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September 7, 2007
- Donner Lake Results
- Dynamic Duo
- Building Futures Now Newsletter
- Olivia's Miles
- Catalina Channel Relay Team
Donner Lake Results
The beautiful Donner Lake 2.7 mile swim was held on Saturday August 11, 2007. The event was widely attended by the Menlo Masters with all finishers exclaiming the virtues of the event along with the notion of how easy it was to underestimate the challenging elements of the event. altitude, duration and cold water. The results have not been posted on the PMS website just yet, but as soon as they are we will share the outcomes of the event.
The Dynamic Duo is an annual intramural team event that Menlo Masters produces at the beginning of each fall season. The Dynamic Duo is simply two swimmers of unequal abilities who are randomly paired together on a team to share in the effort of completing 2000 yards in relay format. 99% of the teams trade swimmers every 50 yards. Dive or wall push-off exchanges are acceptable. The average length of the event is 24 minutes. Each team competes with the other teams in the heat, and there are a maximum of 11 teams in each heat. You are welcome to sign up for any heat that best suits your Saturday morning schedule. We do ask that a member of each team either come before or stay after their swim heat to time/count for another team. Assistance in counting is a must in this oxygen-deprived, full-power event.
The vital information is as follows:
Date: Saturday September 29, 2007
Registration: email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a space in a heat, confirmation will follow.
Awards-Melons and fruit are the traditional awards
Team Partners-Partners will be announced 5-7 days before the event.
Come to workouts this month and take part in all focus on power 50's as we all prepare for the Dynamic Duo.
Building Futures Now Newsletter
Building Futures Now is the organization that Menlo Masters played a big part in starting. This program is in it's infancy and we are gathering our strength in numbers and enthusiasm as we continue to aid in getting this program off the ground. The following is the first of many monthly newsletters that will go out to give updates and information on the program. The next big date to put on your calendar is October 10, for a volunteer meeting. To find out what has been done so far and who has contributed and to get more information, go to:
We delight in supporting local business owners Micheline and Adam Kemist, owners of The Runner's High in Menlo Park in their quest to produce a high quality local running event where the proceeds of the races go to finding a cure for Krabbe's disease. The disease that took the life of their young daughter, Olivia.
The races are tomorrow, Saturday September 8, starting in downtown Menlo Park at 8am. Pre race registration begins at 7am.
Catalina Channel Relay Team
Emily from Davis Masters
As a coach I am excited and proud to announce that 5 of our team members came together and formed a team in an effort to swim across the Catalina Channel last month. In the process these swimmers found and formed friendships that are heavily laced with mutual respect and admiration. Their channel crossing was not part of a "race" as there was not a scheduled event nor were there any other competitors in the water. They all did this as a personal challenge to gain internal satisfaction, to overcome some fears, and to gain a lifetime memory.
The following writings are from two of the participants, Virginia Justus a new Menlo Master and Marianne Brems a veteran Menlo Masters and a lifelong swimmer and promoter of swimming. These accounts will give the reader a good understanding of the experience, but as we all know there is nothing like living the experience.
Menlo Masters would like to congratulate every team member and we would also like to wish Michele Santilhano a smooth crossing as she is going for it SOLO next week.
Menlo Plus Catalina Relay, August 12th 2007
How the Team Came Together
Michele Starts Putting Together the Team
Back in early February, when I was still feeling a little lonesome swimming with my new club, Menlo Masters, I noticed a familiar name on one of the club's monthly newsletters. I smiled from ear to ear to learn that an English Channel swimmer I'd met the previous year, Michele Santilhano, with whom I'd corresponded with by email had joined the club. I was so excited; I immediately emailed her and told her we needed to meet at one of the workouts. We met for a workout and dinner, and shared stories and plans. I was so pleased to have a new friend at my new club, and to feel the camaraderie of having another crazy open water swimmer on my team. Michele is a nurse from South Africa, who is an ultra-runner, marathon swimmer, and Ironman triathlete. Every other weekend she knocks off some event that would be a normal athlete's lifetime goal.
In February or March of this year, Michele told me she had put me on a mental list of people for a relay across the 21 mile Catalina Channel she was going to do in preparation for her solo swim in September. I immediately broke my New Year's Resolution of learning to say "I'll think about it", by answering "Absolutely." As an aspiring marathon swimmer, I couldn't think of anything I would rather do. She excitedly told our coach, Tim, about our plans, and he sent out an email to try to help us recruit 4 more people to round out our team. I questioned my sanity in committing to this without much thought.
