Friday, April 17, 2009

Swimming Hawaii Channels

Swimming Hawaii's Channels
My good friend Jeff Kozlovich asked me to make some comments on channel swimming. I'm not one for blogging, but believe in what Jeff promotes on his web site. Here it goes: I and another swimmer friend swam from Kahoolawe to Lanai (approx. 17+ miles) last Friday. Jeff paddled the entire distance next to us on a 9'6" surfboard, in addition to an escort boat. Jeff led the way, providing navigation, our food/liquid requirements, safety net if needed, and photo/video for the swim. The following are my answers to questions he asked me:

Why do you do it? Primarily for the passion of doing the swim. It is not for any accolades or recognition. I truly enjoy swimming long distance and the challenges each different swim brings.
How did I train? Ninety-five percent of my training swims were done at Ala Moana in the 1K swimming area. The other 5 percent was more open water, usually Kaimana Beach to Ala Wai Harbor buoy and back. My weekly average for the 5-6 weeks prior to the swim was 30K.

Hardest part of the swim? For me, the last two hours were the toughest. Not that the distance was too far, just the currents became more dramatic the closer we came to Lanai (from Kahoolawe), and the muscle fatigue factor. I (for the first time - and I have been doing this a long time) basically ran out of gas. Don't think I don't know what is written about nutrition and staying ahead of bonking. I completed the Molokai Channel (28 miles) on 1 fig newton and a handful of chocolate covered raisins and felt fine. This swim seemed tougher, but I learned a good lesson to feed and stay ahead on the fuel. Eating during the swim is difficult, liquids work better for me.

What I enjoyed the most? I enjoyed all the craziness that goes into making the swim happen. The help of all the people involved, boat preparations, very early starts, and the unexpected things that can sabotage the whole plan (bad weather, bad creatures, starting from a restricted island, etc.) Once these things are taken care of, the swim just happens. There is mucho coordination to do these crossings.
Doubt I would ever make it? Never! My friends who know me know they will have to rescue me from unconsciousness before I get back in the boat. And I mean that!
What next? Lanai to Maui in September (it’s an annual interisland race), it will be my 10th. Otherwise, nothing planned unless one of my friends says "Lets do this swim" and I'll probably say "OK".


Koz said...

Hey,Bill, lets swim to Kauai!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't know any of you guys but this stuff is inspiring. No TV this weekend only time outside.

Anonymous said...

You and Quin are have a very different technique. Can you guys explain the "why" of your style?

Quinn said...

Biometrics are a big factor. One other major difference is Bill is a left-side only breather, I am bilatteral. Bill has a strong right arm pull to accomodate this. It brings his right elbow high. The powerful stroke actually leaves a swirl of bubbles under him as he digs. His left arm is a shallow recovery with more of a swat at the water. I've been bilateral since I made the switch at age 10. Maybe b/c I was considered to be a butterflier (not a distance swimmer) as a kid, I felt that it was important to train symeyrically even when freestyling. In the end though it's a personal style difference, find the best way for your body. Case in point; Michael Phelps very lopsided world record holding freestyle. He breathes every 2 strokes and only on the left.