day Off from everything

Family Day, watching and celebrating 2 nieces graduate from University.

The Dover Harbor beach, my favorite English souvenir.

See you tomorrow with the weekly workout.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Training Food: TBC

Oh, what a glorious feeling after a long swim, just wish I was outside but I'll take the yardage. One day a week I do a straight, long with no rest, seems to fall on a Saturday lately.

Today, 11,500 yards.

Training Food

Total Body Confusion

I usually train on 2 cups of coffee, with cream and sugar. I don't drink anything special while swimming, just some water, if the water is too warm.

Some may say, "don't you need to hydrate or feed the muscles?" I use the concept that my pilot, Mike Oram, terms as Total Body Confusion. Confuse the body, by not feeding during workouts, you make the body get used to low stores in the muscles. When you do feed your body, i.e. on longer swims than 4 hours, it should respond with a burst of energy.

Don't get me wrong, I have practiced feeding my body and what it performs best with. I use Maxim, a high carbohydrate powder. It can be mixed your favorite drink or soup, and it feeds the muscles nicely.

This, of course is my opinion, everyone has different training and feeding styles. This works for me.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Beach Starts

A very hectic day, another day out of the water, BUT I did workout.

Rodney Yee's, "Yoga Burn" and Gilad's "Cuts & Curves".

Beach Starts:

If you are just starting to do open water swims, 1 or 2 miles, or you are doing Triathlons for the 1st time, please remember SAFETY 1st.

Look at the race course and visualize your swim. Do a practice, warm up swim if you can.

If you a FAST swimmer, you will probably get out in the front of the pack...

If you are not so fast, my suggestion is to stay to the outside of the pack, this is a safer position. If you are get yourself into the middle of the pack, get ready for a lot of arms hitting and legs kicking.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alternate Breathing

Yes, I do take a couple days off in a roll from the pool, but I usually do some form exercise to keep strong. Today, 1.5 hours of 'Gilad' DVD training.

Swimming Tip:

Alternate breathing pattern.

It is more efficient to breathe on both sides of your body, because it levels out your stroke by keeping your shoulders and hips on level.

I wasn't always an alternate breather, I fought the theory for years, but I GOT TIRED of waking up after a long swim and not being able to lift my right arm for 3 days.

I practiced a lot of Catch-up Drills and alternate breathing while pulling. Eventually, it became easier to transit the alternate breathing into my full swimming stroke.

I like to breathe on one side 3 times before taking 3 strokes to breathe on the other side. My count goes ... 1,2,3,breathe, 1,2,breathe, 1,2,breathe, 1,2,3, breathe....

Most people can do this, unless there is a physical matter that prevents you from breathing this way easily. It does take some focus and practice. Good Luck.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Escort Boat

Day off from the pool, waiting for the patio door installer to show up at home.

Open Water Lesson:

When you are swimming next to an escort boat, try to stay within 10-20 feet from the boat on either side. This is an important matter to discuss with your pilot. Most pilots want you to be comfortable on your favorite side, but...

Because there are times you will HAVE to move to a particular side per request from your pilot ... you should be comfortable breathing on BOTH sides of your body, in other words, alternate breathing pattern.

I prefer to swim on the pilot's side, usually midway between the bow and the stern ... BUT there are times when conditions do not allow the pilot to stay in that position, so you should be comfortable being ahead of the boat or slightly behind.

It took me some time to adjust and realize the pilot was having a hard time staying right next to me, possibly the weather/water conditions was preventing the stable position.

Keep an eye on the boat, but try not to focus on it all the time. TRUST in your pilot and team, they're looking out for you.

It is your responsibility to stay next to boat. In most long swims, your pilot has a course set for the shortest swim according to your speed. If you veer off course, while swimming away from the boat, your pilot will have to leave course and follow you. A new course must be set and you may miss tide changes that may slow you down.

You can practice this important subject by swimming next to kayak or canoe escorts.

It is easier to discuss these matters with your pilot before hand than be screaming at each other in the water.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed. Marcella

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Catch-Up Drill

Thank god these swims only happen rarely. What a horrible workout, I couldn't wait for end. I was SOOOO tired. I had to fast last night for blood work this morning and NO COFFEE this morning, I think that was the kicker.

10,000 exhausting yards at the Mansfield Community Center.

Met with my physician for my Medical Examination to be completed and faxed it over with my Application to the CS&PF (Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation), the governing body I swim with in England.