One day at workout I met another open water swimmer. I'm sort of an open water swimming groupie, and internet addict. I'd combed through results of open water swims looking to see which Menlo swimmers did open water, and found that Marianne was repeatedly the open water points champion in her age group. I was leading the lane next to hers, which had 2 other people in it, while she swam by herself. She invited me over, which I think may have been my first day moving from Level 3 to Level 2. I couldn't quite keep up with her, but I had fun trying, and she was very friendly and welcoming. She asked me my name, and when she started to introduce herself, I said, "I know who you are. You're famous. You're Marianne" We talked a little about open water, and she feigned not knowing that she was open water points champion, although I'm pretty sure she did know.
She later inquired in the locker room about the Catalina Channel Relay. I asked her if she'd like to join us and she thought it didn't sound like much fun, being on a boat in the dark for hours and hours and not really getting much swimming in. As we were putting our relay together, and I asked people to join us, people kept telling me to ask Marianne. They told me to keep asking when I told them her initial answer, and she might change her mind. I did this and hoped she would. Lorraine Joins Us
Michele and I scheduled a meeting with potential relay members. Two other people showed up, one of them a woman named Lorraine. I was instantly impressed by Lorraine She was friendly, confident, mature, intelligent, and had open water swimming experience. That she was friends with Marianne, and obviously cared about her a lot was also a plus. I was glad when she told us she would join our team, and hoped she would help us recruit Marianne. She turned out to be a great asset to the team, with her candid nature and organizational skills.
Marianne Finally Joins, Along With Emily
Marianne, Lorraine, Michele, and I, along with a bunch of other Menlo swimmers, spent the day at Lake Berryessa. I also met Michele's friend from Davis, Emily, who Michele had recruited to be a team member. I instantly got the sense that she would be a great person to have on the team. She was friendly and energetic, and seemed like a sweet, modest person. After spending the day with us at Berryessa, Marianne decided to join us on our relay. Michele, Lorraine, and I were all delighted.
Mike Completes the Team
Tim told me that he had talked with another potential relay member, Mike, and gave us his recommendation. I had seen Mike at our Menlo Master's Run-Swim-Run-Swim-Run, which he won by a wide margin. We'd also shared a lane once or twice, although I'm not sure we had met. After Tim told me about Mike's interest, we shared a lane about a week later. I was having trouble keeping up with him that day, but he and the other person in the lane were very supportive and accommodating. We introduced ourselves, and I asked him if he were the Mike that was interested in the relay, and he was very surprised to learn that I was one of the organizers. (I wondered later if it was because I seemed sort of whiny and wimpy that day in workout, and didn't seem so much like a tough open water swimmer who would help organize a relay across the Catalina Channel.) Michele was also in the pool that day, and I introduced her to Mike, and told her he was great and that we should let him on the team.
The team we started putting together in March was finally complete in early June.
Saturday Before the Relay
I woke up on Saturday morning at my parent's house, still pretty shook up about the car accident I had the day before and also exhausted from my Tran-Tahoe solo swim. I thought the car accident might be a good excuse for not doing it, but I also thought that since I'd committed to doing the swim, I should do it anyways.
I was scheduled to swim the third leg of the relay. I thought it would be good to go last, so I could get as much rest before my swim as I could, and that the relay would likely be finished before I got to swim my second leg. This would mean I would have to change places with Mike, so I hoped he would be willing to do that. I called Michele and told her about my accident, that I would still swim, but thought I should change places with Mike. She promised she would baby me, and talk to Mike for me.
Lorraine and Michele picked me up at my parent's house and we drove up to San Pedro. We got there very early. We stopped at Cabrillo Beach, where Lorraine and Michele chatted up a friendly lifeguard. Our plan at the time was to swim to this beach to finish the relay, and the lifeguard said he'd watch for us. We had a lot of fun doing cartwheels and Pilates in the sand. I told Michele and Lorraine I'd never successfully done a cartwheel before, and Michele said she hadn't either. Lorraine did one elegantly, and Michele and I tried out best. Lorraine declared me a successful cartwheeler. I guess I'll take her word for it.
We also met another interesting person. We watched him get in the water in his goggles, cap, and baggy trunks that came up above his belly button, and then watched as he swam out to a buoy. I thought he looked a little goofy in his trunks, but saw in him a kindred spirit in his love for the beach and buoys. We talked to him a bit and found out he was a member of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears. He let us see their little clubhouse, where we found out he and his wife were the 1999 King and Queen of the Cabrillo Beach Polar Bears.
