11-mile swim - Post Event Analysis

SamSam Member
edited September 2018 in Swim Reports

Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to this forum for all the advice and support offered. On Sunday I completed my final goal for 2018 by completing an 11 mile swim in 5 hours 45 minutes which I’m very happy with (for those that are uber swimmers: the winning time was 3 hours 58 minutes).

I’m writing this thread to say thank you but also because a lot happened during that swim that I’ve never experienced before and would like to get your views. The night before the swim I ate a large 3 course meal (this could well have been my downfall – see later). As to the swim itself I noticed the cold almost immediately! I’ve done plenty of lake swimming over the summer but I’d never felt the cold before (temp was 16 degrees or 60 fahrenheit) which slightly concerned me. I also felt really full right from the off. I’d agreed with my kayaker to take my first feed on 50 minutes and thereafter every 30 minutes (alternating between just water and water/gel/oat bite) which is the plan I’d trained with and never had any issues with. By the 2 hour mark I really didn’t want water or food but I tried to get something down and stick to the plan. From the 2 hour 30 mark I opted to avoid the feeds because I really couldn’t stomach the idea of taking anything. Then the inevitable happened at around the 3 hour 30 mark and I was really ill – this is the first time it has happened and had no idea where it came from. From that point on whenever I stopped I was ill every time. The only other factors which may be relevant was that the water was slightly choppy at times (but nothing awful) and I felt worse when I held on to the kayak during the feeds (this wasn’t a swim under strict channel rules).

So does anyone know what may have caused my illness? I am thinking its overeating the night before on account of me feeling full at the start of the swim but I’m not sure if the cold, forcing myself to stick to the feed strategy initially, opting to avoid feeds altogether after 2 hours 30 or the chop and hanging onto the kayak had any impact? Your thoughts as ever would be greatly received as I’d like to ensure it never happens again.



  • glennglenn cape town SAMember

    well done on the swim

    I don't think I can much advise or thoughts on what happened as I'm not that experienced. It could be the previous evenings dinner that was too much for your body. You may have started full and you kept adding more into the tank which eventually exploded:) But that's just a thought.

    I also think you'll have to simply play around with options and see what works. Maybe next time start by cutting down the night before and then keeping the same feeding plan on the day and see if it help.

    But I'm not an expert, good luck with future swims

  • Congrats on the swim- and over coming some challenges as well!

    Do you regularly eat large meals before an event? Personally I am religious about the evening before an event. I have a touchy tummy to begin with so that might not be an issue for others. (I am also a ball of nerves so I plan accordingly)
    It sounds like you had several variables in addition to the night before. Sometimes just listening to your body is the best advice, i.e. don't force it.
    Did you feel seasick? even slight chop can do it for some. Did you feel cold the whole swim?
    Hopefully some post event hindsight can help you avoid being ill in the future.

  • Hi @glenn thanks for your message - I'm like you really that I'm not an expert so looking for input to avoid messy situations in the future :)

    @Camille thanks again. The whole thing was just really odd because I've never experienced anything like it before. I felt full from the start of the swim which was strange and I really didn't want any feeds at all (in the end I completed the 11 miles on 500ml of water, 1 gel and half an oat bite!). But it was also strange that I felt the effects of cold from the start as well - I'd been training well in similar temperatures and never had any problems. And as for the seasick sensation: I only felt bad when I stopped swimming but I've been in some choppy conditions before and never suffered that bad. Perhaps it is just one of those swims where a combination of everything just went wrong and on a different day I'd have been fine.

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    @Sam , were you wetsuited for the swim?

  • Hi @KatieBun yes I was in a wetsuit for the swim (and trained in a wetsuit all summer too). I was hoping to now move forward and enter events without one but given my aversion to the cold in this last event I'm now slightly concerned I don't have the physical attributes for it!

