FAQ: “Why First Descents?”

In one short week, I leave for England. It is a time of rest and final preparations. A time to give thanks for my many blessings and a time to reflect on the task ahead.

When I first committed to the Channel nearly two years ago, it was to pay it forward. To say thank you when I couldn’t say thank you enough. To Lauren, for being far more than a swim coach. To my family, who made sure I got where I needed to be. To my friends, who sat next to me in the hospital when I could not have been more ill.

And to give back. For all of the young adults with cancer who are still fighting for their lives. To let them know that someone is fighting for them. To give them the strength they may not have known they had and inspiration to defy their illness, from a place I have personally been and with a mere roll of the die could very well still be.

Brad Ludden, the founder/CEO of First Descents, says it best:

Along the way there are bound to be some trying times, and in those times I’ll pause to reflect on why I’m doing this. I’m doing it because there is 1 young adult diagnosed with cancer in the US every 8 minutes. Because their lives are forever changed by something they don’t deserve and did nothing to get. Because they need an adventure now more than ever. Because FD will provide that adventure to them free of charge. And, most importantly, because if I don’t, they’ll be left to face their cancer on their own, and that’s something that nobody should ever have to do.

Thank you for your support in this challenge. I truly couldn’t do this without you and hope you realize the impact your support has on my swim and the lives of my peers with cancer that I’m swimming for.

FAQ: “What is open water swimming?”

The Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming (OWS).

According to FINA rules, “OWS shall be defined as any competition that takes place in rivers, lakes, oceans or water channels except for 10km events… OWS marathon swimming shall be defined as any 10km event in open water competitions.”

X-ray of open water swimmers


I’ve often found myself responding to questions about the demographic of open water swimmers.  The purpose of a survey titled, “X Ray of Open Water Swimmers,” conducted by owswimming.com was to provide insight into that exact question.  According to the results, I fall into the 6% of 25-29.

FAQ: “Where do you swim?”

Most of my ocean swimming is done in the La Jolla Cove, home to the greatest number of “Channel swimmers” in the world.  The wide range of depths off the La Jolla shelf allow for great variability in swells, currents and temperature – all perfect for year round open water training.  The points marked on the map below are those most commonly used as reference points when charting training courses for any given day.

La Jolla Cove Map

For example, I’ve used an L-shaped course for my 6 hour English Channel qualifying swims: Cove to Tower to Pier to Tower to A buoy (repeat).  By starting at the Cove, there is the added luxury of the jacuzzi at the La Jolla Cove Athletic Club to assist with the warming-process.