We killed more time at an aquarium, where Michele bought cute whale's tail mood charm necklaces for everyone on our team as souvenirs. We then arrived at the 22nd Street Landing Seafood Grill and Bar and had dinner with everyone on the team, as well as Marianne's partner Joan; Mike's 13-year old daughter Shelby, who would be accompanying us on the boat and paddling next to her Dad; Forrest Nelson, our official observer; and Emily's mother, who's name I forget unfortunately. I felt comforted after listening to Forrest talk to everyone. He is an experienced Channel swimmer, and a very knowledgeable and responsible person. Michele spoke to Mike at dinner and he kindly gave up his cozy 6th leg of the relay to me.
It was already dark by the time we boarded the boat. I believe it was around 8:30 or 9. The boat was clean and spacious. I climbed down below to where the bunks were and fell asleep very easily after Michele sweetly tucked me in. Michele woke me up at 4:30 a.m. after what felt to me not much time later to tell me I was up to swim in half an hour. I'd been suffering from lack of sleep since the week before my Tahoe solo swim, and couldn't believe how hard I slept. I felt a little sorry I didn't even see the island or the start of our race, but not very. I really needed the rest. I stumbled up the stairs and through the doorway to the deck of the rocking boat, where I found Marianne sleeping on the deck in her All-American parka. It was pitch dark. There was no moon at all. I saw Emily swimming gracefully, smoothly, and very fast in the black sea. Mike helped fasten my lightstick and glow bracelet on me before I jumped in.
I still felt a little sleepy, but also felt nervous. The word surreal has been used by many members of our relay to describe the experience. I swam towards Emily, and we sort of rammed into each other. I treaded water until Emily climbed back onto the boat, and began my swim.
In an embarrassing lack of forethought, I had brought a tinted pair of goggles. The boat really didn't have a lot of light. I felt self-conscious after watching Emily's lovely graceful stroke, and also knowing I was being watched. I tried to focus on keeping a smooth stroke and breathing pattern, but gave up, because every time I did this I started to almost run into the boat. I heard Forrest call out my name as a warning both times I did this, and finally decided my main priority was to focus on not crashing into the boat.
The sun came up during my leg, and I kept swimming away from the boat and towards the light. I felt pretty goofy about not being able to stay straight. I also felt a little crazy. I got far enough from the boat at times to feel a little panicky (it didn't take more than few strokes to do this), and had a vague crazy thought that it might not be the right boat. (I wasn't quite crazy enough to actually believe it was true.) My leg was finally up and Michele jumped in. Again, we collided as we did the transfer. I clumsily climbed back into the boat, coached by Forrest on how to do it.
Lorraine got in after Michele I think most people felt a bit queasy, due to the surprising amount of rocking on the boat in what seemed like a calm sea from a swimmer's perspective. Lorraine was the most affected of anyone by seasickness. I was very impressed by how incredibly good humored and graceful she was despite not even being able to keep down Gatorade. I watched her swim beautifully with her long dancer's arms. Mike's daughter Shelby also got sick, but I didn't hear a single complaint from her during our whole adventure, and she still managed to find the energy to paddle next to her Dad. I got a chance to chat with Emily, who offered to swim Catalina solo together sharing the same boat the next year. Emily is a different class of swimmer than I am, so I was amazed by this generosity and lack of ego.
I started feeling sick, and went down below to take some ginger pills and sleep some more. I luckily didn't get too sick, and was able to keep everything down, despite my occasional urge not to.
Part of me wishes I had more energy to feel more like a participant in everyone's swims, but it simply wasn't there. A few of us felt this way, I think. Michele seemed the most energetic of anyone, and I'm grateful for the tea she gave me to soothe my stomach, and generally babying me and everyone else on the boat. Her good nature was a gift to everyone on the team. She probably had the best "team" experience of any of us, because she seemed the most present. I was woken up when we were about half an hour to shore, and after debating a bit with myself, I got in my suit, cap, and goggles, and joined Marianne and Emily in the water, as Marianne took us into shore. I swam with them for about 15 minutes. Michele jumped in with us at the last minute.
We had hoped to land on the sandy Cabrillo Beach, but because of strong currents instead landed on rocks close to San Vicente Point. This is what most Catalina Channel swimmers choose to do. Forrest told us to help Marianne by telling her when to hold on and when to float in. I wasn't sure how to time this, but Forrest yelled to us, and Emily and I relayed the information to Marianne and Michele, who joined Marianne in climbing up onto the rocks. It looked very difficult and scary, and I was glad I wasn't the one who had to do it. Marianne finally found herself on shore, and raised her arms in a victorious V. I like to think of myself as being a gutsy person, but Marianne is one of my heroes in that regard. She finished our relay at 10 hours and 3 minutes, blessed by great conditions in a calm sea.
