An Unpleasant Question

heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
edited March 2014 in General Discussion
I'm starting to gear up for the upcoming Tampa Bay Marathon and had an... unpleasant question. Sorry for bringing this up, but it's a rather practical concern. How do you plan for and handle, well, Number Two? I've looked at the archives for an answer and couldn't locate one.

Here's my concern: I usually have to go to the bathroom at around 6am Pacific Time. Race starts in Florida at 7am Eastern Time. Which means, unless I take, ahem, measures, I will have very unhappy guts at 9am. Would it be wise to get an enema the morning of the race? Those of you who have swum long distances, how have you handled this?


  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    edited March 2013
    This was brought up at the marathon swimmers forum regarding a swim by Reptile (Tom Linthicum). The swim was the length of Lake Tahoe and I was a crew member and responsible for feeding Tom....Tom was too polite to go in the lake...but unfortunately because of holding it.... everything backed up including not being able to pee toward the end....he was nearly physically done because of this...but did finish...but suffered afterward...I believe the consensus was that this situation should be discussed with your crew and that the swimmer should announce to the crew that it is time to go number the swimmer can get some privacy will break up and be gone quicker than you think...

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    For me, a couple cups of coffee brings the "pre-game" on pretty quickly.
  • JonMLJonML Member
    I've heard this referred to as "releasing the finless brown trout into the wild."
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Practice everything.

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    I would just say "listen to your body". If you need to go, then there is no point in holding on for another 6 hours or so as it will become excruciatingly painful after a while and you will get to the point when the rest of you stops functioning as well. I "went" about an hour before my EC solo but still had to go 10 hours later!

    Might be best to check that no-one is drafting behind you at the time. Or maybe that is an excellent race tactic! And don't wear a kneesuit.
  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    As @loneswimmer stated, practice everything! Unfortunately I can't wee (#1) whilst in the motion of swimming and have tried with all my might...perhaps one day! Luckily I have never "turtle headed" in the water despite the excessive amount of coffee I drink (usually I am up a good two hours before a big swim and down coffee and do all my business in preparation)...but someday it may be inevitable! I've heard of a few tales of really fast swimmers in MIMS having to release and that in itself is unpleasant for those trailing in the back! As Nike Says..."Just Do It"!
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    Why "unpleasant"? Everybody poops!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • firebahfirebah Charter Member
    So far so good for me but I know the time will come. I have done several channel swims and have not hit this crossroad yet. My swim start times have been anywhere from midnight, 4AM to more civilized times like 6 or 7AM. One thing to consider leading up to your swim is what you are eating and when you are eating it. You can have some control over this come swim day although the best laid plans can go awry. Unless you are very close to the finish do not hold it in as this can cause medial issues if held for too long.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Another great reason never to wear a wetsuit!
  • ColmBreathnachColmBreathnach Charter Member
    Don't forget to keep moving forward.
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    New term for open water wikapedia is: Release the brown trout....are you reading Steven???

    Just remembered that flax seeds along with flax seed meal makes the brown trout slide easier....

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member
    This has been an issue for me twice, the first time was at Tampa in 2005. That story is a long one and best told over a beer or two. It involves a walk on the St Pete pier wearing nothing but a swimsuit, two bathrooms with 3 inches of water covering the floor and the fact that watermelon remains float.

    The second time was last year at the Pitonof swim. My issue is that I can't make things happen without having my feet on something. As others indicated it got quite bad, I got to where I couldn't pee either, everything kinda locked up on me.

    Not sure how I am going to practice the act exactly which is what I think I need. Right now all I know is to avoid caffeinated gus for the time being and hope for the best. I don't have any REALLY long swims on the horizon this summer.

    I was hoping to find a solution in this thread.
  • On the kaiwi swim in December I was 'caught short' and just mentioned to my delightfully gentlemanly kayak support that i 'needed to feed the fish' which caused some consternation as it took a few attempts due to performance anxiety to achieve relief...only for them to be concerned about me being dehydrated! They thought I meant puking...anglo-american translations gone awry to much merriment once we understood one another! They turned away and felt much better after. Incidentally, didn't need to go at all (#2) on my 15hr English channel swim, everything shrivelled up in the cold!
  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    I just happened to see this article on the subject:
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    I deal with it by doing what I need to stay regular the few days leading up to the swim, and I stay with a diet that is primarily liquid the day before. On the morning of the swim I do eat a large double bowl of oatmeal (sometimes with a bagel). This gives my stomach the ability to absorb all of the liquid I'll consume that day. If you think swimming with a full pack is hard, can you imagine having to deal with while doing a triathlon.
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    edited March 2013
    I notice "release the brown trout" made it into the dictionary!!??? Good job Steven

    Because no one wants to watch another person "release the brown trout", swimmers are usually quite embarrassed about this normal human function while everyone is watching them. To get around this problem, swimmers usually inform their escorts and crew that they must go. The escorts and crew usually politely turn their heads or go to the other side of the boat in order to allow the swimmer a few moments (or minutes) of privacy. Although there are a few isolated cases of curiosity, the crew should create an environment where the swimmer is afforded as much privacy as possible in an open body of water. This privacy is usually not a problem at night, but sometimes a bowel movement comes at the most inopportune times during broad daylight.

    (excerpt from

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member
    Steve's comment about holding your breath and balling up is good solid advice! I'll try it if i ever have to use the technique again.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    I pop an Imodium before a swim. Just to be safe.
  • mmeadmmead Charter Member
    How to Go #2 While Swimming a Marathon

    Step one: Pull your suit to the side.

    Step two: Go.

    For efficiency's sake, perform your #2 while feeding on a Gu.
  • Here's my solution to dealing with this pre-race (see picture on the left-hand side):

    Works every time :)
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    I have never had this happen---mostly because I get so nervous before my swims that I'm going for like 2 days and there's nothing left.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    Make sure the wind and current is going the other way. Make sure you or anyone other swimmer isn't going to be in that place in the near future.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Question from @tortuga, now merged into this thread:

    So when you're swimming for multiple hours and nature calls......are there any tricks to handling it? WTF do the ladies in one piece do?
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    Thanks evmo
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    This has only happened to me once in a swim. The train was coming, so it was an easy decision to make. I won't comment on the technique/position used (why ruin a great surprise), so you're on your own. I asked my escort to pull ahead a bit while I took care of business. I was in a race, so I made it as short of a stop as possible.
  • IronMike wrote:
    Why "unpleasant"? Everybody poops!

    This. Folks are too sensitive! Cross country runners are used to nipping behind bushes on cold days etc.. so don't see why swimmers should feel embarrassed, its all part of the game. Parents will know the excited call of a young son 'Hey dad, come and see THIS...'.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    WarmWater wrote:
    IronMike wrote:
    Why "unpleasant"? Everybody poops!

    This. Folks are too sensitive! Cross country runners are used to nipping behind bushes on cold days etc.. so don't see why swimmers should feel embarrassed, its all part of the game. Parents will know the excited call of a young son 'Hey dad, come and see THIS...'.

    I agree. It can't be as bad as pissing yourself on the bike. Triathletes do this all the time.

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    So, I've now done this thrice. Ugh. It's not bad; you feel very relieved afterwards; but everything takes much longer than in the loo at home. Brace yourself, literally and figuratively, and just go.
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