Training for Swim Training Camp

I sit here in the San Francisco International Airport to head off to Ireland for a swim camp with Infinity swimming. The camp is located in Carlingford and is 4 days of swimming. I will be joining 6 other amazing women from the South End Rowing Club. The first night we swim in a pitch dark lake that I hope will be around 54 degrees. Saturday we get into the ocean. My wishful thinking was that the ocean would be 53 degrees but I learned this week that it is closer to 50-51 degrees so this camp called “Hit the Wall” will likely make me do just that as the culmination of the weekend is on Monday where you have the option of a 4 hr, 6 hr or 10hr swim. Now I know I can do 4 hrs in 53 degrees. And pretty sure I can do 6 hrs. But 50 degrees is a whole other story. Degrees really do count!

As I prepared for my Irish Swim Camp, I have been ramping up my time in the San Francisco Bay. Last year we had temperatures in May that were in the mid-50’s. This year it has been much warmer with temperatures in the high 50’s. I kept hoping the water temps would drop to acclimate more for Ireland. That was not the case. But training has been solid! Over the past 4 weeks my training plan was as follows:

  • 4 weeks ago
    • 9 hrs of training
    • 29K yards
    • Long Swim 3hrs (Sat- Angel Island Circumnavigation) followed by 2 hrs Sunday
  • 3 weeks ago
    • 10+ hrs of training
    • 32K yards
    • Long Swim 4hrs (Sat), followed by 2hrs (Sunday- 5 Coves of Death at South End Rowing Club)
  • 2 weeks ago- Recovery week due to work travel + shoulders needing a rest from two big weeks.
    • 4 hrs of training
    • 16K yards
    • Long Swim 2.5 hrs
  • Last week:
    • 11+ hrs of training
    • 48K yards (some current assisted)
    • Long Swims 5 hrs (Wed) + 3 hrs (Sat- Golden Gate Bridge Round Trip

So let’s talk about this last epic week of training! On Wednesday, I took a vacation day to do this epic swim expertly planned by Pacific Open Water Swim Co. Bryan plotted out exactly when we would leave and projected times for each leg and we really did nail it. This was intended to be a 6 hour swim from Mile Rock to Bay Bridge and back to Mile Rock.


I was so excited leading up to it knowing I totally could do this swim! We started out with just perfect conditions. The water was like glass and I was in heaven.The weather gods were not exactly working with me or my crew as storm was on its way in. I would argue it is easier in the water than on the water in the boat when it is storming. There was a storm coming in with winds from the south so when I rounded Alcatraz I was greeted with some fun chop. I drank my fair share of the bay and put some serious pressure on my shoulders. I was screaming + cursing in the water as I tried unsuccessfully to get to the Bay Bridge. The Ebb (out going tide) has kicked in and I was swimming in place. At this point, I had been in the water for 3 hrs and I yelled I was done, get me out. I think that drew some snickers on the boat with my pilot, Bryan and my crew, my lucky and amazing partner. So back towards Alcatraz I headed! With me no longer swimming against the wind and the chop, I was feeling much better. We rounded Alcatraz and continued on. I was probably about 20 minutes off the Golden Gate Bridge. My arms were toast and I said, I am done. It was 5 hours into a tough swim and my pilot agreed it was time to get out. There was an incoming freighter so they would have had to pull more or re-position me so it was meant to be. I am definitely going back to complete this swim some day!!!


mile rock May 2019mile rock approaching GGB May 2019Mile rock to city front May 2019

On Saturday I planned a swim from the South End Rowing Club to the Golden Gate Bridge. We are so fortunate to have amazing people to swim with and to kayak for us. I was joined by Zach Margolis for my swim and we had Miguel Melendez as our kayaker. He is a rock star + so thankful to have him to guide us, feed us, protect us and get amazing pictures of us along the way!

I figured out the tides for the swim with us leaving at 6am on the ebb (outgoing tide). It was a touch stronger so we went in and out of the Fort Mason piers and then headed on our way to Golden Gate Bridge. Zach was swimming strong so I was just trying to keep up. Note to self- Only swim with Zach on well rested arms 😉 The swim was just delightful. We had amazing conditions heading out to the Golden Gate Bridge and timed the swim so perfectly that we did get the flood (incoming tide) to assist a little bit on the way home. We ran into the South End Sunriser Swim so Zach joined that and kicked it up a notch further. And we found each other on the beach after this amazing swim with smiles and high fives!


GGB no plasticGGB May 2019 zachGGB May 2019 zach + Erika

With all that training, I think I nailed what is needed to be ready for the distances at Hit the Wall. The cold water… well I am just going to be mentally tough. When I think I need to get out because I am cold, I will stay in for 20 more minutes. I have noticed there are these little mental barriers. Your mind is saying you have to get out, you’re freezing! But if you can push through and stay in, your body says “ok, I guess we are doing this” and then like some miracle you warm up a bit.

I did get some injuries along the way. I definitely increased my time + yardage too fast which took a toll on my my biceps, shoulders + lats. Listening to your body and knowing how to address these aches and pains is critical to getting through your training season. I also listened to others from the club so I incorporated ice, ibuprofen and the most amazing handheld massage machine which allows me to hit my back, shoulders, biceps, you name it. I used this 3 days in a row and I am 95% back to normal. I highly recommend the Purewave Therapy Massager. It is  worth every penny and it is packed in my bags to Ireland!

If you enjoyed my blog, please use the link to the right to follow me. You will get an email update each time I post anything new. It’s not that often so don’t worry about being inundated with emails. I  would also love to hear from you! How is your plastic free journey going? I hope to have inspired you! Are you an open water swimmer? Did this help?

*disclosure: Some links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning I make a little bit of money but at no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. This will help me to continue to explore and offer up recommendations to reduce your plastic usage.

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