We swam back to the boat. Marianne was pretty badly cut-up. Nothing very deep, but there was a lot of blood and quite a few scrapes. I ran and got my first-aid kit. Lorraine and I helped cleanse her wounds and bandage her up. I was glad for the opportunity to once feel like a team member by helping Marianne out.
We parted ways with feelings of affection and accomplishment. I think we were all tired and at a loss of words to explain exactly what happened. Even after writing this long account, I feel like there is more to be said, but in summary I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to share this adventure with a great group of people.
Menlo Plus Catalina relay 2007
By Marianne Brems
Since finishing our Catalina Channel relay effort just over 24 hours ago I have been processing my impressions of this complex and moving experience. Part of me says that I am not there yet in having the words to describe what I feel but if I delay until I am home I am afraid that my sensibility may be dulled by the onslaught of unopened mail and the general demands of daily life.
Let it suffice to say if you're in a hurry and have time only for the punch line that all that really mattered to me was that our team, a community of like-minded willing participants had a goal to traverse this infamous body of water together and each gave her or his best in her or his own way to make it happen. Sounds like a set up for saying that we didn't go very fast but we had fun doing it. Actually I thought our time was quite respectable. The distance to "the rocks" was somewhere between 20 and 21 miles which we covered in 10 hours 3 minutes and some odd seconds. As far as having fun, what I the matriarch of the event have to say about that is that yes, we did, but in a quiet not a center stage way. Each of us, I think, needed to deal with issues of sleep, the rocking of the boat, food, the darkness, thoughts about sharks, and focusing on swimming for one-hour stretches to an extent that each of us needed to be more inner directed than I have seen, for example, on the Tahoe Relay. But somewhere in the folds of this need to look out for oneself grew a surprising sense of community perhaps evident only later. And therein lies the value and the fun for me.
We gathered for dinner two hours before our scheduled trip over to Catalina, an excitement and anticipation percolating through us expressed in a heightened awareness and focus on each other along with lots of laughter (perhaps nervous laughter). As we boarded the boat at about 8:30 PM the focus seemed to be mainly on getting to sleep as quickly as possible for the 3-hour trip over while nothing was happening and it was too dark (no moon) to see anything. I only dozed I think.
Our pilot gave us a 25-minute warning of land approaching. Soon after, the rustling began and then Michele was standing on the deck ready to jump off and swim into shore in the spotlight from the boat. I thought to myself, my one chance to see Catalina and I can't see it! With a drop of her raised arm, Michele was off swimming towards us. The only light was from the lights on the boat deck and a fire some distance away in the harbor. Turns out there was a boat on fire which filled the air with the smell of burning fiberglass and eventually sank (the burning bush perhaps?).
Michele maintained a good stroke count until Lorraine dove in. (Why did she dive? Wasn't she afraid she'd lose her goggles?) She surfaced to let us know the water was a perfect temperature. 69 degrees our official Catalina Federation observer, Forrest, told us. Forrest was a wealth of information as he had completed a solo crossing three years ago. I felt very safe with him and even Joan who joined us for dinner seemed a little less worried after talking with him. I stood watch with him most of the time through the first three hours since my shift was fourth (3-4 AM) and I could keep my queasiness at bay best by watching the horizon. The light wristbands and light sticks attached to the backs of our suits worked well to illuminate the swimmer although they were a bit difficult to get out of their packages and attach. We saw several shooting stars.
When I jumped into the 69 degree water it seemed at first like jumping into an ink well. I was glad we had done one night swim so this was not a new experience for me. I had talked with Forrest about using the spotlight from the boat to swim in, but he said it was blinding like stage lights so I gave up that idea. I tried not to think about the fact that the channel is 4000 ft. deep in some places and focused instead on the stroke tips Marc Evans had given me, on the striking translucency of the water, and on some very strange luminescent particles in the water. I never did find out what they were, but when I got out I had some small flower pedal-like things on my arms. I forgot to ask Forrest about them.
Emily, the fastest of us, took over where I left off and seemed in fine form. At this point I went down below and dozed without even taking my suit off. I figured I'd just leave it on under my parka since with the motion of the boat I'd had such a hard time standing one foot at a time getting into it the first time. I actually wondered why the boat seemed to rock so much when the water was rather calm. I think it was because it was going so slowly in order to stay with the swimmer.