Swimming Tip:

By working on the technique of your stroke, a more efficient stroke will be more powerful and take less energy from your body stores, and inevitably you swim faster in the water.

CATCH-UP Drill: One of my favorite drills, I do every day. The object of this drill is to lengthen the stroke and focus on one side of the body. I breathe on both sides, the stroke is done slow enough to accomplish this. Don't rush when doing drills, focus and think of the body position.

Push off the wall in streamline position.
The start & finish of the drill is this position, with your hands touching, hand over hand, stretched out over your head.
Start pulling on one side: catch the water, pull, push under the hip, lift the elbow, pierce the water in front of the head & shoulder, and reach to meet your other hand.
Once you touch the hand, start the other side.

Sound familiar, read "Cutting Water" and you'll understand.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Buoy Sighting

First day back in the water, it took 3000 yards for my body to accept it was time to back.

The worse part was a Scratchy throat, brought back memories of how my throat feels at the head of a channel swim. With every breath, the back of my throat feels like sandpaper.

Every Monday, I will post a workout, feel free to join in.

Workout: 10,000yards

Tube: 1000 (alternate breathing pattern per 50)

Swim: 1250

Reverse Paddles: 2 x 500 (:10 sec rest) *every 5th length Catch-up drill

5 x 50 (2 on :45, 3 on :50 - modified catch up drill)
250 (3:45) / 5 x 50/ 250 / 5 x50

Big Paddles: 4 x 250 (4:00) *

Swim: 5 x 50/ 250/ 5 x50/ 250/ 5 x 50

Paddles: 5 x 200 (3:10) *

Swim: 1250

Buoy: 10 x 100 (1:35) alternate breathing per 100

Open Water Tip:

When racing, you will probably have to swim around large, brightly colored buoys (floating balls). You don't want to be looking up all the time, BUT when you do lift your head, you need to sight the buoy and adjust your direction if you are going off course.

If you are a pretty straight swimmer (not much veering to either side) you won't have to look up as much as a swimmer who veers to a side.

Drills to practice:
1. Swim a length of the pool with your head up, look forward and try to keep your head as still as possible. This will build neck and upper body strength. Try to focus your sight on a spot in front of your lane, e.g. starting block, diving board, number on the wall etc.

2. Swim with head down and lift your head during a breath to look forward to see the focal spot in front. Once you see it, put your head down. Take a few more strokes, look up.
This drill works great in a 50 meter pool and can be practiced out in the open water.

Dream, Prepare, Succeed....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

After a week off from the water, due to a cold, I look forward to the pool tomorrow morning.

2015 ... Swimming for Homes for the Brave

After spending the past 20 years paddling from Dover to France, it is time to venture into new waters, while helping some special people.
Soon, I will be traveling with my A-team to Scotland to swim the length of the famous Loch Ness.
As always, I try to help a Foundation raise funds and awareness and I thank you for interest and support.
I am deeply troubled with the thought of homeless individuals, especially in our US Veteran population.

That is why I am teaming up with our Connecticut-based “Homes for the Brave”. Can you imagine not having a place to call home?

Here is more information about Homes for the Brave! -Facebook pages –

- Annual Appeal with more information about our financials and programs-

-Check donations can be mailed to the following address:
Homes for the Brave
655 Park Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604

- Donations can be made online as well:

Please write “Loch Ness Swim/Marcy” to track your donation.

I will always be dedicating my swimming to all those battling cancer and in the memory of 4 special people in my life. Cancer first hit my family when I was young. My grand-aunt Eleanor Kersavage, passed away with uterine cancer and my Auntie Bea Halchak battled with brain cancer.

On January 1, 2002, our LEHY family lost Nikki Giampolo to bone cancer, just turning 16 years old. Her spirit still lives on in our East Hartford swim team.

In July of 2009, my brother-in-law, Gregory Allen Urban, who passed away, after a valient battle with lung cancer. I can see him now, talking about cars and projects around the house, music and his family.

I know Aunties, Eleanor and Bea, Nikki, Greg and all the angels will help me CUT through all this water this summer.

The St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation, based in Bridgeport, CT provides financial support for the needs that Health insurance companies don't cover, in addition to providing affordable cancer screening, wigs, medication and other things to make life easier for those suffering with cancer and their families.

Please make a donation, and thank you.

Online donations can be made at:

or you can send a check through the post to:

Swim Across the Sound
St. Vincent's Medical Center Foundation
2800 Main Street
Bridgeport, CT 06606

Thank you so very much, peace and good health to all.