  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member

    @Sam acclimatisation takes time, so it's a matter of ditching the suit and starting with short dips. The more often you swim, the more quickly you get used to it. I only asked about the wetsuit because I thought a tight suit might have contributed to the bloated feeling.

  • DavidZakDavidZak Tiffin, OhioMember

    Hi, @Sam.

    I always (ideally) swim as I train, which means doing everything the same, which means "training" the pre-event routine. If you don't regularly eat a big three-course meal, I wouldn't. If you always have a beer the night before, I would do that. So, my recommendation is to look at taper, pre-event routine, etc. as something to train. Nice job on the swim. I'm hoping to my first 10 miler in a month.

  • I don't know if the heavy dinner was part of your problem but it would definitely be an issue for me. I've learned to really have my heaviest meals 2 days before my big swims. Then I have a decent lunch the day before, thus my 5 Guys hamburger tradition. I usually have a light dinner the night before my swim.
    Did you skip feeding eating in the morning before your swim?

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    You didn't say what your dinner consisted of or if it was heavy on fats; that could've been a factor in your queasiness. Feeling cold at 60f in a wetsuit says to me that your glycogen levels might've been low. Like several others have advised, I'd agree that keeping your dinner smaller and having breakfast could be a worthwhile strategy to try. Make sure you're getting enough carbs in the mix. You might want to experiment in training with using strictly liquid feeds, because they are easier to get down if you aren't feeling great. I use a mixture of Gatorade, nuun and Carbopro at every feed, (along with a caffeinated gel on the hour). Gatorade doesn't agree with everyone, so try different combinations until you find something that you can digest easily and is appealing enough to choke down under most circumstances. If you allow yourself to run out of fuel, it's very hard to stay warm. Getting your nutrition dialed in is a very individualized thing and tweaking it in training is just as important as everything else you do to train for a swim. Congrats on achieving your goal!


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • All else aside Sam, that’s an impressive time. The unexpected occurred and you dealt with it. Well played :)

  • swimmer2point0swimmer2point0 Santa Monica, CAMember
    edited September 2018

    I wonder wether there was mild food poisening involved. Since you describe "feeling full" in the morning, that might have been the first symptom, and the lack of appetite and later feeling ill could be the progressive symptoms. Also, when one is unwell, the cold is more of an issue. Just a thought. Otherwise, I agree with others that a a heavy meal (high fat content esp.) can weigh you down the next day in endurance sports, esp. if one is not used to it.

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Even with light chop, could you have had motion sickness or vertigo? If it was worse when you stopped. . . I've had a few times of the lake spinning when I stopped to be upright. . . not lately, but it was memorable. I found that fresh grapes helped on a recent long swim, and apple juice on another. . . artificial flavors aren't good for me, but real fruit juice can be calming for me. Heavy syrup from canned peaches is a great way to stop stomach churning- I've tried it. Not for a swim, but before I had to teach on deck.

    Good luck figuring out your food plans. . . I love hearing about what people do, also. Many ideas, and it is hard to figure not only what works for an individual, but what works for that individual on a particular swim.

  • I can tell you one of my stories if it can help. Apparently it's unrelated but maybe it's not. I used to surf quiet frequently before dedicating myself to swimming. One day I was alone with a bodyboarder on one of those big days. Waves were pretty awkward and I must admit scary for my standards (6-9 ft but very tubular but uneven and breaking fairly close to the shore). All of the sudden, my strip breaks after trying to catch a wave. The surfs just strands and I am left alone in the middle of the wave with strong currents and alone. It was a huge effort to get to the sand and I had to swim as hard as I can to catch the right wave without risking to break my neck.... I was left breathless and energy free for a few minutes before heading home happy to have made it.

    Well... the night I had a few hours fever. I am sure it was the strain. I gave 110% of myself to get out of the situation. I think you got sick because the conditions were too extreme for yourself and not the meal. If you'll get used to it, you may be able to adapt. Your body has a physical memory and I guess next time it will be easier.

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