Next I knew it was 6:37 AM and we were at the top of the rotation once again. Michele was in and we had only 7 miles to go. The boat had very accurate GPS instruments which gave exact distances and could steer the boat by itself. When Lorraine dove in again she let us know the water was definitely colder by then. She amused herself and us by doing several strokes of butterfly at one point. By the time her shift was over and I got another distance check, it was clear that I would be the one to finish. I was able to call Joan and give her a time estimate to pick me up from the end. I was glad that I was the one who would go into the rocks because I had all along thought this was best because a beach finish would mean a longer swim. The rest of the team favored a beach finish. The final decision to do a finish on the rocks was made by our pilot because of a strong current. The beach was a harder target to hit he said and if you missed it there was nowhere else to go because then you were up against the breakwater for the harbor.
13-year-old Shelby paddled on a surfboard alongside her dad for the end of Mike's shift. Then it was my turn. Emily who followed me in rotation order decided to swim alongside me since we would be done before her turn. We jumped into the water holding hands which was a comfort and an honor, I thought. I immediately felt better than on my first shift perhaps because it was daylight and because the end was in sight. The water was 62 now--7 degrees colder than my first shift, but that didn't bother me one bit. I wasn't even bothered by numerous tiny jellyfish I swam past. I could see Emily swimming next to me and again that was a comfort. As time passed I could see the cliffs getting larger, then I could swear we started going along parallel to the shore for what seemed like half an hour. I almost stuck my head up and said, "What's with this?!" but as you all know about me, once I have a task and a plan in front of me I don't stop for anything until it's done. The boat came to within 50 yards of shore as I pushed myself along the rocks to get to a place I could stand up. It was difficult with the ebb and flow of the small waves that would send me across sharp places as they came and went. Michele and Virginia, who jumped in at the very end, and Emily were yelling at me to hold on to whatever I could to keep from getting scratched up. This was only moderately successful and I have the scrapes to show for it, but by that time, I didn't care. I finally raised my arms just like they do in the Tour de France. I then had to repeat the trip over the rocks to swim back to the boat. Again I didn't care we had completed our adventure and we had been successful.
As we motored back to the harbor my teammates busied themselves with raiding the first aid kit and dressing my wounds. I didn't have to do a thing. Just watch the seals lounging around on the marker buoys floating in the harbor and take a few photos of the victorious faces of my teammates. It is an experience I will never forget.
Dec 20: Update 12/20/12
Jan 24: Newsletter
Jan 9: Newsletter
Sep 23: Update
Sep 20: 2011 Dynamic Duo Results
Sep 13: Newsletter
Aug 16: Newsletter
Jul 20: Newsletter
Jun 17: Newsflash
May 14: Update
Mar 15: Mid-March Update
Feb 12: Mid-February Update
Jan 31: Newsletter
Jan 13: Newsletter
Sep 28: Newsletter
Jun 7: Newsletter
Apr 22: Update
Mar 18: Newsletter
Jan 29: Newsletter
Oct 22: Newsletter
Sep 18: Update
Sep 11: Newsletter
Mar 6: Newsletter
Feb 11: Newsletter
Dec 31: Update
Nov 21: Newsletter
Oct 13: Dynamic Duo 2008 - Results
Oct 3: Newsletter
Sep 10: Mike Fero Swims Catalina Channel
Sep 8: Newsletter
Aug 14: Update
Aug 8: Newsletter
Jul 25: Update
Jun 27: Newsletter
Jun 17: Newsletter
Jun 6: Swim Meet Update #2
May 27: Newsletter Update
May 17: Newsletter
Apr 18: Masters Newsletter
Mar 21: Newsletter
Dec 27: Menlo Masters 2008 Season Plan
Nov 14: Masters Newsletter
Sep 20: Masters Newsletter Update
Sep 7: Masters Newsletter
Jul 20: Masters Newsletter
May 21: Masters Newsletter
Apr 23: Masters Updates
Mar 21: Masters Newsletter
Feb 7: February Can Do Team History
Feb 5: Masters Newsletter
Jan 8: Masters Newsletter
Nov 10: Swimmer with a Cause
Oct 9: Dynamic Duo 2006
Jun 21: Long Course Champs - Santa Cruz
May 12: Burgess Pool Update
Apr 24: Menlo Masters Meet Wrap-up
Apr 20: Swim Meet Update
Apr 17: Menlo Masters Meet Update
Apr 14: Meet Update and Burgess Update
Mar 29: Richard 'Dick' Bennet
Mar 24: Masters Newsletter
Mar 3: Updates
Oct 10: Dynamic Duo Results